This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on March 7, 2018. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. Faculty who teach large classes confront the long-existing challenge
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Having clear insight into students’ thinking and where there might be gaps in their understanding of a topic is incredibly valuable. It allows a skilled
Here’s a set of questions about large classes that I’m thinking we ought to be discussing more than we are.
1. How many students make it a large class? Teachers who do and don’t teach large classes have their opinions, but it’s not clear who has the right answer. Often faculty views seem related to the size of their college or university. I once consulted at a small liberal arts college where I was asked to sign a petition against classes enrolling more than 35 students. At about the same time, I saw a list of the 10 courses most often taken by beginning students at my R1 university. Only two—English composition and physical education—enrolled fewer than 30 students, and most had many more.
Often faculty who teach large classes (and some who don’t) fantasize about sitting down and working individually with students. For many of us that’s the ideal teaching scenario, but for most of us teaching realities are far removed from this ideal. You can’t tutor individual students when faced with 100 of them. Or can you?