Teaching in large classrooms to 50, 75, even hundreds of students is becoming more and more common. This raises several questions about pedagogy and facilitation; perhaps the most urgent issue involves student engagement - how do I keep so many students engaged in the course and the material all at the same time?
One strategy is to include active learning in your facilitation of large classes. The following are some examples:
* Create small groups that will each work on a specific question or exercise in class. Select one group to present their conclusions to the class; give the class time to respond, challenge or debate the issue.
* Invite student groups to present on the assigned reading at the beginning of class (assign this well in advance). Invite other groups to respond, challenge or discuss issues raised in the presentation.
* Have students do a one-minute writing at the end of class. Ask, "What was the most important thing you learned in class today?" and "What issues from today's class is most confusing to you?" Collect all or some (at random) and use those to inform your review at the next class session.
* Have groups prepare a question on an index card based on the reading at the beginning of class. They should be of sufficient difficulty for the level of the class. Pick one group at random to ask the question aloud for the other groups to answer. Give more credit for better questions. Pick at random another group's question for the first group to answer. Collect and respond by the next class.
* Ask students in groups to develop one possible exam question based on the day’s readings. Each group is to read theirs out loud for other groups’ responses. Collect them all, give credit to good questions and put a number of them on exams.
* “Hot Seat” – select a student group to be in the hot seat. Anyone can ask them questions about the readings/assignments/other current coursework. They get points for every correct answer.
What other alternatives to lecturing can you devise that engage students in the course material?
Some material on this page sourced at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence: www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu