Teaching Large Classes: Overcoming the Myths
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Undergraduate (particularly first year) economics courses often service a variety of related programs (eg. Business, commerce, accounting, journalism and social sience) and have very large enrolments, Research examining undergraduate economics teaching practices undertaken in the mid-1990's reports that the traditional principles used on undergraduate economics courses focus on the lecture format, where students are assigned reading topics and the teacher provides oral lectures and visual illustrations to supplement those readings. In addition, research has indicated that the lack of cooperative learning techniques in large economics courses compared to other disciplines may be one reason why students are abandoning economics as a major. This paper discusses some of the recent findings regarding reaching and learning in large classes, with particular reference to the discipline of economics - what are the major issues facing teachers and students? Which strategies for teaching large economics classes are successful, and why? Such questions are discussed in conjunction with examples of alternative lecturing methods, and the application of different student-centred techniques such as collaborative problem-solving, web-based resources and activities, and small group student-to-student interaction. These will help outline the benefits of using alternative teaching practices in teaching economics in large classes; including motivating and stimulating students in their learning and assisting students to develop self-paced learning in large classes.
Economic Analysis and Policy