This activity is especially useful for those who grade their students’ class participation. Asking students to collaborate on participation criteria gives them a sense of agency and makes tangible a facet of their final grade which might otherwise seem subjective.

Guide to Oral/Signed Communication in Writing Classrooms


To reflect on your participation in class and to set goals moving forward; to collaboratively calculate your participation grade; to review the different ways that one can successfully contribute to a seminar

Key Terms

class participation; oral communication; classroom culture; self-assessment


  1. Early in the semester, in the first 2-3 weeks, ask students to brainstorm the qualities, behaviors, and postures of A-level, B-level, etc. participation. Compile these criteria into a rubric, share it with students, and ask students to set a goal for themselves based on this rubric.
  2. In the middle of the semester, distribute the rubric and ask students to grade their participation thus far and to think about what they’d like to change moving forward.
  3. Collect students’ assessments, comment on them, and offer your own grade. This check-in helps to ensure that you and your students are on the same page about their performance and offers motivated students the opportunity to script their improvement.

Here’s an example of one class’s co-constructed rubric.