Participation Grades

by Jasmine Vohra and Heyam Muflahi

Participation grades are designed to reflect a student’s engagement in class—but do they do so accurately? Those who retain the most amount of knowledge might very well have a learning style that doesn’t adhere to the participation standards.

Taking thorough notes and listening intently to others proves to be the behaviors of some of the students with high GPAs. Aren’t any habits that allow for the most knowledge to be gained equal? Unfortunately, a student with a very extensive knowledge of a topic in question may face a lower GPA due to these participation grades than someone who vocalizes answers straight from the textbook.

Participation behaviors are more so reflective on personality traits, rather than comprehension of material. Those who are active speakers will find ways to speak out in class, and will ask the simplest of questions to ensure they understand the material in its entirety, while others decide they can consult one of their classmates later. Ultimately, both students possess the same amount of knowledge on the topic, yet one will obtain a higher GPA simply for raising their hand.

Being a student can prove to be extremely stressful, and many students today suffer from anxiety disorders. The simplest of questions can raise doubts in a student’s mind as to the validity of what they believe to be the correct answer, only to find seconds later that they were correct. Additionally, social anxiety disorders can discourage some to speak out amongst their peers for fear of a laughable question/answer. These students may possess some of the brightest minds, yet be even further disadvantaged by their disorders due to participation grades.

In another case, participation is a subjective grade. There are situations where the teacher can give a student a low grade in participation even though that student does try to raise their hand in class. It also brings up another problem, where the teacher may let their personal feelings toward the student interfere with their grade. Although it may be less common, this could lead to the student not feeling comfortable with the teacher, which therefore leads to less participation.
Many teachers in BTHS decide to use participation as a factor towards a student’s grade. However, does it accurately portray the student?

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