International Journal of Educational Enquiry and Reflection, V 4-I (2019) 1
Role of Teachers in Students’ Classroom Participation in Universities
Fakhra Aziz*, Asma Shahid Kazi**
Study courses in universities require frequent discussions and collaborative activities. This is
also the demand of lecture courses at times. If the whole class is not involved, and just a few
students participate by volunteering answers, asking questions, or contributing to discussions,
class sessions sometimes become a lost opportunity to enhance effective learning. Increasing
participation does not mean making every student contribute in the class, instead it is to provide
students opportunities to learn in a conducive environment and explore knowledge and concepts
from their own perspectives. Students’ participation varies due to differences in learning
preferences and their personalities. It is therefore the role of the teacher to develop a supporting
environment for such students to contribute. The present study aims to assess the role of
teachers in enhancement of students’ classroom participation in universities. Sequential
exploratory design was applied in Mix-method paradigm due to the several dimensions,
manifestations and ramifications of the problem. Multistage sampling technique was used. At
initial stage, Lahore College for Women University was purposively selected. Then from 37
departments, 4 departments were randomly selected namely Department of Education,
Professional Studies, English and History. Two teachers from each department were again
randomly selected. An interview protocol for teachers and a teacher’s role in students’
participation questionnaire for students of the selected teachers were developed to assess the
role of teachers. Participation questionnaire was pilot tested. Data analysis was carried out by
deriving themes and then interpreted. Teachers thought student classroom participation can be
observed by their communication and commitment. Further they perceived their own strong
role in classroom participation and reported its various dimensions like pedagogy, providing a
healthy and friendly environment in the class, developing good rapport with students,
encouraging to speak, enjoying jokes to reduce anxiety etc. for fostering students’ participation.
Students perceived teacher traits, behavior and skills as factors which encourage them to
participate actively. Both teachers and students recognized the effective role of teachers in
students’ classroom participation. Data collected from both was in line to each other. It was
inferred that a skilled teacher employs the best method or style that stimulates students to be
responsive, not bored and idle in the classroom. The present research is expected to contribute
in existing literature of teachers’ domain. Teachers’ role would be clearly identified in students’
effective learning through their participation in the classroom.
Key words: Classroom participation, reflective learner, teacher’s role, Mix method multiphase
This article can be cited as:
Aziz, F. & Kazi, A. (2019). Role of Teachers in Students’ Classroom Participation in Universities,
International Journal of Educational Enquiry and Reflection, 4(1), 46-57.
* Fakhra Aziz, Assistant Professor, Department of Research & Evaluation, IOE, Lahore College for
Women University, Lahore firstname.lastname@example.org
2 International Journal of Educational Enquiry and Reflection, V 4,I (2019)
** Asma Shahid Kazi, Assistant Professor, Department of Professional Studies, IOE, Lahore
College for Women University, Lahore email@example.com
Traditional teachers’ role is to facilitate students in applying knowledge through classroom
instruction and presentations. Their role is also to prepare lessons, mark papers, manage the
discipline in classroom, meet with parents, and work in collaboration with colleagues and other
school staff. Added to that, teachers are expected to do many other roles in the classroom.
Teachers build a healthy and active environment, act as a counsellor and support students,
become role models, and handle conflicts. Their role takes an innovative turn in mixedability
classrooms where differentiated instruction prompts teaching and learning.
Role of teachers who work with differentiated classrooms is possibly different from traditional
classroom teacher in some significant ways. Differentiating instruction mean, teachers see
themselves as organizers of learning opportunities instead of just informant. Subject matter is
also important, as these teachers do not want to propagate and convey their own views, instead
focus more on contributions by their students. They struggle for both taking students’ attention
and lead to understanding. They indulge in organizing an effective teaching and learning
activity based on exploration.
However the most important role of teacher is to promote affective learning. For student’s
effective learning, their academic motivation, interest, attitude and behavior in the class are the
factors which have been studied and correlated. Students’ academic motivation, interest and
attitude shape their behavior. In the present study, student classroom participation is considered
as a behavior which promotes effective learning. The study aims to identify the role of teachers
in fostering students’ classroom participation.
