Student participation, whether at the grade school, high school, or the university level, can be problematic depending on the makeup of the classroom. There are a number of reasons for this, including the subject matter being studied or a particular topic. To counter this lack of enthusiasm we present nine ways to help you increase student participation.
1) To begin with, circle the wagons. Or in this case, the chairs. Students who are able to see each other participate more than when they’re looking at the back of someone’s head. It provides a better social setting as students will be talking to one another instead of just the teacher.
2) Consider using mobile technology and get an app that will allow you to note student’s progress throughout the discussion. Effort Tracker is one such app and you can use it to organize the classroom discussion as well.
3) Validate their opinion by name calling. This is not the negative name calling, but by using their name when they have a constructive response. This will connect the comment to the person and will reinforce the idea that what they have said is worthwhile and important to the group.
4) Start small, go big. Divide the class into small groups to discuss the topic, then bring everyone together after a short time and discuss it as a class. Often what happens with this approach is that differing views promote positive in-class rivalries that can last through the semester.
5) Use volunteers wisely. At the beginning of the discussion, use your best participants to get the discussion moving. After enough material has been discussed, move to the non-participants. If you get the “I am unprepared” response, ask them what they think.
6) Avoid interrupting at all costs. By doing this you change the focus of what you know to what the students know – or think. This will shift the focus from lecture learning to collaborative learning, essential for productive group discussion.
7) Connect the topic to current events. In other words, make it relevant to the students. This is more important in group discussions because you will likely direct the discussion to what matters to the group while connecting their responses to what you need to teach.
8) Use videos. Today’s students get much of their information from online visual environments such as YouTube. Preparing opposing views on the same subject in a visual format is something that will get the attention of most students – and almost force them to take a position.
9) Make clear that grades are impacted by participation, not performance. This will send the message to the class that they do not always have to be right, but they do have the right to be heard. Your approval of their participation is more important than knowing more than other students.
The goal of classroom participation is to have students listen to other’s thoughts and learning in that process. Facts are important, but the context of how students acquire those facts will promote thought and future learning. You can test for facts but need discussion to promote collaborative learning and self-confidence in the students. Use these tips to help cultivate the discussion in your classroom.
Source link: http://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/strategies/Pages/increasing-participation.aspx