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Todd Suomela

Rescuing Student Participation Through Digital Platforms - DML Central - 0 views

  • One problem is that participation is largely taken for granted and under theorized in many classrooms. The way we make use of a term like participation is in need of rescuing: moving away from a limited view of participation as it is often linked to motivation, engagement, or hand-raising and toward the view that participation as a concept is more generative when connected to the idea of membership in communities of practice (Wenger, 1998). Our limited view of participation is evident by simply turning to the language included in most syllabi: often, syllabi list “participation points” as part of the grade of the course. I find this to be an odd way to think about participation. What we often mean is that we will give students some points for “talking in class” and “raising their hands.” But demonstrating engagement by hand-raising and talk are fairly limited views of participation, and in fact, these ways of being are more connected to performance — acting like a student — than participation. We certainly want students to participate more than 10 percent, or even half, of the time. Are they participating when they are listening and pondering the ideas of their peers? Of course they are, but how do they demonstrate that? In thinking about course design, we should consider how students become members of our classroom community and our disciplines. Social media sites can open up other avenues for participation, and further, connect students to communities of practice outside our classrooms that they hope to enter.
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