American Sociological Association

Reconceptualizing Participation Grading as Skill Building

Two common ways that instructors assess participation in sociology courses are recalling participation by memory or counting times spoken during class in real time. However, these common assessments rely on faulty assumptions that do not support their usage. This article reconceptualizes participation grading as an opportunity to motivate skill building across a variety of dimensions. The evidence from two classes of 45 and 47 students demonstrates that this conceptualization can be effectively implemented in undergraduate courses. Students set participation goals; all students met at least one goal, and more than two-thirds met all three goals. Qualitative themes from their reflections include students learned that participation is about skills not personality, it gets easier once started, participation dimensions are interconnected, and these skills can be applied in other classes. Benefits can be achieved when instructors implement a multifaceted skill-based participation system to assess participation.


Alanna Gillis





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