That is why I allow (well, to be honest, more like REQUIRE) students to redo their work sometimes. To me, it’s not acceptable to allow students to hand in assignments that are not fully complete or have been thrown together at the last minute.
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).
Of course, I could have offered a score of 2/4 or ¾ for “incomplete” work at homework checking time (see my full homework scoring policy here (link). But that's what a student who scribbled out a few lines on the way into class is often hoping for. It's the easy way out, and what some students in a rush are willing to settle for instead of putting in the effort.
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.
However, the key to this working and remaining fair to everyone is that the students don’t get the full amount of credit they would have if they would have done it thoroughly and correctly the first time. Don’t let them be lazy and get off without doing the work just because they don’t mind getting a lower grade. As teachers we need to make them step up and do it. Basically, it’s all about accountability.
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:
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.
I’ve collected more thoughts to share about my grading techniques that may be useful for you and beneficial to your students. From points to footnotes, there are a lot of tips and tricks here to help you keep track and also keep students accountable. Read more about it here Grading Homework: A Four-Point System.
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.
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