Enticing, encouraging, and cajoling students to participate during any type of educational program is one of the most difficult challenges educators face. Regardless of the setting – classroom, webinar, group conference call – instructors want students to participate. Try these three tips to improve student participation:
Tip #1: Instead of saying “Do you have any questions” ask students, “What questions do you have?” Then count to 10 slowly in your head which gives the students time to think of a question, organize how to say it, and then ask it.
Counting 10 seconds can seem like an agonizing amount of dead air, but believe me it works.
Keep using the exact phrase and students will learn the prompt and after just a few sessions they will be asking questions before you get to 5 seconds.
Tip #2: Direct students that you want to answer questions about a specific sub-topic. For example, at the conclusion of a cardiac anatomy and physiology lecture you might start with, “Let’s start with questions about the electrical conduction system of the heart.”
This helps students focus on a certain category of questions and pull from the many questions swirling in their heads.
Tip #3: During the presentation ask students to write down their questions as they think of them or circle something in their notes that they want to follow-up. This technique is especially effective during webinars. Ask students to submit questions to a moderator during the webinar. The moderator will begin to review the questions, categorize the questions, paraphrase the questions – if there are common themes – and ask the questions on behalf of all attendees.
Bonus Tip: Never chide or ridicule your students for not asking questions. Nothing ends a presentation faster than “Isn’t anybody going to ask a question” or “Well if you don’t have any more questions we are done.” Either phrase is a clear signal that the instructor has better things to do than wait for a question.