Extra Credit?


    I have had so many students ask me about extra credit in the past, that I felt it would be helpful to have this written statement about my philosophy about extra credit.

    There is one thing that I want to make clear. Extra credit is not well used when it is simply meant to raise grades. Students often come to me when they find out their grade is lower than they wanted it to be and ask me to assign them extra credit. I don’t create assignments like that because they always end up feeling like busy work, with little to no educational value. I would much rather see students mastering the concepts and material for the tests the first time.

    On the other hand, the type of extra credit that I encourage would be better called “enrichment” projects. These types of projects are best when they come from a student’s own experiences and interests. For example, if a student went to a historical site on a family vacation or saw a movie or read a book with a historical setting, he or she might now want to do a little research to find out more about that event. Perhaps somebody we mentioned in class captured their attention for a moment, and they want to learn more about that person. Projects like these would have to result in something to turn in to me for a grade and should involve some amount of research. I hesitate to say what the final product should be because creative students may be able to come up with some great ideas that I haven’t thought of. Students should always check with me before starting a project to make sure that they are working towards something that will be acceptable. With that in mind, any interested student is encouraged to come to me with their own ideas for a project.

    For enrichment projects like these, I usually offer between 1 and 5 extra credit points. These points are added to a marking period grade at the end of the marking period as report card grades are being sent to be printed. The actual value of the project depends mainly on how much work went into the project. The most important work is the research that went into a project, but the creative or artistic work can be a factor in the grade too. In no case will I give more than five total extra credit points to a student per marking period.

    I occasionally have an extra credit question on a quiz or an extra-credit component to a project or a specific assignment. These questions and tasks are meant to reward students for keeping up with current events or digging deeper into the historical topics at hand. They usually do not add up to much individually, but over the course of a marking period, they can add up to something more substantial.