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Author Topic: extra credit?  (Read 7007 times)
cingular
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« on: October 27, 2006, 2:04:47 pm »

One of my classes averaged a C on their midterm exam, which looks a little low to me. However, I did scale their exams already and gave an extra credit problem worth 10 points on the midterm. Is this average okay or too low? Should I give another extra credit problem?
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csguy
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2006, 2:16:53 pm »

C is average (depending on the culture of the school).

Do grades in your classes usually fall or rise after the midterm? (This might occur if the weak students drop).
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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2006, 2:17:23 pm »

One of my classes averaged a C on their midterm exam, which looks a little low to me. However, I did scale their exams already and gave an extra credit problem worth 10 points on the midterm. Is this average okay or too low? Should I give another extra credit problem?

Every test I write is aimed at getting a 75% for a class average. Some are higher, some are lower, and some are right on. If the class averaged a C on the midterm, you wrote it close to perfectly.
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arugula
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2006, 2:18:41 pm »

For me extra credit is a bad idea at any level--it makes some students aggressive or whiney (demanding more extra credit) and sometimes it devalues/makes students lose their focus on the original material.

A C is a perfectly reasonable average.  It is average.  

My vote: If students earned Cs unjustly, say because you wrote some bad test items, I'd fix it by throwing out the items and giving students some extra points.  If they earned Cs fairly, I wouldn't worry about it at all.

What percentage of the final grade is the midterm worth?
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zharkov
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2006, 2:20:51 pm »


C is a fine average; my rule of thumb for an exam is that 75 to 80 percent is the average range.

I also assign, and give credit for, homework.  So a student who gets a C -ish exam grade can get a B -ish midterm grade if he or she has kept up with the homework.

 
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cingular
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2006, 2:37:24 pm »

Thanks for your answers. The midterm is worth 40% of the final grade.

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eternal_adjunct
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2006, 4:41:29 pm »

I'm a bit curious as to why the worry over a C average?  Is it over potentially poor stduent evals?  Is there a big inflation culture at your school, so the chair will be worried if your grades aren't higher (I've seen it happen a few times)?

I don't give extra credit myself any more.  But if you think the seemingly low overal grade means they will have difficulty going forward, something that helps them with the concepts they haven't mastered might be helpful.

Personally, though, I wouldn't give them extra credit just for the sake of raising their grades.  Not only does it invite whining, etc, as arugula pointed out, but it also lets students know that they don't have to try too hard, since there will be a back up of some kind.
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fizxdude
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2006, 6:05:14 pm »

The question of extra credit is a difficult one.  Too much of it can be a problem, but at the same time it can be used as an incentive of sorts.  I just handed back a test on which the class average was a 66%.  [I try to keep it in the 70 - 75% range.]  I gave them the chance to earn up to six points of extra credit on their test by reworking their six worst questions from the exam.  Hopefully it will encourage them to go over the material that gave them the most trouble.  It is not likely to encourage them to rely on the extra credit since it is only six points (less than one percentage point on the overall average).
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cingular
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2006, 6:59:38 pm »

My main concern is that the test was fair to the capabilities of the students. Getting what the students might find to be an unfair grade would be a disincentive. I just don't want a curve or extra credit to encourage the students to focus on the grade to the exclusion of learning the material. 
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dept_geek
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2006, 7:20:54 pm »

I found some small amount of extra credit useful if the EC assignment also provides some remediation on a concept that was almost universally mis-understood. Provides extra practice so the student(s) meet some outcome or set of outcomes and still provides a fuzzy feeling to the grade-bottom-line.
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missemily
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2006, 10:12:29 pm »

I don't give extra credit. I give credit. They can have all they earn.

Oddly enough, hardly any students are interested in just plain credit.
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dr_evil
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2006, 12:06:42 am »

C is defined as average, so there's nothing wrong with it...although upper lever courses do tend to have higher averages (low B). 

I never give extra credit and am very against it.  My current course is a pre-req. for another.  If a student does not understand my material well, hu will not be ready for the next course.
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prytania3
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2006, 12:09:02 am »

No.
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cc_alan
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2006, 12:11:36 am »

My main concern is that the test was fair to the capabilities of the students. Getting what the students might find to be an unfair grade would be a disincentive. I just don't want a curve or extra credit to encourage the students to focus on the grade to the exclusion of learning the material. 

A C average can be misleading. I have had exam results where the average was a 70+% but 50% got a D or F. I suggest that you look at the distribution of scores.

Alan
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lihtox
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2006, 11:15:26 pm »

I'm no grading purist, so I would recommend you talk to other people in your department, and compare your class's results with the departmental mean.  Letter grades have meaning only in context: a C in graduate school would be a sign of great incompetence (in my experience with physics, anyway) while a C in community college might be a great relief to the recipient. 

(The problem with grade inflation is not that everyone gets A's, but that there is no grade above an A to distinguish between the good student and the exceptional one.)

That being said, don't make any changes now; the C average will be a useful motivator to hang over their heads (although if some students did much worse they may give up in despair).  Wait until the end of the semester, and if you feel the overall grades are too low at that point, then you can make adjustments as necessary (when it's too late for the students to take it for granted).
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