Shaping the Environment
- Reserve a classroom that will accommodate the kind of participation you are planning; e.g., if you are teaching a discussion course, reserve a room with moveable chairs.
- Starting on the first day, arrange the room in a way that encourages active engagement.
- Move the chairs back to their standard arrangement at the end of each class session. Make clear from the beginning that you expect students to participate.
- Learn and use students’ names.
- In a discussion course, assign to your students some of the responsibility for increasing participation by all.
- Use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, discussions, and small-group work.
- Organize each class session to include opportunities throughout to ask and answer questions; prepare initial and follow-up questions ahead of time.
- If grading student participation, plan to give students a preliminary participation grade, including a brief written evaluation of their performance.
- Set aside time throughout the course to assess participation by administering midterm student evaluations and by taking and reviewing your own notes.
Listening and Responding
- Use verbal and non-verbal cues to encourage participation; move around the room and make eye contact with all students, particularly those who tend to be quiet.
- When asking questions, give students time to think before they respond.
- Listen fully to your students’ questions and answers; avoid interrupting.
- Provide specific, encouraging, varied responses.
- Repeat student responses to summarize or clarify ideas.
- Redirect comments and questions to other students.
- Place the emphasis on student ideas.
- Make a habit of asking students for informal feedback.
- Ask colleagues to observe your class and make suggestions.