Council for Learning Disabilities: 5 Ways to Increase Student Participation in the Classroom


I was reading the Council for Learning Disabilities quarterly forum and found an excellent article called “5 ways to increase student participation in the secondary classroom”. While this focuses on younger students, several of these techniques can be practiced in the adult education classroom. Here are a few excerpts and ideas from the article!

Given the link between high levels of participation and academic progress, educators must provide multiple means for all students to actively participate in class. These five tips can be used to foster student participation in classrooms.

1. Carefully plan lessons

Students with LD benefit from direct and systematic instruction (Jitendra, Edwards, Sacks, & Jacobson, 2004), which requires teachers to place greater emphasis on the modeling and guided practice portions of the lesson. Furthermore, research has indicated a positive correlation between high levels of correct responding throughout the lesson phases and increased achievement.

2. Embrace technology

Technology provides an outlet to foster active participation, ensuring that each student has the opportunity to participate. Some options include the use of (a) response tools, (b) virtual learning environments, and (c) social media outlets.

3. Develop self-efficacy through choice and differentiation

Students with LD have reported lower academic self-efficacy than their nondisabled peers (Lackaye, Margalit, Ziv, & Ziman, 2006). Students with low self-efficacy may view their own deficits in performance as an indication of their lack of intelligence (Ramdass & Zimmerman, 2008). Students’ beliefs about their capabilities affect their investment in, and persistence regarding, schoolwork (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003). For some adolescents with LD, poor performance on academic tasks may be less about skills and more about the ability to manage their own learning (Klassen, 2010). To boost self-efficacy, teachers can use differentiated questioning throughout lessons to fully engage students at every academic level within the classroom (Friend & Bursuck, 2008).

4. Facilitate cooperative learning groups

Cooperative learning assigns students to small groups for collaboration to complete group activities. Create cooperative groups to include students of mixed abilities who have a common goal. During the planning stages, purposefully and explicitly teach students procedures for cooperative grouping to achieve success. Assign each student a responsibility within the cooperative group, such as recorder, reader, accuracy coach, summarizer, or leader.

The key to selecting content for cooperative learning is to include curricular material that has already been introduced to students but requires additional knowledge and practice to meet objectives, rather than requiring initial mastery through groupings (Friend & Bursuck, 2008).

5. Implement self-monitoring procedures

Self-monitoring, an effective strategy that can increase student participation and/or assist teachers and students with monitoring responses, is a tool that shifts the responsibility from the teacher to the student (King-Sears, 2008). Teaching students to self-monitor is an on-going process that requires frequent feedback, evaluation from teachers, and possibly reevaluation of goals and progress. Teachers should work collaboratively with students who under- or over respond to set goals for a predetermined period of time or for a class block.

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