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Teaching Large Enrolled Courses

In May, 24 faculty completed a survey on teaching large enrolled courses. We wanted to learn about the challenges and successes they were experiencing, and prepare to offer professional development opportunities on topics of interest.

The range of course sizes was from 24 to 120, with an average of 66 students.

The primary means of teaching was lecture with PowerPoint (8), followed by lecture with multimedia other than/or in addition to PowerPoint (6). There was only one response for lecture only, one response for group work, and two responses for discussion. No one reported using inquiry or peer instruction as their primary means of teaching.

Similar challenges were shared:

  • Providing detailed grading and individual feedback
  • Engaging all students
  • Facilitating discussion
  • Managing the classroom
  • Recording attendance
  • Raising the students’ motivation to learn
  • Providing more direct contact with students
  • Overcoming language issues with ESL students
  • Dealing with varied academic preparation
  • Cheating on exams
  • Learning all students’ names
  • Organizing a large number of small groups, and effectively and efficiently facilitating the groups

Student challenges were also shared:

  • Feeling lost and anonymous
  • Feeling of anonymity leading to absences
  • Staying engaged from the back of the room
  • Feeling hesitant to ask questions in a large group

However, some faculty are experiencing successes in their large classes through the use of:

  • personal response systems (clickers),
  • group work,
  • collaboration and peer group workshops,
  • hands-on activities,
  • discussion to actively engage the students,
  • a variety of techniques to keep students engaged (mixing problem-solving, group work, demonstrations, and traditional lecture),
  • use of PowerPoint or PDF slides with a tablet and annotating the slides with a stylus,
  • an online homework and tutorial program linked to the textbook, and
  • the use of technology (ANGEL, Yammer, and padlet were mentioned).

Since a wide range of professional development topics were requested, we thought it might be helpful to bring together those scheduled to teach a large enrolled course this year with those who have experienced success in their large classes. We’ll use a web conference through Adobe Connect so faculty can attend from wherever they are located as summer winds down.

If you are interested in discussing the planning and teaching of a large enrolled course with experienced colleagues, please email me at by Monday, July 27th, and I’ll be back in touch to select an August date that works for most. We need both faculty who want to explore new pedagogical strategies AND experienced faculty who shared their successes in the survey.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and collaborating on our planning for teaching large enrolled courses this year.