How to Introduce Collaboration in Large Lecture Courses

Collaboration is one of the keys to student engagement. In a large lecture class, building in time for collaboration can feel like a time-waster, instead of something that adds to student understanding. Although collaboration in a large group can be difficult, with proper planning it can be done and done well. Here are a few best practices for developing a culture of collaboration, even in a large group. 


Start Small


Have students start with short, 2-3 minute collaborative activities, like a think-pair-share or share-and-compare. Have students practice this every day until the transition to and from the activity is seamless. This will give you a good foundation to build from later. 


Explicitly Teach the Routine


Before you begin any activity, make sure you explicitly teach and model it. Some things may seem obvious to you, but they may not be obvious to students. In a large lecture, it’s important that students understand what the activity is to get the most out of it and avoid wasting time


Behavior Management


Before beginning any group collaboration in a large group, you will want to make sure that you are able to manage student behavior and keep students on task. This will come from having clear routines for the activity. You will also have to actively monitor students by walking around and providing accountability. This can be through a participation grade, extra points on an assignment, or simply redirecting students who are off-track. 




Timing of group activities is important. In a large lecture, students are only able to concentrate for about 15-20 minutes before their attention starts to lag. This is a perfect time to do a collaborative activity. This helps everyone get back on track and gives you a chance to see how students are doing with the material and provide feedback or additional clarification. 


By using these suggestions, you can make the most of your lecture time while also giving students the opportunity to collaborate and build relationships. 


For some ideas on collaborative activities, click here. (link to Building a Culture of Student Collaboration). For more information about group projects, click here. (link to Assigning Group Projects)

by Stacy Brown

Published October 19, 2021

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