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Homework Due Dates

Posted 5th December 2011 516

What is the point of due dates on homework? The many answers I have received can be summed up along these lines, “Students won’t do it if there are no due dates.”

There are two broad reasons for not doing homework. 1- you can learn without it. 2- you have other things that are more important to you.

There are also two broad reasons for doing the homework. 1- you learn material by doing problems. 2- Your grade is among the most important things to you.

Some Examples:

Student A only cares about grades. Regardless of whether or not homework helps them learn, they will only do it if it helps their grade.

Student B is focused on getting an education and it is the most important piece of their life. They learn by doing homework, and would do it, regardless of whether or not it counts for their grade

Student C Wants an education and does what it takes to learn the material, but they cannot dedicate enough time to fit all of the homework into their schedule. They do what they can before the due dates, then learn the rest of the material on their own time for the exam.

The overwhelming majority of students are like student A. There are many students who feel like they are like Student C, but in reality, Xbox and facebook take up much of their time so they fit better in group A. Students like student B are perhaps the most rare: students who want an education independent of grades.

Now, let;s remove due dates from Calculus. Those who are like student A will suffer. Because grades are the most important factor to them they will find many things that are more important to them than the homework. They will be disappointed when they do poorly exams. They will be even more disappointed when they realize how far behind they are heading into the rest of the exams.

Those who are like student B will be unaffected. They will do all of the homework that was RECOMMENDED, or even assigned with no due dates because it helps them learn.

Students like student C will actually see an improvement in their overall grade. They dedicate as much time as they can to learning the material, regardless of the due date. By removing the due dates, these students will not have to sacrifice their grade to fulfill their other responsibilities.

In short, Due Dates HELP students like student A: the bad test takers, the lazy, the procrastinating, and the grade seeking. They have no impact on the rare Student B. They hurt student C: the husbands, fathers, full time workers, and people with other demands on their time beyond education.

Most schools declare that they strive to provide a learning environment for students to learn skills to grow and learn for life.

However, as shown, due dates are either neutral or harmful to those who already have the skills and desire to continue learning. Due dates help ensure that the majority of students will get better grades, regardless of their own skills and desire to learn.

I recognize that due dates can help foster the desire to learn in many who otherwise would not have it. My problem is really with the math department policy of “No late work, no exceptions.” This pompous policy incorrectly assumes that due dates unanimously help students learn.

This is my third time taking Calculus. I am a Husband, a Father, a Young Men?s President, and a small business owner with 26 employees around the world. I am like Student C. The first time I took the class was in summer I dropped it after I realized that the homework required about 3-4 hours per day for the 9 week term. The second time I took it, I dropped the class with a W after my business grew from 9 employees to over 60 in the first two months of the semester. I dropped it, in spite of the fact that without my homework score of almost 0% I could have learned the material and earned a C.

Because I am like Student C, I did the majority of the homework for the first half of the semester. Then, work got busy again. According to my current grade estimates, my lack of time drops my final grade about 6% from an 82 to a 76. In spite of the fact that I learned the material as shown with my 82% average on exams among the highest averages in the class.

Here is what a professor told me the last time I complained about this:

P - “I see that you are right, that grading the homework is hurting you. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do. The department does not allow any exceptions to the rule.”

ME - “So, in essence, the homework assignments are hoops that everyone has to jump through.”

P- “Unfortunately, in this case, yes.”

So, Kahn Academy is free. I learn what I want, when I want. Why do I pay for college again?

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Posted by Just a thought 20th December 2011

Some (not all) colleges offer “mature” students the option of taking the exam indipendant of the coursework. It seems that this might be a solution to your problem. May be worth having a chat with your registrars office.

By the way, congrats on the business growth.

Posted by Anonymous 3rd January 2012

I never did homework in school. My reasoning: I was there 9am-4pm to learn. Outside of those times was my time. If they couldn’t teach me what I needed to know or schedule their teaching plan so that I would have time to complete the assignments in class then they were poor teachers.
I stated this to the head (principal) at the age of 12. I was never disciplined for not doing homework and I passed all my subjects with high grades.

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