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Should Students be Penalized for Late Work? The Pros and Cons


Late work is common among students in many institutions. Not all students can complete their work on time. So, should a student be punished for late work even if the assignment is done well? Is time more important than the content?

We ask this question because most students can’t manage their time well to finish assignments on time. Some have genuine reasons as to why they did not while others are just lazy or ignored to do the work.

Students should be penalized for late work to instill the discipline of timely homework. However, the penalty should be fair and applied only when the root causes for late submissions are established.

Not all students are late because of their laziness. Some students have genuine reasons as to why they submit their assignments late.

Students who lack resources are likely to delay submitting their assignments. Other students may be held up by uncontrollable events and circumstances such as sickness. Such students deserve no penalty for late submissions.

Avoiding fake excuses

Students cheat a lot and one may fake genuine reasons for a late submission. This is why most institutions have established a body that investigates whether the student’s reasons for late submission are true or false.

It is this body that will give the instructor the final verdict of whether the student was lying or not. Students who ignore deadlines deserve punishment.

This helps serve as a deterrence for such behavior in the future. While there are good and genuine excuses for late homework, some are equally baseless. It is therefore the role of the lecturer to decide which is genuine and which is not.

Why Late Assignments should be Accepted

Late work does not show ignorance or laziness always. The following are reasons why submitting late work should be accepted in schools.

1. Students are Human too

Teachers who perceive that student laziness leads to submitting assignments late are wrong. Students are humans too and they also face challenges that may hinder them from completing their assignments on time.

There are students whose home lives are not ideal. Some have no enough time to do their work because they are the primary caretakers of their siblings at home. It is not that they do not want to do the assignment and submit it on time.

Students burdened homework

They are doing their best to support their families. It is not easy trying to be a student and a substitute parent at the same time. Punishing these students can lead to them adopting an attitude of hopelessness.

When you pardon these students and understand their situations, they will be motivated and always will try to submit their work as early as possible.

When you value your students their entire attitude changes. They feel that they are important and so is the work that you have given them.

Allowing students to complete assignments late will help them realize that assignments are not just pieces of paper but valuable parts of their learning. Sometimes they just forget to hand in their homework yet they had completed the work.

2. Instructors want Practice from their students

Instructors want all their students to be experts in whatever skills that they are teaching them. This is not always achieved because some students will turn in their assignments late and many institutions require instructors not to mark such work.

This policy makes many students fall behind. Not grading the students will not help evaluate their understanding of the topic and may complicate things in future studies where the knowledge studied previously is required for understanding.

This has made instructors who care about the students adopt a “not doing your assignment is no longer an option” approach. Having students submit their assignments late helps them be successful.

Some students will not fear sending requests if they need more time to complete their assignment. The instructors always control this to ensure that the time extended is not exaggerated.

Students take ownership of their work and take the extra mile of making sure that the work they submit is of high quality.

3. Zeros are devastating

The performance recorded on student reporting cards should be a true representation of what a student can do. Not accepting late work and recording zeros for students is not a true representation of the students’ performance.

Zeros grades make students feel ignored. Accepting late work and marking it makes the students feel valued. It also helps instructors know how students can perform.

Having zeros on the grade book also makes the instructors not aware of how their students can perform

 Without knowing this it is hard for instructors to plan future lessons. Accepting late work does not only help students but also helps make the instructor’s work easier.

Pros and Cons of Accepting Late Homework

In most cases, students do really try to beat their deadlines. Some students apply strategies to beat homework deadlines of their own choice. However, they may end up failing to meet them.

In such a situation, it is better not to go straight to penalize them. It is good to weigh in on the advantages and disadvantages of accepting late assignments.

Advantages of Accepting Late Homework

Sometimes, some professors may accept late homework files from students because of some acceptable situations. Students may also write convincing emails explaining late assignments to their professors and they succeed. Let us look at the advantages of this.

1. Promoting Responsibility Among Students

When students own their learning it helps them be passionate about it. This passion then transfers into a sense of stewardship for the kind of learning that occurred. That learning is then internalized within the student.

accepting Late Homework advantages

2. Students Maximize on Their Work

When a student is doing assignments with the fear of getting zeroes if they are submitted late, he or she will rush on the work.

The main focus for the student is beating the deadline other than providing quality work. When late deadlines are allowed students can concentrate more on quality.

3. Improves Assignment Completion Rates

When there are set deadlines that prohibit submitting late work, there will always be students who will not complete their assignments.

When late submissions are allowed almost every student will be able to complete their assignments. This helps know the true academic ability of students.

Disadvantages of Accepting Late Assignments

Might Promote Laziness and Irresponsibility

When students are allowed to submit late work if they have genuine reasons for doing so, some students may grasp this opportunity to fake the reason and get to submit their work late when they have had plenty of time to do their assignments.

Inconveniences to the Instructor

When late work is allowed, instructors may receive a lot of work that they need to grade in a very short time. Most instructors set deadlines that allow them to complete marking and grading assignments before moving into something new.

Late Assignments Lose Value

When a student delays with an assignment for long, that assignment is likely to lose its value. The value is lost because the assignment is no longer aligned with the activities that are happening in class.

Corrections on the assignment may have already ended and the instruction may have introduced a new topic by the time a student submits the assignment.

Why Late Assignments should Not be Accepted

1. Real-World Readiness

People argue that the real world has its deadlines. Even in jobs, one will always be penalized for late deadlines. Missing deadlines can make your grant proposal not be accepted. You can also miss accreditation from an accreditor if due to missed deadlines.

Accepting late work in school, therefore, is seen as a method of not preparing students for what they will face once they are done with school. Deadlines are set in school to mimic what happens in the real world.

2. It is for Fairness

Another augment as to why late work should not be allowed is that it creates fairness to those who submitted their work on time.

It will be unfair if there are some students who rushed to complete their assignments and other students take their time and get their late submission accepted. Penalties for late work make the decision to accept late work fairer.

3. Course pacing

For students to pace their work in a course late submissions should not be allowed. Course pacing is common in courses that have a compressed schedule. There is a lot of work in the course and the time given for completion is minimal.

This makes the instructor set deadlines that are not negotiable to help students keep pace with the amount of work that they are doing.

If late submissions are allowed the students are most probably to get stacked with much work and create themselves an untenable situation.

Harsh penalties are required in these situations to deter students from thinking of submitting late work and to keep them on track.