- April 9, 2018 at 8:51 PM #47213
What role ought “extra credit” to play in the classroom? I have seldom used this incentive, but am pondering the idea. Since we use Saxon Math, the grade comes from tests only (Saxon recommendation). I really like that except for the fact that one bombed test can really pull the average down quickly. I want the grade to reflect accurately how I see the student function in the class (both high and low), but when an excellent student has a bad day and bombs a test, I cringe. Thus the question: what role ought “extra credit” to play in the classroom?
- April 10, 2018 at 9:52 PM #47226
Because most of our curriculum is CLE we structure our records around a 10 unit per grade design. We do use Saxon math (thankfully) and have developed a pattern where we divide the textbook into 10 units. This works out to 2 or 3 tests per unit, the average of which gets entered onto the records.
‘Yes a bad test can hurt an average, but on the yearlong view, it won’t have a significant effect.
- April 12, 2018 at 3:19 PM #47235
Two considerations embedded in the initial question are the role of test scores and the role of extra credit.
A basic general goal in math teaching is that we want students to learn to “do math” accurately, understand the concepts, and (perhaps most importantly), to routinely practice what they learn. Tests often do well in evaluating the first two goals, but tell us little about the third. Some students who can do well actually do so on tests, but don’t want to trouble themselves to work neatly and accurately in daily lessons. Some measure of including daily work as part of the score can help to build the life skill of diligently and routinely working carefully.
The primary goal of extra credit work (even as it boosts the student’s overall score) should be to encourage even more learning. One form is additional worthwhile practice, which can serve to strengthen skills. Another is work that “goes beyond” which in math might mean pursuing application problems that extend the subject into practical applications that the routine course might not supply.
If the primary problem prompting the teacher to look for extra credit opportunities for the student is an occasional “blown” test score, you might want to try offering a retest with another form of the test (the same type of questions, but different questions).
- April 14, 2018 at 1:35 PM #47426
When a student who usually does well on tests bombs a test I often ask myself some questions-Was there another stress in the student’s life? Did the student just not care? Did I teach the lesson in a method that students could understand the content? Based on the answers to these questions I will sometimes allow the student to retake the test using a different format. I do allow students to earn extra credit at times but the extra credit is available to all students if they want to complete the project or task.
- April 21, 2018 at 11:56 AM #47591
I my classroom there is virtually no extra credit. The biggest reason, it distorts grades. If a student is proficient in 80% of the material being tested then they should get an 80%. If they can do anything (other than become more proficient at the material) for extra credit, your are artificially inflating their grades. As Jonas mentioned it is possible to have extra credit that will improve students skills or knowledge in an area, but unless they are re-tested in the material I don’t think it should improve their scores.
To help out those situations were a student has a bad day I have a test re-take policy in all my classes. If you do not like your test grade you can come talk to me and I will help you come up with a plan for re-testing. This plan various greatly, but in general we work out a plan about which material you are going to study, when your going to do it, and how your going to study the material. I try to keep student accountable to their plan of action and then they do a re-take. (Yes it is a pain to make other tests) Although it is time consuming if you don’t allow students to actually learn something they don’t know well, aren’t you sending the message that the material isn’t important. You didn’t learn this material but we have other things to learn now, too bad for you.
Many major tests allow you to do retakes for full credit. MCAT (intro to med. school), SAT, auto mechanics license, pilots licences, PRAXIS (teacher certification) bar exams, CPA licences, drivers license. If you don’t allow retakes your aren’t teaching so that the student learns the material, your are teaching so that the student learns it on the conveyor belt. There is no reason a child has to learn fraction during one week in October and then all learning of fractions must subserviate to other instructional material. This doesn’t reflect real life.
- April 21, 2018 at 8:46 PM #47596
There may be two reasons for giving extra credit. One would be to boost a low test score, the other would be to encourage achievement beyond the given assignment. I don’t usually recommend extra credit just to boost scores. However, it may be a useful way to encourage the “good” students to delve deeper into a subject or project that is an extra. If part of a class has the ability to do all their assigned work and have time left over, it is wise to fill that time with something productive. At the same time, asking a few students to do an extra research project, write an extra composition, and so on can produce negative attitudes if there is no “payback”.
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