3 tips for teaching large classes

by Ilyoung Ju
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Ilyoung Ju

Ilyoung Ju

The number of large classes at universities has been increased due to the efficiency and the financial pressure of budget cuts from state legislatures. For this reason, it becomes important for instructors to have an ability to teach in a large class setting.

Teaching a large class can have several challenges:

  • Involving students in active learning.
  • Personalizing the class environment.
  • Working with diverse students’ needs and backgrounds.
  • Managing classroom disruptions.
  • Adapting one’s teaching style to the large lecture situation.

Here are some tips for being more successful in teaching a large class:

Organize your lecture

  • Choose four or five main points in the class.
  • Begin a lecture with the main points of a day.
  • Use an energy shift – After 20 minutes, students often lose their attentions. Ask questions and do other class activities to maintain students’ attention levels.
  • Utilize technology – Become aware of the technology you can use in your classroom or auditorium. Materials and technologies used in a class should be able to be heard and seen by everyone. Be prepared in case technology doesn’t work.

Personalize a large class

  • Make a large class feel small – Walk around a classroom while giving a lecture. Utilize group activities.
  • Encourage students to ask questions.
  • Be available – An instructor can use extra time 10-15 minutes before and after a class to be available for students.

Encourage active learning

  • Use examples that are related to students’ experience or background. Ask students to provide examples that connect with concepts learned in class.
  • Utilize informal votes on issues or use multiple choice questions in a lecture.
  • Get feedback from students at the middle of a semester and make adjustments.

Resources
Center for Teaching Excellence – University of Maryland.
http://www.cte.umd.edu/library/teachingLargeClass/guide/ch3.html
Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes: A Teacher’s Guide
http://www2.unescobkk.org/elib/publications/095/
Carbone, E. L. (1998). Teaching large classes: Tools and strategies. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

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One thought on “3 tips for teaching large classes

  1. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I have had the problem that I have to teach 33 students in a classroom which can be really hard because I want everybody to at least speak five minutes!

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