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Wilfrid Laurier University Centre for Student Success
August 29, 2014
 
 
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Advice from George: Participating in Class

How to Boost your Participation Mark

by George

Hey. It's George again. Today I am going to teach you how to increase your participation mark. In order to get good participation marks, you need to take a course that gives participation marks. For those courses without participation mark, you don’t have to be too stressed about speaking up in class.Please do whatever you want and have fun!

I am an international student. English is my second language. When I was a first year student, I had to think for five seconds to digest what I heard and think for five seconds to organize what I wanted to say. After ten seconds, either someone had answered the question or even the topic discussed had changed. Even worse, sometimes people were not sure what I talked about because of my accent. The whole classroom went to deadly silence.

I know your pain. It is hard to participate in classes facing intense competition. But you have to do it. It is not whether you want to do it. It is simply you have to do it. You need the participation mark to get a better GPA, to get a better job, and to protect your loved one, or achieve your goal in your life. If you cannot even get this done, there is no possibility you could achieve any great achievement because communication skills are crucial for any relationship in this world. I will show you everything you need to know to get perfect participation marks.

Now let’s pretend that you are in my first year situation, namely the worst situation. You have strong motivation right now and you are willing to do anything to get the participation mark, which means you do not care about your image in the classroom. This is the first step and the most important step. You may encounter some situations such as the people don’t understand your “broken English” or your answer is not relevant to the question. Just remember “KISS” in your mind. That stands for “keep it short and simple”. If the people don’t understand your answer and you are not quite confident with it, then just re-state your core idea and shut up to see how it goes.

Since you may need more time to organize your thoughts compared to your classmates, you may need to organize your thoughts before classes. Read the text books to find out what the important concepts are and any good questions that you could ask during class.The professors will definitely ask about the important concepts during class if they are really important. Make eye contact with your professors and raise your hand immediately when your professors ask the questions regarding those important concepts! If you have some questions that link the theoretical concepts to real life situations, that will be awesome.

State a goal in your mind about how many questions you are going to answer in each class. Generally, three will be ideal. If you feel your professors don’t pick you to answer questions very often even though you are the first one to raise your hand, talk to him/her.

Usually you have a rubric to complete after each class to record your participation. If you can speak up three times during each class, you should get a perfect grade. If the professors grade you based on his/her impression, then you should make some in-depth comments during classes. Linking the textbook theories to real life situations will be a better choice instead of answering questions regarding the concepts. Talk to your professors after classes and during office hours to let him/her remember you. Say your name at the beginning and the end of the conversation because this is your point to talk to him/her.

University is a game about commitment. I hope you are in a better situation than I was. You can do it. Do not avoid any problems when you are young because they will come out again when you are old. Your best choice is to crush them.

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