Grading Class Participation

By Peter Connor

Is it Difficult?

Raised HandsDo you find grading class participation the most demanding part of student evaluation? Do you have an established set of expectations regarding student participation? Are they measurable? Gradable?

Not to worry, you’re not the only one asking these questions. To help answer them, Maznevski (1996) provides a set of guidelines, along with the following rubric.

Class Participation Rubric

Graded on a scale from 0 (lowest) to 4 (highest), the criteria in the rubric focuses on what the student demonstrates and does not presume to guess at what the student knows but does not demonstrate (Maznevski, 1996). The grade is based solely on the participatory value of what each student extends to her or his classmates.






Present, not disruptive.

Tries to respond when called on but does not offer much.

Demonstrates very infrequent involvement in discussion.


Demonstrates adequate preparation: knows basic case or reading facts, but does not show evidence of trying to interpret or analyze them.

Offers straightforward information (e.g., straight from the case or reading), without elaboration or very infrequently (perhaps once a class).

Does not offer to contribute to discussion, but contributes to a moderate degree when called on.

Demonstrates sporadic involvement.


Demonstrates good preparation: knows case or reading facts well, has thought through implications of them.

Offers interpretations and analysis of case material (more than just facts) to class.

Contributes well to discussion in an ongoing way: responds to other students' points, thinks through own points, questions others in a constructive way, offers and supports suggestions that may be counter to the majority opinion.

Demonstrates consistent ongoing involvement.


Demonstrates excellent preparation: has analyzed case exceptionally well, relating it to readings and other material (e.g., readings, course material, discussions, experiences, etc.).

Offers analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of case material, e.g., puts together pieces of the discussion to develop new approaches that take the class further.

Contributes in a very significant way to ongoing discussion: keeps analysis focused, responds very thoughtfully to other students' comments, contributes to the cooperative argument-building, suggests alternative ways of approaching material and helps class analyze which approaches are appropriate, etc.

Demonstrates ongoing very active involvement.


Maznevski, M. (1996, Spring). Grading class participation. Teaching Concerns. Retrieved from


Thanks to Dr. Doug Hoffman, University Distinguished Teaching Scholar, Professor of Marketing, and Master Teacher Initiative (MTI) Coordinator for the College of Business at Colorado State University for this Teaching Tip suggestion.