Teaching Tips, Tool Talk | August 21, 2022

Engaging Large Classes 

How do you engage and check in with hundreds of students in a large lecture hall? Two Hunter professors share how they have been using TopHat to create interactive moments in their large in-person classes.


Immediate student feedback in a large lecture class
Charles Tien (Political Science)

For the large lecture version of POLSC 110 (American Government: A Historical Introduction) with 270 students, I have been using TopHat to engage and interact with students. I ask questions on the readings and lectures every class to encourage students to keep up. Students can use their phones, tablets, or laptops to respond. Feedback is immediate so everyone can see how they are doing with the course material, including myself as the instructor. I also require students to read the New York Times’s or the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of American politics everyday, and on Thursdays I start the class with four to five quiz questions from news stories that week. Their performance on all the TopHat questions is five percent of their final grade.

“Challenge Questions” to encourage student interaction, engagement and critical thinking
Kirsten Grant (Chemistry)

In my Essentials of General Chemistry course with mainly pre-nursing students, I encourage interaction using the TopHat Presentation Tool. It is a desktop download for TopHat users where you can present questions on the fly and the tool will take a screenshot of your presentation and share with students. I recently began something called “Challenge Questions” that incorporate all the concepts within a given lecture into one question. I make them in the form of a multiple-choice question that asks students to determine the true or false statements from a list of about 5-6. I make sure to add in misconceptions as statement choices. In the sample question (see image below), the misconceptions are choices III-V and are the false statements. I present the question at the beginning of the lecture and encourage students to work together with their neighbors to answer the question for about 3-4min. Once they submit their answers, I can review to see how much the students know or don’t know. After we have covered the content in the entire lecture, I present the question again. They work in their small groups and most of the students will change their answers to the correct answer. It’s a great way to see how much they learned during lecture and keep them engaged because they really want to know what the answer is. Afterwards, I always go through and explain each statement and share the correct answer with the class. Students generally get full credit for answering the question since I give them time to change their answers before closing it out, unless they were not paying attention.

Sample “Challenge Question” in Kirsten Grant’s Essentials of General Chemistry course

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