It is only natural for teachers to want their students to participate in class. It makes the class more engaging, allowing the students to speak and ask questions instead of the teacher lecturing on and on with no regard for how the students are keeping up. The teacher could also get a better idea of how many students are actually understanding the material, and they could help those who may fall behind. As you can see, student participation can be quite helpful in some regards. However, I think it is completely unnecessary for it to be counted as part of a student’s grade for multiple reasons.
First off, it is completely subjective. When giving a participation grade, a teacher has to think about each student and give them a grade based on how much they think the student participated in class. This provides an inaccurate representation of the student’s grade. In my opinion, grades should be as objective as possible, relying solely on the student’s scores on their assignments. Grades should show how much a student understands the material, not how much they talk in class. Some students can do well on their tests and not say a single word during a lecture. Giving a person like this a low participation grade will most likely bring their grade down, despite it being completely unrelated to the student’s understanding of the subject.
Sometimes, students, including myself occasionally, take longer to understand the material on the day it is taught, but can still ace their tests because they take the time to review and study. I personally learn best by taking notes, listening, and processing the content in my mind as the class progresses. I don’t like it when teachers expect you to know the answers to a concept that is just being taught that day. I won’t raise my hand and try to answer if I don’t know the answer. That alone should be enough for the teacher to know that I don’t understand. Likewise, if I do know the answer, I will raise my hand. There is no point in trying to force an answer out of me when I clearly don’t know. Plus, I’d rather not make a fool of myself in front of the whole class.
In several cases, participation grades can hurt the students who are more introverted or shy. Some people are fine with just yelling out wrong answers, but others are not comfortable with that. Why should those people be penalized? In addition, not all comments are completely constructive to the class. Having the same, outgoing person spout wrong answers for the entire class period is distracting and can hold the rest of the students back. In addition, connecting to a point I previously made, students might simply value listening and thinking rather than participating in discussions.
If a teacher so badly wants their students to participate, that should fall into the conduct/effort part of the report card rather than the grades itself. I work hard to get my grades, and I’d prefer it if it wasn’t always dragged down by something as subjective and frivolous as a participation grade.
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