Participation Log Analysis Assignment

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Log on, by Wesley Fryer, on FlickrThis week, I want to talk about assessment and the Participation Logs Assignment that I posted about several weeks ago. Students have been tracking their participation since September in their logs. They note contributions to online and in-class discussion, paying attention to both small-group and full-class contributions. These logs are a critical part of the final exam assignment, a report that analyzes the participation logs and recommends the grade that the student should earn for participation in the course.

It may seem a bit early to talk about the final exam. We still have six weeks before it’s due, after all. Because the final exam is an assessment of the work that students do during the course of the term however, I think it’s crucial to talk about the Completion Report Assignment now. Knowing the requirements of the final exam should give students the motivation to participate effectively in class and online as well as to track that participation in anticipation of their report.

The assignment is similar to one I have talked about in the past. The overview explains the basic requirements:

For your final exam, you will write a completion report that explains what you have done and provides a self-evaluation of your participation. You will propose the grade you should receive and then use information from your participation log, attendance, and project portfolio to provide data to support your recommendation. In the workplace, this report would be similar to a self-evaluation for a performance review.

To help students find the pertinent information in the work, I have given them this set of guiding questions:

  • What have you done to participate consistently during the entire term?
  • Have you completed all journals and in-class work by the end of the grace period?
  • Which Discussion posts demonstrate that you have contributed high quality work?
  • What in-class discussion and small group actives demonstrate your best contributions?
  • Did you attend all class meetings? Did you provide health services or Dean of Students documentation for any absences?
  • Did you invest your best effort in the course?

Finally, to provide some structure for the report itself, I suggest the information that it should include to meet the requirements of the assignment:

  • details on your overall participation, which addresses the following:
    • your attendance
    • your timeliness
    • your readiness
    • your contributions (in class and online)
    • your effort
  • a comparison of your accomplishments to the course expectations
  • a recommendation on the grade you should receive for the participation portion of your course grade

I think students need this final exam assignment by midterm to do their best work. Sharing the assignment with them so early allows them to see what they need to produce and (I hope) reduces some of the anxiety about the participation grade. The extra bonus for me is that the final exam is already written and posted—no last minute scrambling to get that task done!

Have you used similar self-assessment activities in your courses? What have you done to ensure their success? Please leave me a comment, and tell me about your experiences (or ask a question).


[Photo Credit: Log on, by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr, used under CC-BY-SA 2.0 license]

About the Author
Traci Gardner, known as "tengrrl" on most networks, writes lesson plans, classroom resources, and professional development materials for English language arts and college composition teachers. She is the author of Designing Writing Assignments, a contributing editor to the NCTE INBOX Blog, and the editor of Engaging Media-Savvy Students Topical Resource Kit.