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Teaching Large Classes

Teaching large classes can often seem daunting and challenging. However, with the right resources and pedagogical tools, teaching in a large classroom setting can be intellectually stimulating and exciting for both instructors and students.

Here are some steps for a successful semester: 

  1. Communicate Clearly: Set clear learning outcomes for your course and communicate them clearly for your students. You also want to have a clear syllabus that explains your expectations and the pathways for students to succeed in your course. 
  2. Communicate Frequently: Use your learning platform resource to communicate with your entire class. If you get individual questions from students on content, grades, or assignments that don’t include personal information, answer in a broader email to the whole class. Chances are, if two or three students ask you a question, others share the same concern. This cuts back on the volume of personal emails you must respond to. Remember to never include personal student information in your emails.
  3. Plan Strategically: Using tools like backward design, plan your course around specific objectives and keep it concise. Understand your audience and the overall message you want to relay, and keep it simple. In large enrollment classes, it is often better to focus on key points and themes that can be tied together through relevant examples and material.
  4. Use Active Learning Pedagogy: Engage your students through the use of diverse Active Learning tools such as think-pair-share, clicker or poll questions, group discussions, exit tickets etc. Break down the larger classroom into groups to offer students the opportunity to engage with each other and with the material in an active way. 
  5. Check for Understanding: Use polls, clickers, or online low-stakes quizzes or assignments to help check student understanding. This allows you to adjust your method to help students reach the desired learning outcomes. 
  6. Incorporate Flipped Classroom Techniques: When possible, consider using flipped classroom teaching techniques, allowing your students to prepare for class, learn on their own time, and utilize classroom time for broader conceptual discussions. 
  7. Use Adequate Feedback: Use rubrics to help your students understand their grades. This minimizes the need for individual feedback. 
  8. Move!: Resist the temptation to lecture from the front of the classroom. Move around the classroom to engage your students, create greater interaction, and reduce the physical space between instructor and students. This helps your students refocus and helps you see which sections of the room need your attention. 
  9. Work with Teaching Assistants: Whenever possible, work with teaching assistants to help with grading and class management. Your TAs can supervise group work, proctor exams, and even participate in lecturing. Not only is this a great practical learning opportunity for the TA, but it also offers a greater workload balance for you and adds diversity to your students’ learning experience. 
  10. Build Properly: Structure your course, assignments, policies, and assessments in a way that you offer scaffolding of content, formative and summative assessments, and content value. By carefully building a course that adds value to your time lecturing and to students’ time studying you avoid having to deal with daily attendance, cheating, and increased student dissatisfaction. 

Manage Large Classes in Folio

Logistics can also be a challenge when teaching a large class. How does one best manage the daily administration? Folio can help instructors handle the challenges of teaching large classes.

  • Use Intelligent Agents to automation to your course and boost instructor-student interactions.
  • Use Replacement Strings to increase instructor presence.
  • Use Release Conditions to customize students’ learning paths.
  • Use Rubrics for grading assignments or discussions. This will improve the quality, or at least the consistency, of their work and reduce redundant requests for clarification.
  • Create feedback using audio or video.
  • For more Classroom Management Tips, visit Teaching with Folio Guides.

Last updated: 9/29/2023