Hannah Lundquist —
Every student has at some point raised their hand in class and answered the easy question just to get it out of the way for that day. It’s a way to make sure that they won’t have to answer a more difficult question later on or talk about something they don’t want to.
Students that are in classes where they are graded on participation usually feel inclined to do this.
This, however, might not be enough for some professors to base a participation grade. Every professor has their own way of deciding what counts for participation, so it is usually best to check before points are missed for a silly reason.
Professor Nels Paulson in the department of Social Sciences explained how he grades student participation. He says that he bases his grades off of discussion in class and pop quizzes to not only ensure that students participate, but that they also are showing up to class.
Another Stout professor, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in their class participation is based off of online discussion boards and attendance sign-in sheets. The professor believes this is a good way to base participation as the grade is up to the student to complete and their job to check in as well.
Most professors will detail out the participation and attendance portion of their grade during the first week when the syllabus is gone over. Since some students are not in attendance for this, it can be tricky for them to know how the class is set up.
Professor Paulson says that for his advanced Sociology classes, at the end of the semester he has his students grade themselves out of 100 points based on what they feel they deserve for a participation grade. In his experience, students have usually given themselves lower grades than what he would have given them, and so he adjusts the grades accordingly. This participation grade, he says, is not for his intro level classes since there are too many students to base the grade off. He does say, however, that he does not take attendance daily, but with the use of pop quizzes he is able to determine who shows up every time and who only shows for a few classes.
Other professors are still figuring out the best method for participation and attendance grading based on the classes they are teaching and also based on the individual students and their unique needs.
The professors agree that the participation and attendance grades are based off of the effort that every student is willing to put in. The professors are there to aid with in-class discussions and assignments, but it is the responsibility of the student to show up to class and participate. Professors are not there to make a student pass a class. They are there to teach and make sure students are prepared for jobs after college.
Every student should make sure to read the syllabus at the beginning of every class to make sure they can get all the points they can and do their best in every class, including participation and attendance.