Faculty-led Inquiry into Reflective and Scholarly Teaching (FIRST)


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Course portfolio developed as part of the UNL Peer Review of Teaching Project (peerreview.unl.edu)

Copyright (c) 2016 Karen J. Cannon


A significant amount of research in teaching and learning is conducted exploring large enrollment courses. Often it seems as if we believe that the panacea is smaller class sizes. However, challenges exist in smaller enrollment courses as well. This inquiry portfolio explores an introductory, sophomore level course in strategic communication with an enrollment of 20 students. Despite the smaller number of students in the course, significant challenges exist and over the five spring semesters I’ve taught the class, one consistent challenge remains – how to bridge the wide range of student ability, knowledge, and experience of students in the course.

The objective of this portfolio was to investigate how to “bridge the gap” of students’ abilities in this course, which has appeared as a challenge semester over semester. Essentially, within the confines and parameters that exist, how do I as the course instructor adjust my teaching practices, methods, and materials to improve the experience for all students in the course? What changes, if any, should be made to the course itself, to prerequisites or restrictions on course enrollment, or to other aspects of the course?