Large Lecture Classes

Interactive lectures are classes in which the instructor incorporates breaks in the lecture for opportunities for student active engagement with the lecture material. Breaking up the lecture with these techniques not only provides format change to engage students, these activities also allow students to immediately apply content and provide feedback to the instructor on student understanding.

Active-Learning Strategies for Large Classes

Student Response Systems (clickers)

Student Response Systems (SRS) are one method of actively engaging your class. SRSs can be used for various activities such as a discussion warm-up or posing questions to students to gather real-time information about student learning. Students can use this feedback to monitor their own learning, and instructors can use it to change how they manage class "on the fly" in response to student learning needs.

Binghamton's ITS currently supports the i>clicker system. Twenty-nine classrooms at Binghamton have a built-in i>clicker bases. For more information about i>clickers, visit the Help & Info Tab in myCourses. Instructors can obtain a base for a classroom without one by contacting Educational Communications.

Collaborative Notes with Google Docs

Collaborative notetaking allows students take notes together and learn from each other by contributing their own perspective. Google docs facilitates this process by allowing many people the ability to simultaneously edit a single shared document. As they they take notes together in the same document, they can mark places where they were confused or could not follow the lecture. Then, other students could see see their confusion and explain in real time

Collaborative notes can be a formal requirement of the class and count for participation points or a suggested activity that students take part in. The level of involvement depends on the instructor.


  1. Think: Students think independently about the question that has been posed, forming ideas of their own.
  2. Pair: Students are grouped in pairs to discuss their thoughts. This step allows students to articulate their ideas and to consider those of others.
  3. Share: Student pairs share their ideas with a larger group, such as the whole class. Often, students are more comfortable presenting ideas to a group with the support of a partner. In addition, students' ideas have become more refined through this three-step process.

Minute Paper

A short set of questions assigned at the end of class to provide feedback on how students interpreted the idea of the instructor's lesson. These papers should only take students a minute to complete, and can be reviewed quickly.

Sample one minute paper


The jigsaw method is a structure for group discussion where the general topic is discussed through small group discussions on a specific aspect of that topic. For instance, the instructor may separate the class into small group and assign different aspects of a book to each group in the classroom. One group discusses the impact of The Catcher in the Rye on society while another discusses the novel as a coming of age story. All groups are part of the larger topic of the novel, in general. After small group discussion each group debriefs with the entire class, thereby putting the "pieces" of the puzzle together.

Other suggestions for large classes

Index Card Grouping

On the first day of class, students group up by fours and write their names on index cards. Those groups then work together on in-class assignments like Jigsaws and Think-Pair-Shares. For each assignment, the cards are shuffled and two or three are randomly selected by the instructor to share with the class.

Group Exams and Quizzes

Learners take the test individually, and then they take it again as a group. Students receive an average of their own individual and the group's score as their grade for that test.