I think what is most interesting about Rob's question is the
political contexts that are maintaining the lecture mode of teaching. I see
at least 2 possible contexts.
The first is the course evaluation system as it presently exists at
most instituitions in Canada. I don't know about your institution but the
course evaluation forms here definitely favour the good presentational style
lecturer. And for the untenured or for those trying to get a job, those
course evaluations can make a dfference.
the other context is, of course, the numbers that Rob mentions--200.
this creates an almost impossible situation. With two hundred in a class,
it is easy to suggest breaking them into smaller units--but then who takes
care of those units. Sessional lecturers and the untenured cannot afford
the extra time that it takes. Of course, many universities turn to TA's to
cover those separate units ( this is what I do). but this situation
carries its own problems. then I must spend lots of extra time working with
the TA's. This is ok for me because now I have tenure, but anyone who walks
into this situation should know that it is a lot of extra time--far more
than I spend on other courses.
And universities are not about to change this numbers game. As far
as I can see we will be under increasing pressure to increase numbers.
I have no solutions here--but we need to discuss why this is happening.
The key here, of course, is the number 200 that Rob mentions.
Catherine F. Schryer
Dept. of English
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
(519) 885-1211 (ext 3318)