Responsibility

I received this via email from one of my teachers this week. It was sent to the entire class. It reminds me that personal responsibility for your action or inaction is mandatory.

I bet he has to send it out every term.

I sometimes have to say no to my students.

I once had to tell one student that I couldn’t give them credit for submitting the answers for an assignment after the cutoff date. Even though they were sick the day the assignment was due.

I also had to tell a student that I couldn’t give them any points for an assessment quiz even they knew the right answer but forgot to “Save” the answer before selecting “Finish” for the quiz.

Another time, a student missed an final exam cutoff date because they didn’t check the exam dates. Another student forgot about the midterm exam. They wanted an extra day to do the exams. I had to tell those students no also.

Another student experienced internet communication errors when they tried to do their exam at 10:00pm on the last day the exam was available. I had to tell that student no time extension could be allowed.

Another student wanted to do the final exam two days before the deadline, but got sick, and then took a vacation airplane flight during spring break on the last day the final was available. Airplane connections were missed and the student arrived at their destination after the final exam deadline. I had to tell that student no time extension could be allowed.

All of the above students had 10 days to complete their assigned work or exam. But they had what i call “last-minute-itis”. It has been my experience that roughly 40% of any class waits until the last day that coursework or an exam is due, before they do the work. That is their right to do so. Just make sure that you fully accept the consequences of any such decision – good or bad.

This acceptance of responsibility also applies to being short a few points of getting a better grade due to neglecting to do some of the weekly module coursework etc.

One student had a total of 59.3 points at the end of the term and another student had 79.8 points at the end of the term. Both wanted some extra credit work to improve their grade even though they had not done several discussion topic posts, assessment quizzes, and assignments during the class or had not done well on the midterm or final exam. I had to tell both students no.

I have also had to tell students that even though they did the assignment before the cutoff date, they didn’t submit it by the cutoff deadline. It was their responsibility to check to see if their assignment, quiz, or discussion submission was received correctly and on time. I could not grant one student an exception when there were other students who had the same situation but never notified me and they would not have the benefit of an date extension that was given to another student.

I don’t like saying no. It bothers me and makes me sad that I could not be lenient.

I couldn’t extend cutoff dates or give extra credit work etc. because of two reasons:

1) It would be unfair to all of the other students who didn’t get the same exception.

For example, a cutoff date extension cannot be given to just one student. That would penalize all of the students who had already submitted their work or exam before the cutoff date because they would not have received the benefit of extra time to study for the exam, do the assignment etc. Once the final exam is done, some students never logon again. Giving extra credit work to some students after the end of the class and not to others is unfair.

2) The administration at Portland Community College has expressly told me that I have to follow the syllabus exactly with no deviation for the above reason of fairness. In addition, if a deviation for one student was permitted, all of the other students in the class would have justification for filing a grievance against PCC.

This is why the course syllabus is very explicit about assignment cutoff dates and times, taking of assessment quizzes once, making discussion posts instead of just reading posts by other students etc.

So students should read the syllabus and ALL my emails. Very. Carefully.

This is why the assignments, assessment quizzes, and discussion topics in my online class are each available for 10 days before their deadlines. That is more than enough time to do the work.

That time period means that problems with your computer, internet connection, being sick, on vacation somewhere else, having a job (or jobs), being in an automobile accident, having surgery, being pregnant, giving birth, being stressed, forgot, etc. etc. etc. are not valid excuses since within that time period you would normally be able to communicate with me and overcome any such problems.

The Desire2Learn website is fully functional at least 99.99% of the time. However, there are a tremendous number of hardware devices, software products, and internet communication companies between your personal computer and the Desire2Learn website. All of which can cause problems. And you may also experience communication errors within your own Desire2Learn session on your personal computer such as “Session already running” etc.

If you do your weekly coursework a few days before the cutoff deadline and email me about a problem, I still have time before the cutoff deadline to help you. If you wait until the last day and have problems, I won’t be able to help you because I may not see any email from you until after the cutoff deadline for the coursework.

So any last minute problems on the day before a cutoff date, including technology issues, are not valid excuses. This includes not only the weekly coursework but also the midterm and final exams.

So, if at all possible, always do ANY coursework or exam several days before the last day that it is due.

The only valid excuse for extending a cutoff date that will be accepted is if the student is totally physically incapacitated, e.g. in a hospital intensive care ward, such that it is impossible for them to use a computer and do the coursework.

No extra credit work is permitted because it would be unfair to the students that did not have the same opportunity.

I hate to be so dogmatic and inflexible.

I do care about your success. I want you to do well in this course and will help you understand the course material.

However, I respect all of my students enough to treat them as adults and let them judge how much time they need to do the class work and when to do it so that they meet the coursework cutoff times. Anything less would tell a student that I have no faith in them to act like an adult. And an adult takes responsibility for the consequences of their actions and decisions instead of making excuses.

You can do well in this class. But every student must take responsibility for their own success and fully understand and meet the course requirements that must be applied equally to all of the students in the class. I must let you be the one to determine how successful you will be.

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