July 9, 2004, by Teaching at Nottingham

Managing small groups in large groups

Video >>

Lecture room

There is the sound of conversations in the room as students work in small groups.


Do Coyle: “I was giving a session with over 300 students in one of the tiered lecture theatres; it was a one hour session. I knew that there was going to be follow-up in smaller groups afterwards, so the whole purpose of that was to reach an agreement with a large group of people about certain principles which they would then work with in smaller groups later.

“It’s not my own style to stand and lecture, to stand and read, and certainly not to stand and read Powerpoint. So within that hour’s session I had some individual work, some paired work, some discussion work, some reviewing of video and some Powerpoint.”

Interviewer: “How did you manage it physically in a tiered lecture theatre? Did they just move towards each other?”

Do: “Yes, people were sitting next to one another. They had some problem-solving to do, which they did themselves and then shared with the person sitting by them. Then 2s to 4s can simply turn their heads round and talk to the people behind them.

“If you’re confident in giving the instruction, then people do it.

“And again, it’s about OK, so there’s a lot of noise when 300 people are talking, and so how do you get the silence?

“I said right at the very beginning: “When I’m standing down here and I raise my hand, that’s a signal that I would like everybody to be quiet.” and that’s exactly what happens.”


Do: “OK, can I have attention please.

Noise level drops as conversations end.

Do Coyle
School of Education

Do is teaching PGCE students in the Dearing building on Jubilee campus. The students are learning to become qualified teachers. Produced July 2004.
This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection.

Posted in LecturesTeaching