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A Secret To Large Classes Showing You Care

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.42.1 - 2.42.4



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Susan Montgomery

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1213

A Secret to Large Classes - Showing You Care

Susan Montgomery University of Michigan


The other speakers in this session are addressing some of the logistical issues involved in teaching large classes, as well as some ways of engaging large classes to obtain increased participation. In this paper I wish to address some of the belongingness issues that are particularly magnified in large classes. My experience with large classes comes from teaching the material and energy balances class at the University of Michigan, which has had enrollments of 150-190 students in the past four years. While some of these issues are of particular importance to women and minority students, addressing them makes for a more comfortable environment for all students.


Since material and energy balances is the first class in the chemical engineering curriculum, the first day of class can serve as an introduction to the department as a whole. In the past I’ve invited a number of people to make short presentations to the class. These include the department chairman, who extended his personal welcome to the students, and spoke briefly about the career options for chemical engineers. In addition, the undergraduate advisor and his assistant introduced themselves and provided initial guidance information. The presidents of the primary undergraduate student organizations, including AIChE, Omega Chi Epsilon (Chemical Engineering Honor Society), and NOBCChE (National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers) briefly described their societies, providing information on their weekly meetings and major activities.

During the first class period you can also introduce yourself, with information about why you chose chemical engineering, the schools you attended, some of your fears and concerns as an undergraduate. The rest of the class period can be used to take care of the typical syllabus review and such.

One feature that I’ve included in the first day of class to let the students know that I expect them to participate actively in class and to interact with other students, is to ask them to get themselves in alphabetical order by last name. Some students were somewhat incredulous at first that I would actually expect them to perform this exercise, but once they realized I was serious they did it surprisingly quickly. They got to meet a few other students in the class, and it made it somewhat more interesting when I called roll, as sometimes a student would be slightly off. In

Montgomery, S. (1997, June), A Secret To Large Classes Showing You Care Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6774

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