Different Classroom Expectations

As mentioned in the introduction, each instructor might have different requirements for classroom discussions. Let’s review two examples.

Example 1:

Here is the teacher expectation on classroom participation from a class on Ethnography:

Class discussion. Seminar-style as in this will be organic, give-and-take, opinions and positions respectfully exchanged. For the first three weeks, I’ll take the lead in running the class. After that, I’ll do this in coordination with one of you who will circulate a series of questions/issues to organize discussion—to be posted the night before (Sunday) on our sakai site by 6 pm. These initial remarks/questions will start the class after which we will go into a more seminar-like exchange. (Allison, Critical Ethnography/Ethnographies, Spring 2020)

Example 2:

Here is another example from a class at the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering:

Advance reading and active participation are critical elements of success in this course (and in life). Lively and active classroom discussions are effective learning mechanisms for you and your peers (and thus incorporated into your class participation grade), so be prepared to contribute to the discussion during class. You are expected to engage in the learning environment that will be created within the classroom, and it is important for each student to engage deeply and critically with the material. Consequently, laptop computers, tablets, and other devices will not be allowed unless specifically stated that they may be used to look up some information related to class, or you use them to take notes. If you choose to use such a device to take notes, the wireless capabilities must be turned off (otherwise known as “Airplane Mode”). Similarly, mobile phones must be turned off, unless you are awaiting an important phone call (e.g., your pregnant wife may be close to labor, the Chicago Cubs are about to win the World Series, again). If you are expecting such a phone call, please tell me before the start of class to get permission to leave your phone on (in vibrate mode, please). Courtesy and respect for your colleagues during class discussions will be enforced. Out of respect for my schedule and yours, class sessions will begin and end on time. (Bielicki, Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, Spring 2016)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the specific expectations of the teachers on classroom participation and discussions?
  2. What do you learn to be professional in classroom discussions from the two examples?
  3. What are the classroom expectations in your home country? Be specific, if possible.
  4. What are the classroom expectations in your discipline in the U.S.? Be specific, if possible.
  5. Which classroom participation is more challenging to you, whole-class discussion or small-group discussion? Why?
  6. What’s your concerns in terms of classroom participation, particularly for oral participation?


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