Center for Teaching and Learning

Large lecture instruction

Large lecture hall filled with students in class

Teaching a large-lecture course requires a higher level of practical and pedagogical organization than a small-lecture course, so it is crucial to prepare as much as possible before the first day of class. While CTL’s resource page on course design contains recommendations that apply to courses of any size, large lecture instruction presents several unique challenges.

The “Engaging Students in Large Classes: High Tech and Low Tech Strategies” learning community was convened winter quarter 2014 to consider these challenges. Participants comprised a diverse collection of UW faculty and staff with a variety of experiences in large-lecture instruction. In addition, several instructors who had developed creative approaches to large classes were invited to discuss their innovations with the community.

The best practices for tackling the large-lecture experience outlined below are the result of the learning community’s research and in-depth discussions. The general form of the community’s thoughts took shape in three main categories:

As they thought through how they prepare, teach and evaluate large classes, they focused on the following general principles of developing a large lecture course:


 “Engaging Students in Large Classes: High Tech and Low Tech Strategies” learning community members:


  • Colleen Craig, UW Seattle Chemistry
  • Peter Wallis, UW-IT Learning Technologies and College of Education


  • AJ Boydston, UW Seattle Chemistry
  • Susan Brown, UW Bothell Writing & Poetics
  • Sunhee Kim, UW Seattle College of Education
  • Tamara Leonard, UW Seattle Jackson School of International Studies
  • Sara Murray, UW Seattle Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Services
  • Alexandra Nichifor, UW Seattle Mathematics
  • Katy Pearce, UW Seattle Communication
  • LaShawnDa Pittman, UW Seattle American Ethnic Studies
  • Yen-Chu Weng, UW Seattle Program on the Environment

Guest speakers

  • Rachel Cichowski, UW Seattle Political Science
  • Ben Marwick, UW Seattle Archaeology
  • Matt McGarrity, UW Seattle Communication
  • Stefan Stoll, UW Seattle Chemistry