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Students Plus! Handling Large Classes Extended Abstract

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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

2.376.1 - 2.376.3



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Paper Authors

author page

Donald R. Woods

author page

Dianne Dorland

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

Session 1213


Dianne Dorland, Donald R. Woods University of Minnesota Duluth/McMaster University

What might you do when you encounter a class that is much larger than you are used too? What do you do to cope? How do you promote discussion when you have too many students? How do you manage writing projects? You might search for suggestions of how to handle the mechanics of the larger class: how to monitor what is happening in the classroom (red cards, ombudspeople, one minute message), how to mark the larger number of assignments, how to look after the mechanics of presenting the lecture or of distributing marked assignments. A preferred option is to use the larger class as a context to reconsider how to facilitate learning.

Good learning is vital in any class size, but large classes are less forgiving than small ones so it’s particularly important to promote good teaching. Consider these ideas to improve learning: • Be clear on what learning and improving learning mean to you. • Shift the focus from teaching to learning. • Create an environment for active learning, where students are engrossed in thinking about the subject. • Use cooperative learning, where students must cooperate with each other in learning tasks. • Interact with students, providing both quality and quantity of contact • Give prompt feedback. • Expect students to succeed. • Satisfy the different learning styles of students. • Recognize that assessment drives the learning. • Have consistent goals with measurable criteria. • Motivate your audience. • Help students develop process skills to mange the tasks of learning and interaction.

Let’s expand on a few of these ideas: shifting the focus from teaching to learning, giving prompt feedback, and providing time-on-task.

FOCUS One issue in handling large classes is the shift from a focus on delivery (the teaching) to a focus on learning (the receiving). With delivery, we concentrate on issues such as motivation, decorum, the collection and distribution of materials, getting feedback about lectures, copying, and doing course assessments. Shifting to a focus on receiving, we promote active learning, cooperative behavior, a "success" environment, student-faculty interaction, time spent on a task, understanding different learning styles, developing process skills, providing prompt feedback, and empowering students with assessment.

Woods, D. R., & Dorland, D. (1997, June), Students Plus! Handling Large Classes Extended Abstract Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6801

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