Pedagogy for Higher Education Large Classes (PHELC)

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

Twitter: @PHELCprofessors #PHELCprofessors

Pedagogy for Higher Education Large Classes


Forthcoming Seminar = 15 December 2021: Virtual event

The seminar convenors are Ann Marie Farrell and Dr Anna Logan, Dublin City University and Manuel João Costa, University of Minho.

This seminar is as a result of a collaboration between PHELC and IDEA-UMINHO. The purpose of the seminar is to provide those teaching large classes in University of Minho and Dublin City University the opportunity to share practice.

The seminar is for the staff of both universities and is not a public event. However, all presentations will be recorded and made available on this website after the event.

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

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.

The first symposium was held face-to-face in the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) in 2019 while the second was hosted by UPV 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 we remain indebted to our Spanish friends for their guidance and expertise.

3rd PHELC Symposium,

25 June 2021

The PHELC Symposium aims to provide a platform for those teaching large classes in higher education contexts to share practice, experience and expertise. Papers submitted are reviewed by a panel established by the two convenors and published individually with DOI on the open access platform, Zenodo.

Details of the fourth PHELC Symposium will be available in early 2022.

Prof. James Arvanitakis

Title of Keynote Address

‘That was fun’: The joy and importance of large classes

Professor James Arvanitakis (PhD) the Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement and Advancement) at Western Sydney University. He is also a lecturer in the Humanities and a member of Western Sydney University’s Institute for Cultural and Society, having recently spent 12 months at the University of Wyoming as the Milward L Simpson Fulbright Fellow .James is internationally recognised for his innovative teaching, receiving the Prime Minister’s University Teacher of the Year Award (2012) and named an Eminent Researcher by the Australia India Education Council (2015).

Prof. David Hornsby

Title of Keynote Address

Back to the Future: Large Classes in a time of Pandemic

Dr David J Hornsby is a Professor in the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning), Carleton University. A passionate educator, David has published in both the biological and social sciences, and maintains a real interest in large class pedagogy and the massification of higher education.

The 3rd PHELC Symposium (2021) is supported by The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education which is the national body responsible for leading and advising on the enhancement of teaching and learning in Irish higher education. The Forum works with those who teach, learn and shape policy and practice to ensure a valued and informed teaching and learning culture in Irish higher education. The Forum focuses on the professional development of all those who teach, teaching and learning in a digital world, teaching and learning within and across disciplines, and student success. For more information, please visit or follow @ForumTL

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.