Either online discussion, active learning or classroom participation – every teacher or instructor wants to know how to motivate and nurture more involved students and fewer apathetic ones to participate, with a little extra planning. Increased participation is an obvious goal in courses that include frequent discussions and small-group work, the goal of increasing participation is to create an environment in which all participants have the opportunity to learn, explores issues and ideas in depth, from a variety of viewpoints

Class Participation:

By encouraging Class Participation which is an important aspect of student learning you will consider the greater success of spurring a student to speak up. When students speak up in class, they learn to express their ideas in a way that others can understand. When they ask questions, they learn how to obtain information to enhance their own understanding of a topic.

Class participation also is a valuable learning tool for teachers. Through students’ questions, you learn what they don’t understand, and can adjust your instruction accordingly. Just as speaking in front of a group doesn’t come easily to many adults; however, speaking up in class is a struggle for many students. That struggle might manifest itself in the classroom in a variety of ways — not volunteering to answer questions, not asking for help, not speaking up in small-group activities, even not talking in class at all.

As a teacher, you can figure out why he/she is reluctant to participate, by inspiring and your role is not to force him to speak; doing so will more likely make him clam up than open up. Your role is to provide a supportive, encouraging climate that helps him feel more comfortable, more confident, and less fearful of speaking up because it helps a students learn more when they participate in the process of learning, whether it’s through discussion, practice, review, or application.

Active Learners:

However, students who frequently volunteer to contribute are active learners, who typically think while they speak. The instructor’s creates conditions that enable students of various learning preferences and personalities to contribute. To reach this goal, you will need to take extra steps to encourage quiet students to speak up and, occasionally, ask the more verbose students to hold back from commenting in order to give others a chance.

The strategies are to:

  • Facilitate independent, critical, and creative thinking
  • Encourage effective collaboration
  • Increase student investment, motivation, and performance

Online Discussion:

Online discussions give students the opportunity to reflect upon and apply what they’ve learned. Writing about what they’re learning helps them retain that knowledge. During a discussion, they recall information, put it into context, and ask questions that require them and their classmates to review what they’ve learned. Recalling and applying information is part of the learning process—it’s required to make learning stick. Online discussions also give students a chance to interact with each other and build relationships. A sense of community develops—a motivating factor when the going gets tough.

Discussions must be built upon the course design and tied to learning objectives keeping in mind that students must be intrinsically motivated to engage fully in their learning experience. On the other hand, when students aren’t putting enough effort into their contributions, shared observations provides advice on how to better approach the discussion requirement. Students have to respond thoughtfully and ask open-ended questions. Encourage students to have constructive and considerate disagreement and explain the value of diverse perspectives.

Article by Blessing Bassey

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