Extra credit is the bane of my existence. (Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still....) There are some cases when I'm happy to oblige a student who has been consistently diligent but really struggles. However, most of those who ask for it either don't need it or haven't done their regular work, literally, and simply want to rack up points at the last minute to save themselves from trouble.
Extra credit--yes or no?
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I generally don't offer extra credit, since I agree that students who don't do their work in the first place shouldn't have an opportunity to make up for it at the end of the marking period. However, we ran into a book shortage this year in my Honors class (our numbers kept growing, and we were a few books short for titles like Othello, Great Expectations, and Lord of the Flies. I offered extra credit to students who were willing to purchase the book, and it actually worked out really well. I've always told them that the best way to read is to take notes in the text, but they obviously can't do that if the book belongs to the school. I had lots of parents comment that they were so happy their children could keep the books that they purchased and refer to them at a later time. So in this case, the best students (the ones who were willing to purchase the books) were the ones who took advantage of the extra credit--and it wasn't just for the points, it was so they could write in their texts.
Most of the students who ask for extra credit are the ones who don't do their work to begin with. They think they can erase a dozen zeroes by doing one big project. I don't give extra credit in those cases, but I do put extra credit questions on tests, and the students can choose whether to answer them. They are usually essay questions and require a little more thinking than students usually like to do.
I only give one extra credit opportunity and it's an on going activity. Vocabulary is still a large part of our curriculum. Most of the words are connected to the SATs. However, I find that students cannot actually apply the use of the word to every day texts. Therefore, I allow students to use their vocabulary in their writing (limited # of course, depending on the assignment length and amount of points) and I give them a point for each vocabulary word used correctly. This can be from both the literature and the vocabulary book. I feel this is a great way for vocabulary words to become a part of their everyday vocabulary.
Students who care about their grade usually take advantage of this right from the start. Others ask in a last minute effort at the end of the marking period. With this vocabulary assignment in place, it allows me to say to a parent that their student has had an ongoing opportunity for extra credit, and I do not give end of the term extra credit assignments.
I never offer extra credit on an individual basis. If it is not something I would extend to the entire class, I don't extend it.
That said, in public school, I was required to "provide a way" to allow every student to pass.
What this amounted to was "extended time" on everything. Essentially - the grades were lowered to D minuses on everything that was overdue - but if a student could get everything in before the end of the semester (and sometimes beyond if my principal intervened) he or she could get a D minus. At first I hated it. But then, it hit me - a D minus is still pretty bad - and (as I'm sure every administrator was thinking) it saves the county more tax dollars on the student repeating the class as a result of missing due dates. I'm over it now. D-? Fine. A/B students are competing. D- students are getting through.
I agree with all the above posts. extra credit should not be a last ditch attempt by a student or parents to save a quarter or semester grade after not doing anything the rest of the grading period. In my opinion school districts should have a district wide policy against extra credit, then parents can take it up with administration rather than hounding an individual teacher about it.
I've always been quick to clarify the difference between "extra credit" and "instead of credit."
I never offer extra credit opportunities when students request it individually as it almost always is in response to the student having a sudden need to improve his or her overall grade. I can't think of a single instance when this had to do with learning; it had to do with a grade.
I'm not a big supporter of "extra credit". I think it may have something to do with the terminology and the negative implication that become to be associated with it. I tend to favor the "above and beyond" kind of assignment because it implies that it is pushing beyond expectations. I don't think any kind of assignment, "extra credit" or "above and beyond", should be "in place of" assignments. Students need to be held accountable for the work given and expected, and there should be no replacement for that work. "Extra" work should indicate "extra" and not "instead of work."
I didn't give extra credit work when I taught high school, and I don't include it in my college classes--for reasons already expressed here. Refusing to give extra credit work breaks the I can goof off during the semester and pull my grade out of the fire at the last minute. Giving extra credit work to students who follow this strategy does reinforce their behavior, and it also makes their problem my problem as I'm grading all of those nick-of-time assignments.
