Making large lecture courses more interactive

A new program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison aims to improve student experiences in large lecture halls.

lecture-studentsLarge introductory lecture-based courses are a staple at most universities. But many of those classes at UW-Madison will be transformed into much more student-centered experiences over the next few years, thanks to a new project called REACH.

The aim is to improve student learning by increasing students’ engagement in these courses. REACH is part of the broader campus Educational Innovation initiative, and connected with the university’s reaccreditation process.

REACH will build on successful innovations across campus that strive to enhance the undergraduate experience through student-centered learning practices. It will not only reinforce the common goal among these efforts, but will extend their reach to encompass tens of thousands of first- and second-year students over the next five years.

While excellent examples of active learning already exist in many undergraduate programs, especially in courses with low student-to-instructor ratios, the logistics and sheer number of students in large, high-enrollment courses often inhibit innovation and experimentation.

(Next page: What national research says about student retention in lecture courses)

Laura Ascione

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