Heart starts racing. Arms are shaking. I feel my face starting to go red. And all because of having to say a few measly words in class.
Almost every class I am in requires participation in class as a part of the grade. Which means that my marks will probably go slightly down because of that. There’s no reason behind why it’s such a terrifying thing for me, there could be literally no right answer to the question but I would still be terrified to answer. And I know many people who feel the same way. One person I know told me she felt like she was going to get sick one of the times she had to say something in one of her classes.
On one hand, speaking in class shouldn’t count towards a student’s final grade. It shouldn’t be the difference between an A and a B. There are kids who could get 100 per cent on a test or write an amazing essay, but as soon as they’re put on the spot to say something in class they freeze and can’t get any words out. And because of that, they lose marks.
There’s obviously another side to this though, the teachers have reasoning behind why they require participation, I asked Richard Amante, a teacher here at Thompson Rivers University a few questions on why he has participated in class count towards a students grade:
Why do you have participation in class counting towards a student’s final grade?
Amante: “I believe that one key factor of the learning process is the interaction with other students and the exchange of ideas. We are all learners and instructors. The more of those interactions the students have, the more knowledge they acquire.”
What about students participating in class is important to you?
Amante: “Because I want students to learn. From my experience, students that come to all classes, have more interactions, and pay attention to have better grades.”
Do you have any further comments about student participation in class?
Amante: “When students realize how important knowledge is to their future, they will be more engaging and we will not have to require presence anymore.”
Amante makes some good points about participation, the main one being how having those conversations in class seems to help students learn more. Which is a very fair and valid point.
A student who isn’t uncomfortable speaking in class agrees with the point that participation shouldn’t be for grades said something that seems to be the perfect compromise, and the perfect final point for this: “I think speaking out in class should be encouraged, but it shouldn’t be something that affects a student’s final grade.”