A Project for Better Journalism chapter
In the Classroom

The 5% Life Saver

Throughout the semester many students stress the importance of their grade and more specifically, how to raise it. Many teachers offer students great options to achieve an acceptable grade, and one teacher, in particular, gives the option of extra credit.

In World History and U.S. Government classes, teacher Arthur Dwyer offers extra credit assignments to encourage students to dive deeper into their learning while increasing their grade.  The students’ participation is varied between different assignments.

“My first thought is to never give too much because I don’t want students to be able to pad grades, but maybe the reasons I give extra credit are if I think there’s something valuable that we didn’t get to in the classroom, at least give them the opportunity to do it there. I’ll also do it for extensions to where they can go beyond their learning,” Dwyer said.

One of the extra credit assignments Dwyer gave out was the paper Changing Values During the Renaissance. This paper differed from other extra credit assignments by involving an adult and getting their input or opinion.

“What I’d like them to get out of it is to understand how the values changed during the Renaissance from the Middle Ages, but I’d also like them to apply that to the modern United States so they can compare the Renaissance and the modern United States,” Dwyer said. “Then the step where it asks students to talk to an adult, they would need to explain how the values changed. So ultimately the adult has to answer a question about the changing values so, in order for them to do that, the student would have to be able to explain it.”

Multiple students had considered whether or not they should complete the assignment. According to sophomore Caleb Weingarten, his learning could be advanced by completing the extra credit opportunity.

“I would’ve done the extra credit because I think it’s important to know about all of those terms,” Weingarten said. “They apply to life now still, just like they did in Renaissance times.”

According to sophomore Alexander Hartman, he wouldn’t consider doing the extra credit because he didn’t want to do the extra effort and have to do that assignment with his other homework.  

Other students in the class, looked at both the pros and cons of completing the assignment. While there were some benefits, finishing the extra credit also meant spending more time on homework.

“Something you would have gotten out of this extra credit assignment is a better understanding of humanism, individualism, and secularism and how it has further developed over time. You can also develop better essay writing skills for more classes,” sophomore Natalia Valenzuela said. “On the other hand, I wouldn’t do the assignment because writing an essay can take a lot of time that I would spend on other classes, especially if I didn’t need the extra boost in my grade.”

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