Class Participation Tips

Writing is a social act. Learning to write for a real audience requires a real audience. In my writing classes, I’m just one reader of your work. In fact, I strongly encourage my students to try and forget about me as their primary reader (which leads to boring, unoriginal essays designed to elicit a good grade and nothing else), and focus instead on a real audience: the entire class.

That means that every member of my class has an important role to play in our mutual development as writers. That’s why I typically make class participation a substantial portion of your course grade. It’s not a gimme, nor is it an automatic bonus at the end of the semester. Here are some suggestions for how to earn a good class participation grade:

  • Attend every class meeting (or miss only when you’re seriously ill)
  • Participated in virtually every class discussion (or regularly make meaningful contributions)
  • Contribute to every online discussion, and go above and beyond the minimum expectations (esp. if you tend to be shy in class)
  • Whether in class or online, offer meaningful feedback that’s aimed at keeping a discussion going, pursuing a deeper understanding of the subject matter
  • During group exercises, especially workshops, offer helpful feedback or make substantial contributions to the group
  • Attend office hours to talk about your work in progress; come prepared with questions (rather than “I just want to see if I’m on the right track”) and be open to feedback