Extra Credit?

by hamiltonmj1983

Teaching Question:

Is it better to give a hard test and curve it / give extra credit, or an easier test with no curve or extra credit?

The highest grade in the class for my last test was a 63% (which I was disappointed with, considering that I gave them a study guide AND gave them a list of 5 possible essay questions, 3 of which appeared as the only essay questions on the test). I then curved the test by 37%, so the highest grade in the class would be 100%, as well as allowing 2 extra credit questions at the end of the test that were good for up to 15% more (the highest grade got 5 of the 15 extra credit points). After doing this, about 30% of the class made an A, 35% made a B, 20% made a C, no Ds, and 15% made an F. On the one hand, I am concerned that so many people ended up with an A or a B when the original highest grade was a 63%. On the other hand, I must take some of the blame, as the instructor, if the highest grade was only a 63%.

Those of you out there who teach, what is your take on this? I am teaching community college kids Old Testament; these students don’t really care about the OT, they just needed a humanities credit. Does that make a difference? Should I give extra credit and a curve and keep my tests difficult? Or should I ease up on the tests? Should I keep the tests hard and ease back on the curve or the extra credit?