Friday, September 25, 2009

Small class v Large class

Well, while I don't know the education literature, it has long been a taken-for-granted assumption that faculty preferred teaching small classes (under 20) to large classes (50 and over). While Jennifer and I were working on the second edition of of our Project Pedagogy: Some Ideas for Better Teaching (available online), we really try and give faculty some alternatives to the standard lecture course. But when we give presentations or hold discussions with faculty, we encounter all kinds of resistance to our advice to downplay lecturing. That has bothered me, ut then my experience this semester with my small class (15 students) reminded me why faculty default into lecturing--it is much easier. With the small class, I see up close the different learning styles of the students, and I can also see pretty quickly the study skills that the individual students possess (or lack). I have to work hard to engage all the students in the class while keeping in mind their varied skills and styles. It would be much easier for me to just enter class and deliver information for 75 minutes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Budget crunch time and Enrollments

Economy or not, we have had a gigantic increase in enrollments in our HIS 101-102 courses, both on campus and online, and I have been hard-pressed to keep up with that surge. It is not easy finding qualified adjuncts willing to work for what the state pays (plus you get paid a lot more if you teach for George Mason as an adjunct that what NVCC pays) and then fitting them into a schedule. Plus they also need some mentoring, ans staying in touch (and guidance through the bureaucratic tangle that is a state school). My online enrollments are enormous this semester as I didn't have enough adjuncts ready to go to help out with the online courses, and students just kept enrolling in the courses. I've got little time to really develop any content this semester as I just try and stay ahead of grading--there is a lot of writing in the courses, and a lot of students take advantage of the opportunity to submit drafts.