What to Keep in Mind for Equitable Assessment Deadlines
Deadlines are one aspect of course pedagogy that can be revisited and adjusted to support a pedagogy of kindness (Denial, 2019) and empathy. Deadlines for assessments are one of the pinch points identified by both instructors and students as an area of high anxiety and stress in the course. There are some simple ways to review assessment deadlines that take those pinch points into account. A few suggestions for equitable deadline pedagogy are considered below; however, it is important to keep the following in mind as you read through the suggestions.
- Context: Not every suggestion will work for every course and in every discipline. Your course context is important and things such as enrollment numbers and type of assignment should be taken into account.
- Teaching Team Load: If you are working with a team of Teaching Assistants, having discussions about equitable deadline considerations before implementing them will help ensure that the load and expectations are manageable for everyone.
- Departmental Policy: If you are teaching in a Department with a universal deadline policy, you will have to use this policy unless you have a conversation with your Chair about the possibility of modifying this.
Suggestions for Equitable Approaches to Deadlines
Open Extension Statement on Syllabus
Some instructors have a “No Questions Asked Open Extension” policy and include a statement explaining this on their syllabus. Many of these kinds of policies make the student responsible for letting the instructor know that the assignment will be late and proposing a date by which they will submit it. These Open Extension statements do not typically specify types of situations where this extension could be used (death, illness, etc.) and instead state that extensions are available as long as they let the instructor know before the assessment is due and they must be submitted before grades are due. Also this Open Extension can also specify that this is applicable to one assignment per course or alternatively mention specific assessments where this Open Extension cannot be used
Create a bank of extension days that each student can access during the course. For example, an instructor could provide all students with a 5-day extension bank that they can use throughout the semester for any assignment with no penalty, as long as they let the instructor know ahead of time. In this scenario, a student could get a 3-day extension on a problem set at the beginning of term and another 2-day extension on a writing assignment project at the end of term before reaching their 5-day limit.
This may work well for smaller enrollment classes where the bank would be easy to track or you could create a course-based monitoring system in conversation with your teaching team.
Instructors can use submission windows for assessments. With this approach, students know that their assignment must be submitted at any time within a one- or two-week window without penalty or late marks deducted. This window supports students who like to get their work done early so that they can move on to the next piece, but also supports students who need a bit more time.
Blum, S. (Ed.) (2020). Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning. West Virginia University Press.
Denial, C. (2019). A Pedagogy of Kindness. Hybrid Pedagogy. https://hybridpedagogy.org/pedagogy-of-kindness/
Stackstein, S. (2015). Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School. Times 10 Publications.