The why of Class Participation

Class participation can be beneficial to the teacher, participant, and other students.  Teachers should encourage students to be active and students attending should be prepared to ask questions.  The activities that ask for participation are often the more memorable moments in a class and can help the teacher get a better understanding of where the students need more help.  Let’s break this down into why the teacher should encourage the students and why the students should be willing to cooperate.

Back to school can be a stressful time for teachers as they learn about their new students and come up with lesson plans that teach the required curriculum in a creative and catchy way.  While some teachers add class participation straight into the grading percentage, it may not be a great idea to do this because it will force instead of encourage students.  When adding it into the overall score, one might think about making it a low percentage or an extra credit grade.  The reason a teacher should push for students to join in rather than force them is the teacher will learn more about the students and what they have learned through voluntary participation.  A shy student or one who doesn’t know the answer will feel uncomfortable when forced into this situation.  If the teacher notices that a member of the class never answers nor becomes part of a project, it would be a good time to approach that child and see if he or she is getting all the information or if the student needs a push to come out of his or her shell. 

Class participation projects can make a topic much more memorable.  If the class is learning about a famous artist and are told to do splatter art like Jackson Pollack or paint under their desks like Michelangelo, the students will probably remember this class better than the notes they just took on the same ideas. Students are more likely to care about the topic if they can feel like a part of it rather than just trying to pass a test by blinding writing information down.

Students should want to be involved in the classes they take, as well.  Whether for a grade, credit, or nothing at all making sure that the students know the information should be important to each individual.  If there is no call for participation, it is still important to ask questions because the teacher may not know what needs clarification.  An enquiring mind is good to have for future careers in almost anything from math, science, and business to English, psychology, and sociology.  This process may also help other students who are less likely to ask when it is appropriate and wind up not as happy with their grades.  It singles the student, who participates as a volunteer, out as someone who is interested in building knowledge, getting good grades, and building on social skills.  The students who ask questions might find that other classmates will come to them for help later.  They may end up making all kinds of new friends that they didn’t know from the year before.

Class participation will help students gain the knowledge that they need to perform well.   It can also provide a good base for friendships and social interactions.  For the teacher, it may help use up some unplanned time in the classroom and help prepare future lesson plans.  Involvement in the classroom is an excellent way for the teachers and students to work together to learn and have fun.