Teachers should not set deadlines at 11:59

March 25, 2020 — by Ethan Lin and Allen Luo

It is a common sight for students to see assignment deadlines set at 11:59 p.m. on the Canvas learning management system. Dread and panic follows as this time draws closer. 

Some students, being inclined to procrastination, wait to the last minute to complete the assignment. To relieve this stress, teachers should take a few seconds and pay more attention to when their assignments are due with an eye toward maximizing students’ sleep and minimizing their tendency to procrastinate. 

Generally, homework should not be treated differently than paper homework, which is typically due during the period. 

The default setting on Canvas for assignment due dates is effectively 11:59 pm, a deadline many teachers often fail to change. Changing the due date to before the period starts would reduce stress for students. It would also help standardize the expectations surrounding both homework itself and when it is due.

Even though setting the deadline at that time may be intended to help students sleep earlier, it just results in greater stress. Most students stay up past midnight, so the deadline at 11:59 p.m. doesn’t help anyway. 

Instead, the rush to get in an assignment at that time pushes back other homework and reduces efficiency and quality in the work being produced, both of which are undesirable. 

It also isn’t logical that an assignment would be due hours before the class starts when it won’t be looked at or graded until during or after that period.

To accommodate students' well-being and common assignment norms, teachers should just change the default Canvas settings accordingly. Those extra few minutes spent changing due dates to a more plausible time can save not only time for students, but also relieve some of the stress to finish all their homework.

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