Innovative Teaching Showcase event features strategies for teaching large classes

Western Washington University’s Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment will host its annual “Innovative Teaching Showcase Learning Event” from Noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 1, in College Hall 310.

The theme of this year's Showcase is “Planning for Large Classes.” On June 1, community members are invited to meet the featured instructors, view videotaped interviews with those instructors and find out more about teaching large classes at Western.

Each spring, the CIIA publishes a new online edition of its “Innovative Teaching Showcase,” detailing innovative teaching practices of several WWU faculty members.

The 2009-10 Showcase features Jason Kanov (Department of Management), who teaches Management 311 with an average class size of 200; David Shull (Department of Environmental Science), who teaches Environmental Science 101 with an average class size of 450; and Larry Symons (Department of Psychology), who teaches Psychology 101 with an average class size of 250.

Jason Kanov sets the stage in his Management 311 class so that the 200 students are not surprised by his high expectations for their performance on essay exams and a team project. He manages to get the class thinking deeply about real-life implications for the material during his “lectures” which are laden with video clips, guests, games, discussions, and other activities.

In Environmental Science 101, David Shull encourages nearly 450 students to research and grapple with controversial environmental issues, get their hands dirty via service learning work, make environmental education videos, and become inspired to take environmental issues seriously and to take action.

Larry Symons hopes to engage his 250 Psychology 101 students by helping them believe that what they are learning is important. He generates this investment via video clips, in-class demonstrations, and low-stakes writing, while making the logistics of a large course more manageable via online information dissemination and exams.

For more information on the 2009-2010 “Innovative Teaching Showcase,” visit or contact Justina Brown at (360) 650-7210 or via e-mail at

David Shull
Larry Symons