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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 37, Issue 2, June 2014

Christopher A. Pynes
Pages 191-214

Seven Arguments Against Extra Credit

Overwhelmingly, students desire the opportunity to earn extra credit because they want higher grades, and many professors offer extra credit be­cause they want to motivate students. In this paper, I define the purposes of both grading and extra credit and offer three traditional arguments for making extra credit assignments available. I follow with seven arguments against the use of extra credit that include unnecessary extra work, grade inflation, and ultimately paradox. I finish with an example of a case where extra credit could be justified, although it relies on an important equivocation. Ultimately, I show that extra credit is neither a pedagogically sound nor a conceptually coherent grading practice, and I conclude that extra credit should not be part of the pedagogical toolbox.

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