Extension Policy Best Practices

No one extension request policy is necessarily best for any class or assignment category.

You might want to consider the following objectives when determining what extension request policies to use in your class.

Motivating your students to complete all assignments
For assignments like practice assignments that do not strongly affect your students' grades, high extension penalties or having to request a manual extension might discourage completion if an extension is needed.
Motivating your students to submit assignments on time
For assignments like quizzes or tests that have more impact on grades, your students are more motivated to complete the assignments. Require manual extension requests and impose higher penalties for extensions to encourage your students to complete their work on time.
Motivating your students to make good decisions — that is, not to request an extension without having a good reason for needing one
Weigh the maturity and motivation of your students against the time that you or your assistant can devote to responding to manual extension requests. For frequent assignments like homework, automatic extensions with reasonable penalties can hold students accountable to themselves, rather than to you, for on-time completion of their work.

You will likely have different answers for different categories of assignments. For example, you might want to use the following policies:

  • Practice assignments: unlimited 3-day automatic extensions for 14 days after the assignment due date, with a penalty of 20% off of questions answered correctly after the original due date.
  • Homework: unlimited 1-day automatic extensions for 7 days after the assignment due date, with a penalty of 30% off of questions answered correctly after the original due date.
  • Quizzes, Tests, and Labs: manual extensions only.

Even if you grant extension requests manually, you might want to decide ahead of time how many extensions you want to allow students to have, their duration, and any penalties you want to apply.

Whatever extension policies you want to use in your class — automatic extensions, manual extensions, some combination of the two, or no extensions at all — you should communicate this to your students. Consider listing your extension policies in a class announcement or in your syllabus.