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Students weigh in on participation grades

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A student raises his hand in class, this counts towards participation grades that are taken in various classrooms. 

Assignments and exams make up most of what is graded at Doane. Some professors use participation grades to check performance in the classroom itself.

Students are not convinced participation grades are the best way to measure a student’s ability. Senior Shae Richart explains that some students are not good at speaking in a classroom setting. Some even have anxiety about it.

Richart says that she is “not normally a talker.” She has been able to get used to having her participation graded during her time in school. She still believes that participation grades should not have an impact on final grades though, she said.

Freshman Jorge Chevez is from Panama and is in his first semester at Doane. He is already in a class with a participation grade.

Chevez says that he is still not likely to participate in class. It is hard for him to do so when English is not his best language. He sometimes has a hard time with understanding the professor when he or she is speaking quickly.

He is not against the use of participation grades though.

“It (participation) is an interactive way to learn. It takes you out of the routine of writing a lot and lets you know the points of view of your classmates.”

Chevez says he thinks it is a shame he is not able to participate at the same level as others in the class.

“I could provide something good to the class discussion but for the fact that I can’t understand well what they are saying I prefer to be quiet," Chavez said.

Political Science professor Tim Hill explains the many reasons participation grades can be effective.

“The practical reason is that it's useful to have a part of the grade that's not so defined so that there's a place in the system to reward students who have made an extraordinary effort,” Hill said.

The other line of reasoning is the “the pedagogical reason.” Hill said, A student learns better if they are actively involved in their education. Student participation can benefit the rest of the class, Hill said.

“Everyone learns better if they help each other out,” Hill said.

This reason alone is enough to merit the use of participation grades, but both reasons form the rationale behind the grading system altogether, Hill said.