Participation grades impair learning

The use of participation grades in classes favors extroverts over introverts, wastes class time, and causes less work to get done.

America’s culture revolves around praising extroverts and forcing introverts out of their shells. Other cultures, such as that of Japan, see introversion as a sign of respect and extroverts as obnoxious. However, neither is reasonable because people should have their boundaries respected.

The participation grade is a manifestation of this ridiculous idea that extroverts are better than introverts. For an extrovert, it is easy to get an extra two or three percent added onto their grade just for talking in class. Introverts, on the other hand, struggle to participate enough so that their grade doesn’t drop.

Some may say these grades help introverts to become more comfortable speaking in public, which is true. However, introverts expend energy in social situations and recharge when alone. Why force them to focus more attention to speaking up rather than on their actual work? It’s counterproductive.

It could be discomfort with speaking or fear that people will judge them. Personally, I don’t like speaking in classes because I’m bad at wording things on the spot and I think quietly, not aloud. However, the student’s reason for not wishing to speak up doesn’t matter, that boundary should be respected and their grades shouldn’t suffer on that account.

The grade does encourage students to bring up their opinions, but it also encourages students to speak senselessly. The school system should be teaching students to make their words have meaning instead of wasting time in class by speaking an undeveloped thought to get a grade.

Classes should be a place to discuss ideas without bias towards one personality type. If participation grades were removed entirely, the material would be covered in much less time and without repetition of ideas. If a student has an opinion that differs from that of another student or the educator, the student should be encouraged, not forced, to bring that up in class discussion.

Students should be graded on their knowledge of material, not their speaking in a brainstorming session in class.

Classes that use brainstorming don’t help students to learn as much as those that don’t. According to the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, a class that uses brainstorming to discuss material is less productive for three reasons.

First: In a brainstorming session, only one person can speak at a time, which can distract ideas from developing. This isn’t solved by writing down a thought as it comes up either, because that will distract from the discussion.

Second: People fear looking silly in front of their peers. Several opinions may fail to make an appearance because of this.

Third: There are people who tend to sit back and let others in the class do the work, repeating generally accepted ideas that have already been said when their turn to speak comes. This leads to a waste of class time.

Classes need to be entirely reconstructed. Ideas should be voiced independently after being taught by the teacher. And no student should be favored over another. Teachers should strive to teach each individual student in a way that benefits them. Not everyone is the same, and people shouldn’t be treated as if they are.

Nick Miller is an A&E Editor for The Patriot and