Grading Participation: Is There a Better Way?

Do you want to encourage class participation but are unsure of how to do so meaningfully? A recent article, Is It Time to Rethink How We Grade Participation?, suggests not simply grading participation, but to instead seek ways to “reward engagement.” While many of the measures we use to keep track of and assess participation can indeed reward consistency of student effort, they may not actually lead to greater student engagement.

The author recommends that instructors can reward engagement by providing “extra-credit engagement tickets” for high-quality student participation efforts, such as volunteering to put a problem on a board. Students can then cash in those tickets for a missing homework assignment or to add a point to a project or exam. As the author argues, the point is not to merely encourage greater quantity of class participation, but instead greater quality.

In addition to the author’s suggestions, the various reader comments are worth reviewing as they provide additional, helpful input on how to encourage student engagement via meaningful class participation.