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Larger class sizes seem very intimidating(7 Posts)
DD2 started Uni last month (we’re in Australia where the academic year follows the calendar year) and she’s really struggling with the larger class sizes.
Some of her lectures have over 200 students and her tutorials are all 25-30 students. The biggest class she had in the last 2 years of school had 12 students.
She struggling with the larger groups and I’m not sure how to advise her or how to build her confidence with speaking up. She has a stress stutter and it’s starting to reappear with speaking up in front of so many strangers. She’s also completely blind in one eye and is getting very jumpy and nervous again with the number of strangers suddenly appearing in front of her when they’ve come up on her blind side.
She’s enjoying her course but finding it quite difficult to manage socially. She’s already spoken to student support and has arranged to speak to a counsellor but I was wondering if anyone had any advice.
Well she won't be expected to speak in the lecture, only the tutorial. Can she get there early and sit at the end so no one can approach from her blind side? Let the tutor know if necessary. As for speaking in tutorials she should realise at least half the students there will be feeling equally awkward! What helped me was to make sure I spoke at least once, preferably at the beginning, and to verbalise as much as possible even if you're not making a point or asking a question. So if someone else asks a question say 'oh I was wondering that too', or someone else comments about an article, instead of nodding in agreement, say 'yes it was wasn't it'. Small steps but done often enough should increase her confidence.
Do they record them? One of my student sons is not a great participator (in fact one teacher at school said he might as well ahve done the lessons as a cotrespondence course.) His lectures are just about all recorded and you can watch them in your room instead if you want(although he does usually got to most of them).
Could she get a reserved seat on the front row if that is better for her sight issues? That might help and I am sure no one else would mind.
Could she pick modules not many people take which may have fewer people on them perhaps for next year?
She will get to know the people in her tutorial group. If she only started last month it's early days and hopefully as she starts building those relations up with the group she will feel less nervous. She should definitely speak to the seminar leads so they're aware. It may mean they're less likely to put her on the spot, etc and also might make them think about doing some group work activities to help people build up relations.
"Could she get a reserved seat on the front row if that is better for her sight issues? That might help and I am sure no one else would mind."
In my experience, unless the lecture theatre is very small, there is rarely any need to reserve a seat on the front row and the choice of seat widens as the academic year progresses.
"Well she won't be expected to speak in the lecture"
She might be expected to speak in a lecture if spoken to, although probably only once. Unwittingly firing a question at a student who turns out to have a stutter is a "Ground please swallow me up" situation for most lecturers. Until she has built up her confidence, I would advise her to save any questions she has until the end of the lecture. The suggestion that she makes staff aware of her difficulty is a good one.
Do her lecturers and tutors know about her situation? I'd tell them. They might be able to adapt the ways they teach so she's better supported. Would she feel able to email?
For example, if I have students with sight issues, I make sure people don't move around too much during class, remember to introduce themselves when they speak, and that sort of thing. If I had a student with a stutter (I can't remember off hand if I ever have had this, but I've certainly had students who struggle to speak for various reasons), I would probably organise a certain amount of activities where people could prepare material beforehand, or could get credit for contributing to a small-group discussion and then let another member of the group be the spokesperson.
There are lots of things that could be done to make this more manageable.
Does sound like she needs specialist support.
One of my lecturers was a Nobel Prize nominee & there were up to 700 of us in a lecture. supplemented with Tutor groups, comprised of about 15-20 students. Other lectures were 200 as default number. So I think a mere 200 is quite small.