Yes, Extra Credit Can Enhance The Learning Experience. But Don't Overestimate Its Value

Jul 14, 2019

Academia is divided over the wisdom of offering students extra credit on tests or projects. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the utility and merit of offering some extra points for extra effort.

Ed says for the most part he supports extra credit and has used it in his own teaching, as long as it provides a meaningful learning experience.

"I have been guilty of offering extra credit for all sorts of things, " admits Ed, "including bribing students to go to lectures or to events that I think would enhance their own education or would amplify the work they are doing in the class, all the way down to just giving questions."

Ed believes extra credit allows for the exploration and assessment of deeper levels of learning.

"There's always more. You never understand everything. You never understand it at 100 percent," says Ed. "So the truth is, there is always a deeper level. So why not offer a window into that deeper level?"

Some critics say offering extra credit places more emphasis on the grade rather than on that learning experience. Ed believes that emphasis already exists with or without extra credit.

"We do that as a culture and a nation and a society and this is just a reality," says Ed. "Extra credit is not doing that."

Listen to the full episode (sorry, no extra credit for making it to the end) to hear how extra credit in school relates to extra credit in life outside the classroom.  But you will be rewarded with the solution to last episode's puzzler about the man who switched off a light and caused a catastrophe.

This episode was recorded on April 23, 2019.

For all the Higher Ed episodes, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.