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In the Classroom

Teaching Large Classes | Technology in the Classroom
Diversity in the Classroom | Undergraduate Research


Teaching Large Classes

Questions posed for discussion in a large (50+) lecture hall often provide disappointing results: Only a few students are confident enough to speak up, while the rest “zone out” and wait for the “real” material (i.e., the instructor’s words) to begin again. One option is to require students to purchase “clickers” or electronic devices that allow them to respond individually to questions posed by the lecturer in class, with a chart of aggregated responses appearing immediately afterward.  UTA currently works with the iClicker system. (Additional info at the iClicker site.) One of the best features of a “clicker” system is that instructors can see mid-lecture how well students understand the material. If the results of a poll or question suggest only a portion of the students understand, the instructor can prompt students to discuss the answer with a nearby colleague before re-polling. Clarifying their understanding through peer instruction can be more helpful and focused than a second explanation by the instructor or a dialogue between the instructor and one puzzled student. In peer-to-peer discussion of open-ended questions (a common feature of humanities and social sciences courses), students often build an investment in their approach to the topic, and engage in more fruitful full-class discussion afterward.

Recent innovations in technology may soon make the purchase of a separate device unnecessary, however. In both LectureTools which UTA supports and the Top Hat cloud-based systems students use their smartphones, tablets, or laptops to respond to a wide-range of questions.  

Below are additional resources:

Renowned Harvard Professor Eric Mazur developed interactive learning approach in his large lecture classes. Here are his articles and videos on interactive learning:

For those who wish more in-depth coverage of Team-Based Learning, see the following videos:

  • Team-Based Learning Workshop – Michael Sweet: Part I ; Part 2 

Technology in the Classroom

Topics of interest for those interested in the role of technology in education include 3-D Printing, Second Life, Mine Craft, Animated Cartoon Strips, iPad Apps, Collaborative Design, Distributed Learning, and Distributed Cognition. For more information on these and other topics, and their application in higher education, contact the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence or the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Lab (Contact: lmayo@uta.edu).

*Clickers, LectureTools, and Socrative are tools providing similar means to engage students in the classroom. LectureTools is probably the most interactive and is available at UT Arlington. (Contact Don Lane at dklane@uta.edu for training.) LectureTools and Socrative allow students to use their own mobile devices, whereas clickers require students to purchase remote devices to use.

Diversity in the Classroom

  • Faculty Resources Library for Diversity focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; however, some is applicable to all disciplines.
  • Addressing Diversity in Schools: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Some general, informative ideas about addressing diversity in education.
  • Banks, James A. “Transforming the Mainstream Curriculum.” Educational Leadership, v51 n8 p4-8 May 1994. Quote: “Multicultural education tries to create equal educational opportunities by ensuring that the total school environment reflects the diversity of groups in classrooms, schools, and society. Five dimensions can help educators implement and assess programs addressing student diversity: content integration, knowledge construction, prejudice reduction, equitable pedagogy, and the empowering school culture. Rosa Parks's activism is reexamined.”

Undergraduate Research