Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This ‘Extra Credit’ Question Does No Credit to Fairness

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 28th, 2015

A recent exam question by a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, who presented his students with the opportunity to raise their grades if the class acted altruistically, has gone viral, revealing — although no one seemed to see it — the delicate balance between incorporating life lessons into exams and the legitimate assessment of performance.
The question, which illustrates the "commons dilemma," goes like this: "Here you have the opportunity to earn some extra credit on your final paper grade. Select whether you want 2 points or 6 points added onto your final paper grade. But there’s a small catch: if more than 10% of the class selects 6 points, then no one gets any points. Your responses will be anonymous to the rest of the class, only I will see the responses."
The Internet responses to the question were largely laudatory. Most saw it as a clever, well-crafted lesson in human behavior, and many viewed using a test question to conduct a social experiment as inspired teaching.

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