Teaching and Learning in Large Classes

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences recognises that the teaching of large classes presents special challenges and opportunities for coordinators. Lectures, assessment tasks, website design and management, tutorial coordination, and staff participation may all be tailored to large class conditions. The Arts Teaching and Learning Network is developing a range of initiatives to support coordinators of large classes and to assist them in the design and development of excellent teaching and learning practices.

Large Classes Seminar Series 2010

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Network is proud to introduce a series of seminars supporting the teaching of large classes, including: egaging students in large class lectures; managing teams of tutors for large classes; and promoting quality academic writing in large classes. Other topics will be added in response to demand as the series progresses. In these seminars, highly experienced academic staff introduce you to the practical tips and techniques they use for effective teaching and learning in large classes. Each one hour seminar contains direct, brief presentation of teaching tips followed by open discussion of issues facing teachers and learners.

Seminar 1: The large lecture experience
Presented by Prof. David Braddon-Mitchell (philosophy) and Dr. Julia Kindt (classics and ancient history).
Held on Monday April 19, 3-4pm
Topics Discussed:

  • Bringing research into first year teaching in a way that activates learning
  • Getting the most from using (and not using) AV
  • Getting students to focus on you and what you are saying
  • Thinking about and finding out about your particular audience
  • The performance aspect of it all: e.g. telling a story or narrative
  • The pyramid structure: to offer a spectrum of information to different levels of learning within one audience.


Seminar 2: Managing a team of tutors
Presented by Dr Catriona Elder (sociology), Sharon Quah (tutor, sociology) and Harriett Westcott (tutor, sociology).
Held on Monday May 17, 3-4pm
Topics Discussed:

  • Equity for students and tutors across a large class
  • Quality issues
  • A Practical Guide for Tutors
  • Building a community among the tutors (formally and informally)
  • Marking and markers’ meetings.


Seminar 3:
Embedded Literacy Support (ELS) – supporting students in developing discipline and genre specific discursive practice.

This seminar is being offered by the Department of Linguistics and may be of interest to anyone teaching large classes.

Presenters: Dr Sally Humphrey and Dr Shooshi Dreyfus.
THURSDAY 24 JUNE, 10am - 12pm, Transient Room 203, Transient F12.

Supporting students to meet the discursive requirements of their tertiary program of study has been a central concern of the Arts faculty for a number of years. While generic literacy courses go some of the way into supporting students’ literacy development, the differences in both the variety of disciplines and the texts students are required to write within those disciplines mean that there are gaps in what generic literacy courses can offer.

In this workshop we introduce a model of embedded literacy support (ELS), which is tailored to not only particular disciplines, but to subjects and assignments within those subjects. We explain embedded literacy support and show how we are implementing it. As this is a two-hour slot, we ask that if possible, colleagues attending bring a high ranking student essay from their subject or discipline.

ELS applies Sydney School Genre pedagogy, developed here under the leadership of Professor Jim Martin of the Department of Linguistics. Sydney school genre pedagogy has been at the forefront of educational linguistics in Australia, feeding into the development of curricula at both state and national levels. It has also been applied and developed internationally.

Useful resources for Teaching and Learning in Large Classes

  • The Business School has developed some useful resources for staff teaching large classes. Although the information is designed to assist coordinators of large classes (80 students or more), it may be useful for coordinators of any classes that require supervision of other staff, including tutors.
  • Australian Universities Teaching Commitee (AUTC) Teaching Large Classes resources (2001)
  • Enhancing learning in large classes from the University of Queensland AUTC.
  • Good Practice Guide for Large Classes from Griffith University GIHE.
  • Assessing large classes from the University of Melbourne CSHE.