What’s the big deal if I don’t do an assignment or lab?

Taking an online course seems so much easier than trekking to campus every week to sit in class, but it isn’t! Without dedicated classroom time, you are always pressured to “carve out” time from your busy schedule to get your work done in each class that you are taking. Online students must have a lot of self-discipline to make sure that each week they set aside time to go online and get their work completed.

One area that can trip up even strong students is when an assignment is missed and you think “That’s no big deal, I have an A average already”. But missing even one assignment can wreck your grade average for that category. For example, in one online class we had a special project that involved recording a job interview. Some students completed it quickly, but others had delays due to finding time to meet with their interviewer, or they had issues with the technology. Those students got a zero on the assignment because they failed to turn anything in on time.

Three students with a high “A” average then had low “C” averages with the missing assignment. For example: before the missing assignment a student’s grade average was 95 for the assignment category, but with a zero for the missing assignment, the grade average dropped to 77. That is a two letter grade drop just from missing one assignment.

Assignments, labs, and discussion boards are things directly under your control – you pick the time to complete it, and you have resources to use to complete the work. It is important to maintain high averages in those areas you do control in order to give you a cushion for a quiz or exam score that may not be as great as you wish.

Discussion board postings are another category where students may not realize the impact of not doing the weekly work. In an online course, the discussion board postings are the equivalent to raising your hand and participating in class. Which means this category is time sensitive and if you miss it – you can’t make up the work.

So how much are those discussion board posts worth to your final grade? You can see the categories of grading by looking at the syllabus for the class. In the syllabus it will indicate what type of work will be graded and the “weight” of that category. For example, if a discussion board category is given a weight of 25% that means that all your work in discussion board postings will be averaged, and that final score then represents ¼ of your final grade! The larger the weighted percent, the bigger the impact that category will have on your final grade.


Patt Peterson, HIT Online Program Coordinator