Re: Yaruki Points, Marco Polo says...
I've done something similar, but now I'm wondering about it. Why give a grade for participation? Does it make a difference if students know beforehand whether the teacher is grading on a curve (norm-referenced) or not?
My C$ 0.02 - Participation makes a class more interesting, more active and more fun. Participation doesn't often happen naturally in Japan so forcing it at the beginning can lead to a more interactive process. Interaction can be a catalyst for "negotiated meaning", developing Interlanguage, starting or deepening T-S or S-S friendships, confidence building, etc
Are they "participating" because they fear failing, because they assume they are competing with their peers, because they are genuinely interested in learning?
My C$ 0.02 - Could be any number of reasons but I'm not really sure if it matters why they participate as long as they actually get experience USING English and can get used to doing so in a friendly, supportive environment.
It's a tall order for any of us, but if teachers are excited to teach and can create a positive feeling classroom, human nature dictates that most people are often likely "to want to join in on the fun."
Another question I have (for myself) is whether a subjective "participation/attitude" score isn't a cop-out because I can't be bothered (or have failed adequately) to assess their actual competence?
I often wonder about the same thing. I also wonder if my grades reflect anything realistic about their competence or whether grades only reflect students' ability to jump through the hoops I create.
On the other hand, participation can be considered an important aspect of learning, especially in the light of Vygotsky's ZPD theory. (see James Lantolf for further work on this). But... after reading this paper by David Jeffrey, I wonder, isn't this just bribery? You could substitute the tokens with cookies, thousand-yen notes, or sex, and get pretty much guaranteed successful "results". But is that what I want?
My C$ 0.02 - Cookies, thousand-yen notes, or sex certainly work wonders on me. I know I often need to be pushed to get things done. Deadlines, expectations, guilt, flattery, praise, etc., are all motivators that again are a part of the characteristic that all teachers and students share - human nature.
Polo さん - Thanks so much for taking the time to both read and comment. I look forward to continuing to share ideas, experiences and perspectives. There's still so much to learn and to be reminded of having learned at some point in the past.