Top tips for teaching a large cohort
Professor Beverley Hawkins, Associate Dean for Education in the University of Exeter Business Schools, shares her top tips for teach large cohorts of students – and keeping them engaged!
- Embrace diversity: Large cohorts bring together students from different backgrounds and experiences. Take advantage of this diversity by creating opportunities for students to engage and learn from one another.
- Foster student interaction: Encourage students to actively participate and engage in discussions, even in a large lecture setting. Utilise group activities, online forums, and other interactive methods to facilitate peer-to-peer learning.
- Plan strategically: Teaching at scale requires careful planning and organisation. Develop a clear curriculum, consider effective teaching methods, and ensure resources are in place to support a large number of students.
- Collaborate with colleagues: Working as part of a team can enhance the teaching experience and prevent isolation. Collaborate with other educators on the same module or program to share ideas, develop curriculum, and address challenges together.
- Challenge stereotypes: Challenge the negative assumptions associated with teaching at scale. Recognise that large cohorts can provide enriching learning experiences and offer opportunities for educators to grow and develop their teaching skills. Focus on the advantages rather than the perceived problems.
- Address operational challenges: Be proactive in addressing operational issues such as unplanned growth, timetabling, and infrastructure designed for smaller class sizes. Advocate for resources and support to effectively manage a large cohort.
- Prioritise student well-being: Large cohorts can sometimes create a sense of anonymity and detachment. Implement strategies to promote a sense of belonging and well-being among students, such as regular check-ins, mentorship programs, and support services.
- Leverage technology: Utilise technology tools and platforms to enhance teaching and learning in a large cohort setting. Explore online forums, virtual classrooms, and other digital resources to facilitate engagement and communication.
- Tailor instruction to diverse learners: Recognise the diverse needs and learning styles within a large cohort and adapt your teaching methods accordingly. Incorporate different instructional strategies, assessments, and support mechanisms to meet the needs of all students.
- Invest in professional development: Continuously seek opportunities for professional growth and development. Attend conferences, workshops, and training sessions that address teaching at scale and learn from experts in the field. Stay updated on the latest research and best practices in large cohort teaching.
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Professor Beverley Hawkins is the Associate Dean for Education (Business School) and Associate Professor of Leadership / Organisation Studies. She researches and teaches in the field of leadership/management practice, learning and development; her work often focuses on how people ‘make things happen’. She is especially interested in the experiences of those leading themselves and others through times of transition, and in experiences of leadership learning and development.
This blog post was written up by Jo Sutherest, PGR in Art History and Visual Culture, in conversation with Professor Beverley Hawkins.