Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Silent students: The fear of being monitored

I apologize for not including links to previous blog posts on this topic. I forgot who sent me on this tangent. Feel free to add links in the comments.

Perhaps some students are quiet in class not because they don't have anything to say, but because they think what they have to say won't be seen by the teacher as the "right" answer. Even outside of the classroom, we often quell our comments for fear of being "wrong".

Maybe we could change that. Maybe we could make it perfectly clear that discussion sessions are not about right and wrong answers, but about exploring topics, fleshing out ideas, making mistakes. Mistakes are so important to the learning process, and if students were given the opportunity to make mistakes without it reflecting in their grade, perhaps they'd say more.

Facebook groups are one way to help overcome the reluctance to speak in class. Any other ideas?


  1. Hi Nancy,
    thank you for contributing your comments. I do agree that making mistakes along the learning process can result in successful learning episodes. And I also recognize that these mistakes should not be in detriment to the student's grade, because otherwise students would be deterred from trying (which implies risking to make a mistake). But I feel lost at this point... I am not sure how to promote an environment where students be encouraged to participate and yet grade them according to their level of achievement of professional competences. Any ideas or personal experiences? Anyone?
    I need to think about where I will start...

    Nacho Giraldez
    from Madrid

  2. I'm also at a loss as to where to start on this. Perhaps giving the class discussion to the students is one way to achieve an environment where mistakes are okay. Discussion forums where students can voice their thoughts without the teacher monitoring might be one way. Or in-person class discussions led by a student, with the teacher only an observer, not reacting to "right" or "wrong" answers could be another option. Just brainstorming here :)