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College of Undergraduate Education

Large Class Initiative for Improving Undergraduate Instruction

Large entry-level classes are a critical part of teaching and learning at UW. They enroll a major share of the student population and the faculty members who teach them account for a disproportionate share of all undergraduate enrollments. In the 1998-1999 academic year, almost all freshmen took at least one class with more than 100 students. The 50 UW faculty members who taught the largest undergraduate courses enrolled a total of 27,345 students. By focusing resources and support on these few courses and faculty, we can significantly improve the quality of educational experience for many students.

Building upon other successful UW teaching programs (the Faculty Fellows program, the Provost's Annual Teaching Workshops, and the new Institute for Teaching Excellence), the Office of Undergraduate Education and the UW Teaching Academy (with the Provost's support from the UIF) recently developed and sponsored the first annual 3-day residential workshop dedicated to large class instruction. Held April 7-9, 2000 at the UW's conference center at Pack Forest, the workshop included some of the UW's most distinguished instructors of large classes. Sessions focus on dos and don'ts in teaching large classes along with hands-on work on course organization, use of technology in teaching, and strategies for incorporating undergraduate research and service learning into large classes. The program can be accessed by visiting this link: Collegium.

The UW Teaching Academy is also sponsoring a faculty organization for instructors of large classes. The purpose of the organization, named UW Collegium, is establishing a community of faculty around the issues of large class instruction. The organization is mobilizing and support these faculty members in improving their teaching. It will meet routinely (once each quarter) to coordinate and develop the curriculum for the large class teaching workshop, to discuss concerns of teaching and learning at UW, and to develop new approaches to peer review of faculty teaching in large classes (across disciplines).

Contacts: Fred Campbell
Dean, College of Undergraduate Education

George Bridges
Associate Dean, College of Undergraduate Education

Allocation: $33,640
Date Funded: December 1999