3.1 The different types of class teaching at LSE

Classes can take a number of forms. In quantitative subjects, such as Economics, Maths and Statistics, the class will usually be used to work on problem sets given to students to work on out of class in the previous week. In qualitative classes the time may be spent in discussing key questions, critiquing journal articles and/or clarifying and enhancing concepts introduced in the lecture. A few GTAs will support 'workshops' rather than classes, for example, on some Methodology Institute and Information Systems courses. Here, you may spend much of the time giving students one-to-one or small group support in a context where there might be quite a large group working at computers, or on particular small group assignments.

There are 'traditional' approaches to class teaching within LSE. For example, many of the more discursive subjects will involve class discussions (whole group, small groups, pairs) as well as one or two short student presentations, followed by plenary discussion. Quantitative sessions are often 'taught' from the front of class by the class teacher, with use of white board to explain problems/concepts, etc. That said, there is also considerable diversity. Many class teachers on discursive courses now use techniques such as debates, small group discussions, 'buzz' groups, or sequenced questions in a plenary setting. Some quantitative class teachers experiment with inviting students up to the board to write down solutions, getting students to work in pairs, or working round the class asking each student to answer a question. The main message here is, don't feel too constrained in your approach - irrespective of your discipline, consider ways in your classes to make the students active in their learning and provide opportunities for student-to-student learning. Some case examples are given later, in Section 3.4|.

Whatever the precise context, class time needs to be distinctive from lectures, and should be time in which students are encouraged to develop their own thinking on a subject together with their abilities to present and discuss their ideas. Whatever the particular function of your class, you will want your students to be actively involved and participating. The guidelines below are intended to help you accomplish this goal. It is also necessary that you discuss the approach you intend to take with the teacher responsible for the course, and desirable that you also take time to discuss your classes with other GTAs.


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