Whenever I discuss grading or assessment with a teacher, participation ultimately comes up in some form. One part of the conversation usually focuses on the goal of assessing participation such as improving verbal explanatory and argumentative skills, and then turns to how that assessment is recorded in a learning management system. Although there is plenty to discuss in terms of the goals of assessing participation, this article will focus on the logistics of recording participation in an LMS and differing ways of configuring this in Canvas.
First, a few things to consider:
- Do you want students to see their participation grades as they progress through the course? Are you using this as a barometer that students can use to improve their participation?
- Is completion of assignments factored into a part of your participation grade?
- Is attendance factored into participation?
Sharing Participation Grades
If you want your students to see their progression in this area you will need to:
- Make sure that your gradebook is visible to students on the Canvas menu
- Design your gradebook so that a weekly participation grade is entered/calculated
Factoring Attendance into Participation
We suggest calculating a daily amount for attendance and manually awarding points based on the students’ attendance for the week. However, you will want to consider what you will do in the case that a student is absent due to a cause that is not under their control.
Factoring Assignment Completion into Participation
If these assignments are only assessed based on completion this can be set up in Canvas for assignments and discussions. However, if you are also assessing the content of the assignment/discussion forum post, you will need to consider an alternate assessment method that may involve dual scores if you want to be sure to break out the participation component.
Questions of Pedagogy
All of these considerations will provoke additional pedagogical questions. For example:
- What role does attendance play in the learning process? Is it possible that that role is actually conveyed in another assessment tool that you are using?
- Similarly, does assessing the completion of assignments demonstrate the achievement of a learning goal?
- Are you providing multiple means of participation to ensure that you involve all your students?
Assessing participation on a weekly basis can be time consuming so you’ll want to ensure that this time is accomplishing your goals. In many cases there are alternate methods that will result in the same or a similar outcome.