Using interactive content and online activities to accommodate diversity in a large first year class


As in many universities, class sizes have increased more quickly than teaching and learning resources. A related challenge is the increasing diversity of the student body in terms of socio-economic background, learning styles, English language ability and preparedness. This paper explores ways in which traditional face-to-face teaching methods (such as lectures and tutorials) can be combined with online teaching and learning activities in a “blended” learning approach to improve teaching and learning and to accommodate student diversity. Using a large first year Economics class as a case study, data were collected on student perceptions of the use of blended learning. A statistical model was used on a sample of 50 students to determine which online activities were most beneficial in improving student performance. The majority of students agreed that replacing one lecture a week with online activities and resources improved their learning, although about 20 % of the class would have preferred more lecturing and fewer online resources. Statistical finding showed that more active online resources, such as multiple choice and graphing questions, were most beneficial in improving student performance, but that more passive lecture capture was also useful in modelling the discourse of the discipline.

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Snowball, J.D. Using interactive content and online activities to accommodate diversity in a large first year class. High Educ 67, 823–838 (2014).

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  • Large classes
  • Blended learning
  • Student diversity