Measuring Student Engagement for Large Classes

Teaching Large Classes

Researchers, educators, and policymakers are increasingly focused on student engagement as the key to addressing problems of low achievement, student boredom and alienation, and high dropout rates (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris 2004). Managing large classes takes much of an effort and planning than teaching smaller classes.

Teaching Large Classes

Be it online learning sessions of traditional lectures, irrespective of the class size, the lecture hall, a large class is the one that feels like one. There are important considerations that are to be made to manage and deliver effectively. To manage a large class it is important to make pre-class decisions. Research states that traditional lectures to a class, does not help students to retain much of the information. For students to be involved in active learning in the lecture, other strategies with additional resources are required.

Strategies for Teaching Large Classes

  • Personalize the class by acquainting with all the students through roll calls specially in the first days of the session. Fix a seating plan. Hold office hours where students can come visit you and talk to you about various issues. Show willingness to listen to them.
  • Breaking up the class into segments of 10 to 20 minutes each to keep the attention span to maximum. The typical attention span of teenagers is really less, to keep the students focused to grab the concepts, breaking the lecture segment into smaller parts can really help.
  • Promote active learning by making lectures interactive, asking questions, encouraging brainstorming, incorporate a variety of teaching methods
  • Team Based Learning (TBL); TBL is an instructional strategy that emphasizes on student preparation out of class and application of knowledge in class.
  • Encourage student participation through small groups, pairing up and using surveys.
  • Think-pair-share; the instructor poses a question or problem to the class. Students are given time to consider a response, they are then asked to pair up with the other student sitting next to them. The pair discusses their responses and then share their response with the larger group or class. Initial opportunity to talk about their response with a single peer reduces the anxiety some students feel about responding to instructor prompts.
  • Minute-paper; This is a type of classroom assessment technique where at the end of each class segment, each student is asked to write the main point of the class in 2 - 3 minutes. This poses various benefits that include, students being able to articulate their thoughts and them staying alert.
  • Audience response system; Clicker-Questions with the help of devices called clickers are presented as multiple-choice questions that can particularly be used as a formative assessment technique.
  • Addressing the fear of peer judgement among the class; Fear of embarrassment among peers is a common reason for lack of participation. It is critical for the teacher to develop a sense of trust among the classmates, so no student feels judged by his peers. Try to build feelings of personal connection among them. Do not let any student dominate the discussion. Furthermore, discussion boards can provide structured opportunities for students who are otherwise too shy to participate in class discussion both in online. This ensures a good learning experience for each type of student in the class.
  • Teaching Assistants;  By engaging a teaching assistant in the wider classroom environment, it could be that everyone benefits. An assistant may not be qualified as the teacher who is in-charge, but is capable for helping him use technology, organize the class, because a large class can become rowdy.

Classroom Management Tips for a Large Class

Due to the economical collapse, and the loss of jobs due to the current conditions in the times of COVID, there has been remarkable larger classes in public institutions. For new teachers, or teachers who are new to the recent trends of virtual online classes.

Collaborative Grouping

Small group discussions, where the students are segregated into groups of 7 to 10 students each, they are given a topic to discuss and learn about among the groups. To assess whether each student had an active participation in the group work, the teacher may randomly pick students from the group and check whether they are able to answer questions regarding the topic. Often the quiet students in the large groups get less airtime. A turn talk can help each student to participate.

Time Management

Discussing learning objects in a small class may take around 20 minutes while discussing the same topics with a large enrollment class probably takes twice the time. If not planned, the ring to the next class will ring and you will not have probably covered the important topics for the specific day.

Find New approach to know students

In a class with large number of students, it is impossible for each and every student to get one on one time with their teachers. Unfortunately, relations with students suffer alot especially in online or large lecture classes.

Use Survey

Consider new ways like taking surveys every two to three weeks, for students to get a chance to ask their questions, and keep different students in focus each time. Invite the students to talk about their interests, achievements and challenges they are facing.

Be Okay with the loud

Loud does not always means random discussions. If your classroom management skills are being questioned for not keeping your students quiet, understand that loud is what you get from enthusiastic learners.

