Picture a classroom and this image might appear: neat rows, faces turned to the teacher, students listening intently to every word of instruction; however, this
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
interactive group discussion
One of the most satisfying moments in teaching is leading a lively discussion in which students are deeply engaged in the material and contributing thoughtfully.
All too often I have heard colleagues pondering over situations in which students are found on their smart phones rather than engaged in class. As
One of the biggest concerns that faculty have about using small groups involves the contributions of individual members and whether some in the group are riding on the contributions of others. These freeloaders, who are mostly known in the literature as “social loafers,” are assumed not to be contributing because they are lazy and happy to have others doing the work. Students share this concern about nonproductive group members. They regularly list it as one of the main reasons they don’t like to participate in group work.
Frustrated with the traditional lecture format in an upper-level chemistry class that enrolled more than 100 students, and envious of my teaching assistants who spent time in small recitations working on problem solving with my students, I designed an approach I call the “The Front Row.” It brings a small group feel into a large classroom.
Participation is one of those workhorse instructional strategies—easy to use, straightforward, expected, and often quite successful at accomplishing a number of learning goals. It’s good to remind ourselves of its many different uses, especially on those days when getting students to participate feels like pulling hens’ teeth.