Participation points penalize introverted students

Participation points penalize introverted students

Brianna Nelson, Staff Writer

As someone with a very introverted personality, one of the biggest things I dread about school is going to my classes where participation is expected and a percentage of my grade depends on whether or not I raise my hand in class.
In any given group of people, there will always be the “talkers,” and there will be the people that would rather listen and watch. In a classroom environment this is especially present. There will always be students who jump in on the opportunity to raise their hand and share their thoughts and ideas. With that there will always be students that would much rather observe and absorb what’s being shared than add their own insight.
So how does this personality dynamic affect class grades? When participation is a percentage of a grade, an extroverted personality type is favored and given a higher advantage while introverted students are penalized for not raising their hands and speaking up.
Everybody has a different way of learning. While some may learn best sorting their thoughts out loud with ease, others learn best while listening to their peers and teachers talk. So should these quiet learners get docked points? No! Students should not be penalized for having a certain learning style that works for them, and when participation is graded, that is exactly what happens.
Grading class participation sends a message that tells shy or introverted students that they are not as good as their outgoing peers. Some people struggle with sharing their thoughts out loud in front of a group of people. It gives them anxiety and causes them stress. Students have enough anxiety and stress as is, and they shouldn’t feel pressured to endure more of it just so that a teacher can grade how often they talk in class.
People should never have to feel like they should change who they are or what they are comfortable with in order to receive a certain letter in Skyward.
When students are pressured to get their thoughts out in the open, it can weaken the effectiveness of a discussion. Students will speak just for the sake of getting points in the gradebook rather than speaking to share something of value; it causes a discussion to lose importance.
Rather than grade participation on how many times a student speaks, teachers should grade participation on body language and whether or not a student is engaged. They should grade participation on whether or not the student is facing whoever is speaking, making eye contact, nodding or shaking their head in agreement or disagreement, taking notes, reacting to what is being said or interacting with other students. Even if silent engagement is more difficult to grade the quieter students would greatly benefit.
When verbal participation is graded, it can potentially obstruct the learning process for some, leaving students that are quiet learners struggling to succeed.