Florida Atlantic University Center for Teaching and Learning Faculty Learning Community 2009-2010 ____________________________________________________________________________

Florida Atlantic University
Center for Teaching and Learning
Faculty Learning Community 2009-2010
Teaching Large Lecture Classes
Caroline S. Gould, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Philosophy
The focus of this community will be to address two problems intrinsic to large courses.
First, as pedagogues, we aim to teach our students how to think critically and creatively.
We strive to teach students how to teach themselves so that they can focus fruitfully on
whatever professional, personal or intellectual tasks confront them in life. That goal
seems best met in small groups of students in which they feel comfortable asking
questions, challenging received assumptions, and testing their own ideas. But economic
conditions are forcing us to do this in large introductory courses.
A second goal is to teach students to express themselves clearly and precisely. Many
students realize that they need to improve their written and oral expression. Courses in
every department can help them improve their powers of expression by giving them new
information and assigning them tasks that use new vocabulary and formal structures. But
how can we give students the individual attention they need to improve their writing and
speaking in a large class?
This group would discuss, develop, and refine strategies for making the large lecture
courses more effective and meaningful for the students and more manageable for the
TAs. Some ideas the group might explore would be some nontraditional use of
classroom time, such as (1) small groups that would work cooperatively on solving a
problem (2) contemplative learning, such as having them take a short period to perform
thought experiments suggested by ideas in a lecture and then to write an impromptu page
on their results, and (3) performance, such as having small groups of students explain an
idea or segment of a text to the class or having willing students debate an idea in front of
the class which would involve taking roles of figures in history, philosophy, etc. The
participants could also develop ways of bringing popular culture into lectures on
traditional disciplinary material. These would be for the community’s participants to
EXPECTATIONS (specific to this community’s participants):
 Implement strategies in the participant’s classes
 Design a set of suggested techniques for teaching large lecture classes
 Present a university-wide workshop on pedagogy.
You will receive a $1,000 stipend for your active participation in the FLC and upon
fulfilling all FLC expectations