Designing Courses to Elicit Student Participation

Student participation is a challenging part of teaching, but framing courses based on certain pedagogical questions can help tackle this issue head-on. In a recent Faculty Focus article, Rebecca Zambrano, director of online faculty development at Edgewood College, details questions that teachers can ask themselves when designing content to boost students’ motivation and engagement in a course. The questions include: What large questions remain unanswered by the great minds of your field?; What are some paradoxes or mysteries in your field of knowledge?; How can you use analogy and metaphor to spark curiosity about relationships between different fields of knowledge?; and, What stories of wonder and passion led foundational thinkers in your field to give so much of their lives to unraveling important mysteries?

Teachers can use these questions to inspire students to reflect critically on the material, Zambrano writes. “In the process of grappling with questions that seem worthwhile, students will ask for the factual knowledge, processes and skills that you likely want them to learn as they master your course learning outcomes. In other words, wonder generates a creative process of wanting to construct knowledge and see the whole picture,” she writes in the article.