Should you grade your students on contributing to class discussion?
According to Christopher Willard, in an Faculty Focus essay entitled “Reconsidering Grading Students on Class Participation” (http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/reconsidering-grading-students-on-class-participation/) the answer is no. Willard states that there are many legitimate reasons why a student may not feel comfortable participating in class discussions. Furthermore, he advises that if we are to grade on participation, we should be teaching our students participation skills. Willard finds that reducing the stress associated with speaking up in class does more to facilitate participation than making it mandatory.
Additional Resources / Ideas
According to John C. Bean and Dean Peterson the answer is yes, with outcomes, strategies for modeling and modes of assessment that provoke self-assessment, skill development, and room for listening as well as other/multiple modes of participating. The abstract for their article – including the text of a holistic rubric – notes:
Grading class participation signals students about the kind of learning and thinking an instructor values. This chapter describes three models of class participation, several models for assessment including a sample rubric, problems with assessing classroom participation, and strategies for overcoming these problems.
and is as a available at http://www.csufresno.edu/academics/documents/participation/grading_class_participation.pdf