I will be teaching the first year module G11FPM Foundations of Pure Mathematics this autumn at Nottingham. It looks as if I will have about 250 students in the class. (First-year Probability and Statistics may get over 340 students this year!)
One of the methodologies mentioned at the METAL workshops uses voting followed by small group discussion and repeat voting. The idea is that students try to convince their neighbours that their answer is right before the new vote.
Voting by hand-raising doesn’t work well for me. I find that:
(a) people are reluctant to vote at all;
(b) after a while people start to watch for a known strong student’s hand to go up.
Now electronic voting systems are available which avoid these problems. However, booking 250 voting devices, handing them out at the start of the class and getting them back at the end is probably impractical. So I am going for a coloured (and numbered) card approach. The voting packs will consist of a plastic pocket with some thick white card at the back and with four coloured (and numbered) square pieces of card. The students will be asked to move the relevant square to the front and hold up the pack. At least the students behind won’t see what the ones in front have voted for. Of course I can’t stop people turning round to look at the cards behind them.
It will be interesting to see whether I can easily make a reasonable estimate of the proportion voting for each colour.
The voting system will certainly cost time. But the gains may be very high. It will certainly be interesting to see what the students make of it!