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Tag: classroom discussions

class participation
University students study in classroom with female lecturer
student engagement
student engagement
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.