No such thing as bonus points

Today I had the most mind boggling email sent to me regarding an announcement I sent out via Scholar to my classes.  I had mentioned to my students that if they went out of their way to submit an assignment as a hard copy, that I would give them two bonus points on the assignment, no big deal right?  Apparently, it was a very big deal and I’ve had to retract my statement to my students.

I was told that the issue was that students in other classes would not have the opportunity to earn the points and that it could boost my students grades by as much as 0.2 on the final grade.  This could potentially boost someone up a letter grade, but I don’t see the problem in that, but it was deemed unfair.  I was told that other students would complain about not being able to earn these points.

However, the policy for these assignments are that the GTAs can require a hard copy, in which case points can be deducted (we’ll assume 2 for now) if a hard copy isn’t turned in which can lower their grades by as much as 0.2.  I was told that that was okay though, because students were aware of it ahead of time.  My issue is that, like the bonus points, not all classes will have the opportunity to loose the points, just based on the GTA’s chose.

I am unable to wrap my head around this concept.  My idea is an “unfair” opportunity to gain points but the policy is a “fair” opportunity to loose points, both are based on GTA choice.  While giving points may cause students to complain about not being able to earn them, students may very well complain about loosing points for not having the chance to not loose them.  It seems like the same situation either way, just that it is okay to lower a students grade rather than bump it up.  Why does it seem that we want our students to do badly?

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2 Responses to No such thing as bonus points

  1. katelin says:

    I’m confused why either of these would be problematic. Don’t students have to come to your class anyway? Complaints like these always seem to center around the idea that students are going to turn something in at the very last minute.

    Can’t make it to the drop off at the exact time the assignment is due? So then don’t procrastinate and turn it in early! Or email the GTA and make a specific decision about how best to turn it in. Couldn’t they email you the copy on-time so that they get credit for turning it in when it was due, but then bring the hard-copy by later that day?

    • Jen says:

      I’m not sure I explained the situation fully. I teach three sections of probably 30-40 and am one of 10 or so other GTAs, so there are a lot of rules to make sure all the GTAs are doing things in similar ways in the class. Also, the will still turn it in, that is not the problem. The requirement of the hard copies is so that it is easier for us to grade because it can be a pain to grade very long documents on our tablet (or to print them out). Some GTAs are requiring that students turn in a hard copy along with the electronic copy, in which case students will loose points if they don’t turn it in.

      The issue I was talking about was actually giving or taking away points for students turning in a hard copy. Regardless of requiring the hard copy, they are still required to submit their document electronically via Scholar. The problem the course coordinator had was if I gave bonus points for students turning in a hard copy, that is unfair to other sections who don’t have the opportunity to earn them. My thought though was that if you require a hard copy, then that is unfair to your section because other sections will not have the opportunity to lose those points. I didn’t understand why it is okay to take away points, even if not all the GTAs are doing it, but it’s not okay to give students points.

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