Teaching Large Classes: 115 Ideas from 18 3M Teaching Fellows


Edited by Aline-Germain Rutherford
Centre for University Teaching, University of Ottawa.



LargeClassesCoverModified_390Epigraph”

  1. Are we born good teachers or are we made good teachers – Harry Murray: University of Western Ontario

Introduction: What is a large class?

  1. A large class is not a social group but an audience. How to transform an audience into social groups. – Alan Gillmor: Carleton university
  2. Is there a difference between teaching large classes and small seminars. – Don Westwood: Carleton University
  3. The challenge is to find the added value of a large class. What can students do in a large class that they cannot do on there own? – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  4. What is a large class for a language course? – Roger Moore: St. Thomas University
  5. A large class for me is when I cannot make good eye contact. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  6. Being approachable is the key in teaching a large class. – Michael Collins: Memorial University

Theme 1: The physical space

  1. The power of the room to “make” the class – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  2. Knowing well the layout of your classroom – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  3. How to transform the layout of your classroom – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  4. Walking the room – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia

Theme 2: Lecturing

  1. A well delivered lecture can be a powerful pedagogical tool to excite students and bring learning; the function of a lecture is not only the transfer of information, it is the catalyst for further activity. – Alan Gillmor: Carleton University
  2. Enthusiasm, clarity and interaction are three big factors in teachers’ effectiveness. – Harry Murray: University of Western Ontario
  3. The challenge is to be very organized in order to teach a large class – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  4. Consistency, timing and pacing are three important factors in teaching a large class. – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  5. Starting off on the right foot. – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  6. The importance of pace in a lecture course. – Ronald Stoltz: University of Arizona
  7. Splitting a lecture into 3 mini-lectures. – Michael Collins: Memorial University
  8. Cutting my lecture into content chunks. – Arshad Ahmad: Concordia University
  9. Rituals to start a lecture. – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  10. How to start your lecture? – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  11. How to start your lecture in an engaging way? – John Young: Saint Mary’s University
  12. The set, body and closure of a lecture with a focus on maintaining students’ attention and engagement. – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia

Theme 3: Being a professor

  1. A good performance is being authentic – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  2. A good performance engages students’ attention – Chris Knapper: Queen’s University
  3. You have to find your qualities and work on these qualities – Roger Moore: St. Thomas University
  4. How to deal with stage fright before each class? – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  5. Anxiety saved by professionalism. – Marty Wall: University of Toronto

Theme 4: How to connect

  1. Students learn best when they feel a connection with their teacher. – Chris Knapper: Queen’s University
  2. How to keep the students connected? – Chris Knapper: Queen’s University
  3. How to involve all students in a large class? – Chris Knapper: Queen’s University
  4. How to use the space to connect with students? – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  5. Sending a personal letter to keep students connected and motivated. – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  6. “Me,” connecting with 150 students, and 150 students connecting with me. What can I do for the latter to happen? – Lee Gass: University of British Columbia
  7. Reading the class and looking for signs which show that the connection is made. – Arshad Ahmad: Concordia University
  8. Connecting before and after class time. – Arshad Ahmad: Concordia University
  9. Connecting with groups of students using office hours. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  10. Creating a sense of community from the first class. – John Young: Saint Mary’s University
  11. Questions are essential for learning. – Roger Moore: St. Thomas University
  12. How to handle students who participate too much or those too shy to participate? – Peter taylor: Queen’s University
  13. Listening to the students learning as an effective way to stay connected. – Don Westwood: Carleton University
  14. Creating intimacy by connecting the content to real life. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  15. Contextualization of the content to connect with students. – Ronald Stoltz: University of Arizona

Theme 5: Learning students’ names even in a large class.

  1. Using mnemonic tricks to learn students’ names. – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  2. Knowing the names of your students. -Roger Moore: St. Thomas University
  3. Using group photos to learn the names of your students. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  4. How to remember 100 names in three weeks. – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia

Theme 6: Engagement

  1. The most important goal of the teacher is to foster engagement in the student’s learning. – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  2. Engaging to reduce the number of individualities. – Lee Gass: University of British Columbia
  3. Engagement is visceral; the medium is conversation. – Lee Gass: University of British Columbia
  4. Asking questions that engage students and being authentic. – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  5. Bringing relevance, respect and fair evaluation keeps students engaged in their learning – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  6. Engaging strategies where students feel valued – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  7. The use of skits and enactments even in a super large class – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  8. I’m here to help you learn (part 1). – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  9. I’m here to help you learn (part 2). – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  10. Engagment through collaborative, active learning. – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  11. Engaging students by surprising them. – John Young: Saint Mary`s University
  12. The technique of Questcussion to engage debate on a topic. – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia
  13. Engaging the students by recognizing their different learning styles. – Michael Collins: Memorial University

