Extra credit is a thing of the past.
In my class, there is nothing “extra.” There are opportunities, there are consequences, and admittedly, since we live in a world where grades count, there is credit. But nothing extra.
In my early years of teaching, after an assessment, students were tempted to see what they got, jubilate or lament, and forget the whole thing. Students who succeeded came to class the next day, buoyant. Students who stumbled were demoralized.
This is not how it should be. With the possible exception of the final exam, every student should have the opportunity to see what they did wrong and learn from it.
The problem is that the same students who get As are often the same students who bother to recover credit. Some would come in to recover a single point. And as their teacher, you know this isn’t a good use of their limited time. Meanwhile, the students who stumble can avoid facing their growth areas.
How do you incentivize students who earn Bs and Cs to spend the time revising, while giving students who earned an A an informal nod to save their time and energy for other things?
Differentiated “Extra” Credit
Students who wish to recover points make an appointment do a series of exercises (or answer questions, or read models of excellence) to get their minds in gear. Then we go over the principles they need to express on the assessment.
Students who earned a C or below on the assessment the first time around can earn up to 15% back. A student who earned a B can earn up to 10% back. A student who earned an A can earn up to 5%.
The actual amount they learn is a function of how much they actually learn in the session(s) with me, factored by how much of it was their initiative.
Students who show initiative will earn the full amount. A student who wheedles for point might only get half the maximum amount.
Sure, not every student is absolutely thrilled, and not every student can go from a C to an A after a half hour meeting. But every student knows that I see growth as being more important that success, and that mistakes are opportunities for learning.
And more than anything else on an exam, that’s what I want to teach.