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Videos: Teaching Large Classes

To borrow these videos, contact Kim McShane x2828 <kim@id.ucsb.edu>

Handling Hordes: Teaching Mass Lectures

In this 55 minute video, Reece McGee*, Professor and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Purdue University, lectures on how to teach large lecture classes effectively and humanly. He briefly identifies some of the myths about large classes and then examines the pros and cons of large classes from both the student and teacher perspectives.

Professor McGee makes a case for defining the mass class, not as a class or social group, but rather, as an anonymous collection of individuals. What is implicit or negotiated between faculty and student in smaller classes, needs to be spelled out and formalized in the mass class and careful organization is critical. The tape gives many specific tips on how to organize for the large class. Helpful hints are given on class preparation, structuring the lecture, delivery of content, and presentation of self. Also examined are stage fright and ways of dealing with difficult students.

The tape offers very practical advice, particularly for faculty who have never, or only rarely, taught large classes. Some suggestions seem almost too concrete (e.g., checking to see that the electrical circuits in the room are functioning and trying out seats for comfort and noise). Although Professor McGee's lecture is not very exciting, it is thorough. The overall content can start the viewer thinking about how to prepare for the large class and about how large classes are inherently different from smaller ones.

*Reece McGee was awarded the American Sociological Association's Hans O. Mauksch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education in 1982 and again in 1987.

Making Larger Classes Work

Faculty from Indiana University discuss teaching techniques for large classes in this 38 minute video. Many of their suggestions apply to all classes, not just large lectures, but their basic advice is sprinkled with specific strategies. Classroom video clips exemplify some interesting approaches and make the tape more interesting and useful. Numerous academic disciplines are represented and although much of the information may not be new to highly experienced faculty, the ideas given serve as a useful reminder of ways to structure lectures for greater learning and retention.

The Art of the Lecture: Justice - A Harvard University Course in Moral Reasoning

Hundreds of enthusiastic undergraduates regularly attend the lectures of Michael Sandel, Professor of Government at Harvard. While his lectures are elegant, witty, and articulate, his performance is not the only reason for his success. Equally important is his ability to involve students in their own learning by combining traditional lecture style with a more interactive approach to teaching. Derek Bok Center Harvard University (28 minutes)

UCSB Large Class Student Interviews

This videotape contains 30 minutes of a group interview with UCSB undergraduates from a large lower division general education course. The interview was conducted by UCSB Professor William Prothero. The students express their views on what makes large classes effective and not so effective. Numerous insightful comments are made about their positive and negative experiences in large lecture courses including the TA discussion and laboratory sections.

Engaging Students in Large Classes

This deals with the dilemmas that are associated with large classes and suggests ways to maximize student engagement and interaction in these classes. (60 minutes. 1994)


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