Kate Exley offers advice for combating passivity in large first-year lectures (Teaching, THES, July 6), but there is technology that can help scaffold the steps she highlights.
It is possible to buy equipment similar to that in the television show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? that allows all students in an audience to register their own response to a question privately, and for the aggregated results to be immediately displayed.
This allows the implementation of Exley's tactic of getting students to answer questions while addressing the issues she alludes to: the problem of privacy (that otherwise inhibits most from answering), of giving everyone the mental exercise of answering and of building a sense of community by the shared display of the responses.
The equipment is regularly used in Strathclyde University in first-year classes of about 100 and Glasgow University is to use it in first-year classes of 300 from October.
For more see www.psy.gla.ac.uk/steve/ilig
University of Glasgow