Establishing True Engagement in Class Discussion

Discussion is one of the most common ways for teachers to engage students in the classroom, but all too often, college students engage in “civil attention” rather than real attention, writes Jay R. Howard, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in a recent Faculty Focus article. Civil attention is when students give the appearance of paying attention during discussion when they actually are not. Faculty let students get away with paying civil attention for many reasons including not wanting to pick on introverted students and believing that students should be self-motivated, Howard writes.

However, there are a number of strategies for moving beyond civil attention and achieving true engagement in the classroom. Faculty can create think-pair-share assignments so introverted students feel more comfortable participating. They can also give discussion questions that accompany reading assignments so students come to class ready to participate in discussion, Howard writes in the article.