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Education In Singapore: Brief Musing About “Class Participation” In Universities

So I’ve just completed my first week in university, and I just can’t my head around this “class participation” component that is present in most courses and modules. In essence, students are graded by their involvement within the classroom, in terms of: quality (the value of the questions and answers) and quantity (the frequency of the various responses). Different professors and lecturers have dissimilar styles, but the general intent would be to render sessions less didactic, and to encourage participants to be more engaged with the content. I’m not sure if this is a new phenomenon, but back in high school – under the Integrated Programme – there was also a pedagogical “oral participation” element in grading exercises.

I appreciate its significance, but the administration is making the assumption that this oratorical capacity – especially within the business faculty – is necessarily crucial for students in the future. The presumption is that most careers and professions would require prospective employees to be active articulators, which automatically discriminates against students who might be more reticent.

Most are cognisant of on-the-ground observations, on how some over-zealous students venture to maximise their personal air-time, reducing teaching-learning sessions into meaningless chatter and blabber. With the obligation to score, have I crossed the line? Throughout those two or three seminars, I felt more self-conscious and wary, because I didn’t want to raise something for the sake of doing so; in retrospect, did I? The key – I suppose – would be to strike equilibrium between one’s principles and the importance of doing well. If so, is the current mechanism the most effective? I don’t know, and I don’t think so.

My head throbs.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


5 thoughts on “Education In Singapore: Brief Musing About “Class Participation” In Universities

  1. Hahaha! Relax lah. Having ruminated on the issue, throw it out of the window and trust your subconscious to figure out how much is right. Allow yourself to get pleasantly lost in the discussion and avoid vetoing yourself.

    Posted by Visakan V | August 22, 2012, 8:19 am
  2. Compare to my classes here (well IR classes, you do need to talk somewhat), is way better than dead silence for 3 hours. I did suggests to my prof that maybe we need OP to ensure that there are at least different sounding voices, dint manage to force people to contribute though. I am not in favour of your point on OP is enforced by admin for future practical purpose. I view it more as, how can i phrase this… Okay, from the prof perspective, “at least i know my students are thinking in class, and not staring at blank!”. Well, what the students think, thats another issue. it is hard to engage the whole classrooms, esp when (assuming and stereotyping here) students there are either (1) i can mug this at home, (2) i know it all already or (3) this is super important, copy! Forcing student to engage, well, is way better than teaching to room full of “walls”. I don’t know how you feel exactly, just coming from a different learning environment here. And i do speak what comes to my mind though, even it sounds rhetorical. Just part of my thinking process inside the classroom. No harm sharing to my peers on how my immature thought pathway!

    Posted by Thomas (Mo Xiang) | September 14, 2012, 10:55 am
    • Hey! Quick reply here.

      I think we can agree that class participation is important, and that the articulation of perspectives helps individuals develop important communication skills. However, how we should do it is another question altogether. I can’t give a fair evaluation because of my relatively short time in school, but the status quo here can be improved significantly.

      And you’re right: people can be very judgemental when their classmates say something that is poorly phrased or irrelevant. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this as well. That is why this in-class participation would not only train speakers, but listeners too. I’m cognisant I have to work on this aspect too, and I don’t think this is sufficiently emphasised.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | September 15, 2012, 12:37 pm


  1. Pingback: Five Weeks In University: Of Lesson Structures And Academic Endeavours « guanyinmiao's musings - September 14, 2012

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