In our first post, we discussed that the first step in building relationships with your professors was to actually go to class. It seems like a no-brainer, but it will help you in the long run in paving the way to a relationship with your professor. Today, we will discuss the next that you need to take.
2. Actively participate in class
Last time we mentioned that when you are in class, you should be attentive to what your professor is saying. This does not mean that the class has to be your absolute favorite, but it does mean that you have to show a sincere interest in grasping the information being given by your professor. More likely than not (especially if you are in a smaller class), your professor has listed on your syllabus that class participation is part of your grade. However, we must define what participation is. Let us start off with what it is not.
Participation is not simply showing up to class and taking up space on a seat. It is good to be silent while your professor is speaking and be attentive to what is being presented. However, most professors do not like to hear themselves speak for an hour and fifteen minutes, two hours, etc. It is likely that part of your class time will be devoted to discussion. Discussion usually centers around readings you have been assigned for that day or questions that your professor poses to the class. When that time comes, make sure you are prepared to contribute to the discussion with thoughtful ideas. This does not mean you have to come up with the grandest, most unique idea ever. However, it means that you have to show your professor that you have done your readings and have carefully thought about the author’s implications and arguments. For most discussions, there will be no right and wrong answer.
What the professor is most looking for in class discussions is that you demonstrate that you are putting effort into understanding readings you have been assigned. If you are put into groups to discuss, try to encourage your group members to put in as much effort as they can. In some discussions, you will be graded not according to whether you got the right answer or not, but whether you actually tried to solve a problem with your group members.
To be continued…