Managing large classes: herding cats for fun and profit

Managing large classes is something that many of us face. Teaching them effectively presents unique challenges and can be rather intimidating to the uninitiated. I’ve recently been recognised for innovations in this area via several teaching awards, and I recently shared my insights in a well-attended ILT monthly seminar.

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Themes highlighted include:

  • You need a team.
  • Planning – designing for scale, testing and checking and focus on detail – is essential.  All problems are magnified in a large class.
  • Student engagement is key and even possible! Captivate, Connect, Cultivate, through using examples students relate to.
  • Connections to students need to be effectively managed outside the classroom – technology and humour go a long way.
  • Assessment needs to be designed for scale and rigorously tested. Technology can streamline your process and your time.
  • Fear is the path to the dark side.  Your behaviour in class enormously effects student experience.


  • Piazza really helps facilitate question answering and dramatically cuts down on email.
  • TeamMates is good for team reviews (if you have group work).
  • Turnitin can help you mark large volumes of work online.  Note that Turnitin is no longer restricted to text-based work.
  • PeerWise lets students create and attempt multiple choice questions.

UoA guide to teaching large classes


Andrew Eberhard is a Professional Teaching Fellow in the Department of Information Systems and Operations Management. Andrew has been involved with a number of large classes and loves to use information technology to tackle some of the problems associated with large class teaching and administration. He has been awarded multiple teaching excellence awards for his work on BUSINESS 101 and 102 and INFOSYS110. Andrew is always open to chats about teaching and technology (as long as there is coffee available!). In his spare time he can often be found running along Tamaki Drive.


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