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The Shy Student's Guide to Class Participation

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If you feel more confident with the law when it’s just you and your textbook and you stutter when it comes to class participation, here are some key tips to keep in mind.

Keep ideas up your sleeve In your first tutorial, carefully observe how your tutor engages with the class. Do they usually ask for the facts of cases? Do they ask for the outcome? Do they expect you to commit the statutory provisions to memory? Let your tutor’s teaching style shape the kind of information you retain for the purposes of class participation. Keep at least three potential answers up your sleeve so you have something to fall back on.

Test ideas with friends Informally discuss the material with friends, either individually or in small groups. This gets you in the habit of articulating ideas aloud and boosts your confidence if you’re worried they won’t be well-received. Memorising a principle or provision is one thing, but conveying it to others clearly and concisely is a different ball game. Additionally, those discussions will solidify your knowledge for finals. Double win!

Ask questions It might seem like answering questions gets you the marks, but asking intelligent questions shows you’re engaging with the material. If you’re confused, chances are somebody else in the room is too.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll need to ask for clarification at some point anyway, so why not get an immediate response in class instead of waiting a week for an email reply?

Build rapport with your tutor If you don’t want to become the most talkative person in the class right away, consider asking your tutor questions directly after your session. Building rapport with your tutor might help you feel more at ease speaking in front of your peers. It also leaves your tutor with a positive impression of you that could subconsciously factor into their final decision, especially since class participation marking is highly subjective.

Remember… The quality of your engagement is more important than quantity, so don’t feel pressured to intercept at every opportunity. Class participation, and the preparation leading up to it, consolidates your learning and exposes gaps in your knowledge.

If you need to collaborate with others or lead team meetings in the workplace, you’ll be glad that you came out of your shell in law school tutorials.

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