Lean Teaching Q&A #1

This blog category is for questions people have about the book Lean Teaching.

Question: Most of your recommendations hold for class sizes of no more than 25 or so. Any (lean) suggestions/ideas for handling a 300+ size class, where student noise/disturbances are most distressing [to] me as a teacher trying to get something important into the heads? – Prof. Luc Chalmet, Universiteit Gent, Belgium

Answer: You are correct. My focus is class sizes of up to 40 or so students. You will have to apply Lean thinking to your problem and do some experiments to determine if actual improvement has occurred. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Large batch sizes exist for the producer’s benefit, not for the customer’s benefit. Therefore, you must reduce the batch size of 300+ to something much smaller. Do that in steps, if needed.
  • Perhaps this is a good place for technology to help. Use recorded video lectures to eliminate the large lecture hall setting and use class time to meet with students to discuss or explain things. A population of students, perhaps up to 25%, will prefer being taught this way. This will help reduce the batch size of face-to-face students in the classroom.
  • Run the course 1/2 in the lecture hall and 1/2 online.
  • Educate students on the “Respect for People” principle to address student noise/disturbances. Give examples of the many dimensions of RP, including discourteous noises and disturbances.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

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