Couple of good resources for teaching large classes

My colleague Marina Milner-Bolotin from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Faculty of Science’s Skylight (Science Centre for Learning and Teeaching) pointed me in the direction of a few exciting projects that I think have wide applicability.  Both have to do with effective teaching techniques for large classes.

Local Resource:  eTLC

Skylight, the learning and teaching research arm of UBC’s Faculty of Science, is sponsoring a project that focuses on the particular challenges of teaching large classes.

eTLC provides, resources (research summaries, practical strategies, multimedia, etc.) and a set of community tools for faculty who teach large classes.  Grounded in Chickering & Gamson’s 7 principles, the site focuses on three areas of good practice.  In their words, these are:

  1. Resources to enhance interaction and cooperation among students
  2. Resources to enhance active learning in large classes
  3. Resources to promote feedback between students and instructors

All and all, and excellent starting point for those new to teaching, particularly new to teaching large courses!


Clicker Resource from U of Toronto:

Clickers (aka, personal or student or audience response systems) have been used for several years at UBC, particularly in introductory science courses.  With the advent of the more portable and functional (feature-rich) RF clicker systems, this effort is widening further this fall. 

Information on clickers for UBC people can be found at 

Like any tool, the value is not in the technology, but how the using the technology can further learning and teaching goals.  I’m not posting anything extraordinary by stating that one has to ask good questions to take full advantage of the system.  Indeed, the timing, sequence, etc. are all important…

Marina’s pointer to an effort led by David Harrison of the University of Toronto is particularly timely for me, as I am coming up to speed further on this in-class technology:

The Canadian In-Class Question Database (CINQ-DB)

From their Web site:


A rapidly increasing number of classes, especially large classes, are using In-Class Questions. Finding suitable questions up to now has involved a few books, web sites, and informal contacts among educators. The intention of the Canadian In-Class Question Database (CINQ-DB) is to provide a one-stop shopping repository of questions. Although we call the repository Canadian questions are from teachers from a number of different countries.

Although this web site is hosted by the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, it includes questions from a variety of fields at a variety of levels.

The nice thing is that the database is not only compiling questions, but is looking to have information on how the questions are used (see


Thanks for the pointers, Marina!

This entry was posted in Classroom-Based Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.