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  • 1.  Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 10-05-2022 03:59 PM
    Hello TESOL Colleagues:

    It is the end of the spring semester here in the United States.  As I calculate students' final grades, I often have students writing to me asking "Is there anything I can do for extra credit?"

    Now let me say that I teach graduate-level TESOL students.  They have multiple assessments during the semester, including 10-12 online discussions, 4-6 quizzes, and 2-3 larger projects (depending on the course).  So I feel like their final grades at the end of the semester are pretty indicative of their overall performance over the course of the semester.  While I sometimes offer extra credit to everyone during the semester (e.g., an extra credit question on a quiz), I don't like to offer extra credit at the end of the semester just to boost learners' grades.

    How do you feel about extra credit?  Do you allow students to do extra credit assignments?  If so, what kinds of assignments do you give, and at what point in the semester do you give them?

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    Nikki Ashcraft
    Past Chair, Membership Professional Council
    University of Missouri
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  • 2.  RE: Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 11-05-2022 02:45 AM
    Hi, Nikki,

    This is a great question. With my TESOL undergrad and grad classes, I usually give 2-3 percentage points extra credit for a reflection on participation in an applied linguistics-related activity like attending our local TESOL conference or participating in a language-related research study. I announce it on the syllabus and have an assignment in our learning management system that is open on the first day of the semester and due the last day of classes. I even forward announcements about events that would work and remind students that they can submit their reflection as soon as they write it after attending an event. So they definitely know what they can do to get extra credit and when it is due. By making it so obvious and having it as an option all semester, I think it prevents the last minute requests when a student panics. This semester, for example, in a class of 10 students, 3 did extra credit; all three had their reflections submitted by early March, and all 3 are earning A's in the class anyway...  I find it sad, however, that the students who are more likely to benefit from a few extra percentage points are rarely the ones who do it. Sometimes I get a message from students when I post their final grades (all assignments have already been turned in and I've submitted grades to the university) asking if they can do anything to bump their grade up from a B- to a B or something like that. I don't feel bad saying no because they had plenty of opportunity to do that.

    I'm curious what other people do.

    Betsy Gilliland
    University of Hawaii Manoa





  • 3.  RE: Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 11-05-2022 10:15 AM
    I love that extra-credit assignment, Betsy!  It sounds like a great way to get TESOL students involved in some professional development activities.  And with so many events being held via webinar these days (and recorded for later viewing), it seems like an opportunity that most students would be able to take advantage of.

    In my Linguistics for Educators course, I allow students to post up to 5 current (within the past 60 days) news articles related to language for up to 5 extra credit points on their discussion grade.  (5 points on the discussion grade ends up being 1 point on their final grade.)  The extra credit opportunity is described in the syllabus, and posts are due in the designated online discussion forum by a certain date toward the end of the semester.  Students post articles related to language policy in different countries, endangered languages, new words in English, etc. They also have to write a few sentences explaining how the content of the article relates to concepts in our course.

    As you noted, the students who complete the extra credit are usually the ones who don't need it, while the ones who could use extra credit don't take advantage of the opportunity.  In my case, there is also an issue of students submitting all 5 articles on the last day, which doesn't allow much time for any discussion to develop around them.

    How about those of you working in different contexts?  Do you give extra credit assignments?

    ------------------------------
    Nikki Ashcraft
    Past Chair, Membership Professional Council
    University of Missouri
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 11-05-2022 10:47 AM
    Edited by Michael Ennis 11-05-2022 10:54 AM
    This thread is very interesting to me! I look forward to reading more replies!

    I am based in Italy, where extra credit is not common. What is common at the university level is for students to come to the first couple lessons to understand how they will be graded during the course, and then they disappear until assignments are due. Most often, assignments at the university level consist of summative assessments (a final exam) exclusively. Many students seem to get by in other subjects, but "studying for the exam" of course does not work for languages (nor does purely summative assessment, but that is another discussion!).

    So a few years ago I started experimenting with ways to use "extra credit pop quizzes" to incentivize attendance and active participation in lessons. It worked so well that I wrote a couple articles about the experience. The context and the extra credit scheme may not be that informative for the US context, but the literature review on extra credit is interesting. Basically, there has been quite a bit of debate on using extra credit with high school students and adult learners across subjects. But there have not been many proper studies on their effectiveness in language education.

    If you search google scholar for my last name + "extra credit", I am sure you can find my experiences. If you are interested but cannot find them, I could also dig them up and send the pdfs via PM.

    Will be following this thread!


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    Michael Ennis
    Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
    Italy
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  • 5.  RE: Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 11-05-2022 11:12 AM
    Thanks for sharing, Michael!  Good to know that there is some literature out there on the subject of extra credit!   These are two of your articles that I found:

    Ennis, M. J. (2018).  The potential of "extra credit pop quizzes" in university English language instruction in Italy. TESL-EJ, 22(3), 1-21.  https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1195953.pdf

    Ennis, M. J. (2020).  Convincing EFL students to practice writing: Assigning collaborative writing tasks as extra credit pop quizzes.  Global Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 10(1), 1-19.  https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=968088

    Sounds like an issue that is ripe for research!

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    Nikki Ashcraft
    Past Chair, Membership Professional Council
    University of Missouri
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 12-05-2022 06:42 AM
    Yes! Those are the right ones! I think the literature review for the TESL-EJ one is a bit more complete. The other one reports on a "tweak" to the original extra credit scheme.

    Obviously, I am in favor of extra credit if it:

    1) does not detract from already planned learning activities on the syllabus, but is somehow integrated,
    2) results in more effort/engagement on the part of learners,
    3) does not create too much extra work for the instructor,
    4) is not possible to "freeload" on collaborative extra credit tasks, and
    5) does not create too much grade inflation.

    But having said that, my experience suggest that even small amounts of extra points can result in significantly more effort/engagement and better performance on summative assessment.

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    Michael Ennis
    Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
    Italy
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  • 7.  RE: Do you give Extra Credit?

    Posted 11-05-2022 11:16 AM
    Edited by Nikki Ashcraft 11-05-2022 11:22 AM
    One our members, Ellen Lewin, is following this thread and sent me this message on e-mail.  She agreed that I could share it with everyone here.

    Though I 'only' taught ESOL at the 2-year college level, I would also often get the 'extra credit' question from students.
    I found an old syllabus for an advanced ESOL reading class and another for a second semester freshman comp class I taught during collaboration with the ENGL department and a local high school in 2016 to see what I wrote about extra credit.

    "I do not give extra credit, so please do not ask. If you just do the required work, you will be fine."

     

    "I do not give extra credit tasks. Just do the requirements and you will be fine!"

    My whole philosophy was that students should do what is on the syllabus 'to begin with' and if they cannot do that during a semester and/or procrastinate, hand in late work, skip work........ then why should I be accommodating their poor scholarly habits? We all work(ed) hard enough as teachers 24/7, and I made that clear from the start of each semester in writing and through class discussion.

    Best wishes as you continue your work and grading.

    Ellen Lewin

    St. Louis Park, MN

    Retired ESOL instructor at Minneapolis Community & Technical College

    still a member of MinneTESOL and TESOL



    I agree with Ellen that it would be helpful to explain our extra credit policy to students in our syllabus.  It could head off some of the requests we get at the end of the semester.
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    Nikki Ashcraft
    Past Chair, Membership Professional Council
    University of Missouri