Theme 7: Active learning strategies – a. The Buzz group technique

  1. The technique of the Buzz group to maximize student’s engagement in a large class. – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  2. Using buzz groups for the first time. – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  3. How to choose the right questions for the Buzz group. – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  4. How to debrief at the end of a Buzz group activity – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  5. Being a member of a learning community. – Pete Taylor: Queen`s University
  6. Developing good problems for problem solving activities in a large class. – Pete Taylor: Queen`s University
  7. A concrete example of problem solving activity in a large class. – Pete Taylor: Queen`s University
  8. The difficulty to find good problems – Pete Taylor: Queen`s University
  9. Asking groups to report their work – Pete Taylor: Queen`s University
  10. Participatory techniques allowing quiet students to engage – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia
  11. Buzz group activities in a lab environment and in a large class – Michael Collins: Memorial University
  12. The technique of the learning circle. – Michael Collins: Memorial University

Theme 7: Active learning strategies – b. Think/Pair/Share Technique

  1. Step 1 of the technique. – Timothy A. Pychyl: Carleton University
  2. Step 2 of the technique. – Timothy A. Pychyl: Carleton University
  3. Step 3 of the technique. – Timothy A. Pychyl: Carleton University
  4. A “Sharing writing” activity to expand on the “Minute paper”. – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia

Theme 7: Active learning strategies – c. Group/Team work

  1. Establishing a dynamic of group work in a large class setting. – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  2. What can students do to help them make meaning? They can learn from each other. – Ronald Stoltz: University of Arizona
  3. Group work in a 800 student Health Science course: (1) An overview of the technique. – Joan Loomis: University of Alberta
  4. Group work in a 800 student Health Science course: (2) The team. – Joan Loomis: University of Alberta
  5. Group work in a 800 student Health Science course: (3) The choice of the question and of the task. – Joan Loomis: University of Alberta
  6. Group work in a 800 student Health Science course: (4) The role of the facilitator. – Joan Loomis: University of Alberta
  7. The systematic approach to group work: (1) The rationale. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  8. The systematic approach to group work: (2) Setting up the groups. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  9. The systematic approach to group work: (3) The role of the teacher while the groups are working. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  10. The systematic approach to group work: (4) The tasks to perform during work. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  11. The systematic approach to group work: (5) Assessing the group work. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  12. The systematic approach to group work: (6) Ensuring that the group dynamic stays constructive. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  13. The systematic approach to group work: (7) How to deal with group dynamic problems. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  14. The systematic approach to group work: (8) What do students think about this group work technique. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  15. Group techniques to motivate students to do their reading assignments. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island

Theme 8: The use of technology in teaching large classes

  1. The death of learning with Power Point for delivery of content. – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  2. A tool to make the link between lectures and the collaborative work. – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  3. Using a variety of multimedia technologies to trigger discussion, not replace it. – Anna Lathrop: Brock University
  4. A careful use of technology, reinforced by good communication to the students. – Gosha Zywno: Ryerson University
  5. The added value of using technology. – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  6. What can online interaction bring? – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  7. Engaging students to contribute to the online forum. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  8. When the learning goes beyond the classroom. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  9. Using online resources to complement your course material. – Roger Moore: St. Thomas University

Theme 9: Diversity

  1. Using the diversity of prior knowledge to create teams. – Shannon Murray: University of Prince Edward Island
  2. Using the ethnic diversity of the class to enrich the learning experience. – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  3. Teaching in a large lab with students at different levels – John Young: Saint Mary’s University
  4. Using well trained TAs to help deal with the diversity of levels. – John Young: Saint Mary’s University
  5. The different aspects of diversity and how to draw from them. – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia
  6. “Diversity around knowledge: it’s a dance” – Anna Lathrop: Brock University

Theme 10: Assessment

  1. The Shoe Box Technique as a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  2. The one minute paper to assess informally the students’ learning and to engage them in their learning – Clarissa Green: University of British Columbia
  3. “To reduce your workload increase the number of tests” – Michael Collins: Memorial University
  4. Pre-test review classes – Michael Collins: Memorial University
  5. The dilemma of being facilitator and judge at the same time – Roger Moore: St. Thomas University
  6. Using written assessment even in a very large class – Marty Wall: University of Toronto

Conclusion: A few lasting words…

  1. Willing to take risks in teaching – Marty Wall: University of Toronto
  2. The ultimate example of a learning experience for a drama class of one hundred students – Chris Knapper: Queen`s University
  3. How to use the “Teaching Behaviours Inventory” – Harry Murray: University of Western Ontario

Credits:

This project was made possible by funding from: Le Consortium Nationale de Formation en Santé and the Centre for University Teaching, University of Ottawa.
Conception and Editing: Aline Germain-Rutherford
Technical Development: Vision Media and The Institute for the Advancement of Teaching in Higher Education
Videographers: Kevin Burke, Trevor Holmes and Adam Caron
Web Page Design and Development: Jon G. Houseman