Class Participation: What’s the Point?

By Sonya Fucci

“How could one test drop my average 3 points?! I’m done.”

“I’m not going to participate in that class. Tests are worth 80% of my grade. There’s no point.”

“Why do I even need to participate? I’d rather just hear the right answer from my teacher.”

Tests and quizzes are often the most heavily weighted factor in a course’s average. Learning to handle rigorous coursework and do well on tests is an important skill to master; however, students often forget about the importance of class participation.

Tech’s curriculum is challenging and there is a lot of pressure on students to perform to the absolute best of their ability all of the time.

Mary Karroqe ’16, reflecting on her first few months of high school said, “It’s kind of etched into my brain that you have to do well.”

Because Skedula weighs tests more heavily than in-class participation and class work, students feel less inclined to participate in class and are under the impression that the 10% to 20% in-class participation grade holds no ground over major assessments.

Karroqe said, “If you take the pressure in a negative way just to get a good grade at the end of the year, it’s kind of a waste because you’re not really using the information you’re learning for your own benefit.” Students view what they learn as a way to get the highest possible grade, not as knowledge that expands their understanding of a subject matter.

Although assessments, such as the Regents, are ultimately going to appear on a transcript, being able to ask questions and contribute meaningful ideas in class should be as important to students as a test or a major assessment.

Evan Losow, an English teacher, considers class participation important because it is a way to see how the students think critically in the classroom. Since most schoolwork (such as studying for an exam or writing an essay) is done at home, in-class participation helps a teacher analyze how students process their thoughts.

According to Losow his students tend to have, “above average intelligence but below average speaking skills.”

Students should take advantage of opportunities to speak in class.

Participation is beneficial to students, because it develops communication skills necessary for interviews, talking to teachers, professors, or future bosses, and interacting with others.

“It’s important for students to have a healthy relationship with authority, to be able to get what they want without being rude, angry, or overly entitled,” says Losow.

Speaking what is on one’s mind with confidence is a skill that will help students for the rest of their lives. So, the sooner a student starts to participate in class the better.

“It’s so important to be able to express yourself,” concludes Losow.

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