Tools and Resources

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The Daily Nous, "News for and about the philosophy profession" shares slides from a professor Andrew Mills at Otterbein University that summarizes the research about how computers and phones in class affect student performance. Prof. Mills has made his slides available to other faculty. Might they be adapted into an activity where students predict the research and see the results in slides using the Assertion Evidence model?

This is a case study written to help faculty members think about and discuss issues related to students making inappropriate comments in class.

This document describes strategies for encouraging and enabling students in large classes to participate in class.

Making the Right Impressions on the First Day of Class
What can be done then to make a positive first impression in the classroom? In a study
(Hayward, 2001) where students were given a survey after the first class meeting, factors
contributing to positive perceptions of teaching effectiveness were identified.
The power of knowing, in the first two seconds, is our ability to make quick judgments. Think back to when you were in school and how long did it take you to size up a professor? Did you know the first day how good a teacher was, or did it take several classes or the entire semester? Research has found that students watching a silent two-second video clip of a teacher they have never met reach very similar conclusions about that teacher’s effectiveness when compared to students who have sat in the teacher’s class for a semester.
Students have been found to quickly size up a professor on these four factors:

MediaTech houses, circulates, and maintains a pool of equipment to support academic credit instruction at the University Park campus. Services include media collection of more than 23,000 films, videos, and DVDs, media duplication, video editing labs, and video taping of class presentations.

An online module designed to help you work more efficiently with student teams within your classes. This module is designed to help you work with teams in both face-to-face and online courses. Regardless of what type of course you teach, you should find helpful information within this course regarding the formation, facilitation and performance of student teams.

This is a faculty peer evaluation form (peer observation, classroom observation). It has a "checklist" format, it does not have a scaled rating (Likert scale) format. This form asks faculty peer reviewers to note the presence of teaching activities/behaviors that have already been established as indicative of high quality teaching. This form is intentionally designed to be shortened by the faculty in an academic unit so that it reflects the unit's teaching values and the priorities of the unit. It should not be used "as is" because it is too much to expect to reviewers to evaluate; fewer items per section list will make the form easier for faculty to use.

The form was created based in January 2006 based on information in: Chism, N.V.N. (1999) Chapter 6: Classroom Observation, Peer Review of Teaching: A Sourcebook. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

A presentation that looks at the research findings on large classes and models for course redesign that help to overcome large class issues.

This document outlines the research evidence for the impact of large classes on student learning.

This document provides methods for doing classroom assessment (usually ungraded) to help faculty keep students in large classes engaged and to provide feedback about student knowledge of specific concepts to both faculty and students.

This is a worksheet that includes the reasons why students might be misbehaving in large classes and strategies for addressing the incivility.

This document contains a list of websites and other resources for faculty who teach in large classes.

This report is the first in a series encompassed by the Quality of Instruction project. The research question guiding this report is: How do students and teachers view the instructional process at University Park? Information to address this question was obtained by surveying both students and faculty concerning their attitudes and experiences at University Park during the 1995-1996 academic year. These student and teacher surveys were made possible by support from the Penn State Alumni Association provided Fern (Bunny) Willits as the 1995-96 Alumni Teaching Fellow awardee and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. Class Attendance data were provided by the Office of Student Affairs Research and Assessment Pulse Survey.
The complete citation for the report is:
Willits, Fern K., Moore, Betty L., & Enerson, Diane M. (1997). Penn State, Quality of Instruction: Surveys of Students and Teachers at University Park. Pennsylvania State University.

An eight question survey for students to assess how they prepared for a class and how they rate the difficulty of the exam.

A handout that provides information and exercises on how to plan an effective class session.

Examples of rubrics for 1) Class participation; 2) lab reports; 3)oral participation; and 4) a teaching portfolio. Document also includes rubrics of different grain sizes: holistic rubric compared with grading checklist. There is also a case study about a request to have an assignment regraded.

This case study involves a female professor and her response to a female student who has been teased by males (who are the majority of the class). This document is most useful for faculty developers.

Case study: A teaching assistant discovers that many of the class activities she planned will be physically impossible for one of her students.

This is a case study appropriate for use with any faculty or graduate instructor audience. It touches on themes including religious differences, inclusivity, difficult dialogues, and class discussions.

This FAQ sheet offers many ideas and strategies for engaging students in active learning, given a large class environment.

This FAQ sheet offers many ideas and strategies for designing and administering meaningful assignments in large classes.

