Participation requirement in classes raises some students’ anxiety levels

Graschelle Hipolito, Sports Editor

Many students can relate to the anxious feeling of being called on in class — however, there is more at stake for students in classrooms that require participation as a part of their grade.

Typically, students fall under one of three kinds of students in a classroom environment: the introverted, who are far more reluctant to engage in class discussions; the extroverted, who jump at every opportunity to express their ideas; and those who fall somewhere in between the two.

The requirement of participation for a grade, in severe cases, has led some students to experience high levels of anxiety and emotional trauma.

“I consider myself more on the shy side when it comes to class discussions,” junior Analisa Rillamas said. “I usually know exactly what’s going on in the class and I understand what is being taught, but I just get really nervous when I don’t know if I will be called on.”

Those who support the requirement claim that participation can help students develop vital social skills that will benefit them in their adulthood. Verbal interaction can also contribute to students improving in a certain subject, especially in foreign language classes where knowing how the language is spoken is a vital part of comprehension and fluidity.

“By making students participate, I can assess how good they are and I can encourage their motivation to produce language,” Spanish teacher Andres Gil said. “Some are shy but they have to break that barrier and speak up. It makes the class more engaged and I think it promotes students to keep up with the pace.”

Gil puts his participation policy into effect by requiring students to accumulate at least five points per week by raising their hand and answering questions to warm-up exercises, homework or class worksheets. It is the responsibility of the student to be active for their grade.

For students who are bold enough to raise their hands to answer a question and eager to speak up in a classroom discussion, participation points are acquired with more ease as opposed to their shy counterparts. Although some students who have a stronger sense of confidence develop anxiety as well, most are comfortable with speaking up in class.

“Participating orally helps you learn better, especially when you’re learning a foreign language,” senior Michael Macedo said. “In classes like math or English, though, I find it a lot harder to want to participate.”

Teachers who advocate for more class participation also gain the benefit of a better insight into their students’ thought processes and ideas, especially those who are not as open as others.

“I think sharing out ideas and thought processes that you go through with others broadens perspective and opens new ways of thinking,” English teacher Laura LaRue said. “I have found that by randomly choosing students to participate [in class discussions or Socratic seminars], students who normally wouldn’t have participated have become more comfortable because it allows them to come out of their shell.”

With students who are openly interactive in a classroom setting, teachers find it easier to determine their levels of understanding and how to help them improve in their areas of weakness. Many students who are less comfortable with participating defend the claim that silence does not correlate with incompetence or inability to comprehend material.

“I don’t mind speaking up in class, but I think if some students lack confidence in themselves, they also lack confidence in their work, which will be a disadvantage in the future,” junior Victor Lu said. “Participation points allow students to step out of their comfort zone and really show what they know without being overshadowed by their shyness.”

Coming out of one’s personal shell is dependent on the person; comfort with social interaction comes with experience and exposure to opportunities. People have their respective opinions on the necessity of grading participation, but many can agree that students, whether categorized as shy or outgoing, have their own unique way of processing their thoughts and applying the knowledge they retained where it counts.