Friday, April 03, 2020

Extra Credit, even now

I've seen a lot of posts about giving extra credit opportunities to address grade challenges brought on by the circumstances, and I want to quickly argue this is a bad, unfair, and counter-productive idea.
The current main motivation for extra credit is that students have been set-back and thrown off track because of the current situation, and so extra credit is an attempt to address that, to prevent them from being harmed by circumstances beyond their control.
However, *all* (or nearly all) students have been harmed by this pandemic, and so if *any* students should be compensated or boosted for this, they *all* should be boosted for it. To have to jump through a hoop or do more work to get this benefit, that everyone deserves, to try to make things more fair is, well, unfair.
Furthermore, this just creates more work for everyone, including students, at a time when nobody needs more work.
To address the motivating concern in a fair way, one could just simply raise *everyone's* grades by X % (10% 20%?). Then *everyone* gets the grade "stimulus" package, not just those who are lucky enough to know to apply and have the time to apply. Students who are currently so burdened that they don't have time to do extra credit (much less the new regular work) shouldn't lose out on a benefit that their more fortunate peers have time to access: that's not fair.
Sure, some will get a grade stimulus who don't need it, but that's less bad than forcing those who need it to do more work when they are already loaded down.
These arguments are motivated by this article - Christopher Pynes. “Seven Arguments Against Extra Credit.” Teaching Philosophy 37, no. 2 (2014): 191-214 -- and are summarized here:
I hope this is interesting and helpful and contributes to making things simpler and more fair for all!
#extracredit #grading #grades

Someone has offered up a paper for sale on an academic cheating webpage about this above:

For this assignment, you MUST read the short essay, Ethics and Extra Credit, by Nathan Nobis
(1) evaluate the arguments provided against offering extra credit (2) provide an analysis of whether we can extrapolate from arguments against extra credit during normal times to our current COVID-19 reality, and (3) with respect to your evaluation of the extra credit arguments, argue whether all students should have their current grades “apocalypse-adjusted,” and (4) what a fair way of doing that would entail. For example, if you intend to argue that everyone should get As for this semester, make sure you address whether and/or how that is fair to students who have already earned As. Conversely, if you intend to argue that there should be no “apocalypse-adjustment,” make sure you address whether and/or how that is fair to students who have been severely impacted by the virus.
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