Teaching Large Classes

Word cloud for large classesTAMIU has seen an increase in student enrollment in the past few semesters. With more students enrolled, an increase of students in the classroom is seen. During the Fall 2013 semester there were a total of 46 classes with more than fifty students, this number is expected to increase in the next few years.

Teaching large classes can be challenging due to increase in papers to grade, decrease in student interaction, and the variety of students seen in one class, making teaching a daunting task. Nonetheless, teaching large classes can be a rewarding endeavor with the right tools to aid in class development.

Large classrom filled with students


Ideas for Teaching Large Classes Effectively

Promote student engagement and decrease anonymity by learning students’ names. (Student roster can be printed with pictures to help).



Organize a very detailed syllabus. Due dates/tasks and grading should be outlined very clearly to avoid confusion.

Separate students into groups to turn in major papers/homework.  Groups can have different due dates in order to check all students’ work without rush.

Set specific rules for student behavior. Clearly state when students are allowed to leave,  talk in groups, take a break, or reconvene.

Use team work, collaborative learning, think-pair-share, etc… to promote active learning:

Think-Pair-Share- is a short collaborative activity where students pair up to answer challenging questions. After a question is posed, students think about their answer for a minute or less, pair up with someone around them, and share their answers with each other. Instructor may allow pairs to share their answers with the other groups in the class. This allows for well thought-out responses since students reflect on their answer and discuss with partner. Variation of the exercise can be performed (Lymna, 1981).

Lymna, F. (1981). "The responsive classroom discussion." In Anderson, A. S. (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest, College Park, MD: University of Maryland College of Education.http://www.roe13.k12.il.us/Services/KeriKorn/BDA/ThinkPairShare.pdf

Lyman, F. (1987). Think-Pair-Share. Unpublished University of Maryland paper.


Student Feedback

Entry/exit ticket or minute papers- short questions given at the start/end of class for students to answer in less than five minutes. The entry/exit ticket can be used as a way to monitor attendance, and to check student understanding of main topics for the day. Minute papers can be used after a main topic is viewed to check student understanding. These are good to review and know what to tackle for the next class meeting. Sample questions:

  • What was the central concept of the day?
  • 3-2-1: write three things you learned, two questions that you have, one connection you made.
  • What was the muddiest point of the day? What questions remain unanswered about today's topic?
  • What can you connect from this class to previous ones?
  • Do you agree or disagree with ....?
  • Question about material discussed. (Name the big-five personality traits, etc...)


T.A. Angelo and K. P. Cross, 1993. Classroom Assessment Techniques. (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.148-53.


In addition,

Provide feedback on student progress when possible.

Use technology to ask questions or explain concepts. Example: clickers, presentations, and video engage different learning stles.

Create multiple choice exams that engage high-order thinking for easier grading but that will help students learn concept.



Prepare and know content of lecture to deliver it effectively and answer questions that may arise from students.

Have breaks in between lecture to help keep students engaged, example: have group discussions or break in groups to discuss a video or a concept.

Present relevant information to keep student's attention.