Inside the Classroom

This section introduces you to:

  • Planning classes
  • Designing and using learning activities
  • Teaching room equipment

The different types of class teaching at LSE 

Classes can take a number of forms. In quantitative subjects, such as Economics, Mathematics and Statistics, the class may be used to work on problem sets given to students in the previous week. In qualitative classes the time may be spent in seminars discussing key questions, critiquing journal articles and/or clarifying and working with concepts

introduced in the lecture. A few GTAs will support “workshops” rather than classes, for example, on some Department of Methodology and Information Systems courses. Here, you may spend much of the time giving students one-to-one or small-group support in a context where there might be quite a large group working at computers, or on particular small group assignments.

There are traditional approaches to class teaching within LSE. For example, many of the more discursive subjects will involve class discussions (whole group, small groups, pairs) as well as one or two short student presentations, followed by plenary discussion. Quantitative sessions are often “taught” from the front of class by the class teacher, with the use of a whiteboard to explain problems/concepts, etc.. That said, there is also considerable diversity. Many class teachers on discursive courses use techniques such as debates, small group discussions, ”buzz” groups, or sequenced questions in a plenary setting. Other teachers invite students to the whiteboard to write solutions, get students to work in pairs or groups, or work round the class asking each student to answer a question. The main message here is: don’t feel too constrained in your approach. Irrespective of your discipline, consider different teaching activities that will encourage students to take a more active role in their learning and help them achieve the intended learning outcomes.

Whatever the context, class time needs to be distinct from lectures, and should be an opportunity for students to develop their own thinking on a subject and their abilities to present and discuss their ideas. This section will provide some guidelines to help you accomplish this goal; additional resources can also be found on the LSE Eden Centre’s main website as well.

It is also necessary that you discuss the approach you intend to take with the course convenor for the course, and desirable that you take time to discuss your classes with other GTAs.


Planning classes

Many new GTAs wonder how there can possibly be enough to say to fill the class period. However, your job is to facilitate and moderate the class, not do all the work for the students. New GTAs sometimes tend to over-manage the situation. Remember that the class isn’t just a matter of your communication with your students; it’s a chance for your students to share and explore ideas, clarify questions they may have, pool resources and develop their understanding. At LSE, classes are very diverse and often include students from all over the world with a tremendous variety of educational and cultural experiences. It is easy to overlook this potential and the value of student input and to end up trying to carry the whole conversation yourself, which is both exhausting and counter-productive.

Thinking through the main learning aims of the class

Most courses at LSE set out clear course aims and some have more detailed learning outcomes for the course as a whole. Using these as the broader context for your teaching will be useful as you prepare specific learning outcomes for each class. A learning outcome is a statement that describes what a student should be able to do after attending the class and completing the associated work assignments. These will inform and help you plan your class design. Make sure you are familiar with the reading and topics associated with each class. Inform yourself of what the students have studied in any related lectures and think of some helpful questions to ask and points you can make.

If you find it difficult to drive specific learning outcomes for each class, try considering the following questions, which draw on the content of the associated lecture, readings, problem sets:

What are the key concepts (two or three) you want to students to understand (at the end of this class)?

Is there a key skill, methodology or process the students need to become familiar with or master (at the end of this class)?

Is there a framework you want students to be able to apply (at the end of this class)?

Is there a key theory your students need to understand (at the end of this class)?

Including teaching and learning activities in the class 

In preparing your classes, take time to consider what activities the students will do to enable them to enhance their understanding of the topic covered. How are you intending the students to engage with the material? What learning processes do you want to use and how will you ensure all those attending can fully participate? For instance, you may decide on a horse-shoe arrangement of seats, to ensure that a student with a hearing impairment can see each person speaking.

Structuring class activities

Sometimes classes can seem to become unfocused because different students are interested in different aspects of the topic or problem. As a consequence, students can feel frustrated by what they see as irrelevant comments by others. By having a very clear view of the steps of a useful session, the GTA can achieve the balance between over-directing and a more laissez-faire approach. The examples of frameworks in Table 1 may help structure class activities and discussion/dialogue between you and the students and among the students themselves. Note that you may actively involve the students at any/all points in each structure.

