Launch of the Large Class Education Toolkit By Dr Katja Strohfeldt

With the start of the new term most of us will focus once again on one thing: How can we offer the best teaching to all of our students? Many of us will also face a very similar challenge: Class sizes are getting bigger and the student cohort is becoming increasingly diverse.

Some of you might recall the University kindly funded our research into large class size teaching with the special aspect of diversity through the TLDF. One of the main objectives of this project was to develop a toolkit, which provides easy access to tools and tricks to help with large class size teaching.

I am delighted to let you know – the toolkit is finished – thanks to the support of so many colleagues around the University!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just to add – what a large class size is really depends on your individual experience. For some of you a class of 40 students feels large because all your previous teaching was designed for 20 students. Some other colleagues are faced with 300+ students. However, you will find you face some common issues independent of the actual class size. And the toolkit hopefully provides ideas suitable for most class sizes.

The idea….

The aim of this toolkit is to provide real-life ideas around teaching large classes at HE level in an easily accessible manner. There are several books and publications out there, which describe large class size teaching, However not everyone has the time to find these publications, read them and then apply them to the environment, which we have available at Reading.

Therefore it was important to us to collect real-life examples. Many colleagues (all from within the University) have contributed ideas and case studies to this toolkit. They have kindly agreed to act as champions for the various ideas – it might be a good idea to get advice of our champions if you plan to introduce something new. It was important for us that there is an evidence-based approach to the case studies, where possible.

We also wanted to make it visually attractive. I am delighted that two Typography students took on the project to create a great design for the toolkit (I hope you will agree) as part of the “Real Job Scheme”, which the department runs. They created a printed version in form of a folder and it brief stipulated that we wanted a colorful, visually attractive folder, which can just sit on your desk or shelf and reminds you of some of the wonderful ideas colleagues use. Each idea is summarized on one card.

However, we are aware that some of you will prefer a digital version. The typography students have kindly agreed to also produce an interactive pdf, which can be found on the CQSD webpage under funding opportunities – internal funding – current funding holders. Or simply here…

V4_Interactive_Education_Toolkit

The Toolkit…

The toolkit consist of approximately 40 case studies from colleagues at the University. We have divided the toolkit into three sections – illustrating how much time you need to approximately spend to include these ideas into your next teaching session.

The first section (5-10 minutes) gives you quick ideas about how to reduce anonymity, to make a good start and finish, encourage engagement and improve accessibility amongst many other aspects.

The second section (30-60minutes) illustrates real-life examples, which actively help to engage students. The very practical guide includes ideas such as the use of poling software, quizzes, social media, screencasts and other case studies. As previously mentioned each case study has a “UoR Champion”, which is actively using the described approach.

The third section (60+ minutes) describes approaches, where you apply more significant change your teaching style and pedagogic. Again, we have focused on ideas practiced at Reading, e.g. problem-based learning, team-based learning, enquiry-based learning, blended learning, flipped classroom and many others.

Each case study contains an introduction to the case study or pedagogic used. This is followed by a case study, where our “UoR champions” describe how they have adapted their approaches so it is suitable for our teaching environment. And last but not least, there is a list of “Top tips” as a really useful resource.

Quo vadis?

This is a good question. First of all I would to encourage everyone to have a look at the toolkit. Have a look at the toolkit online, come to the CQSD session in October or email me if you want to get your hands on one of the folders.

If there are ideas within the folder you find especially useful for your work – why not take them out of the folder and leave them clearly visible on your desk to remind you?

I hope I will see many of you at the CQSD session in October. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email us (k.strohfeldt@reading.ac.uk) or follow us on Twitter @largeclassHE.

 

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