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Monday, January 29, 2018

Is Extra Credit a Viable Teaching Tool?

Does your school require you to give extra credit to students who don’t get the grades they expected?  Do you wonder how to make extra credit a viable teaching tool without creating unnecessary work for yourself?  Then my post on extra credit is for you!

Is Extra Credit a Viable Teaching Tool?

Many schools are moving toward a “no fail” policy for students.  In response, teachers are turning to creative ways to help students learn the material. One such way is extra credit. 

First, I’d like to look at the pros and cons.


If a student wants to show mastery of the content in a way other than a test, you might want to consider it on a case by case basis, but it would have to be something meaningful.  I talk more about that in the "Things to Consider" section below.


If you already do the following, it might pad a student's grade too much if you add extra credit on to those activities:
Test corrections for partial credit
Extended time to complete assignments with no penalty

Things to consider before allowing students to use extra credit:

Is it meaningful?  In other words: 
Does it align to the standards you are teaching?
Could it take the place of a classwork grade or a test grade?
Will it help a student master the subject matter?

Is the student missing work that would prepare them for completing the extra credit?
If students haven't completed homework and classwork, how will they know the information well enough to complete the extra credit?  You may want to have them complete the missing assignments and give them credit for those before assigning extra credit.

How much will it count?
10% of the grade?
Replacing a test grade?
Replacing a classwork grade?

How difficult should extra credit be?
More difficult than classwork or homework?
The same level of difficulty as those assignments?

Will it include extra curricular activities that tie into what you are teaching?
For example, if a family goes to a museum, could a student present orally or in writing what they learned?  What about family vacations?
Can students play online games and take screen shots to show they have mastered the information for extra credit?
Can a student use a study guide they created to take or retake a test for extra credit?

What's your stance on extra credit?  I could always use a fresh perspective!

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