Of Barfights and Gadflies: Attitudes and Practices concerning Extra Credit in College Courses

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Empirical exploration of giving extra credit in the college setting has been negligible, even though the practice is common and controversial. Faculty (n = 145) and students (n = 525) at two northeastern universities were surveyed regarding their use of and views toward extra-credit assignments in undergraduate courses. In our sample, between 12% and 22% of courses provided an opportunity for extra credit in the previous semester, 50% of the students were offered extra-credit opportunities in at least one course. Faculty were much more likely than students to view extra credit negatively; students were far more ready to endorse its routine offering. The most frequently cited disadvantage of extra credit was that it encourages a lax or irresponsible attitude. The advantage most frequently cited by students was that it provides a second chance; the most popular advantage for faculty was that it allows exploration of a topic in greater depth. Underlying views on perceived fairness and student evaluation are linked to these findings. © 1989, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

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Teaching of Psychology