Faculty-led symposium to explore practices for teaching large classes

Instructors from across campus will come together to explore and exchange effective practices in large-class teaching at “Effectively Teaching in Large Classes: A Symposium of Ideas,” on Friday, November 18.

Organized by faculty members Judy Bornais of nursing and Julie Smit of biological sciences, the event came about as each of them was independently planning to bring a speaker on the topic to campus.

“When we discovered we were on the same track, we thought, why not make a full day of it?” says Bornais.

They will be joined for the day by professors Dora Cavallo-Medved (biological sciences) and Danielle Soulliere (sociology, anthropology, and criminology), who will organize a session at the end of the day exploring the possibility of establishing an ongoing learning community about large-class teaching with anyone interested in continuing to explore the topic.

The symposium will feature two speakers:

  • Mike Atkinson, a 3M Canada Teaching Fellow and psychology professor at Western University, was one of the pioneers of the “superclass” which integrates multimedia and other technologies to create effective learning and high levels of engagement in classes with over 1,000 students.
  • Award-winning instructor Michelle French, associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto, has recently completed a study of effective large-classroom practices in Australia, New Zealand, and the North American west coast. Her session will draw on her research to explore a range of approaches to large-class teaching.

The provost’s office is buying participants lunch. Douglas Kneale says he is thrilled to be able to support a project driven by faculty.

“When we heard what the team had planned, we wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge the huge impact that large-enrolment teachers have on students’ experiences at the University, and the massive amounts of effort that go into making these classes work,” he says.

“As a past teacher of large-enrolment first-year literature surveys, I’m very interested to hear back from the team about the challenges identified and their ideas for what directions a learning community on large-enrolment classes might take.”

Registration for the event is now open, and participants can sign up for the whole day or for specific sessions: http://cleo.uwindsor.ca/workshops/100/#wkshp-100.

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