A small portion (5%) of your final grade is reserved for participation.
Active participation/engagement with your classmates should improve your success in the course— we've concretely seen the effects of this when comparing semester's with and without the participation component.
Furthermore, working in web development is rarely a solitary job. In industry environments you will find yourself interacting with teams, clients, and peers where you will have to learn to effectively communicate technical problems and ideas. Even if you work independently, you will find yourself using resources like StackOverflow where strong communication skills are essential.
To practice your technical communication skills, one of your responsibilities in this course is to be an active member on Piazza, helping your peers troubleshoot their problems and providing constructive feedback when applicable.
Not only will this practice sharpen your technical communication skills, you'll be amazed by how much you learn when you help others.
How participation is evaluated
Participation is calculated according to the following two factors:
- Your percentile ranking from Piazza statistics
- TA/Instructor assessment, with consideration for student's input from the participation survey (sent near the end of the semester).
To get a sense on how active you are in Piazza relative to your classmates, view the Statistics tab in Piazza. We factor in all three columns: days online, posts viewed, and (most importantly) contributions.
While engagement in Piazza is the primary indicator of your participation grade, consideration is also given to how active you are in Slack and your TA Group. Which isn't to say you're required to do either, just that if you do it could compensate for lower Piazza participation.
Participation expectations are not explicitly set (i.e. we don't say you must make x new posts each week)— Reasoning: 95% of the grading in the course is explicit; it can be useful to reserve a small portion of the class that is, hopefully, intrinsically motivated. It's a small percent to give students a gentle incentive, but really the benefit should be for the student and not just about meeting a quota.
How can I help my participation grade?
Here are examples of valuable contributions:
- Most important: Helping your peers troubleshoot their issues. You don't have to necessarily know the answer, but sometimes just posting suggestions on things to check/try can be useful.
- Asking clear, well-documented questions.
- Posting a note about an issue you ran into and how you resolved it.
- Posting a tip or resource supplemental to the course material.
What if I don't have time to participate?
None of the communication tools we use in this course are time specific— thus participation should be flexible to work into your timezone, work schedules, etc. (The only exception is your TA Group's office hours, which is why that is not a primary indicator of participation.)
Participation is an expected component of this course, along with assignments, quizzes, etc. If you are unable to sufficiently tend to that component of the course, then your grade will reflect that.
What if I have nothing to offer?
Beginner students are often intimidated when it comes to participation— they skim through the posts on Piazza and feel they have nothing of value to offer.
This is not true, and it's a theme I'd like us to push past. If only the advanced students are vocal then it gives the impression that there are only advanced students in the course, and this only compounds the problem of beginner students being hesitant to speak up.
Review the list above of how you can help your participation grade— none of them are explicitly tied to experience.