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Class participation improves student performance

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 12:03

image Class participation improves student performance Game Design video gamesCraig Towsley

Photo by Craig Towsley/ Prospectus News

Students in CSC234 Game Design learn design and content creation for video games, Feb 26th 2013.

Getting involved in different activities and groups on campus can lead to a better performance in the classroom, as well as a more enjoyable experience while attending college. For this reason, students are encouraged to break out of their comfort zone and meet new people at school.

In contrast to most four-year universities, community college students are more likely to find friends they went to high school with in their classes. This makes it easier for them to form small groups of friends that they already know and might make the transition from high school to college easier.

However, students that keep to their familiar group and are either too afraid or unwilling to branch out and meet new people might actually have a harder time in the long run.

Associate Professor Patricia VerStrat commented that having a friend in the classroom can be very helpful, because students can fall back on their friend to remind them of homework assignments or get help with their studies.

Many students find that getting that buddy is hard, because often the students in their classrooms seem so different from themselves and they feel uncomfortable reaching out and trying to form a connection.

"I’m from Chicago, so most of the kids in my class are totally different from me,” MassCommunication major Deon Matthews explained. “I just like to chill with people from my hometown because everyone else in my classes seems lame.”

Although not everyone takes the same view, most students would agree that it is hard to make new friends when they already have a group they feel comfortable in.

VerStrat explained that being involved is important to a student’s performance, because it helps a student feel like they belong within the classes and encourages them to ask for help.

This is why VerStrat and several other English teachers offer extra credit opportunities for those students that participate in volunteer work outside of school.

"Getting involved with extracurricular activities has helped me stay on track at school, because it feels like I have a reason to be there other than for myself,” Nursing major Julia Knowles said. "People count on me to be somewhere when I say I will be, so it makes me feel really important."

Knowles explained that she participates in a program that tutors children at local elementary schools. Her participation in the work has helped her gain new friends, which Knowles said helped her feel welcome in her class.

Getting involved does not just mean participating in school clubs or finding new friends to sit with during a lunch break. Professors on campus also encourage students to meet with them after class or during office hours with any questions a student might have.

Author Gloria Watkins, better known by her pen-name Bell Hooks, touched on the issue regarding class participation in her book "Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom.”

Watkins argued that if teachers use their power to control a student and don’t allow room for discussion, then students will not receive a well-rounded education.

Many teachers at Parkland agree that students need to participate in the classroom because it helps students engage in critical thinking.

Matthews commented that when his teachers have him get involved in class, he usually does a lot better.

"I just can’t pay attention when a teacher tries to lecture the whole time,” Matthews said. When teachers have us give our thoughts I usually listen more because I want people to know what I think."

It is the job of both the professors and the students to make a class both enjoyable and a learning-friendly environment.

Teachers that encourage student involvement can assist students in their studies by engaging them and keeping their attention. Likewise, students that get involved and speak up in class can improve themselves and also make passing the time in class easier.

The next time a teacher asks a question, students should remember to raise their hand and participate. And when it comes to making new friends, expanding one’s horizon can make a huge difference.

Getting involved in college can help a student succeed in the classroom, so never be afraid to participate.

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