This FAQ sheet addresses many issues related to attendance in large classes.

This FAQ sheet provides a number of strategies related to class and course planning and lecturing in large classes.

This FAQ sheet offers many strategies for collecting student feedback in large classes.

This FAQ sheet discusses issues and strategies related to providing notes and supporting students' notetaking in large classes.

This FAQ sheet offers many suggestions for making good use of teaching assistants and classroom space.

This FAQ sheet provides many suggestions for encouraging student participation in large classes.

This document describes a strategy for getting students involved with the content by having them pair with other students to discuss the answer to an instructor-posed problem. The pairs then share their answers with the class.

For use in course design or revision, this Course Outline assists you aligning course topics with course learning objectives, finding and filling gaps in that alignment, and planning how much class time is necessary for students to achieve the learning objectives. The outline is particularly useful in developing shared learning goals for multiple course sections, integrated courses, and linked courses, as well as for submissions for curricular review and assessment planning.

For use in course design or revision, this Course Outline assists you aligning course topics with course learning objectives, finding and filling gaps in that alignment, and planning how much class time is necessary for students to achieve the learning objectives. The outline is particularly useful in developing shared learning goals for multiple course sections, integrated courses, and linked courses, as well as for submissions for curricular review and assessment planning.

The following teaching tips are based on books and articles addressing some of the most important issues any faculty member in their first years (and beyond) will face in the classroom. The intent for presenting them in this handout format is to provide just enough on each issue to give you some idea for your next class, but not enough to convince you that’s all there is to it. All these tips are based on more substantial treatments in the literature, and the references at the end of each tip sheet will show you where to look next for more in-depth discussion. On the last page, you will find additional references in three different media that help you reflect on many more issues in higher-education teaching.

The Lecture/Discussion Facilitation Template was distributed at the 2017 Lilly Evidence-based Teaching & Learning Conference held in Bethesda, MD June 1 - 4, 2017. Use it during lectures as a low-stakes, largely anonymous method to gauge students’ understanding, as a pop quiz or survey, or to keep track of in-class group activities. The template can improve student participation and engagement by minimizing their fears of low (or even “too high”) performance before their classmates, and it provides a demonstrable, observable, measurable, and active way to gain a sense of how well students are “getting it,” beyond the glint in their eyes. In that sense, it serves as a quick formative assessment tool that can be customized on demand.

For most teachers, leading classroom discussion on difficult topics is a perennial challenge. Part of the challenge lies in the fact that we never fully know which issues will be “hot buttons” for our students. Conversations can become heated very quickly, and before long, it can feel like the class is careening out of control. This guide seeks to help teachers feel more confident leading difficult dialogues by encouraging reflection on how such discussions connect with larger learning goals, and by providing specific strategies and resources that teachers can use to create more productive conversations in their classrooms.

A low tech alternative to clickers. Now students do not have to tote printed "ABCD Cards" for interactive lecturing and polling. Now there is an "app for that." The instructor poses a questions and the class holds up their response. The teacher scans the sea of answers to get a quick pulse on student responses. If there are too many As, Cs, and Ds, when B was the correct answer, then there may be some confusion and a need to clarify.

The Center for Instructional Innovation at Western Washington University has created a *free* ABCD Cards app for iOS and Android . Students simply launch the app, tap their answer choice, and hold up their answers. The app removes the burden of printing the cards, and responses
might even be easier to see for instructors in large rooms. Visit for more information.

Large classes are among the most important because many students enrolled are new to the college experience. The big challenges of teaching large classes include finding ways to engage students, providing timely feedback, and managing logistics. When faced with these challenges, many instructors revert to lectures and multiple-choice tests. There are alternatives. This special report describes some alternative teaching and course management techniques to get students actively involved without an inordinate amount of work on the instructor’s part. From the Teaching Professor, Magna.

Short descriptions of 22 activities to engage students in both large and small classes.

This resource is from Texas Tech University and is written by Jenny Lloyd-Strovas, Ph.D. at TTU's Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center
Texas Tech University in August, 2015.
Teaching large classes can be a daunting experience. How do you keep students engaged and active without losing control of the classroom? With so many students, how do you know if they are learning? Should you attempt to take attendance or risk losing students? How do you build rapport when learning 200 names isn’t a possibility? If you have taught (or are preparing to teach) a large class, you have probably asked yourself these questions. Here, I will discuss possible solutions for these challenges and more. This resource is organized to be a quick and efficient reference for challenges that you are experiencing in your classroom.

