Why Students Benefit from Class Discussions & Participation

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This semester I’ve been teaching a Family Communication class that I’ve loved every second of. I taught the class online a few years ago, but the face-to-face version has been a completely different experience, and I’m seeing my students grasp the concepts much more easily this time around- applying the textbook terms to their own lives and thoroughly analyzing ¬†what they’re learning in meaningful ways.

I give credit to the in-class discussions.

I recently read the article “How Do Students Learn from In Class Discussion?” on facultyfocus.com, and I shared it with my Family Communication students to show them how research supports the way we’ve been spending our class periods (since the professional in me is worried they might think the class has been a little too much fun..).

As instructors, sometimes it can feel like we’re ‘getting away with something’ when we fill class time with lively conversation and have students analyze, in my case, an early episode of Modern Family to solidify the terms that will be on the final exam, but research is showing that it’s class periods just like this that help students learn the most by:

  • Increasing engagement
  • Remembering and retaining information
  • Confirming learning
  • Getting verbal feedback from the instructor
  • Deepening their understanding

Of course, once we’ve talked at length about various chapters, terms, and how they apply to situations in the students’ own families and in examples from the media (Modern Family has worked perfectly for this particular course), they go home to write essays and prepare oral presentations to solidify their learning.

Using homework to reinforce ideas from class is secondary, though. I believe that when you’re in the college classroom, the best foundation is application and participation first, and then the rest almost seems to take care of itself.

If you’d like to learn more about classroom participation helps students, see the link below:


Happy teaching and learning!

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