Extra credit is a debated topic within academia among professors. Some feel it allows students to be lazy in regards to their coursework, opting instead to hope for an easy parachute late in the semester. Others believe that extra credit offers more opportunities for students to learn without mandating them to do so, allowing for more independent enrichment.
Is extra credit worthwhile at the college level?
According to Dr. Catherine Mueller-Bell, extra credit has its place within her courses but only for very specific things.
“Any time I offer extra credit it’s for something that allows students to apply the concepts they’ve learned in class,” said Mueller-Bell. “These opportunities are an invitation for students to willingly connect with their communities and live out their kingdom citizenship.”
For her extra credit assignments, Dr. Mueller-Bell says there are a few components that go into earning those few extra points: “I want students to be able to reflect on what they’ve learned from the experience in writing and in conversation with me.”
Part of ENC’s mission statement is the value of transformational education. According to the mission statement itself, transformational education is: “A holistic educational experience that integrates spiritual, academic and social development to prepare students to effectively serve in a changing world.” With this in mind, Dr. Mueller-Bell’s standard for offering extra credit makes a lot of sense as it is consistent with ENC’s hopes for its students. There are certain parts of that transformational experience that simply can’t occur within the classroom and also cannot be forced.
Personally, I don’t find extra credit to be detrimental to or cheapening of my educational experience. That being said, I don’t think there should be extravagant amounts of extra credit available to offset not doing the basic work within a course. It should be enough to supplement a lackluster test score or forgotten assignment and should always be delivered in a way that is worthwhile on its own. Anything that doesn’t enrich the student’s academic experience shouldn’t be used as credit for that experience.