How can I address dominant speech behavior?
Perhaps you recognize this situation as well:
During discussions, when you ask questions, and when handing out assignments, the same students always speak up. Some of them speak at great length whenever they contribute or even interrupt others. Often, ideas that other students expressed previously are ignored or paraphrased. People who are more reserved fade into the background, which can have an effect on lecturers’ impression of them and therefore the grades they assign them.
Dominant behavior in learning environments can have various causes: People who behave dominantly might perceive themselves as competing with their classmates and try to win you over by gaining the rhetorical upper hand over the others. Perhaps they want special recognition and validation for their comments. Perhaps they are used to giving lengthier contributions in other contexts, or are used to taking, or receiving, more space. Perhaps they do not notice that other students would like to speak or have already contributed to solving the problem.
To resolve everyone’s unclear expectations at the beginning of the course, it is helpful to openly discuss students’ learning expectations and set your own expectations of students’ performance as the lecturer. If you make it clear that it is important to you as a lecturer for everyone to have a chance to speak and for talking time to be divided fairly, this can help balance contributions. Talking queue:
Talking queues are a tool for structuring a discussion during frontal teaching or group discussions and for reordering the students’ comments. In this system, the lecturer writes down the name of every person who raises their hand. Contributions do not necessarily have to follow the order in which people have put their hands up. The order can be determined based on other criteria that you have explained transparently in advance. With “first-time queues,” for instance, you can give priority to the first comments from people who have not spoken yet and then call on students who are speaking for the second or third time. Another option is to use queues with quotas, in which specific diversity categories are considered in a specific ratio (such as 50:50) when deciding who to call on next. This is a form of affirmative action. A queue should always be announced and explained. Keeping a queue gives you an opportunity to talk about unequal speaking time. It is helpful if everyone knows that this is not about giving certain people preference, but about compensating for an existing imbalance in participation. Group discussions and whisper sessions are also active measures for equalizing talking time.