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Open Access Short Report

Trials of large group teaching in Malaysian private universities: a cross sectional study of teaching medicine and other disciplines

Susan Thomas1*, Shamini Subramaniam2, Mathew Abraham3, LaySan Too4 and LooSee Beh5

Author Affiliations

1 PhD Student from University Malaya and Lead Coordinator School of Medicine Education Unit, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, 46150 Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia

2 Engineering Faculty, UCSI University, Jalan Menara Gading, USCI Heights, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3 Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

4 Volunteer Project Investigator, School of Medicine Education Unit, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, 46150 Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia

5 Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:337  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-337

Published: 9 September 2011

Abstract

Background

This is a pilot cross sectional study using both quantitative and qualitative approach towards tutors teaching large classes in private universities in the Klang Valley (comprising Kuala Lumpur, its suburbs, adjoining towns in the State of Selangor) and the State of Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. The general aim of this study is to determine the difficulties faced by tutors when teaching large group of students and to outline appropriate recommendations in overcoming them.

Findings

Thirty-two academics from six private universities from different faculties such as Medical Sciences, Business, Information Technology, and Engineering disciplines participated in this study. SPSS software was used to analyse the data. The results in general indicate that the conventional instructor-student approach has its shortcoming and requires changes. Interestingly, tutors from Medicine and IT less often faced difficulties and had positive experience in teaching large group of students.

Conclusion

However several suggestions were proposed to overcome these difficulties ranging from breaking into smaller classes, adopting innovative teaching, use of interactive learning methods incorporating interactive assessment and creative technology which enhanced students learning. Furthermore the study provides insights on the trials of large group teaching which are clearly identified to help tutors realise its impact on teaching. The suggestions to overcome these difficulties and to maximize student learning can serve as a guideline for tutors who face these challenges.