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Participation grades detract from learning

Introducing participation grades were intended to give shy students a reason to participate in class, but instead they have created a mentality among students that the only reason to contribute in class is to end the year with a good GPA. In my freshman year Spanish class, we had participation trackers that were done on a daily basis. They were scored out of 20 and had four categories that could earn you points for the class period. One tracker out of the three that you did each week would be randomly selected as your participation grade for that week.

This system made it so that messing up in one of those categories once per week could have a serious effect on your grade. There was also no way to improve a poor score on a previous tracker, meaning that one bad grade could be the difference between two letter grades. This approach to participation grades did not encourage shy students to talk in class, it just made them want to stay quiet so that they could get a good grade.

A solution to this issue would be to either remove the participation section or adjust it to make students want to try. Instead of having trackers to score students, teachers should implement a system that encourages students to speak in class, but does not create severe penalties that discourage them from being too social. Perhaps grading students on whether they are actively paying attention would be a better way than just looking at how many times they talk.

Now, you might say that ten percent of your grade is not that big of deal compared to how much assessments, classwork, and homework are worth. But that 10% can be what determines your grade when it comes to the end of the advisory, and sometimes there is nothing students can do to change that score. And I know that you would definitely prefer that your assessments and classwork decide your grade instead of one bad tracker.


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