November 15, 2011
Motivate students to learn by offering “extra credit” opportunities that reinforce course learning outcomes
Near the end of a term, more students will ask their instructors if they will give them opportunities to earn extra credit to improve a course grade. Instructors have many good reasons to object to these requests. Completing an extra assignment requires time that a struggling student ought to allocate to study and completion of regular course assignments. Students often expect that the extra work will earn all the credit they need to make the target grade. If a student spends time on an extra assignment and still does badly in the course, the unmet expectations create a conflict between the student and the instructor. If the extra credit activity is unrelated to the primary learning outcomes of the course, the inflated grades will fail to accurately describe student achievement on the student learning outcomes for the course.
The following assignments and activities can be used to provide students with opportunities to improve their course grade and motivate students to learn the intended course skills and content.
Thanks to Ed Gehringer, North Carolina State University, Stacy Jacob, Texas Tech University, Stuart McKelvie, Bishop’s University, and June Pilcher, Clemson University for suggestions included in this teaching tip.
Updated 03/26/13 lrg
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