I think the important thing here is to make it plain in the beginning that there will be no extra credit work and stick to it. I always put this in writing in syllabi and pointed it out in classes at the beginning of each semester, emphasizing that assignments will be well explained, students will get whatever help they needed in completing assignments, and a reasonable amout of time will be given to complete assignments.
On several occasions in high school classes, I had students sign a statement acknowledging that they knew there would be no extra credit work in the course. This made it clear that I wouldn't change my mind at the end of the semester.
In regard to struggling students who work hard, I think the time to help them is at the time, dealing with each assignment as they complete it, not letting them get into serious trouble along the way.
I offer a standing extra credit assignment. There are two options--one, to go online to interactive grammar quizzes where a student would read a review of an area of weakness, take the quiz, and print out the results. Most of the quizzes have 10 or more questions. I would award 5 extra credit points for each quiz of 8 or more correct answers...no student can turn in the same quiz twice for points.
The other option is to be alert and awake while reading magazines, newspapers, billboards, church bulletins, etc. and locate grammar and usage errors. To get the points, a student must bring in the error, explain why it is incorrect, and how to correct it. Again, each instance is worth 5 extra credit points, and I will award it to the first student to turn it in. No repeats.
This serves two purposes...they are actually having to work to get the extra credit and they are exercising their abilities in reading, writing, grammar and usage.
No and no and no! OK - to tell the truth I have given extra credit but only when I feel students have really done badly for reasons perhaps somewhat outside of their control. For this I have allowed students to submit a reflection on presentations for example reflecting on what went well, what didn't, what they would do differently next time, and allowed a certain amount of extra credit for that, but apart from that no extra credit.
I do not give extra credit assignments. I tell students that if they do their work, put effort into their work, and turn their work in on time, they do not need extra credit. I think it is a good lesson for students to see the consequences of not completeing work. If a student doesn't do his work and then at the last minute gets extra credit to raise his grade, I don't think he will see the consequences of not completing work.
I offer extra credit rarely, and almost never individually. The student who asks you for extra credit really isn't interested in learning more, they just want to bring their grade up because they didn't work hard enough to master the basic material for the homework or tests. So my standard response to these students who ask is: "Nope, I'm going to have you work on plain old credit first before we go for the extra credit, OK?" They usually understand.
That is a tough call, I agree. My thoughts usually go towards test corrections as a form of extra credit. But the kids have to explain why their original answer is not correct, as well as provide the correct one. I'll also go along with one of my science teacher friends, and give credit for research on questions the kids ask that I don't know the answer to. I don't give much for that, but if they are interested enough to follow up on something I want to know, myself, I'll give them some credit.
My experience with extra credit (at the middle school level) was that students fooled around during the entire marking period, only to rise to the occasion and articulate everything that was covered in an extra credit situation. I have experience teaching in a lower-economic, urban, multicutulural environment. These students come from a diverse background with diverse cultural experiences. Extra credit, for me, is an essential teaching strategy. I have to implement extra credit. Students go back to Mexico and don't come back until the end of the school semester. Students live in group homes and disappear for long periods of time. Students come from broken homes and live with different parents who have different home rules. If I don't implement extra credit and project work, these students will fail in the academic world with the standard tools as multiple choice testing, writing papers, performance in the classroom. It's not fair to hold everyone up to the same standards when they come into the classroom with such diversity and such dynamics. I have to adjust. I understand it is more work for me, but I am in a position to be of service, and I try to do that with integrity.
Giving extra credit is really based on the reason for my students. I do not give extra credit in lieu of doing regular credit work. However, if a student completes regular credit assignments and needs extra credit to bring their grade up, I have assignments planned in for doing that. It is not a last minute thing, however. It is more like contract work. If a student wants to earn extra points, and is willing to do the extra work, then I give extra credit. Some students use it to bring grades up to an A or B. Others use it to keep from failing. I have leveled assignments that earn extra points based on the level of the assignment, some earning more points than others. It is NEVER just busy work, or easy work for those who don't want to work. My extra credit work is harder that the regular work, because the points earned are above and beyond regular credit points.
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