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US Classroom Culture

Teaching styles and classroom atmosphere here are different.  Don’t be shy.  Speak in class as much as possible!  In some countries, it is best to sit quietly while the professor speaks.  This is not the style in the United States.  Here, students are expected to speak during class.

  • If you don’t understand part of the lecture, ask the professor to clarify.
  • If the professor asks the entire class a question and you know the answer, raise your hand and answer the question.
  • Don’t worry if you are not a native English speaker!  International students are quite common at Indiana University (10% of the campus population!) and American students are generally used to hearing fellow students speak with foreign accents.
  • If you are not comfortable asking questions during class, make sure to ask the professor your questions immediately after class or during the professor’s Office Hours*.

Participation in classroom discussions and asking follow-up questions are two keys to doing well in classes.  Another is making sure to attend all your classes regularly.

* Office Hours:
A time when the professor is in his/her office and available to answer students’ individual questions about lectures, assignments, or exams.  If you cannot attend a certain professor’s office hours because of a class conflict, ask the professor for an individual appointment time.