Cons of Participation Grades 3

Continuing my previous post (which I unfortunately must do in installments due to my schedule) here is another common criticism of grading participation.

3. It is misused to justify bias.

As I’ve mentioned before, some teachers use participation grades to justify using their like or dislike of students as a part of their grades. This is clearly a problem, but once again, not one of participation in itself. The real issue here is educators grading based on their own biases. This can happen with any sort of assessment. A teacher, upon seeing the name at the top of the paper, could overlook mistakes or grade more strictly because of a subconscious bias.

I don’t think most teachers mean to grade in a biased way, but that’s the insidious way that biases work. We don’t even know it is happening, even when we are aware that such biases exist.

Following a rubric carefully and consistently (and taking active measures to avoid biases, such as obscuring student’s names beforehand) can work as well with a good participation rubric as with any other rubric. Many of the arguments against participation grades that I have seen take this for granted and equivocate grading participation with changing students grades arbitrarily, like this blog. This article also repeats another key issue with participation grades:

4. Classroom management shouldn’t be a part of grading.

(Yet again, this must unfortunately be addressed in a follow-up post.)

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Cons of Participation Grades 4



Jay teaches English in Asia and loves skepticism and teaching above all else.

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