Insightful or annoying: A guide to commenting in section

Amir Moghtaderi/File

Every section has one – that person whose comments lead to a collective groan and side glances that read: “I hate when this person speaks.” But participating in section is important to facilitate discussions, and it often accounts for part of your final grade. So how can you know if your comments are insightful or annoying? Here’s a guide to help you figure that out.

Does your comment exceed two minutes?

If it does, it’s probably too long. At this point, it’s more of a short speech that you’re forcing upon an audience that mostly just wants to hear what your GSI has to say. Drawn-out comments are a surefire way to draw dirty looks from your classmates.

Do you include a quote?

It can often be useful to cite readings from the class to give examples or help make a point. However, when you start using prepared quotes from outside the class’s literature, it’s likely your classmates will find it obnoxious.

Do you try to insert humor?

While humor can help enliven a dull classroom setting, remember that your classmates only laugh at your GSI’s jokes because they want to be liked by that GSI. That means unless your joke is a real gangbuster, expect it to fall flat.

Are you recounting a dream?

People rarely care about your dreams, and section is no different. Unless you’re taking Psychology of Sleep, even if your dream somehow relates to the topic of discussion, it’s best to keep it to yourself.

Are you a political science major in a section for a different major?

It’s quite likely your comments are more annoying than insightful.

No one wants to be “that person” during a group discussion. Follow these guidelines and your comments will be a welcome addition to any classroom dialogue.

Contact Ryan Melvin at [email protected].