(from Faculty Focus) Students can have a hard time seeing how general education requirements and foundational classes help them achieve their goals. Students, especially adult learners, want to make measurable progress toward their degrees right out of the gate. Actually, want might be too weak a word. As they balance jobs, families, an income gap, and student debt that grows weekly, they need to make progress as a tangible achievement to keep them going. What I want to focus on are potential solutions, or at least actions we can take toward solutions. If we view a student’s educational journey as a continuity, as a process with incremental progress, how do we put the imprint of this journey on individual classes? We can do this in part by creating a context for the learning in our courses and through instilling a sense of direction by infusing reflection in the classroom. Sometimes it’s text, sometimes video or audio—there are dozens of ways to connect and dozens of potential locations for this interaction to take place: gradebook feedback, inbox, the discussion board. The key is to have meaningful conversations with our students, a dialogue, not a sermon from the mount but an interchange—a back and forth.
Use Revise and Resubmit Instead of Extra Credit
(from Faculty Focus) Many faculty provide extra credit or give in to student requests for extra credit, but this is not always an efficient way to produce learning. The major problem with extra credit is that it does not address a student’s actual deficiency. In most cases, the issue of extra credit occurs when there is some deficiency in a student’s performance that hurt their grade and they want to do something to improve it. But whatever they do to improve their grade is “extra,” meaning not the same as the problematic performance. For this reason, extra credit does not address the fundamental issue that motivated the extra credit. If a student gets a poor grade on an assignment in my class because they did not understand the human genome project, it is that understanding which needs to be addressed. It is not an objection to arbitrarily redefine “extra credit” to include a built-in revise and resubmit option for students. That is simply a misuse of the term.
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