large lecture theatre

Engaging Large Classes

European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management


Rome 2018

Case History Abstract Submission

An integrative approach to teaching research methodology to large groups


Zeineb Cox, Surrey Business School, University of Surrey

Mark NK Saunders, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

Pedagogic research highlights emphasises the importance of student centred active learning and the value students place on co-operative learning tasks incorporating a variety of activities. Yet, in Business Schools, lecturers are often expected to maintain student engagement in research methodology classes comprising large groups in traditional lecture settings.  The objective of this case is to outline and evaluate the utility of an integrative approach in engaging large (400+) student groups in research methodology classes.

Following discussion of the Business School and research methodology masters’ module context and associated engagement challenges, the case offers an overview of the integrative approach. This reveals how components of: module management, preparatory and follow-up work, in-class learning activities and assessment are integrated using a virtual learning environment (VLE) technologies to support large group teaching.

The case focuses on how teaching and learning support practices within each component can support a coherent overall learning experience. Alongside illustrative examples, the efficacy of each is evaluated through student feedback and module evaluations and lecturers’ reflections. Consideration of module management highlights how using online question-and-answer and anonymous feedback blogs, alongside weekly monitoring of students’ VLE use, increases engagement. Offering a range of different individual and group activities before and after classes such as evaluating television documentaries and exercises relating to other modules are shown to support students’ learning. A variety of different individual and group in-lecture activities are found to encourage active participation, students particularly enjoying social aspects of activities such as interviewing and critiquing customer services questionnaires.  Regular formative, alongside summative, assessment opportunities including weekly self-test quizzes, a mid-module test and an end of module exam allow students to evaluate on-going learning.

The case highlights the importance of integrating different components of the learning experience can satisfy students’ needs for social aspects in large group research methodology teaching.