Large Classroom Teaching
Teaching Coach: Dr. Melissa Lea
During my years of earning tenure as a faculty at a small liberal arts institution, I taught a traditionally large course on university campuses, Introduction to Psychology, which had class sizes of about 45 students. At a small institution like that, a course with 35 or more students is considered large. However, when I taught the same course here at UNC, the class sizes were often around 100 students, so I had to rethink some of my teaching approaches to accommodate a larger number of students. Over the past five years, I’ve tried different things and evaluated those changes to help me be a more effective large classroom instructor.
I believe there are two things that large classroom instructors should be aware of and consistently work on to improve. The first is to connect and engage with your students so that they don’t feel like they’re lost among the crowd. This can be accomplished through adopting certain teaching strategies (e.g., learning students names, anonymous Q & A through lecture) and incorporating certain types of in-class activities (e.g., think-pair-shares, response feedback systems).
The second is to communicate effectively with your students. For example, having a well-organized Canvas shell, outlining clear expectations about when you respond to emails, and providing a clear and consistent weekly schedule for students to follow can facilitate your students’ self-regulated learning. These are just a few things that I’ve learned from teaching in a variety of learning environments, so please reach out if you’d like to discuss more; I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you as well as learn from your experiences.
In this video Melissa shares some common concerns and how she can help. If you are experiencing issues in your large class, or you aren't sure if an idea will work, reach out for help!
In this video Melissa discusses some simple strategeis for making a large class feel small. She discusses class activities, belonging, and assessment strategies for large classes that work well to engage students.
Melissa's Top 5 Resources
Carbone, E. (1998). Teaching large classes: Tools and strategies. Survival Skills for Scholars. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Felder, R. (n.d.) Beating the numbers game: Effective teaching in large classes (Session 1213) Retrieved May 5, 2006, from https://peer.asee.org/beating-the-numbers-game-effective-teaching-in-large-classes.pdf
Heppner, Frank. Teaching the Large College Class: A Guidebook for Instructors with Multitudes
Cooper, James L. and Pamela Robinson. “The Argument for Making Large Classes Seem Small.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 81 (2000): 5-16.
Kangas Dwyer, K., et al., (2004). Communication and connectedness in the classroom: Development of the connected classroom climate inventory. Communication Research Reports, 21(3), 264-272.
McKinney, K., & Graham-Buxton, M. (1993). The use of collaborative learning groups in the large class: Is it possible? Teaching Sociology, 21 (4).
Renaud, Susan, Elizabeth Tannenbaum, and Phillip Stantial. “Student-Centered Teaching in Large Classes with Limited Resources.” English Teaching Forum Number 3 (2007).
Stanley, Christine A. and M. Erin Porter. Engaging Large Classes: Strategies and Techniques for College Faculty. Boston: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 2002.
Meet the Coach
Dr. Melissa Lea is an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Northern Colorado and Xavier University (Louisiana). Her PhD is in cognitive science, and she usually teaches Introduction to Psychology, although occasionally still teaches courses in Human Factors, Sensation and Perception, and Cognition.
You can reach Melissa for a consultation via email, phone, or by scheduling a meeitng.