In this paper we provide a template for transitioning from tutorial to larger-class teaching environments in the discipline of history. We commence by recognising a number of recent trends in tertiary education in Australian universities that have made this transition to larger-class sizes an imperative for many academics: increased student enrolments in the absence of a concomitant rise in teaching staff levels, greater emphasis on staff’s research and service, and governmental and institutional pressures to maximize resource efficiency. All this, of course, taking place in an environment where staff are required to engage with discipline-specific pedagogies in teaching and learning to ensure that their departments, faculties and institutions successfully meet and maintain standards of quality in the delivery of higher education. The main challenge historians face here, we argue, is to ensure that the ‘higher order thinking skills’ associated with the discipline are developed in a learning environment often deemed incompatible with doing so. Dealing with this issue requires a particular approach to curriculum design, one that systematically unpacks the signature skills of historical thinking/writing/reading and engages with the pedagogy of large-class teaching environments. What follows is an account of our foray into unfamiliar territory, which, we hope, can act as a guide to academics moving in a similar direction.
Recommended CitationKeirle, Philip A. and Morgan, Ruth A., Teething Problems in the Academy: negotiating the transition to large-class teaching in the discipline of history, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 8(2), 2011.