How to Increase Classroom Participation
Class participation is very important for every level, education and activity of education, as this is one of the best ways to gauge student progress. It can be very frustrating for teachers and students alike when only a few individuals contribute to discussions. You can avoid this by making sure your classroom environment is always conducive for learning. Here’s how to get started:
The main idea behind increasing participation is creating the right environment for everyone to learn. This environment will improve the student-teacher relationship, promoting education. The learning curve is different for everyone. Thus, instructors should create an environment that accommodates everyone. Occasionally a teacher has to make requests for participation through various tactful approaches.
Creating an environment for learning should be done right at the beginning. This way, students get to know what is required of them. Set the pace from the beginning, so that students know what to expect from every class. This can be done by explaining what is required of them. Better still, the first class should be used to set an example. Knowing students by name or simply let them know how you plan to reward the best student participants can also keep them on their toes. Just be sure to stick to your requirements!
Ask for ideas from your students during planning stages. Keep in mind though that this should be done after making them understand what you want to achieve. Incorporating their ideas creates excitement and encourages participation. However, the general plan should include a variety of teaching methods to keep the students fully engaged throughout the entire course. Use discussion groups, small work groups, shortening of lectures or question and answer sessions. The plan should allow room for feedback, so that the students know where they stand. Grading or feedback after 2, 3 or 4 weeks is encouraged.
The use of verbal and non-verbal signals to your students also encourages participation. Encourage and acknowledge students who volunteer most and show interest to the quiet ones. Move around the classroom to prompt others to contribute by making gestures, eye contact or clear signals requesting contribution. Give your students’ time to think after asking questions – this encourages more students to participate, since some require a little more time to formulate or refine their answers. When acknowledging students, be specific or try using varied comments to motivate them. A little creativity’s required here!
Giving a students a voice and room to make their own choices also encourages participation. The idea is to make them understand and remember that their ideas matter; this way they’re encouraged and empowered. Class participation doesn’t come naturally; it requires effort and persistence on many fronts. However, you need to assess your progress to be able to make adjustments where necessary. You might just be surprised how things turn out.