Tutorials as a way of enhancing active participation in university classes
Most students from educationally impoverished backgrounds enrol at institutions of higher learning underprepared for academic challenges. Some of the reasons for lack of preparedness are that teachers tend to
dominate classroom talk, leaving very little time for students to ask questions. As students always rely on the teacher’s instructions, they cannot solve problems independently nor participate freely in group discussions. This article explored the need for tertiary level students, studying through a medium (English) that is not their primary language,
to develop their ability to participate actively in tutorials so as to improve both understanding of their subject areas and spoken discourse competence in English. This problem was, however, dealt with indirectly, as the research concerns of the study were to investigate empirically ‘participation effectiveness’, the quantity of speaker discourse acts and turns, initiative at discourse act and turn-taking levels and the density of discontinuatives and causatives using an integrated analytical framework.
The hypothesis guiding the investigation predicted that third-years would
outperform the first-years in all features of participation effectiveness. The
overall findings indicated that third-year students participated more effectively than first-year students. It was then concluded that more exposure to the language of learning and teaching and acculturation through studying in English for over two years contributed to the third-years’ participation effectiveness than first-years.
Key words: participation effectiveness, initiative, functional-units, causatives, discontinuatives