Make participation in activities, discussions and classroom forums mandatory

Provided by Esther C. Kim, Lecturer, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Edited for McNeese Faculty by Dr. Wendi Prater, Director eLearning, McNeese State University.

As instructors, we all face the problem of silence at some point during class, or of discussions’ becoming dominated by a few students. To encourage participation and the completion of reading assignments, I use random selection: I write each student’s name on a slip of paper and put the slips in a large container. Whenever I ask key discussion questions and do not have volunteers, I pull a name from the bowl. To add a little animation to the task, I sometimes take a few seconds to shake up the bowl, then stick my hand in and call out the name. Students’ anticipation of having their name pulled out of a jar is less scary than being directly called upon.