Here's some good advice on whether to give students extra credit work. As Dean Dad notes, giving a student the opportunity for extra credit at the end of the semester is unfair to all the other students. I would add my own observation that students DO talk to each other, so if you decide to do this, count on other students lining up for their own extra credit points. Also, allowing some students this opportunity and not others is unfair and opens the door to a grade appeal or worse, a lawsuit.
I agree with Dean Dad's comments below that we really aren't teaching the student useful skills when we allow them extra credit opportunities at the end of the semester. As he notes:
"If students start to expect end-of-semester freebies to bail out three months of slacking, what, exactly, are we teaching them? Sometimes I think “suck it up” is one of the most valuable lessons we can teach. It’s certainly an important life skill, and one that comes in handy at entry-level jobs. A kid who hasn’t learned to suck it up is in for a rude shock when he gets to his first real job."
If you want to provide your students the chance to earn additional points, build it into your syllabus so that all students can have the same advantage. I would also put deadlines on these to encourage students to do these assignments early in the semester (and make your grading load more manageable at the end).
As you start preparing for Spring semester, you might find this article by Dr. Arletta Bauman Knight (University of Oklahoma) of interest. She states that there are three dimensions for establishing your credibility with your students.
Competence is the perceived "expertness" of the speaker, i.e., their knowledge of the subject matter. Competence also involves teaching the course in a way that will truly be of value to the student. Descriptive adjectives include: informed, experienced, skilled, qualified.
Trustworthiness refers to whether or not the teacher has the best interest of the student at heart. A teacher who is trustworthy is one who promotes positive teacher/student relationships. For example, students are made to feel welcome as participants in the class, the teacher sincerely cares about the welfare of the students, and the teacher is sensitive to gender and cultural issues in the classroom. Descriptive adjectives include: safe, just, kind, friendly, honest
Dynamism focuses on the teacher's "passion" for teaching and his/her enthusiasm in the classroom. It also involves the presentation skills of the speaker. That is, a dynamic teacher is one who is more likely to be confident, articulate, and animated. He or she is one who "changes the pace" in a single class by using a variety of teaching strategies. Descriptive adjectives include: emphatic, bold, active, energetic.
Professor Knight goes on to make a number of excellent suggestions as to how to affect your students' perceptions of your teaching.
Q: Tell me again why I went into teaching? A: Look at the shiny object-- you are growing sleepy, very sleepy....you went into teaching for the joy of evaluating student work. It is thrilling to assign value to student papers and tests. When I snap my fingers you will wake up and complete all your grading by the end of the day, feel very relaxed, and give extra credit to the next student you see. <snap>
Q: Is cleaning the bathroom a worthy excuse for avoiding grading papers? A: Absolutely, as is defrosting the freezer, cleaning the garage and any other household chores that have been neglected for 6 months. It is well known that these become urgent tasks when faced with the alternative of a stack of blue books. It is even quite acceptable to clean out one's email inbox. Do not, however, forward humorous emails to others as they have their own "urgent" housework to accomplish.
Q: How about running to the grocery for aspirin? A: No, because you have aspirin in your medicine cabinet. The excuse must offer plausible deniability.
You might consider using a written evaluation form to get feedback from your students in addition to the official form used by your university. I find I can get more useful information by designing my own form. Here's one I use:
Last fall I had a student who did not show up for his team presentation. In my 26 years of teaching at the college level, I had never had this happen before and was unsure as to what grade to give the student. I blogged on the situation here.
This week I had two members of a team of three not show up. The team was to present two weeks ago but the same two students had excuses the day of the presentation (one was sick and the other was in a minor car accident on the way to class). Neither student called to tell me but instead text messaged the attending student. I gave the team a two week extension. However, on Monday both students did not show again. As it was the last day of class before the final, the student who did attend had to make the entire presentation by herself. The rest of the class was very supportive and she did an excellent job.
I am curious as to what these two students are thinking. They have still not contacted me or their team mate with an excuse or apology. The presentation is worth 20 percent of their grade.
I'm also wondering what to do next semester to prevent this from happening again...Any suggestions?
I'm currently grading student presentations (I'm sure many of you are doing the same).TimothyJohnson (Drake University) sent me a rubric he developed which made me chuckle. I like his distinction between A, B, and C (or below) level work.