Teaching Large Classes by Adam Wilsman, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
Teaching a large class poses many challenges, both in and out of the classroom. In the classroom, large enrollments can promote student disengagement and feelings of alienation, which can erode students’ sense of responsibility and lead to behaviors that both reflect and promote lack of engagement. Logistics can also be a challenge when teaching a large class. How does one best manage the daily administration of what can often feel like a small city? This resource presents strategies to help instructors deal with some of the challenges associated with teaching large classes.

In this article, Meixun Sinky Zheng, PhD, shares some low-risk strategies to help faculty transform lectures into student-centered learning experiences for enhanced learning outcomes. These active learning strategies can be easily implemented without significant redesign of the class and without an investment in technology. The article ends with a few tech-based strategies for engaging your students.

Tips for Teaching Large Classes Online, Faculty Focus, Rob Kelly (3-17-2009) writes about strategies used by Jonathan Mathews, Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State. Prof. Mathews still regularly teaches large enrollment online courses.

This FAQ about effective teaching and learning in large courses (large classes) from the Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation. The questions focus on reducing anonymity, managing and engaging students, active learning, checking for learning, incorporating writing and group work without overwhelming yourself.

From UC Berkeley's Center for Teaching and Learning, Considerations for Large Lecture Classes provides six ways to make lectures in a large enrollment course more manageable and effective. The strategies include communicating explicit learning expectations, not trying to "cover" everything, focusing on analysis of issues or problems, engaging students through active learning practices, providing feedback to students, and using clickers to poll students.

This article from UC Berkeley's' Center for Teaching & Learning, reviews how to create opportunities for your students to build deeper understanding of concepts through articulation and elaboration, as they engage in learning conversations (discourse & sensemaking) in a large lecture hall. These strategies shift some of the intellectual work to the students, as they offer explanations, summaries, elaborations, articulations of the material, and find ways to connect to what they already know with what they are learning in your course (Allen & Tanner, 2005). The title of the article is "Discourse & Sensemaking Strategies in Large Lecture."

Allen, D., & Tanner, K. (2005). Infusing active learning into the large-enrollment biology class: Seven strategies, from the simple to complex. Cell Biology Education (CBE), 4, 262-268. doi:10.1187/cbe.05-08-0113

This article is written by one of the most well-known professors in engineering education, Richard Felder. While not new, is still relevant to instructors teaching large courses. Felder says: "When we find ourselves teaching a mob, it's easy to throw up our hands, conclude that there's no chance of getting any responsiveness out of 150 or 300 students in an auditorium... Fortunately, there are ways to make large classes almost as effective as their smaller counterparts. Without turning yourself inside out, you can get students actively involved, help them develop a sense of community, and give frequent homework assignments without killing yourself (or your teaching assistants) with impossible grading loads. BEATING THE NUMBERS GAME: EFFECTIVE TEACHING IN LARGE CLASSES, by Richard M. Felder, Department of Chemical Engineering
North Carolina State University. Presented at the 1997 ASEE Annual Conference, Milwaukee, WI, June 1997.

We include this article in our repository to demonstrate that faculty have been concerned about and practicing active learning in large courses for decades. This is a classic from 1987 by Peter Frederick in a volume edited by well-known champion of excellent teaching and Prof. Emerita at Penn State, Maryellen Weimer. Teaching Large Classes Well. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 32: 45-56. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Frederick discusses interactive lectures, using questions to involve the class, asking specific questions (rather than "does everyone understand? which no one wants to answer), using small groups, using problem-solving to foster critical thinking, debates, simulations, and role playing. While his examples might be a bit dated, this still makes a lot of sense and provides useful ideas to adapt for the 21st century.

Face-to-face, online and hybrid courses all have the same credit hour requirements for students. How can faculty know if they are assigning a workload that is too heavy or too light? How can faculty set expectations for student time on task? How can faculty answer students questions about "how long with this assignment take?" This website provides guidelines to help estimate student activity times--with the caveat that hours are not a measure of learning.

This site provides faculty, instructional designers, and faculty developers with general estimates of student time needed for learning. These estimates are particularly important in online and blended courses where students often under estimate the amount of time needed to learn, and where faculty also frequently ask “is there too much/not enough?” in the course. Faculty are the ultimate decision-makers in determining their course’s alignment to credit hour requirements and in making estimations about the amount of time students spend “in” and “out” of class for blended courses or engaged in learning activities for online courses.