Late Paper Coupons

Some students have busier lives than we ever dreamed of at their age. And almost everyone misses a deadline now and then. With those thoughts in mind, I decided it would be a good move on my part to offer students late paper coupons that allowed them to hand in an assignment one day late without penalty. I gave each student one coupon at the beginning of the grading period, and occasionally another one could be earned as a reward.

For the most part the plan worked as I hoped. I kept the rules as simple as possible. Once it was clear that I wasn’t budging on the “no extra credit for unused coupons” bit, students either used them or didn’t. I didn’t see any evidence of counterfeiting, perhaps because I used a unique design and leftover Christmas letterhead paper. Requests of “I lost mine, can I have another one?” were answered with, “Sorry, no.” I was pleased with the way it worked until the semester I had Mandy in class.

Mandy was very bright and not altogether school oriented. We’ve all had (or been) students like her. One day she breezed into class, dropped a coupon on my desk, and said, “I didn’t do the homework you asked us to read last night. I heard we’ve having a pop quiz today. I’ll take mine tomorrow.”

It was very clever of her and rather brassy. I was taken aback and impressed at the same time. After a moment I was able to sputter, “It doesn’t work that way.” Fortunately, the dreaded “You never said we couldn’t” never came.

That was the last semester for late paper coupons. The faculty conversation shifted more toward expecting students to meet deadlines, and the program went away. From time to time, though, I think of Mandy and wonder what she’s up to. Whatever she decides she wants, I’m pretty sure she’ll get it.

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I’m participating in Kelly Hines’ Blogging Challenge. This is Day Four, “What’s one thing you did with students … that you will (or will not) do again? Why?”

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