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Three Commonly Offered Suggestions for Teaching Large Classes

  • Personalize, Personalize, Personalize:
    Learn and use the names of your students, even in a large class. As difficult as this is, it goes a long way toward personalizing the class. Faculty have successfully learned student names by having a seating charts, requiring students to attend office hours in small groups, taking pictures of the class (with student permission), arriving to class early and greeting students as they enter, and conversing with students over e-mail. Above all, be yourself. Students frequently say that they would like to "get to know" their professors.
  • Ask Students for Feedback:
    Early in the quarter ask students to write a few sentences about how the class is going or about how the class could be improved. Be clear and explicit about what you want students to learn and occasionally, at the end of class, ask them what they've learned (try a one-minute paper at the end of class). Require group office hours with you or with TAs and pass around a sign-up sheet early in the quarter. Give a short answer test question at the beginning of class that tests information from the previous lecture; put the answers on the board and discuss them. Give a mid-quarter student evaluation questionnaire and make changes accordingly but be sure to tell them why you won't be making some of the changes requested.
  • Give Feedback Early and Often:
    Students need to know how they're doing, particularly in a large class. So, give short, ungraded quizzes during that "dead time" as students are getting seated or at the beginning of class while you're dealing with tedious but often necessary administriva. Give short essay questions at the beginning or end of class, then begin the next class by reading one or two exemplary answers; this primes the class, gives feedback, and prepares students for taking exams. Require outlines and drafts of term papers on specified dates, well before the final due date. After every fifteen minutes of lecturing, ask students to discuss a thought question with the person next to them and have two or three students tell their response to the whole class. After lecturing for half the class, ask students to write the most important themes you've mentioned; write your answers on the overhead and let them compare their lists with yours!

consultation contacts

George Michaelsexecutive director2130 Kerr Hall
lisa berrysenior instructional consultant1130 Kerr Hall
mindy colininstructional consultant1130 Kerr Hall
Mary Lou Ramos database and ESCI administrator1130 Kerr Hall
TBD ESCI assistant1124 Kerr Hall


Laurel Shaddixoffice manager 1130 Kerr Hall
faxfax: 805-893-5915