Excuses For Submitting Late Assignments

I'm teaching a course where coursework is submitted online. Recently, an important group project assignment was due. The students are required to submit a project report, which contains a link to a video produced by the students, usually uploaded onto a site such as YouTube, Google Drive or Dropbox. We had announced that for every day that an assignment is late, students will lose 10% of their score for that assignment.

As you might have predicted, there were several student groups who submitted their assignments late. The problem is that some of these students have sent me e-mails begging me not to impose the penalty for late submission. They gave reasons such as:

  • The original PDF file which we submitted was corrupted, so after the deadline, we had to submit the PDF again
  • There were some technical problems with the original video link, such that it is not possible for the video to be viewed at that link, so we had to upload a new video and are now sending you the new link
  • The project was due at 9 PM, and we submitted it at 9 PM (see our screenshot!) but the system marked it as late

Initially, I told them that they will be penalized as specified in the policy, in order to be fair to the students who did submit their work on time. However, the students continued to say that I should be more considerate or fair.

In my mind, I want to say to these students, "Stop wasting my time arguing for marks!" But this doesn't seem to be the right way for me to respond to the students. How should I respond to these students who keep on asking me not to penalize them when the penalty is deserved?


Typical Procedures for Assignment Extensions

In order for a formal extension to be granted, students are normally required to apply in advance. This means completing a form and submitting it to your Course Tutor for them to approve and sign. The form will typically ask for the detailed circumstances that prevent you from meeting the deadline. If the Tutor agrees to your request, he or she will assign you a new deadline based on your circumstances (usually 1-2 weeks later). Both of you must sign the form, which will then be passed on to University Administrators.

Note! If you require a last-minute extension and cannot meet with your Tutor before the deadline, most universities will allow you to complete the extension form and submit it to your Course Administrator. Provided that your Tutor subsequently approves the request, this will count as making the extension request in good time.

Avoiding the Need for Extensions

Many of the situations listed above are not always considered serious enough to warrant an Assignment Extension. It is therefore best to avoid the need for an extension in the first place, by planning ahead and allowing yourself enough time to deal with unforeseen circumstances!

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