The Oxymoron of Extra Credit

The nimiety of excuses that students offer to ask for extra credit near the end of a semester is truly remarkable. Regardless of the pretense, why ask for extra credit when the regular credit was not even attempted? Truly, extra credit is for the student who has completed all of the regular credit, and who wants to apply and synthesize what he’s learned in a challenging extracurricular way. This extension of curriculum aspect is why students never complete “extra” credit — because they can’t!

“Extra” credit has to replace and account for all the regular credit not completed. As such, this a make-up assignment — which is a better name than extra credit — has to account for all the standards left un-assessed by a students lack of work.

Have you ever considered the grown-up’s equivalent of asking for extra credit?

Gee, Boss… I was busy checking by Snap Story and getting my Netflix queue prioritized, so I forgot to finish the customer’s order on time. Can I have some extra-credit, like organizing the file cabinets, to make up for the lost revenue my laziness cost the organization?

In this context, extra credit should sound ridiculous. This guy would be canned in a New York minute. What manager would give some mindless activity to make up for the work that was supposed to have been done?

Advice for students — be responsible. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you need extra credit to pass. Plug in. Participate in class lecture and discussion. Do the assignments. If you would like to be treated like a young adult, then act like a young adult. Productive grown-ups dig a well before they’re thirsty.

Advice for instructors — if students ask, tell them no. Setting high expectations is not a crime. There is no assignment that makes up for a semester’s worth of blown-off work. Consequences are the best way to encourage students to use responsibility is their commitment device.

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