Standards for Participation
Note that the primary criteria involved in the various levels of participation described below is the extent to which the student contributes to the learning of the group as a whole, particularly in terms of understanding the text under consideration. I will give each student a chance to evaluate their participation at mid-term, and add my own comments to this evaluation. I will then use this mid-term assessment in determining the final participation grade.
D or F participation is characterized by either a (a) consistent absence, physical or mental, from the class and/or (b) behavior detrimental to class conversations, whether in small groups or the class as a whole. (a) Absent participation may include frequent unexcused absences; routinely coming to class without the assigned text or without having done the reading; sleeping or zoning out in class; and total inability to respond in any meaningful way to a question about the reading even if called upon. (b) Detrimental behavior includes making comments putting down other students or the instructor for their efforts to understand the text or other remarks designed to derail the discussion. Fortunately, such participation is rare!
C participation can involve active listening without speaking at all (refusal to be called upon, to speak when called upon, or to volunteer). But it may also involve active engagement in conversations—whether in small groups or with the class as a whole—while commenting only in ways that offer personal opinions without textual support. The C participant appears engaged in class, brings the assigned reading; stays awake; and does show a familiarity with the texts in written exercises and during office hours.
B participation involves not only a solid familiarity with the text for the day, but also the expression of ideas and/or raising of questions about the text making reference to specific lines and passages. The B participant generally furthers small-group and whole-class conversations in her or his contributions, though there may be some unevenness here (fluctuating between C and A participation). B participation may be characterized by a tendency to dominate in discussion, but there is generally a will in B participation to listen to others and recognize what they have said as well as to contribute thoughts.
A participation shows all of the positive characteristics of B participation and, in addition, (a) consistently contributes complex insights into the texts and/or (b) asks probing questions that take the discussion further and/or (c) provides synthesis of other students’ comments in ways that help the class move forward. The A participant speaks in (nearly) every class but does not dominate conversation, listening attentively as well as speaking carefully.
of the wording of this statement is drawn--with permission--from a similar
document produced by a committee of faculty members at the Center for Teaching
and Learning, headed by Professor Susan Ferguson,]
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