Participating in class discussions in postsecondary is pretty much mandatory. In many university classes, participation tends to count for about 10% of your overall mark. So, do your best to participate as much as you can! Here are some of our tips on participating effectively in class discussions.
First things first, make sure you know the content! This means you need to keep up to date on lectures and all of your readings. Also, that doesn’t mean just skimming through the material, you should be doing your absolute best to understand it completely. But, if the material is complex and you’re having a tough time understanding the concepts, be sure to email your professor or TA (Teacher’s Assistant) prior to your discussion class. This way, you’ll get the help you need and you’ll go into your class feeling ready for any questions!
If your professor or TA never got back to you on some of the difficult concepts you were struggling with, be sure to write them down! This way you can get clarification in person during your discussion class. Additionally, if you struggled with a particular concept, it’s likely other students did too. And, there’s no better time to clarify all of that than during a discussion class.
While completing your readings or listening to lectures, be sure you’re highlighting topics you understand well. This way, if any question is brought up about that material in your discussion, you can really highlight your strong grasp of the subject. This will not only help other students to understand, but it’ll really showcase your abilities and boost your participation mark!
Another tip is to think about what kinds of questions your TA or professor may ask during your discussion question. Then, once you’ve come up with a few, practice your responses to those questions. This will really get you thinking about the concepts and will ensure you’re prepared to answer a variety of questions during your discussion.
A final tip is to bring in any additional material about the concepts in the recent readings or lectures. You could find this material in Google Scholar or your school’s library. Having this additional material and understanding it will give you a leg up on other students in your discussion. You’ll have a more thorough understanding of the concepts, and thus will be able to contribute more effectively.
Discussions don’t need to be scary if you prepare adequately before them! Do your best to understand all the concepts prior to the discussion, and try to go the extra mile by doing some research on your own. Lastly, just make sure you speak up in class! Participating in class discussions isn’t all about the accuracy of your answers, your TA or professor just wants people to be excited about the topics and willing to share information.