Teaching Large Groups
Actively engaging students in large classes is not easy but there are a number of strategies which can help to engage students, break up the lecture, and get feedback on the level of student understanding. Dependent on your specific areas of interest the resources below provide useful examples of practice; for example, relating to dealing with questions, getting attention, and activities to promote active learning.
Student Response Systems
Student response systems can be used to engage students, monitor understanding and create a more interactive learning environment. They can be used for example to administer responses to questions or in class quizzes. Students are given a hand held wireless keypad (or clicker) and responses are collated and displayed on charts giving the lecturer and students immediate feedback on responses to questions. The systems can usually be integrated with PowerPoint presentations.
Institutions may have already selected systems for use, but for examples see:
A chapter in the HLST Enhancing Book Series ‘Enhancing Student Centred Learning in Business and Management, Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism’ provides an example of using personal response systems: “Is That Your Final Answer?” Encouraging Student Participation Using the Personal Response System’
Small Group Teaching
Running small group sessions (such as seminars and workshops) requires staff to manage both the content (subject matter) and the process of teaching (for example, the setting, dynamics or organisation) of sessions. In small group teaching the role of the teacher is generally that of a facilitator of learning. Discussions in seminars and workshops allow students the opportunity to develop a range a range of transferable skills which might not be possible in larger lecture sessions.
Practical classes offer excellent opportunities for students to enhance their understanding and skills by bringing theory to life, providing the chance to test theories, solve problems, and to learn and practice subject-specific skills and transferable skills.
Pressure on resources and time mean that in some situations, for example in large sport and exercise science introductory classes, supplements to practical sessions are sought, for example through the use of web-based exercises or simulations.
Various resources are available - these may be described as re-usable learning objects (RLO), or increasingly, as open educational resources (OER).
James Atherton at DeMontfort University provides a very good introduction to theories of learning and a Practical Guide to Assessment, particualy useful to those new to teaching and assessment.