Small class teaching is particularly well suited for the students’ development of academic skills through their work with the theories and methods of the course. Small class teaching should focus on the learning objectives which are difficult for the students to fulfil when working on their own. In class, the students’ knowledge may be challenged, and they practice argumentation and discussion skills regarding academic content or are gradually introduced to the solution of complex tasks or issues. Some types of small class teaching can give the students access to equipment and software which would not otherwise be available to them.
In other words, focus is on dialogue, training, clarification of misunderstandings and a deeper understanding of the academic material. Small class teaching may also provide an opportunity to test, experiment and work with empirical material and data.
Teaching sessions provide an opportunity to gain insight into the students’ learning process: What do they know? What skills do they possess? What are their challenges? Such insight may be gained through academic dialogue and discussions or when students receive feedback from their fellow students and the teacher. It is also when students meet their teacher and fellow students in class that they have an opportunity to receive response on their learning progress and to rectify any misunderstandings. You may for instance begin a classroom session by explaining the connection between the activities of the day and the course in general. Subsequently, you may include a work phase with joint learning activities, which provide an opportunity to uncover any misunderstandings and ask questions. It is recommended to include feedback from fellow students and the teacher as well as regular assessment in small class teaching. Moreover, it may be a good idea to end the Small class teaching by summing up and making agreements with the students regarding their preparation for the next classroom session.
In many ways, the teacher’s task is to make sure that the students are given the possibility to develop academic skills in relation to the theories and methods of the course. In order for the students to be able to work independently, you must design the tasks in a way that provides and opportunity to work with the subject in a concrete manner. It is important that student preparation is included as a fully integrated and necessary element in Small class teaching. Actually using their work in class and seeing that this is relevant for the instruction increases the students’ motivation to do homework. The tasks must be precisely defined and should preferably result in a visible product, e.g. a written response to a question, minor tasks, peer feedback activities or drafts for parts of a larger project. It is important to consider which student activities should be included in their homework, and whether these are best processed individually or in collaboration with fellow students, and which activities should be included in the small class teaching.