Good Participation

I will grade student participation in this class. Participating in discussion does not necessarily mean talking a lot or showing everyone else that you know or have studied a lot. Good discussion participation involves people trying to build on, and synthesize, comments from others, and on showing appreciation for others' contributions. It also involves inviting others to say more about what they are thinking. Try ask different kinds of questions for different purposes to expand your critical thinking skills.1 Being able to engage in rational dialogue on complex public issues is vital to civic competence in a democracy and assessing the truth about a subject is a vital to intellectual development.2

Behaviors that are evidence of good participation:

  • Engagement: Student proactively contributes to class by offering ideas and/or asks questions more than once per class.
  • Listening: Student listens when others talk, both in groups and in class. Student incorporates or builds off of the ideas of others.
  • Supportive behavior: Student almost never displays disruptive behavior during class.
  • Preparation: Student is almost always prepared for class with assignments and required class materials.

Examples of good participation in class discussion:

  • Ask a question or make a comment that shows you are interested in what another person said
  • Use natural body language to show interest in what different speakers are saying
  • Ask a question or make a comment that encourages another person to elaborate on something they have already said
  • Ask another student to explain or give an example of something that they're talking about
  • Make a comment that underscores the link between two people's contributions & make this link explicit in your comment
  • Ask a cause and effect question - for example, "can you explain why you think it's true that if these things are in place such and such a thing will occur?"
  • When you think it's appropriate, ask the group for a moment's silence to slow the pace of conversation to give you, and others, time to think
  • Write a Comment Card comment prompts us to examine discussion dynamics

Examples of good participation in either class discussion or online:

  • Bring in a resource (a reading, web link, video) not covered in the syllabus but adds new information/perspectives to our learning
  • Asking a question that opens up a new area of exploration for us
  • Make a summary observation that takes into account one or more people's contributions and touches on a recurring theme in the discussion
  • Make a comment indicating that you found another person's ideas interesting or useful. Be specific as to why this was the case
  • Contribute something that builds on, or springs from, what someone else has said. Be explicit about the way you are building on the other person's thoughts
  • Post a comment on the course chat room that summarizes our conversations so far and/or suggests new directions and questions to be explored in the future
  • Find a way to express appreciation for the insight you have gained from the discussion. Try to be specific about what it was that helped you understand something better.