Large group sizes: the challenge of facilitating effective learning


The undergraduate-nursing programme within the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences attracts large cohorts of students that are increasing year on year. This presents challenges to ensure effective facilitation of learning in larger groups, with potential issues around staff preparedness, provision of appropriate learning spaces, as well as staff and student satisfaction.

With this in mind, colleagues from the Department of Nursing and Clinical Sciences are evaluating the role of differing class size on student learning for first year nurse (Adult field only) undergraduates as well as staff satisfaction over the current academic year. Using a mixed methods approach, staff (n=26) were asked to complete a survey prior to programme commencement, to be repeated at the year-end; this data will be supplemented with some key stakeholder interviews. Students (n=211) are completing a short survey at the end of each study unit. Preliminary findings will be presented to students in the summer to debate and vote on, using a nominal group technique. A similar approach will be used with staff. Statistical data concerning admission and progression will be incorporated in the analysis.

We have collected initial staff and student data following the delivery of two units and these are undergoing analysis. The study team expects that a number of pedagogical considerations will emerge that can be used to both enhance the programme delivery locally and more widely and inform staff development and support.

If you are dealing with large class sizes, the team would value sharing experiences.

Janet Scammell (on behalf of the study team)

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