CL1 - FAQs: "I teach in a large lecture hall."













"I teach in a large lecture hall."

Teaching in a large lecture hall with seats bolted down, facing only one direction is problematic. There is no doubt that teaching in this environment, as compared to a classroom with tables and moveable chairs, places restrictions and makes it generally more difficult to include collaborative learning in the course. It does not however, prevent the incorporation of small group work and active learning strategies.

To include small group work requires patience and understanding on the part of all involved: students need to be told that physical accommodations are not perfect. Groups of four can be formed with two students in one row and two others directly in front of them turning around in their seats. Given the choice of sitting on steps or the floor and having peer discussions versus sitting in a traditional lecture, most students will choose the slight physical discomforts and vote for the active learning strategies. To see this in action, click here.

Also, active learning can involve short-lived informal collaborative learning groups that can provide some of the benefits of formal collaborative learning groups but can be easier to integrate logistically. For instance, the pause or concept test techniques provide quick feedback to the instructor and students, divides the lecture into mini-lectures, and only requires students to turn to their neighbors minimizing lecture halls difficulties.

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