photo by Jess Daninhirsch
As with many things during the pandemic, participating in class is much harder to do during remote learning. Many students are already so burnt out that merely just coming to class and trying to learn is an achievement for them. Even before the pandemic, participation points weren’t representative of a student’s dedication to the class. This year, especially, points should be tossed aside for different grading methods.
Participation points are exactly what they sound like. Each time a student speaks in class, they earn one point. Different teachers have different quotas to reach, such as 3o points per grading period.
I understand why teachers would want to promote class participation. But there are other ways to do so, instead of counting participation points as a grade. There could be a certain number of times to speak that then results in a bonus point once students reach that number. So, if a student participates ten times, they will get one bonus point that will go in the gradebook.
This is a much better incentive. Students are still encouraged to participate but do not have to be fearful each class that they will not reach the quota. Sometimes, students have off days and simply do not feel like speaking. There is nothing wrong with that, and they should not be punished for it.
If participation points are being required, then there should be other ways to gain points besides simply speaking. An alternative could be creating a relevant art project or creating a video about the lesson.
Maybe in past years, participation points were productive. But during a pandemic, they are incredibly unnecessary. I barely have enough motivation to attend my class, and I will admit that I choose not to participate. Perhaps this goes to say that I am a bad student, but I don’t think that’s the case. I always complete assignments on time and usually get good grades. At this point in the year, I am just too stubborn and tired to speak.
I am actually more comfortable with participating when it is not required. I feel less stressed and anxious when I am not worried about reaching a certain number. Instead, I can just speak when I feel that I have something to add to the lesson. I think that this is more productive.
I have been in classes that have required participation points before, and it resulted in some kids shouting out anything, nonsense included, just to get a point. This negates the purpose of participation. Yes, they are participating, but nothing important is being said.
I understand that students need to learn speaking skills, but I think that small group discussions and presentations are much more effective in doing so. Participation points mean nothing, especially for students with anxiety or disorders that affect speaking. Oftentimes, participation points are the root of stress in the classroom.
Overall, participation points should become a thing of the past. At the very least, they need to be modified. The intended outcome of them is meant to be positive, but often they end up doing more harm than good. During a pandemic, when students struggle to even attend class and pay attention, students shouldn’t have to stress about gaining enough participation points.