All teachers should believe in extra credit
January 26, 2018
Extra credit–one of the greatest gifts a teacher can give to a student. But why is extra credit not respected, or worse, not an option in all classes?
It even is disrespected in cartoons.
After doing some extra credit in the episode “No Free Rides,” Spongebob says, “I don’t feel like I really did anything!” To which Mrs. Puff replied, “That’s how extra credit is supposed to feel!”
And it’s worse in real life. Recently when I walked out of a class, I couldn’t help but hear a student ask my teacher, “Do you have any extra credit available? I really need it,” and without hesitation my teacher replied “I don’t believe in extra credit, sorry.”
I thought to myself “You don’t believe in it? Since when is extra credit a religion? And if extra credit is a religion, why don’t all teachers believe in it?”
I do understand teachers not wanting to show favoritism when one student asks for the chance to earn extra credit, but allowing a certain amount of optional extra credit for anyone who wants to work for it solves that issue.
I’ve even had arguments with classmates on teachers not offering extra credit. One of my classmates said, “Extra credit is cheating, if you don’t want to do bad on a test, study!”
This perspective tends to come from students who consistently score high and believe that will always be the case. But here’s the thing: life happens, and it’s good to have a “cushion” when you do poorly on a test or homework assignment. I suspect students who are scoring high and against extra credit would be the first to jump on the opportunity if they slipped on an exam.
Extra credit has benefited me in so many ways beyond saving a grade. Recently, I was struggling in math–I didn’t understand a section and had a hard time paying attention. My teacher gave out extra credit which I did without hesitation. The extra credit helped me better understand the chapter and improved my math skills and overall grade. Now, I have an A in math, and I can’t remember the last time I ended the marking period with an A in that subject (I’ll just say it’s been some time). If my teacher didn’t offer that extra credit, not only would my grade not improve, I wouldn’t have gained a better understanding or enhanced my math skills.
Another example is in eighth grade when I made a presentation for extra credit in my science class. And can I say, that was not an easy extra credit assignment. I made a 36 slide presentation that took me about a week to do, and I had to present in front of my class. But trust me I earned every point and learned so much about the content.
Sometimes the need for extra credit isn’t about not understanding the material or not being motivated. Sometimes lower grades may be due to distractions at home or with students at school, and extra credit is a welcome rescue to get back on track. Not to mention, the “extra” in extra credit means the person has truly done something over and above what is required, and it’s something not everyone else has done (like I did for my science class).
There’s more to being a good student than good exam scores. Good students pay attention, participate, work well in groups and are respectful in class–all of which isn’t exactly captured in an exam. Being willing to do extra, whether it is to recover from a bad exam or to create a cushion in case a bad grade is around the corner (because no one is perfect), should be a voluntary option from all teachers to those willing to do the extra work.