Teach@CUNY Call #3: Rethinking Participation

Photo by Rob Weiher: http://bit.ly/2w8fKZC

For many instructors, student participation is at once an abiding goal and a source of concern. On the one hand, attempts to structure and assess participation entail a whole subset of pedagogical questions. What steps can I take to ensure all students contribute? How do I quantify those contributions? Then, there’s the more foundational issue: what does it mean for students to “participate” in my classes? Despite its ubiquity on our syllabi, the term often remains nebulous, and in the absence of a definition, students may assume it generally (if not exclusively) denotes verbal contributions to class discussions. If we understand participation etymologically—to mean “taking part”—in what ways beyond speaking might students be invited to join in, share in, and engage in our courses?

In the TLC’s recent workshop on the topic, we explored these questions, and considered a variety of strategies for fostering inclusive, interactive classrooms. But we want to hear yours! Tell us how you approach participation in your courses, by sending a brief 200-300-word description of a particular technique, activity, or assignment you’ve used to promote, enrich, or diversify student participation to tlc@gc.cuny.edu by October 20, along with the following:

  • a 1-2 sentence bio including your name, affiliation, and the courses you generally teach
  • an artifact that illustrates your strategy (e.g. copy of an activity, prompt, lesson plan, etc.)
  • 3 keywords that could be used as “tags” for your post



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