Teaching – how to access participation

Class discussion plays a key role in many of our classes at Denison. So much so that many of us include class participation as a percentage of the course grade. But how do we access participation? Is it just how many times a student speaks in class? Does this reward the risk-taking extrovert and penalize the introvert who needs time to process?
Below is a partial list of “…some specific behavioral examples of good participation…” from Stephen Brookfield, author of The Skillful Teacher.

  • Ask a question or make a comment that shows you are interested in what another person says.
  • Bring in a resource (a reading, web link, video) that is not covered in the syllabus but adds new information or perspectives to our learning.
  • Post a comment on the course chatroom that summarizes our conversations so far and/or suggests new directions and questions to be explored in the future.

A complete list, as well as a treasure trove of discussion methods, can be found in this short chapter by Brookfield. The whole book is available on-line through CONSORT.