Consider adding extra credit opportunities for students

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Photo Credit: David Perez Barbosa | Daily Texan Staff

Amid an unprecedented online semester, some professors have provided extra credit opportunities with the intent of relieving students of the various pressures they may be under. However, not all professors have shown the same amount of generosity or compassion.

As the semester wraps up, professors should be more sympathetic and give students extra credit opportunities to help them improve their grades, as they might be struggling to keep up with their academic responsibilities with everything else going on. 

For example, history professor Steven Mintz has developed an “interactive courseware” that contains all class materials and features interactive lectures and weekly breakout sessions led by his teaching assistants.

“During each synchronous session, I offer five or six extra-credit questions using a UT-developed tool called UT Instapoll,” Mintz said. “Students also receive extra credit points for participating in the breakout sessions.”

In total, the extra credit opportunities approximately equal the number of points in each of the weekly modules. The extra credit Mintz gives to students has the potential to raise their point total by almost a whole grade. 

“I view extra credit as a way to incentivize students to take advantage of opportunities that I believe will benefit them,” Mintz said. “The Instapoll questions help cement their grasp of the course material while the breakout sessions are designed not only to give students a chance to discuss the class content but to gain essential skills, including how best to write an essay or interpret a primary source.” 

 The extra credit options given to me by my professors have helped immensely in reassuring me that my final grade will have some cushion to fall back on as I struggle to balance homework, extracurriculars, studying for the LSAT and keeping up with the news all while being confined in my apartment. I know I’m not the only one in need of such a buffer. 

 “If my professors gave extra credit, I would be relieved of a lot of stress and anxiety caused by worrying about getting a good grade in the class during a pandemic,” finance junior Nicole Arellano said. 

 Professors must understand that students are dealing with a lot more than just worrying about completing homework this semester. Many are struggling with stress coming from all angles such as finances, finding internships and jobs, and managing their own health and safety. Some, such as Arellano, have had to balance school while recovering from COVID-19. 

“Even though we are in a pandemic and even though we are learning online, the professors teaching the classes for my major do not offer any extra credit,” Arellano said.

Last semester, UT enacted a lenient pass/fail policy that helped mitigate some of the stress of transitioning to online school. This semester, however, that policy does not stand. Thus, it falls on professors to ensure students receive some sort of help during these trying times.

Allowing at least one extra credit option would benefit professors and students alike. It would encourage students to become more engaged with the course material while also helping their grades in the long run.

Amid the chaos that is still gripping our community, professors should be more understanding and offer extra credit opportunities to help students get through the stress of an unfamiliar, online-formatted semester. 

York is a rhetoric and writing junior from Laredo, TX.