There are a lot of ways of handling late homework submissions, of which I've only tried a few. The general policy I've settled on is something like the following.
- Homework must be submitted at the beginning of class on the day it's due.
- Late homework is not accepted.
This is pretty harsh, I think. But with this policy in place, I make unofficial exceptions on a case-by-case basis (it's easier to start with an overly harsh policy and make exceptions in the students' favour than the other way around), for example, if a student happens to be late to class on a day that homework is due.
I want students to be motivated to hand in their work on time. Highly motivated. That's why I make the official policy so strict. But I feel bad about actually adhering to such draconian measures (they should get zero for missing the bus?), which is why I make exceptions. But overall, I'm dissatisfied with the ad hoc nature of this approach. How can I motivate students to submit homework by the deadline without being "overly harsh"?