By HAVEN HEADLEY
“What? You mean we are actually graded on whether we speak up in class or not?” This is what goes through many students’ minds on the first day of classes when professors explain that students will be graded on discussion and participation in class. This idea shocks many students who are afraid to speak in public.
Speaking intensive classes also trip some up because they require students to pay more attention. Students must arrive at, and share, their own answers without having them placed right in front of them.
Discussion-based classes are a major part of any Liberal Arts education. Discussion-based classes are prevalent at the University of Mary Washington. Many classes, are centered around student participation and discussion. This may be why most students fall asleep in science classes.
Though it may not seem like it on the first day, discussion-based classes are a lot of help to students in their school environment. These classes are required at our liberal arts college to give students the qualities that from strong, educated and well-rounded students.
With discussion-based classes, students are more engaged in the material that is being taught, and they are able to actively take part in the lesson. Students are encouraged to speak their mind and let their thoughts free.
In these intimate classroom settings, students are able to interact with their professors and other students, allowing them to see where other students’ minds are taking them and understand ideas and concepts they may not have heard before. Also, they are able to add on to thoughts they might not have fully developed yet. Other students’ or professors’ opinions can add to their ideas and further deepen their understanding of the material at hand.
Discussion-based classes are great for students to learn how to be comfortable with their thoughts and ideas. They aren’t as scared of saying the wrong thing because, in discussion-based classes, there is more room for varying opinions and thoughts. In lecture-based classes, one can be completely wrong and looked down upon by themselves or others.
Discussion-based classes also make the classroom friendlier. Students and professors get the opportunity to know each other on a much deeper level. Everyone in the classroom is able to see how someone else is thinking. What is interesting about this is the fact that the way we think can be molded by our experiences both outside and inside of the classroom. In this way, students are able to see each other in a different light than they would in a lecture-based class, where information is given without speculation.
It seems as if students also attend more of their discussion-based classes than their lecture-based classes. This could be a result of students enjoying this classroom forum more. They feel as if it is something they want to do, not something they have to do. There is a major feeling of liberation with speaking your mind about situations that occur. It is even more liberating when you can relate it to problems in the real world. These classes allow students the ability to free their minds!
We are truly lucky to have the school concerned about our speaking abilities. So, rather than questioning why you must participate in class discussion , question what you are positively receiving from the discussions in class and how contributing more in class discussion will end up benefitting you more than you realize.