Should Participation Grades and Zoom Mix?

In a constantly changing learning environment, the question arises: should your participation in class be counted towards your grade? In the hybrid/virtual model, many teachers have counted Zoom participation as part of the student’s grade while other teachers have used participation on Zoom for extra-credit grades. Some teachers have given out no points based on participation, and don’t plan to. So what should they do?

PV’s The Voice distributed a survey, which was completed by 518 students.

“Do you think that participation in class should be counted as your grade?” The poll closed with 32% in favor of counting participation as your grade, and 62% not in favor. 

Each student has a different learning environment at home, and there are a variety of reasons why students may not feel comfortable participating on Zoom or having their camera on. By requiring students to do these things, teachers could be putting them in an unfair situation. 

Participating in class can be done in a variety of ways. This includes physically talking over Zoom, typing in the chat, using the reactions menu, or using your camera to give a thumbs up.

 Even with the variety of ways students can communicate with their teachers, it could be difficult for some. Poor internet or the lack of a good computer are two factors that could take away from a student’s opportunity to participate in class, negatively affecting their grade. 

In school, everyone is on an even playing field in terms of access to resources. They can raise their hand and speak without having to worry about their teacher not hearing them, or having to type it later in the chat. 

The alternative to giving out participation grades would be giving out extra-credit. Extra-credit could be a good option because not everyone gets the grade, and it won’t affect the ones who don’t get it negatively. Instead of forcing it on the students, extra-credit allows the students to advocate for themselves, and participate if they choose to.

An argument could be made that even extra-credit is unfair, and those who need it the most may not feel comfortable or are not able to participate. Zoom will hopefully become a thing of the past as Perkiomen Valley brought almost everyone back full-time.