Extra Credit

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Extra credit! These are two words that I hear a lot at this time in the semester. “Dr. Terry, is there extra credit that I can do to improve my grade?” Often, students don’t worry about their grade until the last minute – the end of the semester. This can put a lot of strain on professors at the end of the semester. Grading deadlines and other responsibilities can be compounded if extra credit assignments are accepted and must also be graded. For this reason, it is important to have a plan.

So, what’s yours? How will you address students who come to you at the end of the semester and ask for extra credit? If you haven’t thought about this, it could catch you off guard, and you could make a decision that makes the end of the semester even more stressful for you.

While it’s important to ensure that students have the opportunity to be successful in your class, it is not a professor’s responsibility to plan extra credit activities for students who didn’t come to class regularly, participate, turn in assignments on time, turn in quality assignments, attend office hours for help if they were struggling, and study. During the semester, I remind my students that I do not award extra credit opportunities under any circumstance at the end of the semester. I’m flexible, and I work with them throughout the semester if circumstances arise and they communicate with me. On each assessment, I include an extra credit question to help them improve their score if they miss a question. I also provide the opportunity to attend an event or complete and optional activity to make up participation points a couple of times throughout the semester. But, I do not go out of my way and inconvenience myself at the end of the semester to help a student who didn’t plan and prepare effectively during the semester. Their lack of planning will not cause me to be frantic at the end of the semester.

Students need to learn to be responsible and if that means earning a “B” instead of the desired “A” maybe in their next class, they work a little bit harder, during the semester, instead of waiting until the end.

So what is your policy? Share your tips with us. Let us know how you deal with those two dreaded words – Extra Credit!

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