No, not unless you do it like a former adjunct of mine.
He was a motivated and passionate instructor who had retired from a successful career in industry and was now teaching college science courses on a part-time basis. What he did, or actually what he didn’t do, led to hours of my time to sort through and rule on a formal grade appeal lodged by one of his students. This occurred because the instructor counted class participation for 15 percent of the final grade, but he neither defined what constituted class participation nor gave students feedback on their participation.
The student submitted 3 ½ single-spaced, typed pages that seemingly detailed every time he had participated in class. Furthermore, he provided the name of a classmate who was willing to confirm all this and attest to the fact that this student participated more than anyone else in the class.
I shared this information with the instructor. His response was that none of this was participation. He indicated that the student came to class unprepared and asked questions, the answers to which he would have known if he read the assignment. The instructor also said the student was continuously disruptive and sarcastic with his comments during class.
Class participation is a valid and often times important type of assessment, but you need to be specific as to how you will grade participation. Furthermore, during the term, you should provide students with feedback concerning their participation. In my opinion, this should be no less than two or three times during the term. If you this sounds like too much work, then my advice would be don’t grade your students on class participation. It’s all your decision.
© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
Posted February 27, 2010