Appropriate Extra Credit
Posted March 28, 2011on:
As I mentioned before, I’m on the fence with extra credit. I’m now totally convinced that anything purchased for extra credit is just plain wrong. I don’t think there is a gray area here. No pay-for-points. I’ll play the benefit to society game because the results outweigh the costs. I will provide extra credit when it works to my advantage. If the students correctly answer their WebAssign problems 48 hours before the due date of 8am Monday morning, there is a 10% bonus. For a very few extra points, I get far fewer Sunday night emails. Instead, they want the extra credit, so they bring in the problem during school and ask for guidance. The result is they are looking at the work early in the week rather than waiting until the last minute. Am I tricking them into better study habits? I’ll take that.
I do like the idea that extra credit is for work above and beyond the norm. This brings me back to where I am right now, with a lot of kids in bad shape as the end of the quarter nears. My fear is that the normal grade distribution will be badly shifted by an extra credit assignment. I am a big fan of a normal curve, with an average at a C+. I give challenging tests and curve up to make the class average about 77%. The A’s earn their A’s, as do the F’s.
So what is an appropriate extra credit assignment? Here are a few ideas I’m thinking about:
- A 2000 word research paper on a Nobel prize winner in physics and the impact of the discovery on our every day life.
- A video that teaches a physics concept, done so that I can use it in class. It should be scripted, edited, and several minutes long.
- For less points – Creation or redesign of a lab for use in future classes.
None of these can be group projects; they must all be individual efforts. Points awarded for this level of effort should be valued at about 5% of the total quarterly points.
I’m right at the point where I need to assign these if I’m going to allow extra credit. The quarter ends in about 12 days. I could use some feedback.