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Introducing International Studies: Student Engagement in Large Classes

Authors


  • The authors can be contacted at Jacqueline.dematosala@wits.ac.za and david.hornsby@wits.ac.za. The authors are grateful for the research assistance of Yumna Laher.
  • [Corrections added February 5, 2015, after original online publication: grammatical changes have been made to this article to improve clarity.]

Abstract

There is a popular perception that large classes result in low levels of student motivation, satisfaction, and engagement. In International Studies (IS) programs, this suggests a challenge for getting students to understand and connect with complex theoretical concepts used to deconstruct the international system and can affect the overall quality of the academic experience. The present study offers insight into how to cope with large IS classes, promoting student engagement through adjusting teaching and assessment methods. Based on the results of two surveys, the Introduction to International Relations course at the University of the Witwatersrand appears to have been successful in promoting student engagement. Focusing on interactive teaching and assessment strategies that promote critical thinking and instill deep learning offers colleagues presented with large classes a chance to establish a vibrant learning environment.

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