Participation: The Best Thing A Student Can Do For Themselves
From the perspective of the student, class participation serves two vital functions, it shows that you are active, engaged and present and it also helps you learn.
Most lecturers don’t care if you pay attention or not, they only care that you aren’t disturbing those who are – and rightly so, if you aren’t taking your education seriously by now, that’s on you. Those who engage and are seen to make an effort will be rewarded – be it with an extra bit of help or advice, the rounding up of a few decimals or being given an extension more readily.
In a lecture theatre with 200 other students it can be a bit intimidating to engage with the lecturer, but at least make the effort! If you find it difficult to perform in front of such a crowd there are a few things you can do to help; the first is sitting closer to the front – not only can you hear much more clearly, you aren’t as inclined to daydream, fidget or update your Twitter and Facebook about how bored you are in class – and another thing, when you sit near the front and you’re engaged, you forget that there’s an entire class behind you, although sometimes the horrible sound of acrylic nails on Blackberry keys and touchscreens is a faint reminder.
So, not only will it be easier to opine and profess; if you can be seen and heard you will be remembered. It’s a nice feeling when it’s your name that is remembered out of 200 – this can work to your advantage.
The other big bit about class participation is learning – a lot of people find it hard to shout an answer or offer an opinion on a topic when surrounded by so many peers, usually out of fear of being wrong. Here’s the thing though, no one cares if you’re wrong, stop being so egotistical!
There’s a key difference between being wrong in school and wrong in college. You’re not a hormonal teenage wreck anymore. When you’re a teenager you think the world is watching, that everyone is as invested in you as you are, so when you get an answer wrong, in public, you just want to die – you’re so concerned about being embarrassed and wrong that you can’t even remember what the right answer was! But now! Now! Now you’re a smart and savvy college kid, the little flutter of social embarrassment is fleeting – and when you’re corrected you remember the answer. Why? Because you remember cringing for about three seconds for being wrong before you realize no one actually cares – and being corrected in front of 200 other people is a pretty good reinforcer.
You can also be sure that if you gave the wrong answer, there were definitely a few others in class that had the same idea, so not only are helping yourself learn, you’re helping your classmates learn too. You’re an education hero.
So go on, the next time you’re asked a question in class, give an answer, even if it’s wrong use it to your advantage – you’ve just made the mistake now and been corrected by the lecturer instead of messing on the assignment or exam when it’s too late – and if you’re not wrong, hey, even better!
About the Author: Graeme Carson is a 25 year old “mature” student studying for an undergraduate BSc (Hons) in psychology at Bournemouth University, England. He is quick to point out that he is not actually English, but Irish or Northern Irish, he isn’t sure and it’s still quite confusing even to him. He has a Macbook Pro and an 80gb iPod which can only actually hold 9gb of music.
Graeme likes science in general, and comics. You can find him on Twitter.