Dr. Bryan McCarthy shares some of the challenges he faces in teaching philosophy and how Packback helped to overcome some of those challenges.Read more “Video: Challenges in Teaching Philosophy”
The Packback Blog
As enrollment and class size increase, professors face more challenges in keeping students engaged. According to a study from the University of Sussex, students in large lectures become passive recipients of information because the fast-paced environment doesn’t give them an opportunity to actively engage with course content. Whether classes are in-person or online, professors are challenged with finding ways to empower students to take ownership over their own learning and relate course material to their lives.
It is no secret that class sizes in public and private institutions across the country are growing. In fact, teaching a large lecture or non-traditional classroom is often required to advance along a tenure-track or to earn a promotion. And the rapidly changing classroom structure isn’t slowing down. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2000 and 2016, undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 28 percent (from 13.2 million to 16.9 million students). Increasing class sizes bring challenges to educators, such as lower student engagement, an increased grading burden, more questions from students and often teaching methods which worked in smaller classes don’t scale to a larger class.
College enrollment for the 2018 fall academic term in the United States is expected to hit more than 20 million students according to a report from Statista. The rapid enrollment growth is putting a burden directly on professors to innovate in overcrowded lecture halls and meet the needs of Gen Z students.
When Dr. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter steps in front of his psychology class at Michigan State University, he sees 175 students interacting with laptops, tablets and smartphones in a carefully constructed academic environment. His courses are filled with Gen Z students; a digital generation of non-traditional students who rely on technology to do research, access their textbooks, complete their homework and communicate with their peers and professors.
Finding and managing time as a professor is overwhelming. For many professors, clocking a 60-hour week is the norm and finding where to cut back can be tricky. Facilitating classes, mentoring students, conducting research and professional development activities are just the beginning; and when midterms or finals come around, any established routine doesn’t last. Suddenly, on top of a packed calendar, there’s a constant stream of student emails asking for clarifications and extended deadlines, colleagues seeking advice and required staff meetings; all while trying to make sure grades for hundreds of students are accurate and submitted on time.
We are passionate about building a platform that inspires students to become curious about course material and encourages an academic debate between classmates. With Packback’s new Critical Debates feature, learners can now reply directly to Responses with a Counter Point or Supporting Point. This new feature makes it possible for the entire class to engage in true deep, critical discussions that better mirror a live debate.
Class is back in session and Packback is excited to continue fueling lifelong curiosity on campuses across the country! We spent the summer growing our team, expanding our curiosity footprint and updating our platform. This semester, we’re focused on continuing to grow a team of passionate thinkers and fostering curiosity among leaders in Chicago.