Almost two years into the pandemic, most of us are experts at being in a Zoom presentation. However, if you’re like me, maybe you still get caught off guard when you’re suddenly asked to participate. (What! I’m not ready to participate – I’m refilling my coffee!) Our students can similarly be caught off guard when they’re asked to participate – both in our online and face-to-face classes. Make it easy for them by providing a consistent visual cue.
For example, if you are using a PowerPoint, have instructions for how to participate throughout the class in the same color boxes. (See the example of instructions in a blue box.) At the start of your first few classes, explain to your students that when they see this box, they are being asked to participate. This is helpful because it sets expectations for students. They learn that when they see this box, they’re being asked to do something.
This can also be a helpful prompt for us as instructors. When you’re preparing for class, flip through your PowerPoint. Is there too much time without a colorful instruction box? That’s also a cue to you as the instructor that you might want to work in some more interactive moments.
I learned about this tip from the presentation “Bringing an Inclusive Mindset to your Teaching” by Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) put on by the Center for Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). Learn more about CIRTL@IUB and their upcoming events.