Good questions, Rob.  I'm not sure I want to tackle the question about
lectures per se, except to say that the basic blague convinces me pretty
well . . . oh, okay, one more thing:  If I lecture, I don't get very many
opportunities to see what students know and don't know about what I'm
trying to teach, but if I give them something to do and then walk around
talking to them and observing, I learn a great deal from them.  I can be a
lot more help to them, and I can better figure out what to do next with
the class.

About the 200 engineers . . . Seems to me that the first problem
is how to get the group down to a manageable size so that you really can
do something besides lecture.  Me, I'd try to figure out a way to abandon
whole-class activities altogether (or do them on a very reduced schedule),
and split the remaining lecture time among subgroups of the class.  So, if
you meet four hours a week, you might reserve one of those hours for
whole-class activities, and use the other three to meet with subgroups.
I'd make up for the reduced lecture hours by requiring participation in
an online discussion site using something  like HyperNews.  Also, the extra
lecture time (which is presumably free on everyone's schedule, since
they registered for the course) can be used for groups to meet and work
on group projects.

Of course, changing the schedule that drastically would necessitate a
whole bunch of other changes . . . it would make no sense to lecture to
the subgroups, for instance, since then you'd be right back where you
started.  So then you'd have to think about what forty or fifty people
could do in that room at that time that 200 couldn't, and why it would be
better than what 200 people could do.  And how it would fit in with your
overall goals, natch.


                        Marcy Bauman
         Writing Program, University of Michigan-Dearborn
              4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128
                      fax: 313-593-5552
                      [log in to unmask]