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Non-Disposable Assignments

If you’ve heard me speak in the last several months, you’ve probably heard me rail against “disposable assignments.” These are assignments that students complain about doing and faculty complain about grading. They’re assignments that add no value to the world – after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away. Not only do these assignments add no value to the world, they actually suck value out of the world. Talk about an incredible waste of time and brain power (an a potentially huge source of cognitive surplus)!


What if we changed these “disposable assignments” into activities which actually added value to the world? Then students and faculty might feel different about the time and effort they invested in them. I have seen time and again that they do feel different about the efforts they make under these circumstances.

David Wiley, Killing the Disposable Assignment

Here are some key readings and examples of non-disposable assignments (also called renewable assignments or sometimes called open pedagogies). Feel free to check them out.


  • Paskevicius, M. & Knaack, L. (2017). The Non-Disposable Assignment: Enhancing Personalized Learning | Slideshare Deck
  • Wiley, D. (2013). What is Open Pedagogy? Iterating Towards Openness | Blog Post
  • DeRosa, R. (n.d.). Reduced Disposability | Website
  • Ragad Anwar; Jessica Kalra; Maggie Ross; Daryl Smith; and Vicki Vogel (n.d.). Renewable Assessments Chapter in Encouraging Academic Integrity Through a Preventative Framework | Book
  • Hendricks, C. (2015). Non-Disposable Assignments in Intro to Philosophy | Blog Post
  • Hendricks, C.  (October 29, 2015). Renewable assignemnts: Student work adding value to the world | UBC Blog Post
  • Levine, A. (February 21, 2017). The Challenge of Non-Disposable Assignments | Blog Post
  • eCampus Ontario (January 16, 2018). An Era of Disposable Assignments? | News Post
  • Seraphin, S. B., et al. (2019). A Conceptual Framework for Non-Disposable Assigsnments: Inspiring Implementation, Innovation, and Research | Published Journal Article 
  • Katz, S. and Van Allen, J. (2020). Evolving Into the Open: A Framework for Collaborative Design of Renewable Assignments | Published Journal Article


Examples of Non-Disposable Assignments

  • Jhangiani, R. and DeRosa, R. (2018). Open Pedagogy Notebook: Sharing Practices, Building Community | Assignment Examples  | Website
  • Open Education Group (2017-2018) Renewable Assignments | Website
  • University Central Florida | Foster Meaningful Learning with Renewable Assignments | Website
  • Hendricks – Open Pedagogy Examples of Class Activities | Website
  • Project Management for Instructor Designers | Open Book (Pressbooks platform) by students and faculty at Brigham Young University which now includes multiple video case studies; completely rewritten examples in-text; alignment with the Project Management Professional certification exam; an expanded glossary; and downloadable HTML, PDF, ePub, MOBI, and MP3 versions of the book (among other improvements). The book is also used as the official course text at least one other university.
  • Open Pedagogy Examples | Bcampus Google Doc List
  • Chem Wiki which later became a LibreText is one of the largests non-disposable assignments through a collaboration of students and faculty doing a non-disposable assignment | Chemistry LibreText
  • From Consumer to creator: Students as producters of content | Simon Bates’ Class Creating learning objects | Assignment Steps | Website
  • Beasley-Murray, Jon. (n.d.) Wikiproject: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem. Wikipedia. Retrieved from
  • NOBA Project – 2016-17 Student Video Award Winners – Students creating resources as assignments | Website