This is a guest post by Lori Walk, faculty in Education and Reading. 

ClassDiscussionIn college, is participation mandatory or optional?  We all have different views on that, and some of my colleagues think that it might vary with the course and the content.  (For example, can a science student choose not to participate in labs?  Can an education student choose not to demonstrate a lesson plan?)

I want to support and encourage student engagement, but how do I move to that being an explicit and intentional strategy within my classroom?  I’ve been working on “flipping” my classroom so that the in-class time is more about processing the content.  Most of my courses are hybrid, so connecting with other students and with the content is also done through Canvas. Some of my challenges have included:

  • How to structure participation (I’m using Socratic Seminar, Discussions, journals, Cornell notes, and group presentations)
  • What to do if students haven’t read or previewed the content (I’m trying to stop rescuing . . . wait time is magic)
  • How to support individual learning styles (I offer choice when I can, but I know I can do better)

I have classroom participation points as well as Discussion board points with a description for how to earn those points.  I just found this Faculty Focus article that includes suggestions for making classroom participation more flexible and yet more intentional.

If you’re interested in exploring this topic with me, please call me at 5-3751 or email  I could use your good ideas!

Photo from StanfordEdTech

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