Episode 46: 1,000 Students, 18 TAs, and 1 Professor: Let's Talk About Large Classes with Dr. Jenel Cavazos

lecture breakers teaching and learning podcast



In episode 46 of the Lecture Breakers podcast, we are continuing our conversation about teaching large classes. Our guest today is Dr. Jenel Cavazos and she teaches 1,000 students. Yes, that is correct! She teaches two sections of 500 students in an introduction to psychology course.

Now, even if you don’t teach 1,000 students, but you are teaching a large class by whatever that means to you and however you define it, then this conversation will be helpful.

The first part of our conversation focuses on engagement strategies and we talk about both the in-person and online spaces. (Tag this episode for the future when we return to in-person classes without masks, plexiglass, and social distancing because you might want to try a few of these ideas.)

Then in the second part of our conversation, we dig into managing the workload and coordinating teaching assistants (TAs). We get into the specifics of course design, TA training, managing emails, and overall organization.


  • How to create asynchronous engagement strategies for large classes.

  • How to support and mentor teaching assistants.

  • How to structure and manage all of the behind-the-scenes logistics so you can focus on teaching (instead of answering 1,000 emails a day!).

  • How to use technology tools for engagement and communication.




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    • Hi Susan!
      My TAs earn course credit for what they’re doing – it is a 3-credit, upper-division psychology elective. They earn grades just like any student would. It definitely helps keep them accountable for their work! They learn a LOT about leadership throughout the semester, so I think that linking it to a leadership course would be fantastic!

      Jenel Cavazos
    • Thanks so much Jenel!
      I love the idea of UG TAs. I have previous studnts visit the class but can see them doing the online group chats that you describe. Is there a form of renumeration for this work or is it completely volunteer? I am thinking of even linking it to their leadership course. Your ideas?
      Susan Neufeld, RN, PhD, University of Alberta

      Susan Neufeld

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