Teaching Strategies: Large Classes and Lectures

Eliciting participation, questions, and even attention from a sea of faces in a large lecture hall can be a difficult task. Instructors often seek ways to make large classes feel smaller. The links in this section provide information about classroom management techniques, suggestions for effective lecturing, and a list of additional resources and articles about large classes. 


Large Classes

Suggestions for Large Lecture Classes (UC Berkeley, 1983)

List of six suggestion to help make lecturing to a large enrollment course effective and manageable for students and instructors. 

Tips for Using Questions in Large Classes (Klionsky, 1999)

Short first-person account from an introductory biology course with a class enrollment of about 300 who shares some of his techniques for engaging the class.

Large Classes: A Teaching Guide

Detailed resource from University of Maryland for approaching large classes, including a set of ideas and suggestions to use. This guide offers tips for utilizing many of the teaching strategies described on the CRLT website (e.g., collaborative learning, discussions, writing) with large classes.

Resources for Interactive Lecturing (Macdonald & Teed)

Resource from the Science Education Resource Center at Carlton College describing interactive lecturing, why you might consider using it, and specific interactive activities for classroom use. Also includes a list of classroom examples, demonstrations, and references.

Class Size Effects on Student Performance

Literature review compiled by CRLT staff in December 2014, summarizing findings from the literature regarding the impact of class size on student performance.

Engaging Students in Large Courses - Frequently Asked Questions

This page offers suggestions and resources to address common concerns about student engagement in large courses. Topics include identifying technology tools, content coverage, and tips for implementing and debriefing activities in a large course. 

Lectures

Effective Lecturing (Cashin, 2010)

A brief and well-grounded overview of the research on lectures from the IDEA Center. The paper includes sections on the strengths and limitations of lectures, as well as practical strategies for preparation, organization, interaction, and maintaining student interest. 

Delivering Effective Lectures (Sullivan & McIntosh, 1996)

Tips for preparing and presenting a lecture, specifically for clinical/medical education. Originally published as a strategy paper from the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO).

Eight Steps to Active Lecturing

This resource from Ferris State presents eight steps to active learning, and further discusses each one using examples and classroom activities instructors can incorporate into their lectures. Concludes with a list of final tips for active lecturing.

The "Change-Up" in Lectures (Middendorf & Kalish, 1996)

Given that students have an attention span of around 15 to 20 minutes and that university classes are scheduled for around 50 or 75 minutes, the authors recommend building a “change-up” into your class to restart the attention clock. Includes several activities instructors can use to punctuate sections of lecture.

Tips for Teachers: Twenty Ways to Make Lectures More Participatory (Derek Bok Center, Harvard University)
 

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