Center for Teaching and Learning
Leading Large Classes
Large classes (100+ students) should not be limited exclusively to lecture-based teaching. Many instructors in small classes have successful strategies for encouraging active participation, but it can be difficult to translate these strategies to a large class format. In a large class, however, participation can be designed to get students actively solving problems, interacting with one another and the instructor, and processing course material.
What do you do to prepare for a large class?
“1) I rehearse at home, 2) I use YouTube to demonstrate examples, 3) I use photographs, 4) pre-rehearsed “surprise” scenes that appear from nowhere, 5) pre-rehearsed readings from foundational texts, 6) divide the lecture into three acts: foundational knowledge, examples and illustrations, critical leaps, 7) always leave them on a high note. I tend to abruptly end lecture two minutes before the bell rings — better to end on a laugh!”
Samer Al-Saber, PhD candidate, Drama
CIDR Teaching and Learning Bulletins
A collection of short papers on pertinent teaching and learning topics with practical suggestions and resources. Search for a topic of interest HERE.
- Learning Communities
- Ignite!, UW-IT (5min talks featuring a variety of classroom tools)
- Large Class Collegium
- Narratives supporting Excellence in Teaching, Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching
- Active learning with PowerPoint, Center for Teaching and Learning Sciences, University of Minnesota
- Beating the Numbers Game: Effective Teaching in Large Classes, by Richard Felder, Department of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University
- Clicker Resources, Science Education Initiative, Faculty Teaching Excellence Program, University of Colorado-Boulder
- Engaging Students in Large Classes (7min video), Center for Research in Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan
- Promoting Learning and Engagement in Large Gateway Course (4min video), Center for Research in Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan
- Six Ways to Discourage Learning, by Douglas Duncan (American Astronomical Society Education Office) and Amy Singel Southon (Chicago Botanic Gardens)
- Teaching Large, Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Texas-Austin
- Teaching Large Classes, Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland
- Bligh, D. H. (2000). What’s the use of lectures? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Bridges, G. S., & Desmond, S. (Eds.). (2000). Teaching and learning in large classes. New York, NY: American Sociological Association.
- Freeman, S., O’Connor, E., Parks, J., Cunningham, M., Hurley, D., Haak, D., Dirks, C., & Wenderoth, MP. (2007). Prescribed active learning increases performance in introductory Biology. CBE Life Sciences Education 6.
- Hepner, F. (2007). Teaching the Large College Class San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Lehman, J., Richardson, J., Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2009). Impact of Asynchronous online discussions: A study of implementation in two large-enrollment blended courses. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
- MacGregor, J., Cooper, J. L., Smith, K. A., & Robinson, P. (Eds.). (2000). Strategies for energizing large classes: From small groups to learning communities. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 81.
- Stanley, C. A., & Porter, M. E. (2002). Engaging large classes: Strategies and techniques for college faculty. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.
- Walker, J., Cotner, S., Baepler, P., & Decker, M. (2008). A delicate balance: Integrating Active Learning into a Large Lecture Course. CBE Life Science Education, 7(4).