Feedback should be encouraged

Sam Jacquest

Many professors at UW-Whitewater consider participation to be a vital part of class. Many instructors grade participation as a way to encourage student discussion.

It seems like the perfect formula: Instructors want participation, so they grade it; students want good grades, so they participate.

What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, actually. Students may not care about their grade. Professors may forget to enter points. But in my opinion, the biggest problem with this formula is when rude professors discourage class participation.

I personally have been in at least three classes where professors have rudely rejected student responses in class. Students in my classes responded with opinions, answers from readings or a lecture; but no matter if they were incorrect or just not the exact response certain instructors were looking for, they completely cut down the answer and left many students feeling discouraged.

I understand professors get frustrated when students do not do outside reading or activities and give incorrect answers due to laziness, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes people are just wrong, and they shouldn’t be punished for a few mistakes.

So, let’s say you tried to participate in class, and your professor denied your answer with obvious disdain, what’s going to happen when they ask the class another question? Chances are, you’re not going to respond, thus angering the professor even more and hurting your participation grade.

This has happened to me multiple times. In one of my courses, I did the assigned reading, but didn’t see a clear answer for a question. When the instructor asked the question in class, no one was responding,  so I volunteered and took a guess at the answer. All I can say is, she snapped. I never participated in class after that day.

This should not be an ongoing issue for multiple students and multiple professors. Rather than making a student feel like an idiot, why not just say “no” to a response? Instead of rejecting an opinion because you don’t agree with it or it didn’t fit in with your lesson, why not build off it and have a deeper class discussion.

If a professor were to get upset and raise their voice once in a while, I would understand, but when it gets to the point where students don’t participate in class for fear of rejection and embarrassment, perhaps it’s not an issue with lazy students.