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Home / Blog Post / Using Extra Credit as a Motivational Tool


By Terri J. Matiella, Ph.D.
UTSA 2020-21 Next-Gen Faculty Fellow
Co-Director, Core Curriculum and Assessment for Environmental Science
Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science and Ecology

The use of extra credit can be an effective motivational teaching and learning tool. It can expand students’ curiosity and expose the fun, rewarding side of learning.

Bonus questions on exams can help ease some student anxiety about test taking and grades and give some informal feedback about your course. Fun bonus questions like “What’s the most interesting thing you have learned in here this semester?” or “What did you like most/least about this class?” can give informal feedback that can be useful to improving the course. Even “What was your favorite cereal as a kid?” can make students smile and be fun to read as you learn about them! 

Fun extra credit question on an assessment
Image credit: https://cheezburger.com/3217925/25-teachers-share-funny-questions-theyve-put-on-tests

Students can have extreme test anxiety, and a couple of bonus questions in Blackboard can help them out if they misread or misunderstand what a question is asking. If you ask questions about the course and what they are learning, you can receive some informal feedback via a Journal in Blackboard – answers can be private – only seen by you and the student, before the end of semester evaluations to help guide students and improve the course. A Padlet could also be used to promote student engagement and belonging for fun questions that let students get to know each other more!