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Out of kindness, my professor gave me and one other student extra credit for volunteering at an event.

The issue is that the “extra credit” actually dropped my grade. Instead of giving a 15/15 he gave us 10/15. That's a D: 66.666 It dropped my grade from a 99.066 to 98.431.

He is my favorite teacher. I don't want to seem ungrateful.

How do I broach this subject? Or, do I just leave it alone? ————— I read all of the comments and they were very helpful. I decided not to broach the subject with him. Final grades just came out. He must have noticed as my score was adjusted to make sure my score was accurate.

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    Either you or the professor is not understanding how to add extra credit to your grade. Yes he only gave you 10/15 possible credit. But in the simpliest case, that should just add 10 points to your final grade putting you at 109.066 instead of the possible 114.06 if you earned the total possible extra credit. There may be a weighting factor that makes it less than this simple case, BUT there is definitely NOT any case that extra credit would lower your grade. The simplest course of action is to just ask. At a minimum use it as a way to chat and "get to know" your professor better.
    – gns100
    Jul 21, 2023 at 14:58
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    In the systems, I'm familiar with (D2L, etc.), the right way to add this kind of entry would be an assignment scored as "10/0" so it is a strict points addition. This might just be unfamiliarity with the inner workings of the scoring system,
    – Mark Omo
    Jul 21, 2023 at 16:52
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    Just out of curiosity, what is the difference between 99 and 98.5? In the system I am most familiar with, the first is an A, and the second is an A. Does it actually matter? Jul 22, 2023 at 0:15
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    @XanderHenderson … in fact, I doubt there’s a material difference in anybody’s mind between 99 and 98, so this is really much ado about nothing. Jul 22, 2023 at 12:51
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    @AdamBurke Which is why I asked the question. Only the original asker can answer it. Jul 23, 2023 at 22:04

4 Answers 4

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If it can drop your grade, it is not really "extra credit". Usually when you give a student an extra credit task it is something that is capable of raising their grade (if they do it well) or is ignored if it does not raise their grade. (In other words, the task is usually treated as if it were a "redeemable" assessment.) For that reason, one plausible explanation here is that your teacher might just have made a mistake in how the assessment for that item was incorporated into your overall mark.

Under the circumstances, it would be reasonable for you to broach the subject with your teacher. No particular finesse is required beyond a simple sincere enquiry that does not make demands, and shows appreciation for other aspects of the teacher's work. I recommend you go and see your teacher and point out that your "extra credit" work dropped your overall mark, and first just check if this was intentional. If it was intentional that it should be marked this way, it would then be reasonable for you to point out that the item being called "extra credit" work seems misnamed, and it seems unfair to you that it would drop your overall mark.

As to not wanting to seem ungrateful to your favourite teacher, it might be nice if you would preface your enquiry by telling your teacher that he is your favourite and that you appreciate what a good job he has done on his teaching. People like to hear when others appreciate their work, especially if he has done a particularly good job with you relative to the other teachers. However, XanderHenderson makes an excellent counter-point in the comments below where he notes that this might come across as you "buttering up" your teacher, and he might prefer not to hear this part in that context. If after you've explained your concern, your teacher decides he wants to keep your mark as it is, and is comfortable continuing to call this type of task "extra credit" work despite its potential adverse impact on marks, then it would probably be best to thank him for considering the issue and leave it at that. (Let him then mull it over in his own time for use with future students.)

Finally, you will have observed in the comments to the various answers that there are some academics/graduates who do not like "quibbles" over what are already high marks, and so some will take an inherently negative view of anything that involves seeking to change a 98 to a 99. I am on the side of those who think that this part is irrelevant, and that it is still worth raising the matter to ensure that the marking is done correctly now and in future. I think CaptainEmacs puts it well in his comments below (for another answer) when he says that "[a] student that pays attention to these things is a student that achieves near full marks. That's the student you want to run your experiments or write your code or carry out your computations."

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    @SallyQ I'm going to hope that this isn't your math professor :)
    – David K
    Jul 21, 2023 at 18:23
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    +1 I think it is likely a mistake. It sounds to me like the professor is having difficulty with whatever software they use for grading. The software might even be lacking the needed functionally to score "extra credit." Jul 21, 2023 at 19:03
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    For what it is worth, I really dislike getting emails that start with "I loved your class! I think you were a great instructor!" It might just be me, but those kinds of messages always come across as insincere. If I had made a mistake like this one, I would prefer to get a short email of the kind "Xander, I think there is a mistake in how my grade was computed. The extra credit seems to have lowered my overall score. Is this correct? Regards, SallyQ" Please don't try to butter me up, even if it is sincere. Jul 22, 2023 at 0:18
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    @ZeroTheHero I'd still want to hear about it to make sure I didn't screw up anyone else's grade.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 22, 2023 at 13:58
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    @ZeroTheHero I would agree with you if it was just some marking judgement. Here it is a matter of principle. It could be a small reduction or a large reduction or the step from pass to fail. Whatever it is, 'extra credit' should not penalize the student. Jul 22, 2023 at 19:10
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You are clearly on track for the highest possible letter grade in this course. No need to fuss about one half of one percent in the high nineties.

After the course has ended and you have earned your A you might consider asking your professor about a strange statistical anomaly you noticed: that less than a perfect score on what was nominally work for extra credit actually lowered your course wide average. They might want to look into that.

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    The fuss is not about half a percent, but losing marks on something that was supposed to be extra effort by the student. A student that pays attention to these things is a student that achieves near full marks. That's the student you want to run your experiments or write your code or carry out your computations. Jul 22, 2023 at 19:12
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    @CaptainEmacs I agree. That's why I suggested calling the instructor's attention to the anomaly after grades have been assigned. Jul 22, 2023 at 19:35
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    @EthanBolker Why only after? They might want to look into that before grading.
    – JiK
    Jul 23, 2023 at 20:55
  • @JiK After so that there is no way to misconstrue as concerned about the miniscule change of grade. The question suggests that this applies to very few very good students. If it were general then immediate notice might be warranted. Jul 24, 2023 at 1:00
  • @JiK Since the damage to the grade was totally unexpected (because it is utterly stupid, you shouldn't get worse results because you put in extra effort, and because your professor acknowledged the extra effort), nobody would have realised before grading.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 24, 2023 at 8:20
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Don't tell them to change your grade. Just tell that there might be a mistake in their calculation and show what happened. Do not demand any extra grade as it might be received as petty. It might be a good idea even to tell you are not after the grade. Instead tell them you are pointing this out just in case if there is a problem in the grade calculation. 99 to 98 is meaningless but if it causes someone else to drop from say A to A- due to being on the line, it could be an issue. Also there might be a deeper problem in the grade calculation which they might want to know.

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  • But of course you are after the grade. 99 = "One of the ten best students this year", 98 = "One of the twenty best students this year". This could cost you thousands. "Sorry, you almost got the job, but we only higher the top ten students".
    – gnasher729
    Jul 26, 2023 at 12:42
  • I don't know the department but for engineering there is 0 difference between those two. A few marks is always within the margin of error. Jul 27, 2023 at 13:02
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Your professor gave you extra credit, with the intention to give you some benefit for some valuable work that you have done. Now that good intention has backfired because of some "interesting" way someone calculated the total quality of your work. I would strongly assume that had your professor known this, he or she would have told you "you really deserve some extra credit for this work, but due to the strange ways of this university, it would actually hurt you, so I won't give it to you."

So you should tell your professor, and most likely they will make a decision so change things so that you and the other student don't suffer for this extra credit. The extra credit may be withdrawn if that is the only possibility, or it may even be improved so that your average doesn't go down.

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