Friendly, fruitful competition?: Using contests as assignments isn’t as bad as it seems Friendly, fruitful competition?: Using contests as assignments isn’t as bad as it seems
BY ALYSSA KHAN School can be pretty frustrating for students, especially when assignments become overwhelming and they begin to pile up. It gets even... Friendly, fruitful competition?: Using contests as assignments isn’t as bad as it seems

BY ALYSSA KHAN

School can be pretty frustrating for students, especially when assignments become overwhelming and they begin to pile up. It gets even more difficult when teachers make students participate in district-wide contests, or simply make these contests assignments for their class. However, such situations are not as bad as they appear to be. 

Using contests as assignments is a smart move for teachers. It saves them time and forces their students to enter these contests, which can’t hurt them in the end. If a student tries their best on the assignment and their teacher enters them into the contest, it could lead them to doing well or even winning. 

Students will see any assignment or work as trouble. No matter what assignment is given, there will always be a student complaining about said task. Teachers know this and have consequently gotten used to the fact that you can’t please everyone. They always want to do what’s best for their students, even if the students don’t realize it.

“I don’t think it is a bad thing for teachers to make contests into assignments,” junior Kiara Ryan said. “It works out because it forces me to submit into a contest that I could possibly win. Also, I think that a lot of [high school] contest makers struggle with getting submissions and this helps diversify and get more submissions.”

“It works out because it forces me to submit into a contest that I could possibly win.”

Junior Kiara Ryan

At CCHS, English teacher Brianna Bullard makes her students submit two pieces of literary work for the district Literacy Fair. Her way of “motivating” everyone to participate in it is by making it a mandatory assignment. 

It’s a system that works out for everyone in the end. The only bad thing could be that students feel overloaded by work, and hearing that they have to participate in a contest could feel like an added burden. Senior Lauren Dupoux has been affected by this before. 

“Being in my senior year, I already feel that I have a lot on my plate. When contests come around, there is always a fear that I could possibly have to unwillingly participate in them,” Dupoux said. “I’m not a fan of teachers using contests as assignments, because the work assigned is often different from the usual work we have for that class.”

Although this is true, the pros still outweigh the cons. Thinking about it on a larger scale, winning these contests becomes something to add on a college or scholarship application and can help a student stand out among a large pool of applicants. Sacrificing time to thoroughly complete this one different assignment can lead to benefits in the future—a return investment, so to speak. 

Sacrificing time to thoroughly complete this one different assignment can lead to benefits in the future—a return investment, so to speak. 

Besides district, county or state contests, school clubs also have the ability to host contests. The Multicultural Club is currently hosting a contest for Black History Month. Having students participate in these contests can be a huge help for clubs.

“I think that it is amazing that teachers make us participate in school contests,” junior Paige Patterson said. “It truly allows us to expand our knowledge on various topics while simultaneously helping out school clubs.”

Using contests as assignments is also a great way to play off the competitiveness amongst students. Think of the popular game application “Kahoot!” and the way it gets classes amped up. Placing students in a competition against their classmates is one of the easiest ways to motivate them to put their best foot forward. 

Sometimes it’s hard to see the long term benefits when the short-term conflicts seem so pressing. In the end, contests as assignments are only beneficial, and more students will be better off when they realize this. 


Illustration by Sasheen Joseph

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