Dear Dr. Kirk:
I teach a Masters level class at X University with 23 students. I cannot get them to speak, answer questions, or participate in any way. What can I do to engage them?
Dear Professor of Quiet Students:
As a former manager and someone who teaches management, I can tell you that you get what you reward. Are you rewarding for participation? You could build in points for this in the course or even give extra credit points. First of all, be sure to tell them your expectations that they will speak up in class. Perhaps explain WHY you want them to talk (because will have to in their careers? So that you can see if they understand the material? So they can learn from each other?) Also make it easy for them to begin. Put the students into small groups (3-4) and assign them a task where they have to write down answers. Then tell them to pick a spokesperson to report back to the class. You will need to build a “new culture” for your classroom where students talk. (another hint: don’t ask IF they have questions, ask WHAT questions they have). Good luck. Let me know how it works out.