Social Sundays: Why I don't give extra credit (or gold stars or smiley faces)

When I first started teaching, I used to give extra credit. I wanted everyone to succeed and understood that we all have bad days or weeks. And that is still true. I want students to succeed and understand some days don't go as well as others. 

 But after my first year in the classroom, I realized that the only kids that were doing the extra credit were the ones who didn't need it. My 98% kids were trying to get a 99%. Further, it all seemed a bit Pavlovian - you do this behavior and I'll give you this reward. Anyone who has read the works of Alfie Kohn knows the negatives of rewards based programs. 

So no extra credit or smiley faces or gold stars because: 


  • learning isn't about jumping through hoops 
  • learning is about mastering skills and concepts 
  • learning cannot simply be defined by a letter or number 
  • and, excuse the cliche here, learning is its own reward. 
 I don't do letter grades, either, when I have the opportunity. To learn more on how an entire system of secondary schools functions without letter grades, I recommend reading The Big Picture.

Check out social sunday links below for some ideas for learning without focusing on the grade.

Social Sundays is a weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching social studies.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message on Facebook or at the store in the question and answer section.

Share:

4 comments

  1. Completely agree with you on this one. Extra credit doesn't really help students if those assignments aren't aligned with our objectives. I believe in giving students a chance to re-learn and re-assess, but that's another thing entirely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, true. Thanks for taking time to share.

      Cheers,
      DocRunning

      Delete
  2. Totally agree, especially with your fourth bullet point. I found that some students didn't do the regular work because they thought they could raise their grade at the end of the term just by doing extra credit at the very end. That, to me, was not the purpose of extra credit so I cut way back on offering any.

    -- Susan
    The ESL Connection

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear others feel the same way. I have been lucky enough to teach in a no grade environment for the past 4 years, and it is wonderful. Learning is about learning, not about test scores or grades. Thanks for sharing, Susan.

      Cheers,
      DocRunning

      Delete