About the Seminar
Everyone wants their class to be humming with energy, to know that their students are learning deeply and for transfer, and to generate excitement and engagement with course content. Relatedly, everyone wants their students to have meaningful opportunities to learn through writing and speaking, and to develop as communicators in the process. But large courses can pose special challenges to achieving these goals. Fortunately, with a bit of planning, many active learning strategies can be tailored to the jumbo class context (face-to-face or remote), without adding to the grading load.
In collaboration with the Weissman Dean’s office, the Institute designed and facilitated a Seminar to support faculty teaching so-called Jumbo courses. The Seminar’s goals are to support faculty in:
- Establishing a participatory culture through writing- and speaking-to-learn
- Designing and sequencing communications assignments to promote scaffolded learning and efficiencies for the instructor
- Responding productively—and time-efficiently—to student writing in large courses
“This was the best run teaching-related seminar I’ve participated in…The strategies were clear and effective and took seriously the demands we face as teachers.”
More specifically, the Seminar shares strategies for the following, with special emphasis on the large course context, and with modifications for teaching online through synchronous and asynchronous means:
- Assigning low-stakes writing and speaking
- Facilitating meaningful and efficient group work
- Designing effective discussion boards
- Exploring variations in assignment design to promote clarity, authenticity, and efficiency
- Using minimalist, time-efficient formative feedback techniques for lower-stakes work
- Using rubrics, comment banks, and peer review for higher-stakes work
In the semester following the Seminar’s three sessions, faculty participants are paired with a Schwartz Communication Institute Fellow for further individualized co-thinking and support in developing instructional materials for their next Jumbo course.
We plan to offer this Seminar again soon. In the meantime, if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Institute’s Directors.
See here for our Assessment Report on Seminar Outcomes.
If you teach a large course, you might like to look at some of the resources we shared in the Seminar:
- This handout packet covers a variety of strategies and tools promoting active learning in large courses through culture building activities, low-stakes writing and speaking, group work, and online discussion boards.
- Assignment Alternatives
- Sample Comment Bank
- Sample Rubric Packet
- Our Very Short Guides to Performances of Understanding, Writing to Learn, Speaking to Learn, Responding to Student Writing, Formative and Summative Feedback, Peer Review, and Using Rubrics