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How to Increase Classroom Participation

May 21, 2014

A common issue that many teachers struggle with is the idea that students often shy away from participating in the classroom. While there are some students who constantly raise their hands, there are many others who tend to listen more than they participate. For some, it may simply be because they are shy, and for others, it may be because they don’t feel comfortable talking in front of their peers. To encourage active learning in your classroom, it’s important to make students comfortable from day one by creating a positive environment through your teaching styles. The following is a list of ways that you can work to increase student participation in your classroom throughout the year:

  1. Set up your classroom furniture in a way that encourages all students to participate. This may include arranging your desks in a circle, dividing your desks into groups, or using furniture such as the Smith System for mobility purposes. At Nickerson, we are available to provide classroom furniture such as the Smith System that allows students to easily navigate the classroom for all kinds of activities.

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  2. Set expectations for students on the very first day of school. Let them know that class participation is expected and inform them if it will be a part of their final grade. Don’t forget to do this in a positive way as to not intimidate students and remind them that any contribution, no matter how big or small, is always appreciated.
  3. Make an effort to learn students’ names as soon as possible and encourage them to learn each others. By addressing your students on a personal level rather than as a group, and by encouraging students to get to know each other, they are more likely to be engaged as they will feel more comfortable with one another.
  4. Use different teaching methods throughout the day. For example, you might use hands on activities or start the day by dividing students into small groups to solve a problem and then come together as a class and collectively discuss their answers. Alternatively, if your class is primarily a lecture class, make sure to insert time to ask and answer questions – if students know a discussion is coming, they are more likely to pay attention and get involved.
  5. Give positive feedback to those students who participate often, even if their answer is incorrect. By responding in a way that shows you appreciate their participation, you help to alleviate any nerves in those students who may be afraid of being wrong.
  6. Try not to give in and answer your own questions if students don’t respond right away. Not everyone will have an answer on the spot, so don’t feel like you have to answer your own question after 30 seconds. If no one raises their hand, rephrase your question in a different way. If you continue to answer everything for your students, they may assume they can get away with no participation.
  7. Encourage discussion by directing questions and responses to other students. Essentially, let the students facilitate their own lesson and only interject when necessary.

For more tips on how to increase class participation, click here.

Here at Nickerson Corporation, we understand that some students often feel uncomfortable participating in class discussions and we want to help! That’s why we provide classroom furniture that can help to create a welcoming environment that encourages students to get involved throughout the day.  In addition to our furniture, which includes but is not limited to interchangeable desks and chairs, we also supply interactive whiteboards that can help to encourage participation in the classroom. For classrooms of a larger size, such as a college lecture class, we are available to provide lecture seating with built in electrical outlets that allow students to use electronic devices in order to participate. Make your classroom an active one today; contact us at 631-666-0200.