How do I manage large classes?


Large classes can present unique challenges for instructors, particularly around instructor presence, student engagement, grading and feedback, and time-management, and during live sessions.


Instructor presence can be supported with specific strategies for large classes. For example,


  • Dedicate certain office hours for selected topics (e.g. review of a quiz, revision of specific concepts before a test, check-in).
  • Send out reminders to students (e.g. due dates, assessment dates, submission schedule).
  • Use targeted email messages to connect with specific groups of students (e.g. based on results on quizzes or other assessments).
  • Incorporate a ‘mentor’ voice into the course design (e.g. anticipating and including study notes for certain challenges in learning the material, suggesting study plan and test-taking strategies).


Student engagement can be encouraged through small interactive groups. For example,


  • Group discussion summaries – rather than individual students all contributing to a class discussion, they can meet in small groups in advance and discuss then summarize and post the single, group summary. Assigning group roles helps keep students on track (e.g. leader, recorder, equity tracker).
  • Structured peer reviews – develop a scaffolded approach with rubrics to guide peer reviews of written assignments.
  • Study groups – students support each other from everything from schedule confirmation questions, to content clarification, to low level tech support.


Grading and feedback can be managed with advance planning. For example,


  • Incorporate automated quizzes on fact based content. Include explanations and review suggestions in automated feedback; check out the creating a quiz video to learn how.
  • Use rubrics and student samples (exemplars of assignments by students, with permission) so students can see for themselves where they have gaps and how to improve.
  • Determine a set time for giving feedback: how much time and with what focus do you want to spend on each assignment? How can you streamline the process? For example, can you prepare a feedback template for an assignment?


Time-management can be enhanced with advance planning. For example,


  • Develop a course FAQ section, and include a Q&A discussion forum. Common questions you anticipate can go in the FAQ and common questions that emerge in the Q&A section can be moved over to the FAQ for future courses.
  • Manage discussion forum timelines; discussion timeframes can significantly affect your workload and efforts. One strategy is to open your discussion questions at the beginning of the week, and close them after 5 days with some concluding comments.


Live session challenges can be mitigated with both technical and lesson planning strategies. For example,


  • Include both interactive student tasks and instructor lecture time in each session.
  • Set aside a specific time, or times, in the session for Q&A. Do not try to respond to the Chat function at the same time as lecturing; tell students the Chat will be reviewed at the end.
  • Tell students to mute their microphones until it is their turn to speak and to use the ‘raise hand’ function if they have an urgent question.

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