Date of this Version
Large lecture classes, often of 100 students or more, present unique challenges to both teaching and learning. The common method of “delivery” by instructors is lecture, often augmented by a set of Power Point slides while the research literature shows that this more traditional way of teaching does not reach students in the way we hope and often assume. At the same time, most of the current students populating these classes are born of the Digital Age and have different expectations for learning, requiring new approaches in the classroom. Faculty are exhorted to incorporate more critical thinking in their classes no matter the size, while more courses are being converted to large lecture venues that are usually not conducive to students interacting with each other, or even attending regularly. The large, impersonal auditoriums seem to be a confounding factor to the quality learning we seek to encourage. Auditoriums are not conducive to more interactivity and engagement in our classrooms that are student-centered. The results of the current study suggest that utilizing a Student Response System in a large lecture course is one way of increasing student engagement and interactivity, and has the added benefit of increasing student attendance throughout the semester. Adding a set of prepared readings designed to invite greater engagement with the material and, thereby, setting the foundation for critical thinking does not directly correlate with improved grades on the exams without further integration into lecture although they provide applications of concepts and theories in a more appealing way that can invite critical thinking.