There is nothing better than getting to the end of a mountainous stack of grading and writing the final mark in my grade book. That joyous moment is usually fleeting when I pass back assignments to students and am inevitably met with a few who are crushed by a poor mark and ask, “What can I do to raise my grade?”
After a weekend of grading, the last thing I want to do is add a resubmitted student assignment to my marking pile, but for some reason to just say, “Nothing” never quite seemed like the right answer for me.
I had always hesitated to let students resubmit assignments for a few reasons:
1. A concern that student would rely on the privilege of resubmitting and be less motivated to pass in their best work or study sufficiently the next time around.
2. There is a lot to be learned from failure. Students can reflect on the reason for their poor grade and use it to inform their decisions for the next assignment.
3. I don’t want to mark everything twice :).
Although I do still have these hesitations and can completely understand teacher reasoning for not allowing students to redo work, I also personally find it problematic to say no when a student is asking for a way to improve. If a student is willing to put in extra time to develop their knowledge on a concept, shouldn’t that be something I encourage? It is for this reason (coupled with mounting pressure from parents, admin, and no-zero policies) that I decided to allow students the opportunity to apply for the privilege of resubmitting.
Yes, you read that correctly. My students need to apply to resubmit. If I am going to take extra time to mark an extra assignment, they are going to have to work for it. Students fill out an application, and not all requests are granted. In the application process, students must explain the following:
1. Why they should be permitted to resubmit the assignment.
2. What they have done to improve their understanding on the concept.
3. What they will do differently for future assignments/tests.
Students must also attach their original submission along with proof that they have done something to improve their understanding. I like to give a due date for the application (a week after the original work is passed back) as I personally don’t want to mark something in January that was due in September, but that would be entirely up to the teacher/school depending on their classroom and how much time they are willing to dedicate to marking or what are the expectations of their administration or district.
What I love most about this is that by making it an application process, only the students who are truly serious about putting the effort in to improve their grade will actually put the effort into the application.
It is also useful around mid-semester parent-teacher time. In recent years, I have had many parents ask if their son or daughter can redo some assignments to bring their grade up. This application allows me to tell the parent that the chance to resubmit is always provided a week after the original work is passed back, but that their child unfortunately did not take that opportunity. On the other hand, if you are okay with the student resubmitting after longer than a week, you can give the parent the application sheet to give to their child and wait to see if they will take the bait.
I should also note that this is only my own personal practice, and I understand a teacher not allowing students to resubmit and can appreciate the benefits of that philosophy.
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