Teaching Large Classes: Discussion
Centre for Pedagogical Innovation hosted a discussion session on Friday December 7. Faculty shared things they tried new, what they hoped would happen and what did happen.
Major themes had to do with attendance, engagement and note-taking.
Some interesting innovative strategies seem to be working.
For example one very large class has tried something new this year by giving students a Manual. This manual includes all the PowerPoint slides but with very specific blank spaces to prompt when students should pay close attention and take notes.
A variety of recording, in both audio and video are going on in many classes. Some are screen recording uploaded to the LMS and others are simply using an iPhone to capture audio, making recording available upon request.
Whenever slides are made fully available, as recordings or even PDF, faculty are noticing dramatic drops in attendance, and those who are attending are taking less notes.
Some pointed out that students need to do something with the information to make meaning. Strategies like think, pair, share / small group / frequent low stakes quizzes or assignments (1% weekly) have helped.
In some of these cases attendance dropped when participation and discussion have been incorporated into the class, as if to imply the students are not pleased about being forced to interact with each other and the content, preferring to be passive in class. Many are using class as a time to catch up on Facebook, surf the web and tempt faculty to ban laptops altogether.
Accessibility concerns were raised about banning laptops as many students have legitimate requirement and only allowing students with special dispensation to use the laptops would "out" the special needs students.
We discussed creating a class code of conduct and how every single student has a right to learning in a distraction free environment and tying this to the overall code of conduct. Perhaps having students police themselves instead of making the faculty member the enforcer all the time.