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I read a sentence in Word by Word by Kory Stamper which was:

I had one social studies teacher who proclaimed to us on the first day of class that everyone was expected to speak "correct and proper English" in class and failure to do so would mean marks off on participation.

I don't know what sort of "participation" is he talking about here? Is it class participation of a student? And what should be the preposition before it? In or on?

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I don't know what sort of "participation" is he talking about here?

It's a category you are graded on. You may receive a score for attendance, midterms, finals, homework, class participation, etc.

Is it class participation of a student?

Yes

And what should be the preposition before it? In or on?

In that precise sentence, "on".

He meant "marks off on your participation score." It might be different in other contexts - sometimes "for" would make sense.

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