Posts Tagged ‘teaching large classes’
The content of many courses is too focused on the facts—those details that students memorize, use to answer test questions, and then promptly forget. That criticism has been levied against many introductory college-level courses, especially by those of us who think faculty are too focused on covering content. But is it a fair criticism? Do introductory courses ignore the higher-level thinking skills, like those identified on the Bloom taxonomy? Is the evidence empirical or anecdotal?
Online homework has great appeal for instructors, especially those teaching large courses. By using online assignments, instructors don’t have to collect, grade, and promptly return large quantities of homework assignments. Online programs provide instructors with feedback on student performance that can be used to modify the presentation of material in class. Online homework is also beneficial to students. They get feedback promptly, even more promptly than that provided by very conscientious instructors. Online homework can also be designed so that it allows students to work on areas that frequently cause trouble and/or on areas where the individual student is having difficulty.
The article that proposes these active-learning strategies is written for faculty who teach large-enrollment biology courses. But large courses share many similarities, and strategies often work well with a variety of content. Even so, most strategies need to be adapted so that they fit well with the instructor’s style, the learning needs of the students, and the configuration of course content.
November 30 - Strategies to Manage High Enrollment Online Courses
As class size increases, it may not be practical to keep all assignments, discussions, exams, and other activities exactly as before, but it is not always easy to know which adjustments will provide the best results. This seminar will help you meet the demands of teaching large online courses without compromising quality or expanding faculty workload.
September 23 - Student Engagement Tip: Give Each Lesson its Own Theme Song
The challenge of engaging students in a large, introductory political science course, motivated Christopher Soper [article referenced below] to start exploring whether music might help him better connect students and course content. He now opens every class session with a song, and selecting those songs is part of an extra-credit assignment in the course.
Frustrated with the traditional lecture format in an upper-level chemistry class that enrolled more than 100 students, and envious of my teaching assistants who spent time in small recitations working on problem solving with my students, I designed an approach I call the “The Front Row.” It brings a small group feel into a large classroom.
April 21 - Teaching Large Introductory Survey Courses
In general, would you agree that these introductory courses are some of the most poorly taught in the curriculum? And that really shouldn’t be a big surprise. First, there is no academic glory associated with this teaching assignment. In fact, it is often the newest (and least experienced) member in a department who gets “stuck” with the big introductory course, even though these courses happen to be among the most difficult in the curriculum to teach.
March 31 - A Lifeline for Those Teaching Large Classes
Simon, who teaches very large economics classes wonders in a blog comment if the kind of facilitative learning described in the March 2 post is possible in mass classes. I’d like to use this post to address his query. First off, as any large course instructor knows, teaching those big, required, introductory courses is not easy. In fact, it may well be the most difficult teaching assignment given to teachers. In my mind this raises a host of intriguing questions about who should be teaching and taking those courses. But that’s a topic for another post.
Developing sophisticated but essential learning skills is especially challenging in large classes. That’s why we regularly report on strategies that faculty members have developed and are using in large classes. The cases in point here are three different biochemistry courses in which faculty members have been using online, asynchronous discussion groups to develop problem-solving skills.
Creating a learner-centered classroom involves more than just engaging students; it is a philosophical shift in how the instructor approaches the class. This 75-minute audio online seminar is a step-by-step guide to integrating learner-centered strategies into existing courses.