Why participate during class? That all depends

By Ana Berbel, Contributing Writer

During the start of every semester, when professors hand out the syllabus for their class, there is usually a paragraph about attendance and participation points. Some professors decide to ignore it and only have homework and tests count for the final grade.

Others will take participation very seriously, making it worth ten percent or even 15 percent. But is there really any policy regarding participation?

“West Liberty University has no specific policy on classroom participation,” Dr. Brian Crawford, West Liberty University’s Provost, explained, “I think this is something best left to the faculty member to decide for their courses.”

Every course is different; therefore, participation may be more or less important. Some teachers prefer to let students work at their own rhythm and as long as deadlines are met, they don’t count participation as much.

Other teachers that rely heavily on their class time encourage attendance along with participation points.

“I’ve seen participation defined in many ways over the years. The intent is always to encourage students to be present and actively engaged in the class, and to reward those who are,” Crawford said. “Faculty members take student learning very seriously, whether they include something in their grading specifically related to class participation or not.”

Some professors, such Dr. Peter Staffel, use participation points to give credit for what the students earn during class time.

“I usually do five percent, but occasionally ten percent. Participation for me is regular attendance, doing the work required for the class, answering questions if asked and ultimately making an effort to be a college student,” said Staffel. “It can demonstrate engagement and also comprehension, by offering credit as participation points and trying to make the classroom comfortable for students to participate.”

Attendance and participation policies are not always seen as something good, but in the end, just by attending class and getting your money’s worth you can earn points that can bump your grades up.

Photo Credit: Ana Berbel