I’m grading a homework set worth 10 points. I give an automatic 1 out of 10 if the work is handed in on time but there is not significant progress made on each part of each problem assigned — for example, if a problem (or part of a problem) is left blank.  Exercise 12 was one of the problems assigned. A student handed in a paper having done exercises 1 and 2, but not exercise 12. Apparently s/he misread the web site and inserted a space where there wasn’t one. It’s pretty easy to tell at a glance that it was supposed to be exercise 12, so I don’t know how s/he managed to do that. Do I…

(a) …give the student a 1 out of 10, and say you need to be more careful with reading the assignment next time? (There are 120 points of homework assigned and only 100 of those used for grading purposes, so there is a 20-point "pad" buitl in to the homework grades.)

(b) …give the student the chance to hand in exercise 12 at a later (but not too much later) date? (Thereby initiating a nice student-hack for getting out of turning in an exercise; if you are assigned exercise 35, just hand in exercises 3 and 5 and then pretend to be mortified. Not that I think this student is doing this, but just saying it would be a precedent.)

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Filed under Calculus, Teaching

6 responses to “Conundrum

  1. That’s a good question. As she is in college, I lean toward “A.” It is just a homework. I did something similar with a college essay. I stapled the papers and left off the last page. I got a C on the essay because it was “unfinished.” I didn’t try to ask that it be re-evaluated. I was more careful after that, I’ll tell you. If you were teaching high school, however, I might have advised giving her a second chance. After all, you do give plenty of opportunities for her to bring up her homework grade.

  2. Mike R.

    If there is enough time between finding the mistake and handing the homework back, I would contact the student via email and say you have until I hand the homework back to do the correct problem. Another option would be to assign a similar problem due in 24 hours. No sense in having them hand in a problem you have discussed in class.

    I have a problem with solution (a) because during a semester, I am not perfect either. Mostly it is little things, like dropping a sign or transposing numbers when doing an example problem or answering homework questions. In the course of a class, I can’t expect every student to transcribe every homework problem correctly. If it is abused, you can simply give the 1 out of 10.

  3. Maybe I lack mercy and compassion, but a lack of attention to detail will eventually hurt her in the long run. I know it is just homework, but students need to appreciate that policy is policy and there are consequences to their mistakes. After all, a mistake in the “real” world could make the difference between a promotion and being passed over or even being laid off. Nevertheless, for even more dire circumstances such as oversleeping on the day of a big test, I have been known to give the student a break.

    I think that in the end, since it is a minor penalty for this situation, (a) would be my option.

  4. I don’t accept late assignments. Ever. For any reason. If somebody’s grandfather dies and he can document it, I’ll deduct the points for the assignment from his possible total score, but I will not accept his assignment.

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  6. Since there is a pad already in the homework grade, I would recommend A. It stinks, but it is the student’s responsibility. If you had made the error, that is, it did indeed look like they should have done 1 and 2, then you should just grade what was turned in; but since it was clear, it is the student’s responsibility.

    If a student catches the problem before I do, then I let them fix it. For example, a student turned in a paper. I had not yet graded it. She went home and found page 7 on her computer, printed out. She called immediately and told me about it. I allowed her to email the page to me.