Student participation

We were recently reading about unconscious bias in the classroom. The quiet students (often girls) can get dominated by the noisier students (often boys). What results is that the boys get to respond to more of the questions, get more interaction time with the teacher, ask more questions and basically participate more in the classroom.

Here are some ideas, ranging from low-tech to higher-tech, for increasing student participation and engagement in the classroom. This is particularly relevant for increasing female involvement in STEM subjects.

Think Pair Share

Think Pair Share and other related strategies encourages all students to participate in class. A discussion question is thought about individually, then in pairs students discuss their thoughts, then pairs are called upon to share with the whole class.

Name Draw

Use a system to call on every person in the class regularly – you might cut out slips of student names and pull names out of a hat for equitable question distribution. Or, you might tick off in your roll book when you or a student asks a question to keep track of participation.


Sometimes noisy students or challenging students get all the teacher attention. Try mini-masterclasses to even out teacher attention. Call small groups of students over to work with the teacher on a masterclass (could be a different activity like a demonstration, or a differentiated activity – some students may need a re-teach of a concept, others extension, or some might just benefit from dedicated attention to provide feedback on their work in real-time)

Interactive Quizzes

Kahoots, Quizizz, Quizlet and others are online interactive quiz platforms. They can be used to increase formative assessment in class, reinforce concepts, increase participation (in a fun and non-threatening way) and encourage all students to engage in the lesson.

Audience Interaction

Get audience interaction and feedback during a lesson with sites like:

Sli-do: Post polls and questions to the class for instant feedback and participation in lesson.

Forums: If you use a Learning Management System (LMS) then there may be in-built forum or chat features for encouraging participation in lesson.

Verso: Put up a question, image, video and collect anonymous student responses – the teacher can see the author, but students cannot. Students can like and comment on others posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *