How do I encourage students to start work early?
Instructors understandably take a wide variety of stances on how much they should be responsible for the process of helping the students in their class learn how to be successful students–whether that should be something they come in with or something that can and should be taught in the classroom. What we have found is that multi-part assignments, where students begin by submitting a proposal or an outline, followed by a draft, and then a finished piece produces higher quality work. This sort of scaffold helps students understand the significant amount of effort it takes to produce quality work, and experience what it looks like to complete that successfully. It can also be valuable to share estimates from past students regarding how long specific assignments took to complete successfully, and encourage them to come to your office hours to get feedback on ideas and drafts. We also recommend setting due dates for different types of assignments throughout the term. For instance, if you allow students to write up to three short papers, make one due at the end of each month of the term, with only one submission allowed per month.