Breathing Life into Large Lectures

Overview:

Design lesson plans to promote community and learning in a large lecture course.

Benefits:

  • Engages students in a large lecture class
  • Invigorates lesson plans

Description:

Working with semester rhythms and understanding the performative nature of a large lecture class can help keep students engaged. 

 

 

 

Photo of TAs and students discussing course work.

 

Large Lectures: Details & Examples

Structuring lesson plans with an eye toward student motivation and enthusiasm can:

  • build trust even when class size prevents knowing every student individually;
  • prevent instructor burnout;
  • improve community in the classroom, which improves learning; and
  • model intellectual engagement for students.

Large Lectures: Best Practices

Instructors can use the opening weeks to establish community and allow students to get to know each other.  This is an opportunity to reassure them that diversity is valued and the classroom is a safe place to take risks.

It is helpful to send the message early in the course that while some activities are fun, the class is serious and rigorous.

It’s beneficial to conscientiously work to bolster your connection with students after midterms or other major graded assignments, reaffirming your role as coach instead of judge and jury.

Instructors who design the semester in sync with their own calendars can avoid overtaxing themselves when research or personal matters require extra energy.

During the final weeks, it’s helpful to recognize that students may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Students find clear structure and opportunities for review to be especially valuable during this time. 

Keeping students engaged can be done without any special technology, but learning management systems can be leveraged to add excitement to a course. Release conditions in ICON can motivate students to get to specific content (such as an introduction post on a message board or a meme related to course content).

Large Lectures: Bibliography & Related Content

Bibliography

Corrigan, P. T. (2013) To Lecture or Not to Lecture? The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/12/to-lecture-or-not-to-lecture/282585/

Duffy, D. K. & Jones, J. W. (1995) Teaching Within the Rhythms of the Semester. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Staley, C. (2003) 50 Ways to leave Your Lectern. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Related Content

Keeping students engaged can be done without any special technology, but learning management systems can be leveraged to add excitement to a course. Release conditions in ICON can motivate students to get to specific content, such as an introduction post on a message board or a meme related to course content.

Large Lecture Classrooms -- Learn about working with TAs, engaging students in active learning, personalizing learning environment, encouraging good preparation and attendance, and other best practices for the large lecture class.  

Motivating Student Learning -- Help students tap their intrinsic desire to learn.

Resources