Extra Credit can be an effective tool in your classroom if used in the correct manner. However, it can also be a point of contention and a headache for the teacher if used incorrectly. It's important that we take some time to look at extra credit critically before just jumping and using it in class. Following are some pro's and con's of using extra credit along with advice to help make its use effective in your class environment.
Pros of Using Extra Credit
Extra credit provides students with an incentive to go above and beyond the class material. If used to enhance lessons, it can help deepen the learning for students. It can also help struggling students by providing them with additional learning opportunities while allowing them a means to increase their grade.
Cons of Using Extra Credit
On the other hand, if there are too many opportunities for extra credit in a course it could possibly outweigh the required assignments to the point where a student could pass without meeting all the standards. In the same vein, some educators believe that extra credit reduces the import of the required assignments by providing students with the ability to increase their grade.
Do's and Don'ts When Using Extra Credit
If you've decided that you wish to offer extra credit in your class, you will need to make sure of a couple of things.
- Do connect your extra credit to either lessons in class or classroom pertinent current events.
- Don't create extra credit that does not connect to your curriculum or standards.
- Do provide the same extra credit opportunities to all students.
- Don't make spur of the moment extra credit opportunities that are not equally available to all students.
- Do tell your students when you assign extra credit how much it will be worth and how you will grade it.
- Don't grade each student's extra credit using different standards.
- Do make sure that you are not outweighing your required assignments with points for extra credit.
- Don't create so much extra credit that students are able to pass without completing the required work.
- Do make extra credit assignments interesting and pertinent for students if possible.
- Don't allow 'busy work' like copying from a book to be extra credit.
- Do set a clear deadline for when extra credit is due.
- Don't allow students to turn in late extra credit as this is just an accounting nightmare.
- Do consider your grading time when assigning extra credit.
- Don't create extra credit assignments that the educational value is not equivalent to the student or teacher effort involved.