Real Teaching. Real Learning. Real Classrooms

University of Arizona
Real Teaching. Real Learning. Real Classrooms

Volume 1, Issue 3

Five Challenges and Solutions When Teaching in Large Collaborative Classrooms

Overview  Teaching in a collaborative learning space (CLS) can be both invigorating and challenging. Luckily, at the UA, we have many experienced faculty with a wealth of information to share.  Dr. Dana Narter, Associate Professor of Practice in Psychology, Faculty Learning Community Facilitator, and recent presenter on Large Collaborative Classrooms at the Active Learning Conference has put together the following list of challenges and solutions for teaching in a Large CLS.  Dana, along with other faculty, will be holding a teaching workshop on Sept. 20th from 3pm-4pm  in Gittings 129b. [1]

You can’t do it alone

Regardless of whether or not your department provides you with graduate teaching assistants, you can still form a collaborative learning teaching team.  

Do you see what I see?

Make sure that whatever you are projecting from the computer or the document camera can be seen easily by everyone.  

Do you hear what I hear?

In a large collaborative learning space it is important for the instructor and students to be heard by everyone in the class, so using a microphone is a must.  

 Classroom management on steroids

I have noticed in classes using active and collaborative learning, that students are more engaged with the course content.  They are also more engaged with each other which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. In addition to the learning benefits from collaborative learning, there are also social benefits.

But sometimes the socializing can get in the way of learning, and that’s when it becomes problematic.  

Holding students accountable

Especially in a large classroom, students need to know that they will be held accountable for working on what they are supposed to be working on in class.  I do this in a number of different ways.

I hope this was helpful.  If you have any questions or comments please contact me at  I’d be delighted to chat with you about teaching in large collaborative learning spaces.  Happy teaching!

Resources for Further Exploration of Active & Collaborative Learning

UA Resources for Teaching & Learning 

The Office of Instruction & Assessment has many resources for faculty and instructors:

The UA Learning Initiative focuses on supporting student learning through evidence based teaching and learning practices:

Collaborative Learning Spaces provide instructors and students with flexible ways to teach and learn:


Narter, D. (2019). Five challenges and solutions when teaching in a large collaborative classroom. Real Teaching. Real Learning. Real Classrooms. 1(3), 1-3

[1] Photo: Gittings 129b