We all know that “class participation” ranks high on the list of criteria for grading in art and design classes. What is astonishing is how many teachers simply state either in their syllabi or rubrics that “class participation” will count towards a grade, without explaining what they mean by that.
What most of them mean, unfortunately, is that they want/expect the students to speak up in class. And that’s it.
But where does that leave the “quiet student”? You know, the ones who rarely say anything, but who are clearly engaged in the class despite the fact that they don’t speak up. Grading “class participation” solely on whether someone has said something in class is very short-sighted, and can in fact be counter-productive because it encourages students who are talkative in the first place and intimidates those who are less verbal.
Broadening the definition of what constitutes “class participation” can get around this problem and be a fairer assessment of a student’s true engagement with the class. Here are some suggestions for what might be included in that broader definition:
• Volunteer during class.
• Do in-class exercises.
• Have in your possession the proper materials & equipment necessary to satisfactorily complete the work.
• Show initiative throughout the duration of the course.
• Be in class on time and prepared.
• Ask questions and comment on the subjects being discussed in class, both verbally and in writing,
• Participate in field trips.
• Do all homework as required.
Those points would provide a teacher with a far truer picture of a student’s actual participation in a class. So why not list them either on a syllabus or in a rubric to let students know that you value all those things and that they will be rewarded for exhibiting them?