How to Participate in a Class Discussion

If you think you can get by in a class without actively participating, you may want to think again. More and more often, teachers are making classroom participation an integral part of your final grade, leaving the shyest of students quite nervous. The good news is, anyone can master a class discussion, you just need the right attitude and vision.

What you must do first is not let any anxiety get the best of you. Even if you’re not the most talkative person in school, taking part in the class discussion is nothing to feel embarrassed about. Raising your hand and sharing some insights will not be seen as unusual because everybody is required to do it – at least, if they want a good grade. There is no reason to feel nervous or awkward about sharing your thoughts with the class; just like with class presentations, remember who your main audience is: the teacher. The teacher expects you to participate and more importantly wants you to participate, so why would you feel out of place doing so? The rest of the class has their own participation grade to think about, so don’t worry about them. Your own grade is at stake, so do what it necessary to protect it. You may also want to check out these tips on how to give a school presentation.

Next, it is vital that you are prepared to talk about this subject accurately. The last thing you want is to show up with confidence to speak only to realize you have no idea what is going on. Whether the class discussion is to be focused on an assigned novel, a lab project, or a history chapter, you had better be certain you read and/or completed the appropriate materials. Here are some great tips on how to interpret a reading assignment that you may find useful.

However, the substance of your participation certainly relies on more than just simple reading – it relies on how thoroughly you studied it. For example, reading through a book once and then the next day only being able to recall the basic plotline and character names is not sufficient for a strong discussion. It is understandable that you have a busy schedule and may not feel you have the time to excessively go through every little bit of the reading; but thankfully, that is not necessary. After all, no teacher expects or wants one student to dominate the entire discussion with an extensive recap of everything there is to address.

The point of a classroom discussion in the first place is for every student to be able to share what stood out to them most and also clear up topics they are confused about. This discussion is not a test, but an open forum to pick apart ideas that will later be on a test. It is the perfect opportunity for you to wrap your head around the bulk of the class is one session. Don’t view it as a stressful endeavor, but as a helpful one you should take advantage of.

With that being said, as you go through your preparation material the night before, mark or write down concepts that you genuinely find interesting or would like to know more about. Pick a few areas that you would really like to hear the teacher’s thoughts on and bring them to the discussion. You will easily be able to give a deep perspective on them if you truly took the time to look at them in detail.

One thing to remember is that teachers can immediately recognize a general comment that is just being said to get the participation points. You will not fool anyone by making a couple of bland statements that lack any evident in-depth analysis. This is all the more reason to take the assignment seriously and find at least one portion that speaks to you in some way. A classroom discussion is open to all sorts of different opinions, so don’t be afraid that your thoughts will be seen as wrong or dumb. As long as you base it on factual content that is relevant to the subject being discussed, you will have a genuine contribution to the conversation. You may also want to check out these 5 habits to avoid during class.

In the end, pushing up your participation grade is a pretty simple thing to do. No need to feel any pressure to come up with some brilliant insight that nobody has ever brought up before – just converse in an honest and educated manner. It truly can be as relaxing as that.