The way college classes are taught influences the way the material is learned, retained and, one day, used in the real world to impact real people. In order to make a class not only interesting and entertaining but impactful and lasting, a professor must fully engage the students. In all levels of education, students are expected to attend classes. It is believed that getting knowledge from the class and being successful in the class is more likely to happen with attending classes. Several research studies have agreed that students benefit from attending classes (Clark et al., 2011; Cohn et al., 2006). The idea behind this practice is that the additional exposure to the material in a more active, hands-on environment will increase a student's understanding of what is being taught. This should, in theory, show overall grade improvement in the course. Another researcher claimed that attending classes was one of several factors that positively contribute to a student's academic success (Dollinger et al., 2008). In the literature, a negative correlation between absences and course grade has been shown, and this relationship strengthens as the number of absences increases (Silvestri, 2003).
Experiential learning is learning through experience and hands-on activities both in the classroom as well as outside the classroom. These activities provide opportunities to fully apply the material in practice. By doing so, students should understand the concepts taught in class more wholly and, thus, perform better in the course. Thorne (2000) examined whether providing extra-credit opportunities in the class can encourage student participation as well as motivating them to learn class materials well. We are interested in studying the impact of participation in these voluntary, class-related extracurricular and extra-credit activities on classroom performance. We wish to study how such participation impacts performance in terms of final grades in the course. The purpose of this study is to see how participation in voluntary out-of-the classroom, but classroom-related, extra-credit assignments influences overall performance in the class.