A Northern Michigan University professor has come under criticism for giving her students extra credit for attending the recent Occupy the U.P. protests in Marquette.
The professor offered the extra credit to a sociology class if they took advantage of a real world experience by participating in it. The protest was related to subjects they were talking about in class. If a student didn't want to go to the protest there was another option offered- writing a paper for extra credit.
I think that these types of out-of-the-classroom experiences are great learning tools. Professors and teachers should try to take advantage of them as much as possible.
During my sophomore year, I took an American government class. While we were studying court cases and how the law functions, my professor required us to sit in on three different types of court cases. We had to attend a court case at the federal, state court and local level and then write a two-paragraph response based on our observations.
By completing those assignments, I learned a lot about how a jury is selected and how a case moves through the legal system. I've always found it easier to learn by doing and seeing than by reading from a text book or listening to a lecture.
I've found plenty of NMU professors use the technique of teaching by engaging with the world outside of the university. I don't see how it could be a bad thing.
All of my journalism professors have required me, at some point, to interview a person outside of the classroom and write a story or article for the course based on that interview.
Having to do this has helped me become a better writer and be more comfortable with interviewing sources. Those same professors have even given extra credit for writing for The North Wind, NMU's student newspaper.
How could there be anything wrong with giving extra credit for real world experience?
Editor's note: Northern Michigan University student and Mining Journal Staff Writer Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.