One of the challenges I have as a teacher is assessing “class participation” for students. I’ve tried a number of methodologies, including:
- A subjective assessment of up to 30 points, based on student’s participation in collaborative learning exercises (like whiteboarding) and labs.
- Scoring engagement with up to five points a day that included homework submitted/work submitted on time, actively engaged in class by raising your hand, etc.
Both of these approaches are subjective. And the second one, I didnt find manageable at all. I think I made it through about a month and that was the end of that.
In terms of the course evaluation, some teachers use a series of questions with a 1 to 5 scale. I’ve tried a short survey with “what did you like about the class?”, “what were your challenges?”, and “what can I do to help you?” These didn’t particularly work either.
This semester I decided to merge the two.
Approximately one month before the end of the semester, students receive the evaluation form as a Google Doc. Separately, I made some notes about their strengths and weaknesses, along with other observations, and I gave them a generic “participation grade.” That grade, totally subjective.
The evaluation questions were:
- What successes did you have in this class first semester? Use three sentences or less.
- What strategies did you use to ensure success? Use three sentences or less.
- In what areas were you challenged in this class? Use three sentences or less.
- What strategies did you use to deal with those challenges? Use three sentences or less.
- How can I assist you in either ensuring success or overcoming challenges second semester? Use three sentences or less.
- What one project or class assignment from this semester are you most proud of or that resonated with you the most? Use three sentences or less.
- Describe your work ethic outside the class. Use three sentences or less.
- Describe your work ethic in class. Use three sentences or less.
- Describe your ability to collaborate with your peers (both in class and out). Use three sentences or less.
- Describe how your success in this class reflects your mastery of the material. Use three sentences or less.
- What grade would you give yourself for student engagement this semester? (Note: choices – 95, 90, 85, 80, etc).
- Justify your grade in less than three sentences.
Some interesting themes emerged.
- Almost without exception, the student’s view on their strengths and weaknesses matched my observations.
- Almost without exception, the student’s engagement grade matched my engagement grade for them.
- Students liked being given a voice in their “participation grade.”
- I gleaned a lot of information about what worked and what didn’t work in class.
- Students were evaluating my performance without realizing that was what they were doing.
Their evaluation score counted for 75% of their student engagement grade (5% of their semester grade) while my evaluation score counted for 25%.
The survey also gave me a lot of information in writing their end of the semester comments!