A “problem solving” structure

Formulate the problem/define the issue

Suggest hypotheses/reasons

Review relevant data

Evaluate alternative solutions, consequences, and implications.

Comparing/contrasting different models or theories

Outline/describe competing models

Compare/contrast the models (eg, through a matrix device)

Conclude on relative merits of the models.

Analysis and critique of a given theory

Review key concepts connected with a particular theoretical position

Consider the evidence in support/ refutation of the theory

Consider the implications of the theory (eg, for practice, for future theory development)

Link theory from one session to the next.

Table 1 Frameworks for a structured class discussion

These are simply examples. You may need to adapt or design a framework that suits your discipline and class topics better. However, keeping a clear sequence or structure in your mind may help you to maintain a clear focus in the discussion and to meet the learning outcomes for the class.

At times, particularly in the more discursive subjects, you may find it helpful to structure the session around an essay or exam question. In some courses, the adviser responsible may well provide guide questions.

For many quantitative classes, the aim is formative: students should go away understanding the theoretical and technical issues raised by a given set of exercises, and therefore be able to tackle similar problems which they meet in future. Ideally, before the class students should have completed and handed in some pre-set homework, which the class teacher has marked and will use in the class to illustrate those theoretical and technical issues.

Different departments have different policies, both in terms of what they expect from students and class teachers. However, class teachers generally agree that classes based on problem sets are much more successful where students are encouraged to do the work each week and to hand it in so the class teacher can get a feel for problems arising before the session and use this data to help plan the class.

On some quantitative courses the teacher in charge will provide written solutions to the exercises, to be handed out in class, but on other courses – depending on the content of the exercises and the preferences of the teacher in charge – solutions (or sketch solutions) may not be available until after classes are finished.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and the teacher in charge has to decide on the balance of the two in each case. One advantage of not handing out solutions in class is that students are apt to pay more attention to the work done during the session; one advantage of handing them out is that, in very computational exercises, the class teacher can refer to pre-printed algebraic and numerical details of the solution, and hence concentrate on the basic theory and strategy involved.

In some cases, it will be possible to cover all the exercises in a homework set over one class, while on other courses there will be too much material. It will be up to the class teacher to judge – in the light of the student work they have marked and of their overall understanding of the course – which questions and/or which topics to prioritise. Top right is a suggested structure for running a quantitative class.

Running classes: generic considerations

Class registers

At LSE, attendance at lectures is optional but attendance at classes is compulsory for undergraduate students. It is also an institutional responsibility to the main HE funding agency that undergraduate student attendance be monitored to some extent. Therefore, a small but important job for the GTA is to keep an accurate class register each week. It is important that your data entry is systematic, regular and accurate as class registers can provide vital “early warning” signals of students who may be in difficulty.

Student records can be marked in three different ways: P (present) if the student attended this particular class; A (absent without reason) if the student failed to attend this class and did not provide a valid reason for doing so; R (absent with reason) if the student did not attend this class but provided a valid reason for doing so (eg, illness).

You can access your class register through LSE for You on the School’s main website. For step-by-step instructions on how to access a register, see ITServices’ “Class registers” document. There is also a “Tutorials” link at the bottom of all LSE for You pages, providing guidance in using the various sections.

Each student registered to your class(es) should be on the register. If students come to class and are not on your register, you may allow it for one week (on the assumption that things are in a state of flux at the start of term) but you should request that students sort out their timetable. In order to maintain reasonable class sizes, do discourage students fromsimply turning up to the classes they prefer (some may try to avoid early morning classes!). You need to mark in attendance each session, record any coursework grades, and write brief comments The register also includes photographs of the students you teach, which can be a great way to start learning their names and faces!

Students who have disclosed a disability which requires “reasonable adjustments” will have an Inclusion Plan. If this has been disclosed to you, it should be taken into account when looking for reasons for absences and when commenting on class reports.

