When to Say Yes: Late Point Policy and Faculty Grace


Brief Abstract

What are student’s perceptions on late deductions and faculty grace? A university in the Southwest surveyed over 500 students in this descriptive, exploratory study. Results will be shared as a part of an interactive discovery session.


My name is Beverly Santelli and I am an Online Full Time Faculty at Grand Canyon University. I have taught within higher education for eight years. My areas of teaching include Critical Thinking, Information and Communication Literacy as well as General and Social Psychology. Research interests include instructor presence, technology integration and student-centered teaching practices. I have a Master's In Industrial and Organizational Psychology as well as Master's in Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology.
Sarah Robertson has a Ph.D. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction. Sarah teaches full time at Grand Canyon University within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Sarah has more than 12 years of experience in online and face-to-face higher education and maintains her teaching certifications in K-8 general, K-12 special education, and middle grades math. Her professional pursuits include action research to improve student engagement, teaching presence, motivation, and information retention and application within both online and traditional courses.

Extended Abstract

A majority of college students, up to 95%, have admitted to some form of academic procrastination (Kim & Seo 2015, Mastrianni, 2015; You, 2015). While procrastination might be seen as a harmless trait, one of its main results are late assignment submissions. Late assignments have become a topic of concern in higher education as it can be an early warning sign for at-risk students (Falkner & Falkner, 2012). Furthermore, procrastination in the online learning environment tends to be more detrimental because of the responsibility that falls upon the learner and the need for self-regulation in online environments (Field, 2015).

One way higher education institutions proactively combat procrastination and late assignment submissions is through the provision of a syllabus at the beginning of each class with due dates for assignments throughout the entire semester, something that is not done within K-12 education. Review of the syllabus at the beginning of a semester in a traditional campus course can alert students to key assignment due dates early on and help them plan ahead for weeks in which multiple classes have coinciding assignment deadlines. Within online classes, faculty may post the syllabus, provide a video with their overview and more, but it is up to the student to click on the post or resource button to review in full on their own.

Another way to combat against late assignment submissions is through the implementation of a predetermined, university-wide, late point policy. The policy informs instructors and warns students on how many points are deducted per day an assignment is submitted past the due date. It is uncertain whether or not this reduces the likelihood of procrastination, but may motivate students to submit what they have completed by the deadline. Students who do not miss an assignment deadline may also be more likely to continue on with a course. In fact, even a few minor changes in how a student goes about an academic recurring task can make concrete changes in a student’s success with the their task (Bail, Zhang, & Tachiyama, 2008).  Further, some universities allow faculty independence and request that no faculty member is stricter than the late point policy. Thus, faculty may choose to deduct less per day the assignment is late or grant students permission (grace) to submit assignments late without late point deductions. With this being the case, changes in how faculty implement the late point policy and whether or not they provide “grace” on assignments from one course to the next could confuse students on their own personal assignment completion and submission practices (Patton, 2000).

A descriptive study was completed during the second half of 2019 to explore student perceptions on late assignment policy and faculty practices of grace on late assignment submissions at one university in the Southwest. Collection and analysis of data of more than 500 participants will be completed to answer questions such as: What do students think about a university late point policy and changes in instructor implementation of said policy? How do they feel the late point policy and/or faculty grace affects them? Do they see the late point policy as a strategy to reduce their likelihood of procrastination? A quick poll will be provided to individuals attending the discovery session regarding their thoughts to student responses on aforementioned questions. Additionally, a flyer with major study findings and a QR code and link to extended discussion and presentation materials will be provided to audience members. Interactive conversation of results as well as feedback from audience of their interpretation and takeaways will be interwoven into the discovery session presentation.