Liu (2001) elaborated four types of student behaviors in the classroom as full integration,
participation in the circumstances, marginal interaction, and silent observation. Later Handel
man, Briggs, Sullivan & Towler (2005) enlisted four factors of students’ engagement: skills,
contribution/collaboration, emotional and performance. Participation is not restricted to oral
only it may be written. Often it is considered as discussion with the teacher or class fellows.
But it also means exchanging pieces of writing in the form of assignments, lecture notes, etc.
In a mix ability classroom, fully engaged and involved students actively participate in the class
discussion and understand what they have to contribute and what have not. Abidin (2007)
further added their participation in class is usually unprompted and occurs naturally. In fringe
interaction, students contribute verbally less and act more as listeners. These students contrary
to those who actively participate, prefer to listen and take notes, than contribute in the class
discussion. In almost every classroom, there are silent observers too who avoid oral
participation and receive materials delivered in the classroom by taking notes using various
strategies such as tape-recording or writing. Many factors has been reported which influence
students classroom participation, interaction with teacher and communication with other
students like socio-cultural, cognitive, affective, linguistic, or the environment.
Teachers’ behavior, traits and skills are the most important factors that affect the students to
participate actively in the classroom. Research conducted in the area reports that teachers’ traits
such as supportive, understanding, approachable, friendliness through positive nonverbal
behavior; giving smiles and nodding for acknowledging students answers (Siti Maziha, Nik
Suryani & Melor, 2010); affirmative and open-mindedness (Dallimore, Hertenstein & Platt,
2004; Fassinger, 1995; 2000) act as motivators for students and foster their active participation
in the classroom. Siti, Suryani & Melor (2010) examined the influential factors for
undergraduate students’ participation in Malaysia and reported that the teachers’ traits play
an important role in motivating students to participate in class discussions. Apart from the
positive teachers’ qualities, their skills may also affect the classroom environment.
Nurzatulshima, Lilia, Kamisah & Subahan (2009) conducted a research study on three
experienced science teachers through observing their classroom, doing interview with students
and analyzing students’ documents for the purpose to explore the way teachers engage their
students. They found student participation to be high when the teacher assigned collaborative
work, kept moving and checking the students’ performance during practical session, provided
productive rewards and extended friendly cooperation. The diversity in instructional strategies
motivates students to be more active and prompt their participation.
Review of related literature suggests that focus of the studies on classroom participation have
been on elementary and secondary level and higher education level has been ignored. Fassinger
(1995) also opined that already conducted research in the area is dominated by studies of
children and less focus on adults .The present research proposes to report the perceptions of
teachers and students about the role of teachers in fostering students’ classroom participation
at higher education level. This study is necessary to identify the role of teachers in students’
classroom participation at this level due to changing meaning of students’ participation. When
pedagogy transform into andragogy, students’ behavior and teachers’ role also change.
Based on the assumption that students classroom participation leads to their effective learning,
the present study was planned to explore the teachers’ role in fostering students’ classroom
participation in universities.
• How teachers perceive students’ classroom participation?
• How teachers perceive their role in students’ classroom participation?
• How students perceive teacher’s role in their classroom participation?
• Are teachers perspectives and students’ perspectives same about teachers’ role in students
Sequential exploratory design was applied in Mix-method paradigm due to the several
dimensions, manifestations and ramifications of the problem. Multistage sampling technique
was used. At initial stage, Lahore College for Women University was purposively selected.
Then departments were randomly selected. From 37 departments, 4 departments were selected
namely as Department of Education, Professional development, English and History. Two
teachers from each department were again randomly selected. An interview protocol for
teachers and a participation questionnaire for students of each of the teachers were developed
to assess the role of teachers. Participation questionnaire was pilot tested. For pilot testing,
questionnaire was distributed among BS students of final year in Education Department. Its
reliability was found to be 0.89 and experts in the area opined that it is a valid instrument.
Data was collected throughout the autumn semester. Data analysis was carried out by deriving
themes from interview protocol and then interpreted them. Students’ perceptions were analyzed
by simple descriptive statistics. Interpretations were discussed by combining perceptions of
Teachers’ perceptions about students’ classroom participation
To explore the particular way teachers viewed students’ classroom participation, they were
asked about how they define students ‘classroom participation. The definitions and
explanations given by the teachers focused on two factors e.g. communication and student’s
Seven out of eight participants mentioned that they perceived students’ classroom participation
as students raising hands and asking questions to the teacher and the other way around.
