Participation as a Grade: Worth It? Yes.

Graphic+by+Luke+Rider

Graphic by Luke Rider

By Raqshan Khan

My hand shoots up in class. I know the answer. I have been paying attention and understand the topic. Instead of doodling on the corner of my paper, I have been listening to my teacher talk about the difference between the past and present tense in Spanish. The teacher knows I am mentally invested in the class, my hand is up and that is reflected in my grade.
I know what a lot of people say: what about the people who just aren’t comfortable with being the center of attention? I can understand that. Not everyone is able to raise their hand. No one should be forced to participate in order to raise their grade.
Participation should be a part of grading because it allows students to improve speaking and thinking skills by showing their ability to absorb and understand the teacher’s lesson while allowing the rest of the class to open up to discussion and further thinking. Also, making participation worth points takes the stress out of a situation where a student is called on without warning. Everybody hates being called on out of the blue. So participation points encourage students to raise their hands, take part in the discussion, and encourage people to ask questions which can help improve someone’s grades.
Participation-based attendance encourages students to actually show up and take part in the day’s discussion instead of ditching for a Starbucks run. How many students’ grades must have dropped in participation based classes due to missed days? With this system, no one is being called out or being put on the spot. Instead, action is taken by both students and teachers to increase attendance levels, which will greatly benefit both parties.
Homework and tests should still be an opportunity to raise or keep their grade, but participation grades provide students with speaking skills, make sure they are involved in the lesson, and encourage them to attend the classes.