Grading Participation

Interesting conversation about how and why (if!!) we should grade student participation.  Participation is usually graded by how much the student speaks up in class and how many days the student attends class.

My opinion: this is a skewed way of looking at participation.

I don’t feel comfortable in discussions if I might be thought to be wrong, or if there’s someone who is dominant.  I don’t like to speak up in large groups even to ask a question unless I know the people well.

So many students have reasons not to participate in discussions we can’t even list them here.

First point: if you are going to use participation as a place of grading, then you need to have several options. It cannot just be how many times a student speaks up in class. You are grading on behavior and personality, not on growth. We’ve seen in this era of emergency remote learning that students who were otherwise reluctant to speak up in class may be communication more in written discussions. That should be rewarded as much as the student who speaks up in class.

Second point: reconsider rewarding participation by using a self-assessment. Have it be growth, not some predefined rubric. This concept comes from an article about a new way to conceptualize how instructors grade participation by Alanna Gillis, Reconceptualizing Participation Grading as Skill Building.

Third: is participation really something to grade? Shouldn’t achieving course objectives be the point? If a student has already mastered the material, should they really have to come to class every day? Here’s another article about using student contribution to the collective knowledge as a way to measure participation: Assessing Student Participation  by Sritama Chatterjee

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