For example: “To me, of course, Students classroom participation mean when they raise hands
and answer questions voluntarily”. (Respondent1).
“When students ask and answer questions they do participate.” (Respondent 5)
Four of the participants opined that participation is sharing ideas, opinions, experiences and
stories in the class with the teacher and other students. Like “Students participate by sharing
ideas, opinions and their experiences’’ (Respondent 3)
“Sharing knowledge and presenting own understanding are also participation.” (Respondent 3),
“Some students also participate by relating examples from outside school with textbook
content” (Respondent 8)
“I think it is a learning skill …not just show students own understanding but facilitate other
students to learn and to support teacher’s pedagogy.” (Respondent 8).
Just one participant considered telling jokes in the class is a way to participate. She said: “By
Sharing and enjoying jokes, student feel more comfortable and they recorded their own
presence in the class.”(Respondent 6). She further stated “telling jokes is a way to participate.
I appreciate it as it reduces stress.’’
Respondent 4 talked about Interaction with teacher and other students in class is participation.
She said “interaction may be in the form of discussion and various activities like students
listening, eye contact and taking notes.” Her opinion was supported by 83% students when they
were asked about classroom participation. Majority of them rated interaction with teacher and
other students as classroom participation.
Respondent 7 pointed out non-verbal participation which may be in various form “No doubt,
clapping, nodding head in response to teacher etc. all are comes in classroom
“…… at least they show their concentration.”(Respondent 7)
2. Students Commitment
Four out of eight teachers indicated students’ physical and mental state. This means that to
them, students need to attend class and be involved in the activities happening in class.
“….. their commitment can be seen in their attendance and being mentally present.”
Respondent 1 opined that students’ commitment could be indicated by their attending class and
being present mentally.
Respondent 8 said “For me, when students are fully committed they participate actively …….
their concentration, processing of knowledge, discussion and presentations show their
Respondent 5 said “When they get involved in class activities, they participate.”
Respondent 2 said “to complete task in the class is an indicator of their commitment.
From the above responses it can be concluded that teachers perceive students participation as
their involvement in class activities. Further this involvement may be in the form of their
interaction with teacher and fellows (Communication) and their commitment.
Concluding, teachers thought student classroom participation can be observed by their
communication and commitment.
Teachers’ perceptions about their role in students’ classroom participation
Respondent 1 reported her efforts to enhance students’ classroom participation.
“I try to encourage students to ask. But there are few students who have their own problems
……… they don’t participate at all|”
Respondent 2 said “ I like to listen them… if teacher want to engage his/her whole class, He/
She should have an extraordinary skill of listening…..listening right and wrong …… teacher
should be hyper and should not tag any one.”
Respondent 3 told “My classroom environment is always friendly.” She further added “We
discuss things, do activities, and share experiences. Teachers’ facilitation certainly make
students to participate”
Respondent 4 focused on pedagogy. “I often give students assignments and take their
presentations. ….. I think in this way teacher can foster their participation.
Respondent 5 stressed on development of a good positive rapport between teacher and students.
“Good relationship with students encourage them to participate ………it is a sort of trust in
teacher that they try to express themselves”
Respondent 6 said “in my class, there is few shy students I often ask them about topic and
facilitate them to present them before class…………when they don’t response I become upset.
…….other students also drop from track due to their behavior”
Respondent 7 opined “although it is time consuming but to spent time on students to actively
participate in the class has result in effective learning. Teacher’s personal characteristics can
also influence students’ classroom participation.” She further elaborated “Personal
characteristics mean teachers behavior, sound, ……….. Values, mentality……..”
Respondent 8 commented that teachers main role in the class is to convey knowledge. It can be
actively done by engaging students in the activities. In universities you cannot move forward
without students’ participation. It depends on teacher how he/she inspire them and take them
It can be concluded that teachers perceived their strong role in students’ classroom participation.
