Pedagogy for Higher Education Large Classes (PHELC)

Welcome to the PHELC website. PHELC aims to support higher education professors who teach large classes

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Pedagogy for Higher Education Large Classes


Fifth PHELC Symposium = 9 June 2023 Online event

The fifth PHELC Symposium will be fully online in 2023.

Key dates:

  • Submission of proposed paper = TBA

  • Notification of acceptance = TBA

  • Camera ready paper = TBA

  • PHELC Symposium = Friday 9 June, Time TBA

Rationale for PHELC

The trend towards massification in higher education has resulted inter alia in the proliferation of large classes. However, there is no consensus on what constitutes ‘large’ (Kerr, 2011). The purpose of this symposium is to move the emphasis away from the contested term ‘large’ class to focus instead on the nature of teaching, learning and assessment in this context regardless of what is perceived as ‘large’. The aim of the symposium is to identify pedagogical and assessment possibilities which are appropriate for large classes and which maximise student learning, engagement and participation in that context. As such this symposium responds to recent calls for a pedagogical rather than a numerical focus to the debate (Prosser & Trigwell, 2014).

History of PHELC Symposium

The impetus for developing the symposium had its genesis in the experience of the two convenors who have taught large university classes for many years (see below for our details). The first two PHELC symposia were held in conjunction with the Higher Education Advances (HEAd) Conference, València in 2019 and again, virtually in 2020. The support and encouragement of the HEAd Conference committee was instrumental in enabling us to develop PHELC as an event in its own right and the third PHELC symposium was held independently, online in June 2021. We remain indebted to our Spanish friends for their guidance and expertise.

HEAd22 is a hybrid event this year, based again in UPV, Valencia, 14-17 June. We strongly recommend attendance at this conference - a vibrant, energising event attracting academics from all over the world. Registration information may be found HERE.

Other PHELC events

The annual symposium is the main event on the PHELC calendar. However, in 2021, we branched out to develop other events. Our first seminar was held in December 2021 which allowed large class teachers from two universities to share experience and expertise in teaching large classes, We hope to develop this aspect of our work in the future. Details of the seminar may be found on the 'Other Events' page of this website.

PHELC22 Keynote Speakers

Jacqui de Matos-Ala

Jacqui de Matos-Ala is currently an Associate Professor and Head of International Relations (IR) at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She has dual qualifications in IR and education specialising in higher education. She lectures courses on IR theory as well as race and gender. Her research interests are inclusive pedagogy, IR pedagogic research investigating the incorporation of indigenous knowledge within IR theory curricula in the global South; pluriversal/decolonial IR, African IR theory; gender and race in the contexts of the global South; disability and global development focusing on Southern Africa.

Keynote Presentation Details


Teaching with diversity in mind – designing curricula for culturally diverse large classes.

With cultural diversity being a prominent feature of student cohorts at higher education institutions across the globe, it is important that we adapt our curricula and learning environments to be more inclusive of other knowledges and different ways of knowing. This address will consider how the large class environment can be tailored to be more culturally inclusive.

Frédéric Fovet

Frédéric Fovet is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University, BC, Canada. Fovet is an inclusion specialist with a specific interest in emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD), critical pedagogy and universal design for learning (UDL). Fovet also has a strong grounding in Disability Studies. He has served as a teacher and principal in schools with a focus on the successful inclusion of students with EBD. Fovet taught at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) for three years, where he was an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. He previously served as director of the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill University, where he was responsible for the campus-wide promotion of UDL. Fovet consults nationally and internationally in the area of UDL and was the founder and program chair of the first three pan-Canadian conferences on UDL, held at McGill (2015), UPEI (2017) and Royal Roads University (2019). Fovet has served on the editorial board of the journal Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties since 2012, and as occasional editor for the journal Disability & Society through 2018-19. He is also a member of the editorial board of the newly launched (2020) International Journal of Disability and Social Justice (IJDSJ) and European Journal of Inclusive Education (EJIE) (2021).

Keynote Presentation Details

Including learner diversity in large class teaching: Using Universal Design for Learning to sustain a systematic proactive reflection on social justice and accessibility

Large class teaching is seen by many practitioners and scholars as a context increasingly privileged by the neoliberal academy for revenue reasons. It is hence a landscape often seen as challenging in matters of inclusion and accessibility. The session will debunk these myths and explore the pertinence of UDL in sustaining a systematic, proactive and designed focused approach to social justice in the large class.

Ann Marie Farrell

Ann Marie Farrell is Assistant Professor in the School of Inclusive and Special Education, Institute of Education, Dublin City University. She works on a range of under- and post-graduate teacher education programmes. Classes on some of these programmes are considered 'large' i.e. 100 up to 430 students. Click here for full profile.

Dr. Anna Logan

Dr. Anna Logan is Associate Professor in the School of Inclusive and Special Education and the Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Education, Dublin City University where she teaches across seven undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education programmes up to and including doctoral programmes. Anna has conducted, published and presented research relating to many aspects of higher education. Click here for full profile.