classroom discussions

class participation

Class Participation: What Behaviors Count?

What counts for participation isn’t always addressed when we talk with students about the importance of participation. It’s easy to assume that everybody knows what’s involved—but is that a safe assumption?

When considering what qualifies as participation, some behaviors come to mind quickly—asking questions, answering questions,

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University students study in classroom with female lecturer

Facilitation Skills: The Way to Better Student Discussions

Most faculty aspire to engage and involve students in interesting and insightful discussions. But these in-class and online exchanges frequently disappoint faculty. Students come to them unprepared. They engage reluctantly. Their individual and unrelated comments take the discussion in different directions. There can be awkward

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student engagement

What Does Student Engagement Look Like?

Engagement. . .it’s another one of those words that’s regularly bandied about in higher education. We talk about it like we know what it means and we do, sort of. It’s just that when a word or idea is so widely used, thinking about it

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The Relationship between Participation and Discussion

My interest in participation and discussion continues. How do we use them so that they more effectively promote engagement and learning? A couple of colleagues and I have been working on a paper that deals with how we define participation and discussion.

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Grading Participation: An Alternative to Talking for Points

Is there a way to motivate and improve student participation without grading it? I raise the question because I think grading contributions gets students talking for points, not talking to make points. Verbal students make sure they say something, but often without listening

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student engagement

Student Comments: Moving from Participation to Contribution

A colleague and I have been revisiting a wide range of issues associated with classroom interaction. I am finding new articles, confronting aspects of interaction that I still don’t understand very well, having my thinking on other topics challenged, and learning once more how

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What counts for participation isn’t always addressed when we talk with students about the importance of participation. It’s easy to assume that everybody knows what’s involved—but is that a safe assumption? When considering what qualifies as participation, some behaviors come to mind quickly—asking questions, answering questions, and making comments. But are those the only options? Maybe interaction in our courses would improve if we broadened the definition and considered some alternatives. The behaviors that most often count as participation relate to verbal communication—what students say. And we all know that some students, close to 50% according to most studies, are very reluctant to say anything. With broader, more inclusive definitions, we might make it easier for shy, fearful, and reticent students to learn how to answer confidently when they are called on and how to speak up in a discussion when they have something of value to contribute. Moreover, classroom interaction does involve more than speaking. What would speaking be if no one listened? Can contributions be made to a teacher-student exchange or discussion after the fact? Are there ways to support the learning efforts of others in a course that might count as participation? Here’s a list of familiar and not-so-familiar behaviors to consider when crafting a definition for participation and identifying what behaviors count.