Thursday, November 8, 2012

ESL Courses: Bonus Points or Not?

So, what is the real value (or not) of teachers giving students bonus points or extra credit for their work in class? All too often, teachers give bonus points to students who do extra work, but the negative outcome can be that students' overall grade can be inflated, giving a distorted view of their real ability. For example, if students have to write an essay worth 100 points, and the teacher gives 10 bonus points simply because the students added a photo, the bonus points given would have absolutely nothing to do with the students' writing ability, especially if that wasn't an objective of the writing assignment.

Yes, it might help students psychologically, but it can give students the impression that they are doing better than they really are. Furthermore, if the content of one class builds on the other (e.g., going from beginning to intermediate writing), then advancing students from one class to the next will set the student up for failure because they aren't ready.

Being judiciously in awarding points will only benefit students in the long run.

Randall

4 comments:

l. garnet said...

I absolutely agree with you. Awarding students unwarranted marks and then moving them up to the next level before they are ready can be catastrophic, especially for students learning a second language in a new country. Many of them are already suffering from other insecurities.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you too. I think that giving more points is not the best way to motivate the students. Teachers should find other ways to motivate their students.

N A said...

we have an idiom in arabic language (the lie rope too short) that is mean you will discover someday. in my opinion, honesty will build a very good relationship

Anonymous said...

Like most things, I think there is a balance to be had. I sometimes give bonus points to my ESL students for activities that relate directly to their learning. For example, if we play a game to review before a test, the prize for the winning team/person may be a small amount of bonus points on the test. The review is directly tied to the learning content, and the points foster motivation. The amount of points is never large enough to allow students to "coast" by without any effort.

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