At Scale: Strategies and Techniques for Large-Enrollment Courses

Eight principles and 94 strategies for effective teaching in large-enrollment courses

Students in Brian Couch’s LIFE120 class discuss possible answers to four lighthearted questions Professor Couch posed to the class. First day of classes. August 22, 2022.

Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication

Despite an often-negative reputation, high-enrollment courses can be a positive learning experience for students and positive teaching experience for instructors. Each practice in this resource is a general response to one or more challenges of large-enrollment courses. Each section contains links to more specific guidance and actionable strategies. For assistance in implementing any practice, contact an instructional designer assigned to your college.

Resources and References

A "Form" of Flexibility: An Easy Way to Grant Extensions to Students , April 25, 2022: to an external site.

Cooper, K. M., B. Haney, A. Krieg, and S. E. Brownell (2016). What’s in a Name? The importance of students perceiving that an instructor knows their name in a high-enrollment biology classroom. CBE – Life Sciences Education 16:1-13.

Cooper, James L. and Robinson, Pamela. (2000). "The Argument for Making Large Classes Seem Small." Links to an external site. New Directions for Teaching and Learning.

Crowder-Meyer, M. (2021). Blogging your way to a research paper: the benefits of a semester-long blogging assignment in the political science classroom.  Journal of Political Science Education 17: 482-482.

Dart, S. (2022). Evaluating the impact of worked example videos for blended learning in a large-enrolment business statistics course. Statistics Education Research Journal 21:

Dart, S., and B. Spratt (2021). Personalised emails in first-year mathematics: exploring a scalable strategy for improving student experiences and outcomes. Student Success 12: to an external site.

Dean, K. L. and S. Wright (2017). Embedding engaged learning in high enrollment lecture-based classes. Higher Education 74: 651-668.

Espinoza, P., and G. M. Genna (2021). Hi, I want to talk to your about your progress: a large course intervention for at-risk college students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice 23: 2-27.

Felege, C. J., C. J. Hunter, and S. N. Ellis-Felege (2022). Personal Impacts of the Undergraduate teaching assistant experience. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 22: 33-66.

Fiock, Holly and Heather Garcia. How to Give Your Students Better Feedback with Technology. Links to an external site. Feedback can be a powerful force in college classrooms. This comprehensive guide will show you how to provide it in more effective ways.

Garza, N. F., S. A. Finkenstaedt-Quinn, G. V. Shultz, and S. C. Zimmerman (2022). Building Personal Connections to Organic chemistry through writing. Journal of Chemical Education 99: 1802-1807.

Lloyd-Strovas, J. (2015) Tips for Teaching Large Classes Download Tips for Teaching Large Classes. Solutions for challenges common to teaching large classes.

Lubrick, M. and B. Wellington (2022). Formative learning assessment with online quizzing: comparing target performance grade and best performance grade approaches. Journal of Learning and Teaching in Digital Age 7: 297-306.

Luna, Y. M., and S. A. Winters (2017). “Why did you blend my learning?" A comparison of student success in lecture and blended learning introduction to Sociology courses. Teaching Sociology 45: 116-130.

Miller, M. (2014) Minds online: Teaching effectively with technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Miller, M. (2022) “How to Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Course.” to an external site. Choosing the right tech tools for your teaching means making strategic choices, weighing costs against payoffs, and staying laser-focused on your course goals — and that is what this guide aims to help you do.

Muniz, M. N., C. Altinis-Kiraz, and M. E. Emenike (2022). Extending equity, access, and inclusion: an evolving multifaceted approach to transform a general chemistry course at a large, flagship, research institution. Journal of Chemical Education 99: 227-238.

Sager, J. L. and F. Chen (2013). Integrating a web-based discussion forum and student peer feedback into a high-enrollment IS class: expectations and outcomes. Journal of Learning in Higher Education 9: 25-36.

Simkins, S. and Maier, M. (2010) Just-in-Time Teaching: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Spaulding, D. T., J. A. Kennedy, A. Rozsavolgyi, and W. Colon (2020). Outcomes for peer-based mentors in a university-wide STEM persistence Program: a three-year analysis. Journal of college science teaching 49: 30-36.

Thompson, M. M., and A. C. Lamanna (2020). Catalyzing group work in introductory chemistry: evaluation of five strategies. Journal of Chemical Education 97: 351-357.

Tila, D. and D. Levy (2020). Revising online assignments and the impact on student performance at a community college. Community College Journal of Research and Practice 44: 163-180.

Trammel, B. A., and C. LaForge (2017). Common Challenges for instructors in large online courses: strategies to mitigate student and instructor frustration. Journal of Educators Online 14: 1-10.

Vyas, V. S., B. Kemp, and S. A. Reid (2021). Zeroing in on the best early-course metrics to identify at-risk students in general chemistry: an adaptive learning pre-assessment vs. traditional diagnostic exam. International Journal of Science Education 43: 552-569.

Wieman, G. Rieger, & C. Heiner, Physics Exams that Promote Collaborative Learning, The Physics Teacher, 52, pp. 51-53 (2014),

Wilsman, A. (2013). Teaching Large Classes. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Teaching Large ClassesLinks to an external site.

Wu, X. B., C. Sandoval, S. Knight, X. Jaime, M. Macik, and J. F. Schielack (2021). Web-based authentic inquiry experiences in large introductory classes consistently associated with significant learning gains for all students. International Journal of STEM Education 8: DOI:10.1186/s40594-021-00290-3