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Seminar Participation and Discussions

Why participate?

  • To understand a topic more fully.
  • Learn ideas and perspectives different from your own.
  • Provides an opportunity to ask questions and clarify difficult concepts.

Tips for preparing for class

  • Check your syllabus for the weekly topic and assigned readings.
  • Note points that you agree or disagree with. Be sure to use specific examples and provide evidence.
  • Note ideas, points or concepts that you do not understand.
  • Formulate questions to bring with you to class.

During class

  • If you are reluctant to speak. get involved in the discussion early.;
  • Jump into the discussion:
    • When someone asks a question you can answer.
    • You have a comment to make on what someone has said.
    • Give further information to clarify a topic.
    • Ask a question.
  • During the discussion, jot down additional ideas and comments as you think of them.
  • Make your comments brief and to the point.

Etiquette for discussions

  • Demonstrate respectable behaviour
    • Some topics may raise personal issues or experiences. Remember to keep these comments confidential.
    • Direct your comments to the group rather than getting involved in a disagreement or argument with an individual class member.
    • Watch your tone, body posture and activities while others are talking. Avoid whispering, eye rolling or doing other work.
    • Do not interrupt. Be sure the individual has finished speaking before making a comment.
    • You can challenge opposing points of view, but do so in a respectful manner.
  • Practice good listening.
    • Compliment class members who have made good points.
    • Ask clarification questions if you do not understand an individual's point.
    • Maintain focus on the discussion and think about relevance before adding additional comments.
  • Monitor your participation:
    • Are you speaking too much?
    • Are you reacting quickly? Jumping in with your ideas immediately?
    • Give other class members a chance to participate. Some students will need more time to reflect on the points being presented.

Resources to help with presentations

Guide: Present like a ProVideo: Present Like A ProHandout: Presentation Planning 101

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