A couple of years ago I did a similar search to collect information for
our administration. At that time we were arguing that in a course like
writing in engineering, a big lecture was not helpful. At that time, I
found the NCTE site with their statement on class sizes for writing
classes in colleges:
Also, the C's site has the following:
At that time, I have collected responses from people teaching writing in
discipline-specific courses (mostly "writing for engineering students"
and the like) and assembled them in a table. Would you like me to send
you the table as an attachment?
The outcome of this activity was the decision to eliminate big lectures
and teach the course in the workshop format to sections of 25 students,
with some class time dedicated to short lectures/explanations and the
rest of it to activities and discussions. This is the format we are
using now in the engineering communication course (required of all
engineering students, that is, we teach about a thousand students per
year -- roughly, 32 sections a year) and will be using in the new
courses that are currently under development: communication for
information technology students and for computer science students.
Wendy Strachan wrote:
>In the process of implementing our new requirements for Writing-Intensive
>courses, the university is seeking ideas for different models of such
>courses. By 'models' they mean alternative instructional configurations. In
>particular, we are trying to figure out how to provide enough W-course
>places for all first year students in courses across the disciplines.
>Suggestions include hiring lecturers to teach courses like: writing in the
>sciences or writing in business and doing this in large lecture courses
>which then have tutorial sections. Alternatively, large lecture courses
>like first year English novel studies or first year history can be
>designated W-courses and writing integrated into the course and the teaching
>and peer review etc. happen mainly in tutorials of 15 or 16 students.
>My question to you folks out there is whether you have experience of or know
>of any research about the relation between relatively successful teaching of
>writing and size of the large lecture class + tutorial. I recall reading
>somewhere that 120 students in this model was more likely to work than 250,
>for instance. Given that this is a model that we are likely going to use
>for all the obvious reasons and with all the obvious limitations, can anyone
>tell me why 120 is better than 250?
>My google searches have been fruitless so far - I guess I'm not using the
>Any advice on this will be very welcome. I have to present some arguments
>to our university committee next week.
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
1125 Colonel By Drive
Tel.+1 (613) 520-2600 ext.7452
Fax +1 (613) 520-6641
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to