If you’ve ever found out that “participation” was part of determining your grade in a class — and panicked — you’re not alone. For introverts, or really anyone who feels uneasy about speaking up during class, participation grades can be scary.
Most of the time, professors use participation grades to encourage class discussion, to facilitate the exchange of ideas, and to make lessons more interactive. Class participation ensures that class is less boring for everyone (your professor included!), but it can also be a source of stress if you’re an introvert or if you’re feeling unsure of the class material. Not to worry — we’ve rounded up a few ways you can tackle the participation grade, even if you’re not outgoing in class:
- Attend office hours
Visiting your professor during office hours can be helpful to your participation grade for a few reasons. First, you can use office hours as an opportunity to express your stress or concerns about in-class participation. Let your professor know you’re shy and that it’s a little more difficult for you to speak out during class. Ask them if there are alternative ways you can participate and contribute without missing out on crucial grade points. Your professor might suggest alternative options for boosting your participation grade, like emailing them directly with your thoughts after class. Another technique is to come to office hours with questions and thoughts about your recent class material. Sometimes professors will offer participation points just for coming and showing initiative. In this more personal setting, you won’t have to worry about speaking up in front of a large group.
- Participate in online discussions
Does your class utilize Blackboard or other online platforms for class discussion? This is your time to shine! If contributing to discussion boards online is part of your class structure, use this opportunity to participate. Pose thoughtful questions about the class material either to help you understand a topic or to facilitate further discussion among your classmates. Whenever another student posts, be sure to reply to their question or comment, explaining why you agree or disagree, or reinforcing their point with new evidence, material, or thoughts. Not only will your professor appreciate it, but it will contribute to thoughtful discussion — and your grade.
- Be an active group participant
You know those times during class when you have to split up into groups to work on an in-class assignment or discuss a particular topic or concept? Speaking in these smaller group settings can be much less intimidating than in front of the class. Be an active group member by contributing to your group’s thought process. Pose ideas and questions to the group. Voice your opinion and thoughts. Your professor will notice that you’re participating in the discussion, but there’s less worry of “saying the wrong thing” than when you’re speaking in front of the whole class. In fact, you might even be able to help your group come up with the right answer, and you’ll be associated with that victory. As a bonus, you might even make some new friends.
Remember, being introverted isn’t a bad thing — you still have plenty to contribute. Taking the time to discover alternative methods of participating will help as you continue to grow more confident speaking in front of the class.
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