If you’ve ever freaked out when receiving a syllabus and noticing that “participation” was part of determining your grade – you’re not alone. For introverts, or really anyone who can feel insecure speaking up during class, “participation grades” can be scary.
Professors require participation grades to encourage class discussion, to facilitate the exchange of ideas, and to make lessons overall more interactive. Class participation ensures that class is less boring for everyone (your professor included!), but it also can be a source of stress if you’re an introvert or if you’re feeling unsure of the class material. There’s no need to stress though – we’ve rounded up a few ways you can tackle the participation grade, even if you’re not outgoing in class:
1. Attend your professor’s office hours
Visiting your professor during office hours can be helpful to your participation grade for a few reasons. First of all, use this as an opportunity to express your stress or concerns about in-class participations. Let them know you’re introverted 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 you emailing him/her directly with your thoughts after class or some other options for boosting your participation. Additionally, come to office hours with some questions and thoughts about your recent class material. Sometimes professors will offer participation points to students who attend office hours, as that is a form of participation, and in a more personal setting, you won’t have to worry about speaking in front of a large group.
2. 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.
3. 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? These smaller group settings can be much less intimidating — and much easier for participation. Be less of a passive group member and more active 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 risk of “saying the wrong thing” like you might worry about when speaking in front of the whole class. In fact, you might even be able to help your group come up with the right answer – or a good answer – and you’ll be associated with that victory.