The key to better teaching and learning: securing student participation

A recurring theme in many of the conversations I have these days with higher education teachers is how difficult they find it to get students to participate in class. Students attend less class-based activities anyway, it is often observed, and when they are there they tend to see it as an occasion to receive information and ideas in a purely passive way.

On the other hand, it is clear that successful teaching requires a high level of interaction. So here are two contributions to this issue.

The first is a project from Monash University that used technology, in the form of a ‘computerised audience response system’, at relatively low cost to stimulate student interest and encourage them to work with the subject being taught.

The second is a set of suggestions from the University of California in Berkeley to prompt interaction in classes.

Perhaps an overall goal in good teaching that secures student participation should be to introduce innovation and change regularly. Learning needs to be presented as intellectual innovation, and the approach of the teacher should also reflect that. Otherwise it is difficult to engage students and maintain their interest.

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2 Comments on “The key to better teaching and learning: securing student participation”

  1. anna notaro Says:

    As the Call for workshops and Panels of this very interesting conference states: ‘The future of learning will not be solely determined by digital culture but by the re-organization of power relationships and institutional protocols’. Students’ engagement and participation will be crucial in such reorganization. See

  2. John Carter Says:

    Students need to engage in the subject, not necessarily in the lecture. There are many ways to do this, not least of which is information gathering and experimentation, leading to hypothesis-forming and further experimentation. The least powerful in my view is thinker-talker rhetoric leading to mere consensus.

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