The Importance of Participation in Trades Education

And How it Could be Rated


In this paper, I want to explore what we can count as participation in trades education and how I want to navigate this difficult task.

Participation and communication are key skills in trade environments. Evaluation allows us to give students feedback so they learn if they need to improve this skill set and how.


On the surface, judging participation is inherently difficult. (Gonser, 2021)
In student-centred instruction, we want to be conscious of different personalities, cultural differences and physical challenges. It is also difficult to grade participation fairly and transparently. (Nicole Boulais McBain, 2019)

However, working through these challenges I realized that what we often associate with “participation” is often only focused on oral contributions to class discussions. If we analyze what other aspects could be counted into a participation grade, it becomes clear to me how helpful a participation score can be. (University of Waterloo, n.d.)


Trades education spans a variety of environments, from online and classroom instruction, workshop practice, and real-life shadowing on job sites. With this variety comes the opportunity for students with different preferences to contribute. Some will enjoy participating in conversation, and others will prefer discussion forums (Stephanie Delaney, 2022). Many of our trades students enjoy more hands-on education in the workshop. Observing students in the shop can give us insights into how well they solve problems and help others. Some might take on leadership roles in group projects.

One element I always stress in my courses is the fact that we are preparing students to become successful in a work environment. Coming to class reliably and at the right time relates to the fundamental needs of work teams in the real world. Unexcused absences or lateness could be used to deduct points in the participation category of the overall course grade.

As always, transparency in grading is key and students should be able to access their participation scores in a timely manner. I agree with most of the authors in my research that this participation score should not exceed 5 – 10% of the overall score.


The participation score in my courses will be at 10% of the overall mark with marks given (or taken off) in the following areas:

  • Classroom participation oral
  • Classroom participation, written (discussion boards, group chats)
  • Participation in the shop
  • Unexcused absences, tardiness (deduction)

I will explain the system in detail, making sure to explain to my students how this system will be fair to those that are more introverted or have other reasons to dislike speaking up. I will create a report on the Moodle class site where the students can see their scores develop or deductions being made.

As always I will relate my reasoning for the scores to workplace situations.


Gonser, S. (2021, May 28). Is Class Participation Too Arbitrary to Grade Fairly? Retrieved from

Nicole Boulais McBain, R. M. (2019, October 19). In class participation: To grade or not to grade. Retrieved from University of Calgary Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning:

Stephanie Delaney, T. K. (2022, September 14). All About the Online Discussion Board. Retrieved from Faculty Focus Podcast:

University of Waterloo. (n.d.). Promoting Effective Classroom Participation. Retrieved from University of Waterloo centre for teaching excellence:

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