We Need to Talk: Tips for Participating in Class Discussions
2 - 5 Minutes
Have trouble participating in class discussions? Here are some tips to help you out.
Before Class: Prepare to contribute
- Do the readings
- Write down any questions you have as well as what you find interesting.
- Make notes about the author's point.
- Consider making notes about how the reading applies to this course, other courses, and your experiences.
- It's hard to read an article on your phone - try printing it out or saving it to your laptop so you can easily refer to it during class.
During class: Be aware of the different ways you can participate
- Have your readings and the notes you made before class in front of you for easy reference.
- Ask questions - check out the conversation starters side bar for ideas.
- Disagree with others in a respectful way.
- Relax. Try not to worry about what others think. Lots of people are nervous about participating. It's a great chance to learn and grow.
- Speaking up in class isn't the only way to show that you can be part of the conversation; making eye contact, nodding in agreement, and actively listening keep you connected.
After class: Reflect on your experience
- Be proud of yourself for speaking up, and think about how you might change things up next time.
- Meet with you professor or TA if you're having difficulties or want feedback.
- Look for outside resources to get tips on public speaking.
- "I really liked ... about the reading."
- "The part that resonated most with me was..."
- "It's interesting that you interpreted that point as... I actually interpreted it as... What do others think?"
- "This idea made me thing of..."
- "I agree with that point because..."
- "I also thought (regarding a classmate's idea) because..."
- "I am not very clear on... Did anyone else understand it better than I did?"
- "I felt the general idea of the article was... To me, that makes me think about..."
- "I don't necessarily feel like the results support the author's conclusion because..."