Weekly Teaching Note
Apr 05 2011
Evaluating Students on Class Participation

Do you want to include class participation in your grading but find it difficult to grade participation fairly?
Develop a rubric to evaluate student participation. Suggested criteria for a rubric include:
·      How often did the student participate during class?
·      Were contributions relevant to the topic under discussion?
·      Did the student appear to be adequately prepared? Did contributions reflect or apply the content of course readings?
·      Did the student contribute new ideas?
·      What was the quality of evidence of critical thinking in the student’s contributions?
·      How well did the student listen to the contributions of others? Did the student engage in civil behavior during discussions (avoid interrupting others, use respectful language, etc.)?
Share your participation rubric with students during the first week of the class. Invite student comments and suggestions for revisions (within acceptable boundaries).  This strategy will clearly communicate your expectations for effective participation and promote student acceptance of these criteria.
Evaluating participation in every class session can become burdensome and encourage student participation merely for the sake of earning points that day. Instead, use the rubric to evaluate participation and provide feedback to students once a month.  This strategy allows you to base your evaluation of participation for intervals of time that will be manageable for your ability to recall student behavior.  It also provides students with feedback about their early participation and will allow them to make corrections and improve participation across the term.

  • California State University rubric for information literacy: http://www.calstate.edu/LS/1_rubric.doc
  • University of West Florida rubric for class participation in a seminar discussion: http://uwf.edu/cutla/Rubric_for_Class_Participation(Stanny).pdf  
  • Roblyer, M. D. and Ekhaml, L. (2000). How Interactive are YOUR Distance Courses? A Rubric for Assessing Interaction in Distance Learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 3(2). Accessed 4/5/2011 at http://www.westga.edu/~distance/roblyer32.html
  • Roblyer, M. D. and Wiencke, W. R. (2003). Design and use of a rubric to assess and encourage interactive qualities in distance courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 17(2):77-98.
  • University of West Florida, Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment’s collection of rubrics: http://uwf.edu/cutla/rubricexamples.cfm
  • Walvoord, B. E. and Anderson, V. J. (2009). Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment in College. Jossey-Bass, 2 edition.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida

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