Editorial: Participation in quarter grades

The Schreiber Times

You think you are doing exceptionally well in Physics, until you get your report card.  You receive a full letter grade lower than you had calculated and immediately email your teacher, asking what happened to your C+.  The next day, your teacher explains that although you do very well in the class, you do not raise your hand often or add to the conversation at all.  Because you are slightly more shy than your peers, you cannot receive the grade for which you studied and did homework.  Instead, the boy who sits next to you and gets mediocre grades, but speaks up whenever he gets the chance, does better than you.

This is a common situation for students, for the most part.  Despite their good intentions, many teachers penalize pupils who do not share their opinions often.  There is a plethora of reasons a student may not raise his or her hand on a given day.  Little sleep the previous night could make students less willing to participate.  Shyness and insecurity, often built into an individual’s personality, affect students’ activity in class.  It is unfair to give students a lower grade than they deserve just because they may have one of these characteristics, or are experiencing one of these issues.  Additionally, if a student understands the material and is able to do well in a class without raising his or her hand, why should he or she be forced to ask unnecessary questions for a good participation grade?

At the same time, some teachers could not care less if their students talk, and simply do not include participation in their grading policy.  This hurts students who go out of their way to keep a class conversation going and does not rightfully punish the students who are disruptive.

Because of the inherent unfairness in this lack of uniformity, The Schreiber Times believes that teachers should standardize participation grade guidelines.  There is one particularly effective policy used by a few teachers that The Schreiber Times suggests more teachers take advantage of.  In this system, all students should start with a perfect participation score.  If they are disruptive in any way, points are deducted from that score. If they actively participate or do not say anything at all, that grade stays the same.  At the end of the quarter, every student gets the grade he or she deserves.

If Schreiber were to regulate participation grades, this would reduce the number of students who find themselves with a grade they do not think they deserve.