They reported various dimensions of their role they played in the class for fostering students’
participation. They changed their pedagogy, provide a healthy and friendly environment in the
class, developing good rapport with students, encouraging to speak, enjoying jokes to reduce
Students’ perceptions about teacher’s role in their classroom participation
Teachers’ role in students’ classroom participation questionnaire was administered. There were
total students 645. Response rate was 79%. Students were asked to indicate which role of
teachers is more effective for their active classroom participation. Results showed the response
as facilitator, supporter, and guide. 82% students rated supportive role of teacher as most
89% students rated to develop rapport between student and teacher is influential factor which
enhance students classroom participation. 73% students opined that friendly environment
created by teacher in classroom promote their participation. 81% agreed that when teachers
encourage them to present and appreciate their effort, they like to do participate.” 55% agreed
that a smile on teachers face give them courage to speak freely. 70% students said giving
positive rewards encourage them to do more effort. 73% students thought that friendly
cooperation by teacher enable them to participate in the class.
91% students agreed that teachers play a major factor in their classrooms participation.
80% students felt that teaching style employed was important motivating factor to stimulate
their engagements in the classroom.
When students were asked to rate their favorite teachers ’trait. They had to rate friendly, know
each student well, do not criticize the students, always show a good mood, and approachable.
The highest rated teachers ’trait was approachable and least rated was do not criticize the
In short, students perceived teacher traits, behavior and skills were factors which encourage
them to participate actively.
To sum up, the role of teachers perceived by teachers themselves and students in fostering their
classroom participation is as
Summary: Teachers’ role in students’ classroom participation
Teachers’ perceived role
Students’ Perceived role
Both said teacher acts as a supporter to
enhance classroom participation
Provides opportunities to contribute in
Direct students in right direction
Give students positive feedback, etc
There was consensus on teachers role as
informant in classroom participation
To listen students and provide advice
develop a good rapport between them
Both agreed that as a friend teacher can
promote students participation
Teachers said teachers’ leading behavior
can enhance or diminish students
By strict control, teachers can put a stop
on students’ participation
Teacher nurture initiative in students
and encourage them to participate
In conclusion both teachers and students admitted the effective role of teachers in students’
classroom participation. Data collected from both was in line to each other. Both teachers and
students stressed on the rapport for enhancing classroom participation. Frisby, Brandi N,
Martin, and Matthew M (2010) also opined the same that perceived rapport with teacher and
class fellows is allied to perceptions of classroom connectedness. They further said teacher
rapport, student rapport, and classroom connectedness collectively enhanced student
participation and teacher rapport was considered as a predictor of participation, affective
learning, and cognitive learning.
Further on the basis of students and teachers perceptions, the present study concluded that
teachers can foster classroom participation by engaging student in discussions. Contrary to this,
Larkin and Pines (2003) argued that the attempt to include students in the classroom discussion
can sometimes have undesired effects, leading to what they term avoidance behavior. They do,
however, offer several methods to elicit student interaction while countering the fear of being
embarrassed, receiving social disapproval, and doing poorly in public that is sometimes
prevalent in college-aged students, particularly those of the female persuasion.
It strongly endorsed that a skilled teacher employs the best method or style that stimulates
students to be responsive, not bored and idle in the classroom.
Teachers can improve student participation by devoting time and thought to shaping the
environment and planning each class session. Furthermore, the way in which teachers interact,
both verbally and non-verbally, communicates to students their attitude about participation. The
goal of increasing participation is not to have every student participate in the same way or at
the same rate. Instead, it is to create an environment in which all participants have the
opportunity to learn and in which the class explores issues and ideas in depth, from a variety of
viewpoints. Some students will raise their voices more than others; this variation is a result of
differences in learning preferences as well as differences in personalities.
The instructor’s goal is to create conditions that enable students of various learning preferences
and personalities to contribute. To reach this goal, teacher will need to take extra steps to
encourage quiet students to speak up and, occasionally, ask the more verbose students to hold
back from commenting in order to give others a chance.
Teacher should reduce students’ anxieties by creating an atmosphere in which they feel
comfortable “thinking out-loud,” taking intellectual risks, asking questions, and admitting when
they do not know something; one of the best ways to do this is to model these behaviors
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