Promoting Student Engagement in Large Class Environments

The Initative Team

Initiative Lead
Dublin City University

Primary Contact
Ken McDonagh

Initiative Budget


Initiative Type


The aim of this T&L initiative is to conduct a study of student engagement in large class environments (100+). The initiative will explore strategies to encourage student engagement in large undergraduate classes, it will include large (100+) courses taught across several degree programmes in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and DCU Business School.

Student engagement is a challenge across the University and is particularly difficult in the context of large-group, mixed-ability teaching. Arguably the large lecture format has more in common with distance learning than small group teaching. In this regard, it is worth considering the challenge of creating ‘Social Presence’ in the context of large group teaching. Social Presence is defined as the ‘ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g. the course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by projecting their individual personalities’. Originally developed as a concept related to pedagogical challenges in distance learning, this project aims to tackle the issue of social presence in large classes with a mix of student abilities, backgrounds and disciplinary identities. The project will examine a variety of strategies including video content, in-class use of real-time feedback technologies, and share best practice across disciplines within the Faculties. Students will be encouraged to take ownership of the project and their learning through engagement in focus groups before, during and after the project.