Grading Participation

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 21, 2015

    So I grade participation in my class. It's important to me to maintain a good class environment, and I think it's worth it to grade how well a student participates, conducts himself in class, and how well prepared they are each day.

    I understand people's frustration with participation grades. I really do. I had one class in college where I nearly received a C instead of a B because of something that our graduate instructor termed "Scholarly Attitude" which meant that I was late once or twice and used my laptop to take notes instead of writing it by hand which he said was way better for us than typing. Apparently that segment of the grade was heavily weighted.

    But participation is important in my class and it's one way I maintain the learning environment in my classroom. In my class, participation is only worth 10% anyway. And isn't given very often.

    I just got an angry email from a parent asking how his student could have gotten an A in the major categories of my grade but gotten a C in participation based on 'no evidence'. I just told him that academic performance doesn't always match up with their conduct, group work, and attitude in the classroom, and that there is evidence from my observations in the classroom. I usually mark my seating chart, but I normally throw them away afterwards. I should keep them in the future. The student is getting a B and isn't really near an A anyway.

    I'm pretty sure it's in our contract that we are allowed to give a participation grade for up to 15% of our grade.

    Would you think the parent is justified? I know this is a very gray area for most in teaching.
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    NO NO NO

    I think you are 100% spot on. I agree with you 100% and at times wish the participation or "academic behavior" grade could count for far more.

    What process do you use for "scoring" or keeping track of their participation grade?
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Thanks Pashtun. As for the system I use, I used to use an iPad app that would let me record the precise behavior and record it into a chart. But it was too bulky to use in the classroom, and didn't always work.

    So I've been just using my seating chart and a system of plusses and minuses. If they engage in a behavior that is beneficial, such as being ready by the time the bell rings, participating in the warm-up answers, etc. then they receive a plus. If they aren't ready by the bell, or are engaging in off-task behavior, then they get a minus.

    Everyone starts with a 4/5 for the week. Depending on how many pluses and minuses they got, they might go up or down.

    As I said, I usually toss these, and never thought to keep them for instances such as these.
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    don't stress it. Tell the parent that the sheets are recycled after the marks are placed in the gradebook. He doesn't need to see any proof. You're the teacher. If he insists, tell him you'll be happy to make something up for him ;)
     
  6. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Jan 21, 2015

    I use a similar system. I walk around with post-it notes and take notes for the class period. Everyone starts with 100 and loses points for being off task. We also have class discussions that are given a separate grade since speaking and listening are standards.
     
  7. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I think this is further proof that our grading system is a joke and should be thrown out entirely.

    I would have no problem with participation grades if everyone used them equally. We don't.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    If we were to be painfully honest, most of what we grade, even the stuff that we claim is "evidence-based" is still very subjective.

    Even with a clear rubric, it requires the teachers' judgement to place a students' project on the appropriate area in that rubric.

    I don't know of any way that we can grade that is completely machine-like or completely objective, and I'm not sure that we want to grade in that way.

    Just food for thought.
     
  9. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jan 22, 2015

    I absolutely agree that what we grade is already subjective. If we can't even agree on what to grade we certainly won't agree on how to grade it.
     
  10. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    This is all very interesting to read because my school is adamantly against grading participation. I've taught at this school my whole career thus far, so I've never really thought about it. Refusal to participate is a discipline issue to my administration, not a grading one. It's an interesting concept. It would certainly be easier sometimes! Do any of you ever get pushback from the parents (obviously the OP did, but is it common?)?
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    How does your admin deal with lack of participation with discipline?
    What do they do?
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Keeping your head down, refusal to take notes, complete classwork (assignment, work with group, etc) or answer questions is considered insubordination. How many chances the kid gets before a referral is up to the teacher, but they want 1 warning, then a phone call home and a referral by the 3rd incident. Some teachers give more leeway. A referral for that would get a detention or Saturday School for repeated issues.

    I just recently wrote a girl up for refusing to take notes or pick her head up. It was her second offense and she was fairly rude in her refusal. She received 2 detentions.

    One of my school's major directives centers around questioning. Our principal is HUGE on it. So all incoming students are told in their orientation that they are required to answer any posed questions to the best of their ability and we are "required" to ask 3 questions per student per class. So the class is supposed to be very back-and-forth between students and teacher. They don't like students who refuse that model.
     
  13. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    As a parent, I'd want the definition of "participation" clearly defined.

    Lately, I've seen a lot of mentions here something to the effect of 1 comment=1 tally mark=good grade in "participation". I appreciate what you say here, Peregrin, about it being more about academic behavior...because if it were merely talking, I'd be more than pis$ed.

    I don't buy into the "if you grade it, they will do it" mentality.
     
  14. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    Jan 22, 2015

    As a music teacher, I have to grade participation. At my last school, it was 50 percent of the grade. You need to tell parents what participation looks like. To me, kids needed to have their instrument and music so they could play in class. They needed to practice assigned music at home so they could play it in class. They needed to behave so they don't get sent out and lose an opportunity to play in class. You see what I'm saying? You have to show the link between an unscholarly (adapting your terminology) attitude or effort to what actually transpires in the classroom. I'm not sure how just talking automatically demonstrates understanding. I have seen rubrics for class discussions before, if that helps.
     

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