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by Beverly Brehl, PhD
For a variety of reasons, many college instructors are finding themselves faced with the daunting task of teaching larger classes with fewer resources. At the same time, we are also expected to maintain or increase productivity in other areas, especially research. So how do we do this, while maintaining high academic standards and providing our students with a meaningful learning experience?
In this blog series I will be exploring some of the ways that this can be done. This summer, I am teaching over 160 students in two fully-online courses*, without the help of a TA. I am trying to view this as an opportunity to try out some of the tricks of the trade that I have shared with others in my time as an instructional consultant, and perhaps invent a few of my own. I don't promise to have all of the answers, but I intend to share resources I have found useful as well examples from my own experience.
To get started, I think it would be helpful if I outline the basic structure of my courses. One course is an introductory survey course in Human Development (clicking the link will bring you to the course syllabus), and the other is a senior-level course in Adolescence. Each week, students in both courses have assigned readings from a textbook, online lectures to review, supplementary materials as appropriate (e.g., video clips, external websites), and a discussion forum to participate in (more on this in subsequent posts). In the lower-level Human Development class, I am using a portal created by the textbook publishers to assign homework and exams. (I've been very impressed by the quality of activities provided in this resource, so I will likely discuss this further in an upcoming post.) In the upper-level Adolescence course, students take weekly quizzes and submit a final paper.
Yes, a final paper in an upper-level course with 75 students and no TA support.
In the next installment of this series, I will outline how I have adapted the final paper in this course to allow me to continue to complete all of my responsibilities, as well as maintain my personal life and sanity (what's left of it!).
*Although both of my courses this summer happen to be fully online, most (if not all) of the approaches I will discuss can be used or modified for use in a face-to-face (F2F) classroom.