Assigning and grading homework can be tricky. The point of homework is to give students a chance to practice on their own, allowing them to truly concentrate on the problem without time constraints or worrying about what classmates will think.
However, the reality is that a lot of students hastily throw together an assignment just to get it done in time.
It’s not exactly a surprise. Between other classwork, sports, extra curricular activities, and of course their ever important social calendars, there’s not always a lot of time. They think that if they just hand in something, anything, it’s better than nothing. And yes, in one way, it is better than nothing. But at the same time, it also kind of defeats the purpose. When this happens, the students don’t actually get the practice that they need in order to truly learn the concepts at hand.
For assignments that I feel need to be redone, I put an “R” footnote in pencil in the gradebook instead of a score. They are aware that this placeholder acts as a zero unless they bother to go back and do a more thorough job on the assignment. Then it’s treated as late work and they can earn up to a ¾ score. (The same score as a complete, late assignment).
I’d rather have the students actually go back and get the practice they need than handing in sloppy work just to have something counted. The temporary zero motivates them to take the time and effort to actually TRY over the next weekend when they have the time.
Being accountable for the work and also knowing that they aren’t going to get off easy are valuable lessons in life. That’s why letting students redo their work is actually very beneficial for them.
I believe that this type of policy also goes for assessments; allowing students to correct their tests where they can earn as much as half of their missed points back. For a full explanation of how I make this work, make sure to check out my post on Procedures for Test Corrections.
How Students Benefit from a Good Re-Do Policy:
- More practice and familiarity
- Boosts their confidence
- Builds accountability
- Prepares them for the real world
When students get to redo their assignments, they get to re-address the problems and actually get familiar with the material. Knowing they get a second chance helps them be more motivated to complete the assignment. Their self-esteem also comes into play when they realize that you believe in their ability to get it done right.
As Rick Wormeli, a 30-year teaching veteran, stated in his article Redos and Retakes Done Right, “Students hope that teachers see the moral, competent, and responsible self inside them, waiting to shed its immature shell.” Students like to feel that their teachers know they have potential.
And it also gets them ready for the real world. So many high stake professions allow for practice and retakes. It’s rare that in the adult world you find a one and done situation. The Bar exam is a perfect example. It can take some lawyers years to pass this test. But they always get to try again. Redoing equals practice, which will only enhance the wealth of knowledge. Many exams we take as adults allow us retakes, so why not let students redo a few assignments with less credit?
The same holds true in the workplace. If students turn in a sloppy report or show a hastily thrown together project at work someday, they’ll have to re-do it to meet the standards, and suffer the consequences of disappointing a boss, staying overtime, or losing a client for example. Student life can get busy, and at times, grading techniques must reflect this.
Do you allow retakes? Let us know why or why not in the comments below. We would love to read about systems that work well for this! Thanks for sharing.
For more tips, ideas, and resources for math teachers, enter your email to subscribe: