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I recently had an email from a student asking if she could resubmit an assignment. She did not do as well on the assignment as she had wanted and asked if she could redo it.

I receive email like this all the time. A student will submit a paper, and then after it is graded, they send me an email that says something like, “Now that I know what you are expecting, can I redo it?”

Of course, my answer to that question is no. And here’s why.

First, the most obvious: If I let one student redo an assignment, I would have to give that same opportunity to everyone. That would eliminate the whole point of evaluating a student’s comprehension and understanding of the assignment. It would be like giving a student a quiz, and then after I provide feedback through the process of grading, let them take it again. It would not take long for everyone to figure out that there is no need to prepare for the quiz, just take the quiz, have it graded, and retake it once the answers are given. Everyone would receive an “A” with little or no effort.

But there is another reason why I will not let a student redo an assignment once it has been graded. And this has more to do with good habits. If you have read my book, you know that I stress the importance of reading all the announcements posted by your instructor. An instructor will often give suggestions on the best way to complete an assignment. Perhaps he or she will also give insight into what they are looking for in your response to an assignment.

That is what happened with the student I mentioned earlier. She read the instructions but did not review my announcement about the assignments due that week. In that announcement, I mentioned one of the things I would be looking for in the assignment. In the email, the student remarked that this was not included in the instructions, so she did not think it was fair to lose points for not including it.

Before you begin nodding your head in agreement, there is one more thing that needs to be considered, and that is the grading rubric. Another habit I write about in my book is checking the grading rubric for the assignment before you begin working on it. That way you know what is going to be evaluated. I also suggest you check the rubric again before you submit the assignment as a way of grading yourself. When you do, ask yourself, did you meet all the expectations in the rubric? Or are there things I need to improve?

This is where my student dropped the ball and why I did not allow her to redo the assignment. She read the instructions for the assignment but did not review the rubric before submitting it, which listed the requirement that she missed. Ignoring the rubric is no different than beginning a task at work without knowing what the outcome is supposed to be.

For example, suppose your manager told you to compile a list of all the customers that have come into the store over the past week, and then add up all the purchases that were made. He then hands you a list of the criteria he wants you to list in your report. Would you ignore the criteria and just input all the names of the customers with the total amount of purchases they made? No! You would check the criteria to get a better idea of what your manager is looking for and compile the information based on that.

The same goes for completing assignments. The instructions give you the basics of what is expected, but the grading rubric lists the specifics of how your assignment will be evaluated.

Consider this. The instructions for an assignment ask you to write a paper summarizing the reading assignments for the week. It is to be 2 to 3 pages in length and written in APA Style. Would you just begin listing the key points from the reading and submit your paper? I hope not. Before you attempt to write your assignment, you would check the grading rubric to ensure you know how your paper will be evaluated.

For instance, a grading rubric may include evaluating your introduction. Did it include a thesis statement? Another area that is common in most rubrics concerns support. Did you include support from your reading assignments in your paper? These are just two areas of several that are typically included in a grading rubric for a written assignment.

My point is this. Were those items included in the instructions for the assignment? No. But they are listed in the grading rubric.

The bottom line is you should not be surprised when you receive a grade for your assignment. If you read the announcements posted by your instructor and review the grading rubric before beginning your assignments, you will know the criteria your instructor will use to evaluate your paper.

If you want to learn more tips and strategies for being a successful online student, check out my book, Online College Success. Click here to read more about it at