I have been assigned to a section of student where I am teaching probabilistic models. From the starting day itself, I feel something strange is happening in the class. For example:
I like to have two-way communication inside the class. i.e. I prefer to have some sort of active discussions. However, the students do not respond at all.
Given the above point, I initially thought that it was my fault that they are not finding my teaching interesting. But, I sat with them in other courses which they are taking. It is the same. It sounds strange, but, it is.
I can't say they are lazy (c.f. How to deal with lazy students?) because they are doing something else in class. Some are busy coding, some are reading research articles, some are doing something else. Out of 40 students, only ~5 students are interacting.
I can't throw them out of the class, as it is against the university rules.
Due to the above reasons, I (and a few other faculty members) do not feel interested in teaching these students.
How can we improve the class environment, given the passiveness of these students?