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Equalizing Student Participation in Class Discussions

Classroom discussions are often key to a good class session. They provide the opportunity to reinforce concepts, get students engaged, and clarify difficult points. Discussion methods like Think-Pair-Share can be a way to get relatively quick feedback from students about their understanding of certain concepts while other discussion methods can have students talking in groups throughout the class session.

A common issue faculty deal with is the Goldilocks issue of classroom discussion – Why does it seem some students talk “too much” and some talk “too little?” How do we create a discussion space where all students contributions are “just right”?

While student silence isn’t necessarily a problem, it is important to build communication skills in all students. Here are a few tips to help the more outgoing student to not steal the show and encourage the quieter student to have a voice:

These are a few ways to help create a classroom environment that increases opportunities for all students to actively participate in class discussions.

Thanks to Michael Holtreich and Alan Godfrey for their help and input regarding classroom discussions. Image by Sean Dreilinger and used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.

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