Participation Grade: Yay or Nay?

A school post!!! Sorry for all my foodie followers. I have to attend to the other half of my blog’s title. Since last post was about pancakes I figured this one would be a nice contrast. I love my students this year!!! My year is going great. I just started the new Common Core NYS Module Unit 1. More on that later……


When I originally started teaching I used to be all for participation/effort grades as a component. I thought it would be a good motivator for students who don’t want to put effort in or raise hands (especially if you have a shy class which I hate). Then I kind of figured that:

– If a student doesn’t hand in homework or classwork, they will get zeros, and that in itself shows his effort/participation grade.

– Participation grades are kind of redundant since if students give their full effort usually they are doing well.

– If a parent has an issue with a participation grade, it’s kind of hard to “back up” whatever grade you’re giving them because there’s nothing really concrete about the grade.


So I haven’t been doing it the last couple of years…BUT this year I brought it back. In order to combat the issue of having nothing to ‘back up’ I’ve created this rubric.

Students first fill out this rubric and circle where they think they’re at. There are also reflective questions they have to answer and provide examples for. Here are the questions I gave them. I got them somewhere on the internet, but I seriously don’t remember where. I didn’t make them up. I probably just Googled “participation questions” and copied and pasted them into a word document.


1. Do you initiate working and learning most or all of the time in this class, or does the teacher have to push you a lot?





2. Do you take risks and try challenging tasks in this class even if you make mistakes (and learn from them). Or do you “play it safe” most of the time?




3. Do you try to teach other students if you understand something more than they do? Do you just give them the answer, or do you help them learn? Or do you only focus on your own work and ignore students who need help?




4. When you don’t feel like doing the assignment, most of the time do you do your best anyway, or do you try to put it off and/or not do your best?





5. Do you act professionally and exhibit proper classroom etiquette most of the time, or do you choose to violate classroom rules and expectations and engage the teacher in argument?





6. Think about the answers you made to the last five questions, and think about the quality of your school work this quarter — tests, classwork, computer assignments, etc. What grade do you think you deserve and why?

So as I was first grading these I thought it might have been overkill……because like I said the kids that try the hardest and participate already have the best grades.


Then as I continued grading I could really see how this could be helpful in my classroom because:

-The kids who participate will get positive reinforcement for doing so.

-The kids who need to put in a little more effort can take a minute and really think about how they can change.

So I think this will have a positive outcome in my classroom. Only time will tell. If a parent wants to see why I gave a student the grade I did I can simply pull out the rubric and the questions.

What do you think? Is it pointless to have a participation grade or do you think it helps efficacy?