Extra credits as an educational resource, and how to make the best of it

extra credits

The practice of giving a little more of credits on a class is widely used and popular, but some teachers question the value of this costume.

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To come up with activities that help raise students grades at the end of the semester or academic year is a widespread practice within the teaching community, but is also a subject that has sparked controversy.

Some teachers rely on this practice and others who would prefer to do without it. There are always at least two perspectives when it comes to asses which educational resource belongs in the program and which other not. Examining these two perspectives is necessary to form a complete idea of the usefulness and disadvantages of extra credits.

The pros and cons

Some professors see extra credit as a way to reinforce class goals and to complete the learning experience with additional assignments like going to a museum, read a book, write an essay, or see a theater play. In other words, encourages students to do the kind of things they wouldn't do on their own, but that would enrich the class material and the knowledge they can get from it.

It can also help students to release the excess of stress by allowing them to have more chances to make up for lost points if they fall behind. It’s one of the best ways to keep the class grades leveled, and allows students to catch up by their own means; teaching a valuable lesson about how hard work can get you out from a difficult situation.

Nonetheless, some teachers have good reasons not to integrate extra credits into their programs. Additional credits can also be seen as an obstacle for teachers that had already done a plan for point distribution, as well as unnecessary extra work for them. They can also create what is called “grade inflation,” producing a fake distribution of credits that make it harder for the teacher to keep score don’t often reflect class performance accurately.

Another problem that some teachers see in extra credits is that by using them they discourage students from doing their best since day one and they get used to slack till the last moment in which they try to get as many points as they can. Indeed, extra credits can alter students work habits, but they can also be a useful resource if you know when, why and how to use it.

The importance of balance

Extra credits can be beneficial for teachers and students when their inclusion in the program is planned beforehand. The first step to avoid “grade inflation” is to create a point-earning system that uses extra credits as the “rescue resource” that it is; since they are meant to be a safety net for students who either need a little push to pass or some additional points to raise their GPA.

Having a clear purpose for the use of extra credits —and the activities to get them— on class, will help teachers to set a limit on the number of additional credits available, as well as a schedule, to organize their distribution throughout the semester or year. It is also crucial to keep track of the results and students reaction to extra-credit strategy. That way, teachers can adjust them to be a better leveling tool every time they use it.