There are so many articles and studies about how teachers can use improv in the classroom to help their students, but there aren’t many discussions on how students can use improv training to help further their own education. Improv can be used in everyday class life ranging from elementary school, all the way up to university. There are many types of class activities and projects that appear frequently throughout all levels of schooling that knowing improv skills can assist with.

The first area in which improv skills can help is group discussions. The most in-depth group discussions I personally have had as a student were in my English and history courses in high school, but they also have occurred both in middle school and in university. What generally happens in a group discussion is that a group of students (sometimes the whole class, sometimes only parts of the class) who have all read/seen the same put their heads together and discuss their thoughts on their shared experience. The goal of the exercise is to have a meaningful conversation in which everybody can take away something new and/or valuable that they have learned from it. Someone who has studied improv will be adept in working as a team to create meaningful scenes onstage, and this can easily transfer over into a relevant conversation with a team of other students.

The second area that improv can help with is class debates. Of course, you can’t just rely on improv to help you win a debate. In order to have a successful debate, you need to be very knowledgeable about your topic. However, the opposition can and likely will throw curveballs at you and bring up a subject/ask you a question that you were not prepared for. When this inevitably happens, you need to be able to quickly rack your brain for the information that will help you counter the opposing argument. Knowing improv can help you with this quick thinking and creative problem-solving. Also, if you’re assigned to debate something you don’t necessarily believe is true, improv skills will help you be able to see things from a different perspective, just as if you were playing a character that was nothing like you.

Another area that can be aided by improv knowledge is presentations. In improv, you are encouraged to put yourself out there, step out of your comfort zone, and be confident. These are all things you should probably know how to do if you’re going to be giving a presentation in class. Many people are afraid of public speaking, and that’s totally okay! However, teachers and professors can sometimes be not as understanding of this fear. If you want that good grade, you might just have to grit your teeth and attempt to temporarily get over your fear. Just pretend you’re in improv class and put yourself out there, because it’s your presentation and you are the star.

Finally, improv can greatly assist in group projects. Sure, most group projects have an evaluation at the end in which you individually assess your teammates, but what really matters in group projects is the work of the group as a whole. In improv, one of the key lessons is “making your partner look good.” This concept is imperative in group presentations because you’re not just trying to make yourself succeed, you’re supporting other people’s success as well. They say that a team is only as strong as its weakest player, so it’s important to help out every member of your group and, as in improv, “make your partner(s) look good.”