How do you encourage student participation in class?

John Currie headshot

In my experience student participation occurs, especially in smaller classes such as those in the Professional Writing and Communication program, when the instructor establishes a healthy rapport. There’s no need to be didactic every second. The very act of being humble is itself educational. I tell stories about myself goofing up. I make my students chuckle and I chuckle along with them. I make it known that I have a life outside of the classroom. I go around and call on each student by name and take up last class’s exercises, usually some sentence writing. I do this so that everyone’s voice is heard, and doing so warms up the place for discussion. Saying each person’s name and helps me quickly memorize names and brings students into the space as a full person. When I learn from my students, I say so: “Thank you. I didn’t know this before I met you.”

- John Currie, Lecturer, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT)

Jade Atallah
I highlight an often forgotten aspect of science – ‘The human Dimension’. I always remind students that the material we are tackling has been discovered by individuals, just as themselves, carrying out research in laboratories next door to our classroom and at other institutions around the world. This encourages students to take responsibility, motivates them, increases their attention span, boosts their confidence in their abilities, fuels their critical thinking, and most importantly, energizes the classroom and increases participation in our collaborative problem solving efforts.

-Jade Atallah, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Biology

Marc Laflamme

I love to share personal anecdotes. I believe it breaks down traditional classroom barriers, and encourages students to share their own experiences. U of T is beautifully multicultural; we have so much to learn from one another. 

-Marc Laflamme, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences