Participation is a vital part of the educational experience

Published by adviser, Author: The Rocket Staff, Date: September 27, 2012

Every student has heard some of their peers complaining about losing points on their overall grade in a course because they missed too many class periods or because they did not participate enough in discussions.

Most students are guilty of it themselves.

Some of the ill will towards attendance and participation grades is justified.

There is often a lot of confusion that comes from the “class participation” grade students receive in most of their classes, because many times students don’t even know what they will be graded on.

The way in which participation is graded by professors varies greatly, from students being required to simply show up to class half the time, to having to actively partake in classroom discussions on a daily basis.

Not always knowing what exactly the expectations are for participation, as well as not knowing the strictness the professor will have in grading a fairly intangible  topic is also an issue students typically complain about when discussing the grade.

And their complaints in those regards are warranted. There is a general lack of standardization and enforcement on class participation, even if professors make note of it in their syllabus.
But beyond the vagueness that accompanies many of these participation grades, many students feel the grade itself is not all that important. They want to be judged for the knowledge they demonstrate on tests, not the rate in which they participate in discussions.

This is where the anti-participation argument falls short.

Participation is an important part to a student’s learning on campus. It is another measure, in addition to exams, that professors can use to judge a student’s knowledge of a subject, just like homework, quizzes and papers.

The students that hope to downplay the role participation has in college are usually the ones that don’t always show up to class, and as a result, lose those easy points.

And that’s what they are — easy points.

If anything, students should be thrilled their grade can be bolstered by points given to them by simply showing up and maintaining some basic level of attention and activity in class.

Participating in class is an important aspect of learning too. Students are paying to get an education and having mandatory participation is basically a way for the college to hold the student’s hand while they get it.

Participating in class enriches the learning experience of students. While not every class lends itself to offering a great deal of discussion — auditorium classes for example — showing up and taking notes is the easiest way to learn a subject. If professors want to base part of the grade on students doing that simple task, students shouldn’t be the ones complaining about it.

They are paying for an education, the least they should hope to do is participate in it.


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