Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Exploring the Contribution of Extra Credit in Marketing Education

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Exploring the Contribution of Extra Credit in Marketing Education

Article excerpt


This study advances the literature on the incidence, attitudes and motivations to complete extra credit assignments. Behavioral feedback from 59 marketing instructors and 43 Principles of Marketing students aligned with reported incidence rates of offering and completing extra credit assignments, respectively. This was followed with open-ended questions about the appeal and benefits of extra credit assignments from a sample of 23 Principles of Marketing students. Content analysis supported by strong inter-rater validation revealed a two-dimensional construct of proactive/achievement orientation to earn more points toward a higher grade and a reactive/recovery orientation to extra credit. Discussion offers guidance on the use of extra credit assignments.

Keywords: Extra credit, student motivation, learning outcomes.


Marketing educators assign grades in a relative or absolute manner to identify student performance as exceeding, meeting, or falling below an academic standard (Dorsey, 2012) and as an indication of the student's mastery of a given subject (Airasian, 2000). Perceptions of academic grading covers a wide range, from the overly cynical "an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an undefined level of mastery of an unknown proportion of an indefinite material" (Dressel, 1983, p.12) to the altruistic "grading is an important means of communication with our students... a relatively unambiguous message about a student's progress, in a universally understood system of academic notation" (Jedrey, 1982, p. 104).

The above polar definitions become moot in light of studies relating student GPA to post-graduation performance. A meta-analysis (Cohen, 1984) of 108 studies correlating college GPA to various criteria of adult achievement (e.g., ratings of job performance, income, promotions, attainment of a graduate degree) reveals r =.18. A second meta-analysis (Samson et al., 1984) on 35 studies reporting the relationship between GPA and occupational performance (e.g., income, job satisfaction, effectiveness ratings) in various fields (e.g., teachers, engineers, business, nursing, medicine, military and civil service) concluded that "the overall variance accounted for makes grades or test scores nearly useless in predicting occupational effectiveness and satisfaction" (p.321). These findings suggest that offering extra credit to improve a student's grade is unlikely have any bearing on a student's professional success, so why bother?

There are perhaps only a handful of marketing educators who have never been approached by a student asking "is there something extra I can do?' This simple and often times frustrating question drives the motivation for this study based on the following. Studies examining extra credit are dated (mostly in psychology, from 1980 to 2006 focusing on how often instructors make extra credit assignments and the rate at which students pursue these extra credit opportunities). A lack of literature needs answers to help marketing educators know the popularity of extra credit and the use of extra credit assignments themes? Addressing our students, the questions include (a) what is the appeal and benefit for student participation in extra credit, and perhaps most importantly, (b) do marketing educators or our students articulate a learning component to extra credit?

In spite of the often polarized faculty reaction to extra credit; from the naysayers who might argue that industry does not offer extra credit, apart from bonus payments that are predicated on outstanding performance, to advocates who believe in ways to motivate student success by offering additional opportunities to enhance their course grade. These and other camps are based on strong beliefs that stray beyond the contribution of this study which is to advance the literature on extra credit by identifying marketing educator use of extra credit, types of extra credit assignments and whether select external factors contribute to extra credit. …

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