Re: Question of the Day on Adventures in Ethics and Science
I think the question is only valid in relation to educational settings in which a grade is given. For schools which use written evaluations (Waldorf schools, New School in Florida, Hampshire College in Mass., Evergreen in Washington, and (formerly) UC Santa Cruz, among others) in place of grades, there can be no problem regarding extra credit. This is so because there is no out-and-out point system of evaluation. Students can be motivated (and encouraged) to do extra work or an extended number of paper revisions as a way of extending their own learning and then exhibiting that learning to the professor. Students who do not do such extra work miss out on those additional benefits, but they are just that: additional.
I suppose the implication for this on more traditional grading systems is this: if the choice to do extra work is ultimately left to the student, free of pressure or constraint (ie: “I have to do this extra paper so I can bump the “C” on the exam up to a “B”.”), then extra work (and accompanying credit) is beneficial. Unfortunately, that lack of pressure seems awfully unrealistic within the trappings of a more conventional setting. Viva alternative education!