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Overcoming the Challenges of Large Courses

For Those Who Teach

Overcoming the Challenges of Large Courses

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Concern over large courses (especially required ones) persists even as their economic viability has made them an increasingly accepted part of higher education. We’re not expecting them to go away any time soon, but that doesn’t minimize the challenges associated with teaching and learning in them. On the the teaching side, they’re not usually led by faculty with any special preparation to teach them, and lecture becomes the easiest instructional option. For most learners, however, listening to lectures is a recipe for passivity. In addition, introductory courses are most often taken by beginning students, the cohort least ready to handle their anonymity. It’s hard to feel at home in a class with 150 strangers. And the feedback students receive is rarely substantial—usually only points or a grade from which it’s difficult to glean improvement specifics.

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