A recitation is a presentation made by a student to demonstrate knowledge of a subject or to provide instruction to others. In some academic institutions the term is used for a presentation by a teaching assistant (TA) or instructor, under the guidance of a senior faculty member, that supplements course materials. In recitations that supplement lectures, the leader will often review the lecture, expand on the concepts, and carry on a discussion with the students.



In its most basic form, a student would recite verbatim poems or essays of others,[1] either to the teacher or tutor directly, or in front of a class or body of assembled students.

In classes involving mathematics and engineering, a recitation is often used as the vehicle to perform derivations or solve problems similar to those assigned to the students.

Scientific classes, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, often employ the use of recitation sections to help students clarify subject matter that was either not fully understood or adequately addressed in the limited time of lecture. These recitation sections may be conducted by the professor or a student teaching assistant. These sections provide students with an opportunity to receive additional instruction on confusing subject matter or receive personal assistance with problems or questions assigned as homework in the lecture section. Some universities may require attendance at regularly scheduled recitation sections in addition to any required labs. Recitations may also provide students with additional opportunities for receiving grades for the lecture portion of the course. Despite mandatory attendance and additional time spent in the classroom, these sections usually do not count towards university credits required for graduation, but may significantly increase a student's ability to understand important concepts required to pass the course.

Religious recitation

Recitations of holy texts are part of the cultural presentations of some religions.[2][3] As Denny notes there is a vast bibliography of Qur'an recitation in Arabic and other languages by Muslim scholars.[3] These religion recitations take the form of prayer,[4] liturgy, and public performance.[5]

Home recitations

In non-academic situations a recitation was often a form of parental boasting, performed in front of guests.[6]


  1. ^ Pierpont, John (1832) "Preface" The American first class book, or, Exercises in reading and recitation Carter, Hendee & Co., Boston, Massachusetts, pages 3-6 OCLC 12151137
  2. ^ Kuipers, Cornelius (1944) "Preface" Christian dialogs and recitations: dialogs, recitations, readings, pageants Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, page 1 and following, OCLC 9054621
  3. ^ a b Denny, Frederick Mathewson (1989) "Qur’ān Recitation: A Tradition of Oral Performance and Transmission" Oral Tradition 4(1/2): pp. 5-26, page 1
  4. ^ Weil, Simone (1942) "Spiritual Autobiography" as "Encounters with Christ" page 247 In McGinn, Bernard (2006) The essential writings of Christian mysticism Modern Library, New York, pp. 246-250, ISBN 0-8129-7421-2
  5. ^ Martin, Richard (2005) "Tilāwah" in Jones, Linsay (editor) (2005) Encyclopedia of Religion (2nd edition) Volume 13, page 9200, Macmillan Reference, Detroit, Michigan, ISBN 0-02-865982-1
  6. ^ Holman, Mary V. (1950) How it feels to be a teacher Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, page 85, OCLC 2580814


  • Jahandarie, Khosrow (1996) Spoken and Written Discourse: a multi-disciplinary perspective Ablex/Greenwood, Stamford, Connecticut, ISBN 1567504264
  • Warner, Charles Dudley (1899) "School or Entertainment Recitations" Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern J.A. Hill, New York, p. cdlxxx

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  • récitation — [ resitasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1530; « récit » XIVe; lat. recitatio 1 ♦ La récitation de : action, manière de réciter (qqch.). Récitation d une leçon. « la longue récitation de toutes les formules de respect qu il savait par cœur » (Stendhal). 2 ♦ Absolt …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • recitation — late 15c., from O.Fr. récitation (14c.) or directly from L. recitationem, noun of action from recitare (see RECITE (Cf. recite)). Meaning repetition of a prepared lesson is first recorded 1770, Amer.Eng …   Etymology dictionary

  • Recitation — Rec i*ta tion (r[e^]s [i^]*t[=a] sh[u^]n), n. [L. recitatio: cf. F. r[ e]citation. See {Recite}.] 1. The act of reciting; rehearsal; repetition of words or sentences. Hammond. [1913 Webster] 2. The delivery before an audience of something… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • recitation — index declamation, declaration, delineation, disclosure (act of disclosing), discourse, instruction (teaching), mention ( …   Law dictionary

  • recitation — [n] reading to audience address, appeal, declaiming, delivery, discourse, discoursing, discussion, exercise, holding forth, lecture, monologue, narrating, narration, oration, passage, performance, piece, playing, proclamation, recital, recounting …   New thesaurus

  • recitation — [res΄ə tā′shən] n. [L recitatio] 1. a reciting, as of facts, events, etc.; recital 2. a) a saying aloud in public of something memorized b) a piece of prose or verse memorized for this ☆ 3. a) a reciting by pupils of ans …   English World dictionary

  • recitation — [[t]re̱sɪte͟ɪʃ(ə)n[/t]] recitations 1) N VAR When someone does a recitation, they say aloud a piece of poetry or other writing that they have learned. The transmission began with a recitation from the Koran. 2) N COUNT: oft N of n A recitation of …   English dictionary

  • récitation — (ré si ta sion ; en vers, de cinq syllabes) s. f. Action de réciter. •   La récitation des leçons est ce qui demande le moins de temps, parce que c est où il y a le moins à profiter pour les écoliers, ROLLIN Traité des Ét. liv. VI, part. 2, 5.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • recitation — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. declamation, elocution; recital, lesson. See speech. II (Roget s IV) n. 1. [The act of reciting] Syn. delivery, speaking, playing, narrating, reading, recounting, declaiming, discoursing,… …   English dictionary for students

  • RÉCITATION — n. f. Action de réciter, de prononcer un texte qu’on sait par coeur, en prenant un ton moins élevé que celui de la déclamation, et plus élevé que le ton de la simple lecture. Il se dit aussi de l’Action de dire de mémoire un texte qu’on avait… …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 8eme edition (1935)

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