Engaging Students in the Classroom

  • Show your interest in the material and the students.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm, preparedness, thoughtfulness, organization, and flexibility in your presentation.
  • Learn students’ names early in the semester.
  • Use humor.
  • Challenge students (“I bet none of you can figure out the answer to this question in three minutes!”).
  • Use analogies and examples that relate to their lives.
  • Engaging Students
    • Think-pair-share:  ask a question and give students a minute or two to think quietly about it, then have them “buddy up” with another student or in a small group to discuss their ideas.  This “warms up their vocal cords” and makes them more ready for a class-wide discussion.
    • Three-minute summary:  have a student provide a three minute summary of the key points of the day’s class.
    • Debates:  ask a question and have students chose sides and defend their positions.  Another twist is to have them organize according to the side they want to argue — then have them argue the opposite position.  This helps students to be more thoughtful about others’ points of view and also helps them to be more thorough about defending their own.
    • Class votes:  have students vote (by raising hands or using clickers) to see what different positions others’ in the class may have.
    • The Teaser:  Ask a question such as, “What profession would a historical character have today? Where would we be today if we did not know the structure of DNA? Current events?”
    • Use student response systems (“clickers”).
    • Call on students randomly using dice, spinning wheel, shuffled index cards with their names, etc. This removes the perception that you’re “picking on” a particular student — and adds a bit of a game show feel to a discussion.
    • Distribute props that the students can handle and manipulate.
    • Use active exercises/simulations and role-plays.
    • Use case studies that require students to analyze, make a recommendation and defend it.
    • Use quiz-show like ways to introduce or review material.