What’s a deadline?

Background provided by Instructor: Somewhere along the way students lost the meaning of a deadline.  Too many wait until the last minute – literally. I feel this email represents way too many of today’s college students. For this class, the students are required to turn their papers online. Deadlines are spelled out and explained on the Syllabus, announced in class, and reminders are emailed weeks in advance to all students.

i’m writing to ask how i can turn in my assignment that was due last night… you said the folder was open until midnight so i went on at 11:59pm and was in the process of  figuring out how to submit it when the folder disappeared.

* * * *   15 votes
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Sorry, I don’t have Internet

Background provided by Instructor: I teach an online class which requires students to access the course regularly to post their reflection over the assigned lectures.  Due dates for these short reflections are clearly identified on the syllabus. I also send reminder emails.  On the night the assignment was due, a student wrote:

hi, i am at my parent’s house and they do not have internet so I won’t be able to do the assignment that is due by tonight. i thought i could just access the class via my cell phone, but it is impossible to listen to the lectures and view the video portion on my phone.  i’m writing to be sure it is okay if i do it tomorrow instead and just get it to you then. thank you for being so understanding.

* * * *   14 votes
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It is in the syllabus

* * * * ½ 12 votes
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I did not think I needed the textbook

Background provided by Instructor: The students are given a copy of the syllabus before the start of the course. It clearly states that the textbook is required and that all three exams will include material presented in the textbook. The book is for sale new or used, and is also on reserve in the campus library.   A student wrote to me 4 days before the last exam to say:

I’m worried because I  failed both exams so far in the course. I realize the textbook is required but I never bought it and now I am worried about passing the class. I have already gone home so I am not on campus to borrow the one on reserve in the library. Do you know if there is an online version I could look at before the last test?  I really want to pass the class.

* * * ½   9 votes
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I am really in the class

Background provided by Instructor: I received this email shortly before the midpoint of a fully online course. This “student” had been emailing me with excuses for not completing assignments that ranged from not having the textbook to not understanding the syllabus. Finally, I learned the real reason she was not doing her work:

hello profesor i M JUST WRITTING TO INFORM YOU THAT as of this week i will have all the required items to pARTICIPATE IN THE CLASS FULLY. HONESTLLY I HAVE BEEN TAKING THIS COURSE FROM MY PHONE ANTICIPATING MY REFUND TO PURCHASE A COMPUTER AND INTERNET SERVICE I AM NOT ASKING FOR ANY THING EXTRA BUT I WILL BE PUTTING FORTH THE EFFORT THAT I NEED IN ORDER TO PASS THE CLASS. I HONESTLY JUST WANTED TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU RATHER THAN TO KEEP YOU GUESSING AS TO WHY I HAVE NOT BEEN ACTIVE IN THE CLASS BUT THANKS FOR BEING UNDERSTANDING IN ADVANCE

* * *     9 votes
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I should get an A for studying

Background provided by Instructor: After taking the last exam, this student has realized she will not be receiving an A for my class.  The final grade is based on several short writing assignments, and three exams (which were weighted higher than the assignments). She earned a 50 on Prelim 1, 72 on Prelim 2, and an 84 on Prelim 3.  She is now writing to set up a meeting to go over her last exam – and to perhaps convince me that because she studied so hard she deserves an A. She is one of nearly 500 students enrolled in my class.

I just took the prelim and I’m really disappointed in some of the questions. Attached is my study guide that I have created over the past five days on top of the review of all the notes and just generally keeping up with the assignments and I would really appreciate it if you took the time to review it, considering it probably took me a solid 36 hours to compose. I would appreciate if I could see which questions I apparently got wrong during a meeting time with you. I went above and beyond to prepare for this class and thoroughly enjoyed the material; this is clear to see if you review all my assignments throughout the class because I received a 100 on every single assignment, therefore I knew the material and was well prepared. I just did not do well on the three exams. I also attempted to receive advice from you on how to better prepare for the  exams, to which you replied, “I have no idea what else to tell you – if you read the chapters and study your notes from lecture you should be able to do well”. Unfortunately, this did not occur. It’s a little sad to think that after this much studying I couldn’t even receive an A on this final exam. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to write papers, create a presentation, or any other work that could be done. Please let me know a time that you can meet.

* * * *   11 votes
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I have to have an extension

Background provided by Instructor: Yes, it is the end of the semester and here come the emails from my students asking for another day, two days, or even a week after the semester ends in order to finish their assignments for class that were spelled out the first week of the semester. This blog describes my experience (and that of many of my colleagues) beautifully: “Extension Entreaties Exemplify Expanding Entitlements” by Joan Bihun.  I think those of us in academe can all relate!

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-ethical-professor/201212/extension-entreaties-exemplify-expanding-entitlements-0

* * * ½   3 votes
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I know this is far fetched but….

Background provided by Instructor: I received this email from a student after the last class. Students were given several extra credit options  such as writing a paper, participating in an online discussion, or attending a speaker or related event on campus. This student did not take advantage of any of these, and now emails me to say:

I know this is probably far fetched, but I need an 100 on the exam, which I have been studying for all week. It’s not likely that this is going to happen, but is there any other extra credit assignments I could do?  I worked really hard in the class and I know the material thoroughly and it’s just a shame if I don’t receive the grade I’m looking for with how hard I worked.

* * ½     7 votes
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Parental Guidance

Background provided by Instructor: The directions for a class writing assignment specifies that the student must refer back to material presented in the required reading. I inform the students that the book is on reserve if they are not able to buy it. It needs to be clear that the student read the book. When I emailed a student about his paper – questioning if he read the book and pointing out that he had not referred to anything from the required reading – he responded:

I do not own the book.  It was deemed by my parents who help me pay for school that it would be fiscally irresponsible to buy the books for class.

* * *     6 votes
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Can I just have the credit?

Background provided by Instructor: One of my students registered for 3 credits of fieldwork with the intention of working with a local youth agency. Two weeks into the semester, he informed me the position fell through but assured me he would find another placement. Two weeks later, he still hadn’t found anything…. and this continued into the next month and the next….. to the point where I was getting no response to my emails asking for weekly reports, forms from supervisors, etc.   It is now the last week of the semester and the student has appeared – he just sent me this email:

I want to know if I could just write a paper for my field work instead. I could not find a placement due to schedule conflicts and it was hard to be placed anywhere because I would be leaving at the end of the semester and they were looking for someone longer term.

* * ½     7 votes
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