Teaching Tip: Reducing anonymity in large classes
May 15, 2007
Overview: You can improve retention and attendance by recognizing your students as individuals.
Some Things To Try:
- Learn the names of at least some of your students:
- Print the pictures from your CAIS roster and use them to associate names with faces.
- Use a seating chart.
- Return exams personally to associate names with faces and encourage students who are struggling.
- Learn the names of people sitting along the aisles and call on them during the class.
- Ask students to wear name tags so that can call on them by name.
- When giving a test, ask the students to hang a sheet of paper with their names in large letters in front of them. You can then wander around the room learning names.
- Create a more personal environment by letting students "know" you in appropriate ways:
- How you first encountered a concept
- How you used course-related materials in problem-solving
- Find ways to be accessible to students on a personal leve
- Arrive early and chat with students who are already there.
Greet students as they come in.
- Stay a few minutes after class to answer individual questions.
- Give students your work email address and encourage them to send questions or comments in this way.
- Pass out invitations to ten students to join you for coffee after class to get acquainted. Or, announce that you'll meet any students who are free for coffee after class.
Lecture or lead discussions from different points in the classroom. This will give students the feeling of being in the midst of the action instead of just being an observer.
- Ask students to share their own experiences with a concept.
- Provide many avenues for feedback from students:
- Ask students to write down the "muddiest" part of your lecture, and then use some of the next class or handouts to clarify the material.
- Encourage students to start an online newsgroup to foster out-of-class discussion.
- Pass out observation forms to 10 students at the beginning of class and ask them to meet with you and discuss their observations about what works and what doesn't.
Source: Sallie Ives: A Survival Handbook for Teaching Large Classes.
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