Are the students active or object in the classroom?

I read that Ira Shor, a professor at the City University of New York, believed that the role of students should change from the object to active. (

I love his idea! I always hated to be an object from others. Though this reflects my personality, I think that a constructive classroom must have an active atmosphere for the students. They need to sense that their roles are very important in the classroom and if they do not participate in the class, they missed a major part of their life!

I remembered that some of my teachers had tried to motivate the students to show up in the class by some rules, for example, they had stated that the participation in class is 10% or even 20% of the total grade. I am sure that the students show up with this type of rules, but we should evaluate its efficiency. They may be in the class but they check their social network accounts like Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.

So, how can we motivate the students to be more active in the class? How can we reconstruct the relation between the teacher and students?

I have an idea that may work and it is worthy of mention. We may randomly select the students to present a brief lecture about the last session in a few minutes at the beginning of each session. This may help them to feel as a teacher and they think that they are teaching the course. I know that some instructors ask the students to present some contents of the course but I do not like this method of motivation. Because the students are not familiar with the topic and they may feel disappointed. Instead, we may teach them and ask them to review the materials and develop more details about it. It may work better and motivate them to deeply think about the course. Additionally, they feel that they are leading the class and it changes their mind about the atmosphere of the class.

In the last session, Professor Nelson asked the student to read their peers’ syllabus and criticized it. This is exactly an appropriate method of motivation. All students feel that they are grading his/her peer and learn more about another syllabus. Another positive point in this course is that the students must comment other blogs. They need to read other blogs and think about them then write a logical and meaningful comment. Both these methods are perfect ways to engage the students in the classroom.

Finally, I believe that the students should feel that they are learning an important topic in the class and if they miss one session they may lose a major knowledge. To create this perception, the teachers should use innovative methods of teaching and recreate their relations with students via social activities out of the class.

This entry was posted in Contemporary Pedagogy – Spring 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Are the students active or object in the classroom?

  1. Milad says:

    I agree that students engagement is very important and instructors should have a plan to engage the students in the classrooms. One problem is that how can you engage students in classes with more than 100 students and how can we apply critical pedagogy in those classes considering that you have limited time to teach basics. I like what you proposed and I think it can be applied even in big classes.

  2. Ken Black says:

    This concept of making students active in the classroom as you described it is called agency. Agency is when a person has the ability to make decision and has some level of authority to make these decision for themselves – or at least has a choice in the matter.

  3. Sarah El-Helw says:

    Thanks for your post! I totally agree that students should be an active part of the learning process. I had another idea while I was reading your post. I think the class participation grade will cause people to attend at the beginning… If the class becomes interesting enough, they will want to attend. Especially if you implement the random presentations for extra credit. I think that would be great.

  4. Jake Shreckhise says:

    I think the brief lecture/summary would be a great way to engage students! Rather than just memorizing facts, standing up and giving a synopsis of the previous lecture forces students to link ideas and make sense of the lecture material. Furthermore, the act of teaching is a great learning strategy. Great idea! You could also require one other student to ask the presenter a question on the subject matter.

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