Peer Assessment

Peer assessment means involving studies in their own learning. Research show that self and peer assessment enhances teaching and learning effectiveness by helping them to develop their critical thinking and reflective skills and boost their self confidence.  Self-assessment  “students are directed to assess their performance against pre-determined standard criteria…[and] involves the students in goal setting and more informal, dynamic self-regulation and self-reflection” (Bourke & Mentis, 2011, p. 859).

Measuring Student Learning with Peer Evaluation

It is challenging to assess the progress of students learning while teaching a lecture or seminar, no matter how interactive it may be. Multiple-choice tests or iClicker questions are currently the most common forms of standardized testing to assess students' learning progress in-class. While it may be convenient and easy to implement, the results only show if a student reaches an answer rather than how they reach that answer. In addition, insights from these tests help professors to understand if the class as a whole is doing well or poorly but lacks information on areas of improvement for each individual student.

In a digital-first world,  institutions are now slowly adopting e-learning tools, and learning games to offer new assessment methods for students. It's become known as the invisible, integrated assessment method where students are more engaged beyond regular testing. The key advantage for professors is that many of these platforms offer a versatile dashboard, which tracks student performance data from learning activities. Gaining valuable insights into the skills coverage and student expectations regarding student learning will allow teachers to gain a holistic view of the academic performance of their students.

Peer Assessment Improves Student Learning

Peer assessment can vary depending on the learning goals and is is often characterized as taking either a formative or summative approach. Researches show that peer assessment has various benefits and improves student learning by;

  • Quick feedback
  • Learning through giving feedback
  • Increased critical engagement
  • Encourages reflective comparison
  • Active engagement
  • Improved understanding of their own work
  • Increased opportunities for writing in the discipline
  • Development of lifelong skills

Types of Peer assessment

  • The concept of peer assessment is broad and has various types. These are the things to be considered while selecting choosing peer assessment technique
  • Object of assessment – What skill is a students expected to develop while carrying out an activity
  • Product of peer assessment – What is the output that students create while assessing their peers? (grades, rubric, ranking, guided questions, qualitative feedback)
  • Grading – How will students be graded on the assignment?
  • Reviewer selection – How will peer assessors be assigned for the peer assessment? (e.g. randomized, self-selected, instructor selected, small group, pair-matched).
  • Training – How experienced and confident are the students with peer assessment?
  • Frequency and positioning

Assessment Without Testing

Typically, final grades consist of tests, quizzes, and exams collected over the semester all of which follow the same style of assessment, testing. On the note of testing, rarely can evaluation skills be measured through these conventional assessments. As most undergraduate education programs do not teach evaluative skills, students lack the ability to make sound judgements and identify right from wrong.

Integrating peer assessment into classrooms will help students identify their own skills gaps and understand where their knowledge is weak [2]. It helps both professors and students to focus their attention on learning and set realistic goals. Students are motivated to revise their work and track their own progress with more peer assessment-related activities. As a professor, you coach your students through the rubric criteria you create and in the expectations you state, teach them how to apply them when grading each other work. A valuable assessment tool to help students self-reflect and take responsibility for their learning [2].

Taking Action

To create an inclusive educational environment while measuring the learning progress of students, integrating Kritik's calibrated peer review as a method of peer assessment is a great way to achieve this. Students reap the benefits of receiving immediate and consistent feedback on their creations.

In professor Gainer's first-year economics class, students were able to identify what poor and strong questions generated by the students look like, which demonstrates their knowledge of a subject.

As a professor, you have full visibility of all stages at any time. Additionally, you can track progress by seeing how an individual student's scores and critical thinking skills have changed over time.

Tracking how well students are evaluating one another can be seen through their Kritik score and the star ranks they receive.   As progress is tracked online, professors will have a better understanding of when to move to the next level of the course (1). Kritik gamifies assessment by enabling the students to earn points as they complete the course activities.

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  1. O'Malley, K. (2015, October 30). Changing the Way We Measure Student Progress: Pearson Blog. Retrieved from https://www.pearsoned.com/changing-the-way-we-measure-student-progress/
  2. Stanford Centre for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Student Self-Assessment. Retrieved from https://edubirdie.org/articles/teaching-resources/ and https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu/online-teaching-guides
Chris Palazzo
Marketer & Educator. Blending the two here at Kritik

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