I’m not really into “extra credit” work, especially in my composition classes because those are skills-based classes–either you have the skills and can demonstrate them or you don’t.
But I am into learning opportunities. And so I occasionally devise some sort of extra credit assignment to entice my students to take advantage of a learning opportunity. Recently, I did just that. Many of my students did not perform well on the last essay assignment–the argumentative essay. It became quite clear to me upon reading those essays that they did not have a firm grasp on how to construct an effective argument. And so I created an extra credit assignment that, if successfully completed, could earn them up to ten points to add to the grade of the argumentative essay. 10 points! That’s a letter grade of difference. On an assignment that counts as 10% of the class grade!
The assignment was rather robust–as it should be for ten points, and called on students to embrace some of the basic principles of success: accept responsibility for your own learning, seek out-of-class help, use your campus resources, effectively take notes on reading material, learn from your mistakes, apply what you read to your assignment, etc.
Do you know how many of my 35 eligible students completed the assignment? 4. Four. I was actually worried about how I would handle all the extra grading. No worries–I’m already done.
Want to know something else shocking? The students who completed the assignment all learned something and had remarkably better research essay drafts when they showed up to their one-on-one conferences with me. So they earned ten extra points on the last essay and improved their understanding of the course material and applied it (as I’d hoped) to the new assignment. It’s a win-win: for me and those 4 students. As for the others, well…you can lead a horse to water, right?
Want to see the assignment? Click here.
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