University of Vermont

Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching International and Multilingual Students

Promoting Participation

Many international students may be used to pedagogical and cultural frameworks where there is a different understanding of instructor-student interactions and course expectations (e.g. lecture-based classes and written tests as opposed to interactive classes and project-based assessments). Here are a few strategies that can help increase effective class participation by international students:

  • Include on the course syllabus a clear statement of expectations regarding attendance and participation (e.g., if participation is graded, include a list of the kinds of contributions included in this assessment).
  • Consider offering a variety of participation modes (in-class, written, online, etc.) to allow students multiple routes for taking an active role in class interactions.
  • Mix full-class discussion with opportunities for students to interact in smaller groups, perhaps with a rotating representative from each group reporting out at the end.
  • For students coming from different linguistic or cultural backgrounds, activities that provide a few moments to reflect and prepare (e.g., free-writes) can greatly support participation.
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