^ To Top

Dealing with Large Class

Please cite as follows: Chan, CKY (2015). "Dealing with Large Class", Engineering Education Enhancement and Research Asia (E3R Asia).


Delivery of lectures is often inevitable due to large course enrollment, time and resources constraints. Lecturing in large classes can be difficult to engage students as it often poses a passive learning environment and experience to students particularly for engineering students who have long contact hours (Ekeler, 1994; Mulryan-Kyne, 2010). Engagement of students in large classes can be achieved through active learning (Biggs, 1989), as good interaction between the student and teaching contexts will encourage a deeper approach to learning and in turn, produce quality learning outcomes.

Students with different backgrounds, experiences and abilities may often find lectures difficult to follow particularly in a large class. In a large lecture hall, teacher cannot possibly attend to all the students’ needs particularly with such as diverse student body and there is less opportunity for “student-teacher interaction”. Thus, students often drift from lectures and lose focus. Also it is not an easy task for a teacher to figure out how much students actually understand in a large class lecture and to provide prompt feedback. Some teachers may interact with students by posing questions in class in order to encourage interactions and discussion, however, students are usually not fast to respond or initiate answers. This phenomenon is particularly true in Hong Kong, as study observed that Asians tend to be more passive in comparison to students from the west (Young & Lo, 2004).


  • Biggs, J. B. (1989). Approaches to the enhancement of tertiary teaching. Higher Education Research and Development, 8(1), 7–25.
  • Ekeler, W. J. (1994). The lecture method. In K. W. Prichard & R. M. Sawyer (Eds.), Handbook of college teaching: Theory and applications (pp. 85-98). Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press.
  • Mulryan-Kyne, C. (2010). Teaching large classes at college and university level: Challenges and opportunities. Teaching in Higher Education, 15(2), 175-185.
  • Young, B., & Lo, I. M. C. (2004). Teaching large classes of engineering students.   Retrieved from http://repository.ust.hk/dspace/bitstream/1783.1/1717/1/ti02_young_civl_paper.pdf