How Much Deadline Flexibility on Formative Assessments Should We Be Giving to Our Students?

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Recent studies have proposed new ways of providing learning experiences and measuring students' achievement of learning goals, grounded on the principles of growth mindset, mastery learning, and specifications grading. In one initiative called “A's for All (as time and interest allow)”, students are given the support to achieve the proficiency they want (not necessarily an A) as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort, thus providing students more control over their learning. One mechanism to support proficiency at different paces is to soften some of the assignment deadlines. In this study we investigated two particular flexible deadline policies, in which the summative assessment (exam) dates were kept fixed but the formative assessments deadlines were more flexible. Students were still expected to complete homework and pre-lectures within one week from the starting date for full credit. To add flexibility, in one semester (the Lenient schedule) students could submit homework until the end of the semester for 96% credit, and in the other semester (the Strict schedule) the 96% credit deadline was moved to the exam date corresponding to the formative assessments. We found that both flexible schedules resulted in fewer students completing the formative assessments. More students completed the homeworks before the exam date in the Strict semester, motivated by the partial credit deadline. Completion of formative assessments before the exams correlated with better performance, even when controlling for student GPA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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