Tips For Participating In Class Discussions

View all self-help articles

Tags:

Preparing for discussion classes demands more time and effort than getting ready for lecture classes. Most of the work is done before class: time is spent reading, evaluating, taking notes. 

Before Class: 

  1. Read the assignment.

    1. Class discussions are usually about a particular topic, and there are usually assigned readings.

    2. The first step is to read carefully the assigned material.

  2. Make notes for discussion.

    1. Make notes on points about which you agree or disagree. This gives ideas to talk about if you are asked for your reaction to the topic.

    2. Noting good and poor examples will also help you react to the topic.

    3. Note ideas, points, concepts you do not understand. Use these notes as guides to formulate questions. 

During Class: 

1. Get involved in class discussion. a. Get involved when—

    • Someone asks a question you can answer.
    • You can comment on what has already been said.
    • You can give information to clarify the topic or correct an error. o you can ask a thought-provoking question.

2. Tips for further involvement.

  1. If you are reluctant to speak before the class, try to say something early in the discussion. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes. Also, if you wait too long, someone else may ask your question or make the comment you intended to make.

  2. Sit close to the front of the class. This makes it easier to get the instructor’s attention to ask a question or make a comment.

  3. Make comments brief and to the point. It is better to say too little than too much.

  4. Always direct your comments to the group. Avoid getting involved in arguments with individual class members.

  5. Jot down ideas as you think of them during the discussion so that you will have notes to refer to when you get a chance to speak.

  6. Organize your comments. Relate what you say with what has already been said. 

 

Adapted from K. T. McWhorter (1986) College Reading and Study Skills