“No-one’s spoken for a really long time, how can I get a discussion going?”
“I think this person has a great idea, but doesn’t seem very confident in it – I wonder how I can help?”
“I really disagree with what that person said, but I don’t want to sound rude…maybe I just shouldn’t say anything…”
Sometimes you know what you want to do in a seminar, but you’re just not sure how to do it. It’s easy to spend so much time wondering how to contribute that you miss your opportunity to do so altogether. Or you might find yourself so worried about doing the wrong thing that you end up not doing anything at all!
Although there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ way to participate in seminars, there are some approaches that you may find more effective than others. You’ll likely find that throughout your time at university you’ll gradually develop your own approaches to seminar participation that work for you. But it can also be useful to have a couple of strategies to fall back on when you’re not sure what to do or if you’re still new to seminar participation.
The key thing to remember is that, although you might find yourself gravitating towards a particular ‘role’ or set of strategies, you’re not limited to these. In a previous post we thought about Speculating, Enabling and Challenging, and we should keep in mind that these are just behaviours not types of people. So feel free to try out different roles and approaches depending on what you need from the seminar and how comfortable you’re feeling on the day.
If you want to find out more, you can follow this link to hear Academic Skills Tutor Nicky build on the Speculating, Enabling and Challenging framework we looked at last time and provide some strategies for how you can effectively enact these behaviours.
You can also book a 1-1 appointment with the Academic Skills Team if you’d like some more tailored guidance on seminar participation or other academic skills.
And stay tuned for more videos on seminar participation. Next up we’ll be looking at some strategies for dealing with unhelpful seminar participation.