classroom tech: heterogeneous students
A problem with a lot of introductory level courses is that they attract heterogeneous students. In sociology, this is very apparent in the introduction to sociology class. It is not uncommon to get, in the same class, a graduating senior who wants to put in the minimal amount of effort and the very aggressive freshman who wants that 4.0 GPA for that Harvard law application. The heterogeneous class presents problems on many levels – the presentation of materials, classroom management, and so forth. In this posts, a few comments on how to handle this class.
- Cut the class in half. A few people have told me that it is effective to treat the first half as a chance to make sure everyone is on the same page. Then, the second half you can move into material that will be new for almost everyone.
- Active learning: People have also suggested that you stop lecturing. Instead, really have students to in-class work. This helps reduced the boredom for more advanced students and, at the least, gives them something to do.
- A third strategy is to stratify assignments. Older students can get more involved and challenging assignments. This depends on the nature of the course and if you have the patience to grade multiple assignments at once.
Use the comments to discuss your own teaching strategies for heterogeneous classes.