Teaching large classes I am choosing to write about teaching


I am choosing to write about teaching to a large class as my present class assignments are 66 in one class and 67 in another. Resources include 'Personalizing the Large Class' by Gleason, M. -- "Better communication in large courses." College Teaching, 1986, by Herr, K.-- 'Improving teaching and learning in large classes: A practical manual'. Fort Collins, CO: Office of Instructional Services, Colorado State University,1985. Large Classes: A Teaching Guide: Personalizing the Large Class

In any class, but especially in large classes, it is important to establish an atmosphere which conveys the professor´s interest in and accessibility to students and which encourages students to participate.

Make a Large Class Feel Small

Many instructors try to "make a large class small" by treating it as such. Methods include walking around the classroom while lecturing, moving toward the student asking a question, and developing other methods that allow you to be closer to the students you are teaching.

Encourage Questions

Most of us are reluctant to ask questions or make comments in front of dozens of our peers. When students do ask questions in large classes, it is important that the instructor respond in ways that encourage more questions. Students will not feel comfortable raising questions if they feel scorned, humiliated or embarrassed by a sarcastic response. Responses such as "I´m glad you asked that" or "That´s a good question" will encourage students to continue asking questions. Nonverbal responses such as smiling or nodding can also indicate your support of student questions. When asking students questions, it is important to allow enough time--at least five to ten seconds--for them to consider their response.

Be Available

A shortcoming of large classes is the high student-instructor ratio. Being available to students both before and after class can combat this problem. Before class, you might walk around the room and ask students how things are going. After class, you can be available to answer questions. In addition, indicate that you take office hours seriously by informing students when you will and won´t be in your office. Some instructors have taken advantage of electronic mail and have had students send questions or concerns in this form.

Try to Learn Student Names

Although it may seem daunting, it is important to attempt to learn your students´ names. Methods facilitating this attempt include using a seating chart of, taking pictures of the students, or having them make name cards that they place in front of them during class. Taking attendance can help you learn their names and shows students that you are interested in doing so.

Relate Lectures and Discussions to Student Experiences

Some instructors integrate into the lecture information that they have gathered about students from information cards or questionnaires.

Pay Attention to Individual Students

One of the ways in which a large class differs from a small class is in the increased number of students who need attention from an instructor. This problem can be combated by keeping an eye on students´ progress by reviewing their attendance and their performance on exams and homework

Consider Your Self-Presentation

Personalizing a course also involves presenting yourself to students as a person rather than just a reader of lectures and a vessel of knowledge. While it is not appropriate to reveal intimate personal details, including information about yourself in your lectures can help personalize the learning environment Humor and showing that you can laugh at yourself can help establish rapport with students.

Give Personalized Feedback

It is difficult in a class of hundred(s) to provide every student with individualized feedback. One way to provide such feedback to each student at some time in the semester is to comment on a different group of exams or papers each time. That way, while not every student gets personalized feedback very time, they get individualized commentary from the professor at least once during the semester.