Class participation essential to student learning

By Christina Cimmino
April 12, 2007

Meghan Hurley

Whenever students are starting out a new semester, they are handed out a syllabus from their teacher that mentions what the specific professor is expecting from them that term. There usually is some room saved on that syllabus for class participation and how much that will impact their grades. Professors find that class participation is important because it helps them to know if the students understand what is going on in the class, and it can also help spark class discussions.

“Classroom participation is important because learning is not just between the student and the teacher but part of the whole classroom experience. When students participate, they learn from each other and internalize the knowledge better. As a teacher I might explain something in a way that I think it is clear, but then a student asks me a question that makes me rethink that perhaps I should restate it differently,” Tutaleni Asino, professor of information science and technology, said.

Students who are able to share their opinions in small class discussions feel that there is a personal reward from it. Participation in the class also boosts how much the student likes the class.

“I participate because I enjoy learning. Most of the time in high school, I was unable to voice my opinion in class because most of my teachers didn’t really care, but with a few of my classes, I feel like I can really learn more in group discussions and contribute something to them. I think there is nothing better than a class that is outspoken about what they believe in. It’s important to share our opinions because that leads others to question something about themselves that they might not have done had we not spoken out,” Bill Monohan, a freshman English and communication major, said.

Although some students do not participate on a normal basis they know that there is a reason behind their hesitation.

“I participate sometimes. When I know the answer I will raise my hand and say it, but I don’t participate a lot because I don’t understand or I don’t know the answer,” George Post, a junior English and communication major, said.

“I participate because it helps me pay attention in class better and so that my teachers get to know who I am. I think students don’t participate in class because they feel intimidated that they might have the wrong answer and feel dumb or stupid in front of their classmates. Or they are just too lazy,” Michelle Canavan, a sophomore biology and pre-med major, said.

Although class participation is expected in many classrooms, sometimes certain classes do not provide room for class participation.

“I participate in my classes. As an education major, I think it’s important to participate in classes because eventually I’m going to be the one standing up in front of students. I think classes are always more beneficial to the learning process when students participate. I know most professors have class participation built into their grading scale, but I think the level of participation depends on the type of class you are in. For example, language classes depend more on participation than an introductory history course,” Mary Kate Korp, a sophomore elementary and special education major, said.

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Christina Cimmino

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