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5 Teaching Strategies to Increase Student Participation

Janelle Cox

For some teachers, getting their students to participate is like pulling teeth: It’s quite a struggle. It’s easy to pick sticks with students’ names on them to get them to participate, but it’s not at their own free will. As you know, the more intriguing a lesson is, the more students are willing to actively participate in it. So, what is so intriguing that it will motivate our students to participate? What are some teaching strategies that will capture our students’ attention, so much so that it will motivate them to want to participate in classroom discussions and activities? Here are five teaching strategies that you can try to help your students be actively engaged in your classroom.

1. Teaching Strategies to Find Out What Motivates Students

That sounds quite simple, just find out what motivates students, then they will want to participate in class. Basically, it is that simple. Take the time in the beginning of the school year to really learn about each and every one of your students. If you are a middle school or high school teacher, then you may think this sounds crazy, but it’s really not that hard. You can start will a simple interest survey, or take a class poll. This way you can quickly find out what all students have in common. For example, let’s say the majority of your class loves to use iPads. Then, you know that it will be easy to get your students actively involved in a lesson if you have access to an iPad. Find out what motivates them, and use it to your advantage.

2. Teach with Technology

Technology is a great tool to use to get your students intrigued in a lesson and want to participate in it. With all of the new educational technology that is out there today, it would be a shame not to incorporate it into your lessons. Your students are the ones that are the most up to date with the recent gadgets that are on the market. Use their expertise to your advantage, and incorporate lessons and activities that utilize the iPad or a tablet. Studies show that students report learning is more fun through technology. If you don’t have access to a tablet, then a computer will work just as well. Any piece of technology will capture your students’ attention and motive them to want to participate in class.

3. Try Some New Teaching Strategies

There are a wide variety of teaching strategies that you can try that can help get your students to actively participate in class more often. Here are a few:

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  • Cooperative Learning Strategy – Using cooperative learning techniques such as think-pair-share, jigsaw, or round robin, forces students to activity participate in class discussions because each student is accountable for one piece of a group task. In order to complete the task, the student has to participate in it.
  • Inquiry Teaching Strategy – Students are given a problem or question that is designed to intrigue them. Then, they must hypothesize possible solutions to the problem. Through a lot of research and questioning, students must find a solution. During this time students are working in small groups and actively participating together throughout the whole task.
  •  Inductive Teaching Strategy – Students are given a concept, then they are encouraged to make an observation and discuss this observation with the class. Students’ individual observations can be compared to those of their classmates, to come up with the point of the main concept that was presented.

4. Effectively Communicate with Visual Aids

Most students need something to focus their eyes on (besides the teacher) when they are trying to learn a new concept. When you are teaching students a new strategy or concept, did you ever notice your students’ eyes wandering, or their hands busy scribbling in their notebooks? It’s hard to get students to listen and actively participate when there is not a visual aid to focus on. When you use a teaching aid, it will not only help you get your point across, but it will also help your students to focus on what they are learning, and in turn get them to participate. Try using a Smartboard or an overhead projector. These two visual aids are great because students can come up and take part in the lesson.

5. Change Your Regular Daily Routine

While a daily routine is good for students to follow, it can also become so monotonous that students will not want to participate. If students have to do the same morning work day in and day out, and you expect them to correct their papers by switching with their neighbor, there will come a time that they will just get bored of it. Mix it up and change your regular morning habit by giving students a different task to complete in the morning. Instead of having them switch their papers with their neighbor, have them take turns picking a stick to see what other classmates they can switch with. By turning their regular classroom routine upside-down, you are keeping students on their toes. This excitement will motivate them and get them to want to participate more often.

Participation is one of those things that we just expect, because we know that by actively participating, our students will learn better. But, it’s not always easy to get students to participate. It also doesn’t have to be that difficult if you try and implement some of the strategies listed above.

How do you increase class participation? Do you have any tips that work well with your students? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear them.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.

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