The GTA provides a regular point of contact with students through the classes. If a student is experiencing difficulties and begins to miss classes it is the GTA who will be the first person to see this. It is, therefore, crucial that concerns are reported to academic mentors and departmental tutors. The online system now automatically emails the student and his/her academic mentor if you mark the student ”absent” (with or without reason) from class on two consecutive sessions. If students show irregular attendance at classes, if they do not complete course work and if they fail to turn up for a class in which they are presenting work, it is worth adding a note to this effect on their online record. Through this early detection system many of the more serious difficulties and course failures can be avoided.

But be warned: students have direct access to anything you write. So keep it accurate and polite.

Note that some students in your class register may be highlighted in yellow. These students are being monitored by the Student Progress Panel (because they have already failed some exams). It is particularly important that you keep the reports on these students up to date, and note any relevant information. Please do not make the register “public” to the student group, as this could cause embarrassment.

Managing expectations

Before running a class, you will need to become aware of the implicit set of attitudes and messages you bring into the classroom with you. Equally important are the attitudes and expectations that your students bring with them. You: Your reactions, your responses to students, the attitudes you project in your actions all suggest to your students the sort of interaction they can expect. The way in which you field students’ comments will give the most important clue. No one wants to feel that their remarks will be put down or dismissed. Students are also sensitive to what they think you really want (eg, Does he want a discussion or a chance to give a mini-lecture on his favourite topic? Does she say she wants disagreement and then gets defensive when someone challenges her?). Your students will try to read you so that they can respond appropriately. Be sensitive to the clues you give them and do your best to create a “safe” place for open and frank questioning and discussion to take place, irrespective of the subject. Your students: It is well worth the time and effort it takes at the beginning of a class, with a new group of students, to find out what they are expecting from you and the class. You could simply ask them and some confident students may respond helpfully. Better still, you could ask the students to write down some brief notes about how they see your role and theirs in the class and what they see as the purpose(s) of the class. This would also provide an opportunity for students to explain privately any special arrangements they may need in order to participate fully. If your students are first-years and new to classes at LSE you may even wish to facilitate a discussion about how you will work together. Some GTAs find it useful to draw up class ground rules. See Section 2.4 and Section 2.7 for more on, respectively, ground rules and managing your workload.

Listening effectively

As a class teacher, you will need to hone your personal and communication skills, in particular your listening and questioning skills, your ability to give clear explanations and your ability to end classes effectively. The following sections offer some useful hints about this.

  • Try to keep an open mind and listen to what is actually said.
  • Listen for meaning. For example, a student may ask you a muddled question about a small detail when actually what (s)he may be telling you is that (s)he is completely lost and doesn’t understand this at all – or the student may be dyslexic
  • Try not to pre-empt what a student is saying, by cutting them off mid-question and giving them an answer to a problem as you see it. As much as possible, let them explain their uncertainties and confusions. Concept development often requires that students first understand how the new ideas presented fit with what they already know. If the new concept requires them to let go of some previous understanding, this needs to be actively acknowledged. In other words, you can’t simply overlay a new and contradictory set of ideas before the old ones have been explored and deconstructed
  • Try to find a workable balance between, on the one hand, thinking ahead in the discussion in order to maintain the flow and focus and, on the other, being overly directive and forcing the discussion along your set path.

Questioning skills

There are a number of techniques you can use to encourage students to ask questions and to open up discussion. The most obvious is to draw on students’ questions and comments and to expand upon them with your own remarks. You may want to jot down several statements or questions beforehand and use these as a springboard.

For many quantitative subjects, you may want to plan out a sequence of short questions aimed at helping students work their way through a problem, or grasp a better understanding of a theory or model. A number of class teachers in Economics, Mathematics, Statistics and Accounting use this approach. Some will go round the class more or

less sequentially, so students know when their “time” to answer is approaching and can prepare. Others take a more random approach, calling on people by name. Yet others ask questions to the group as a whole, and let whoever wishes to respond. This issue of whether or not to call on students individually and by name to contribute to the class is one of the more controversial aspects of questioning. Clearly, teachers have different styles and students will have varied expectations. The advantage of addressing individual students is that you can tailor comments and make interventions that are appropriate for specific students. It may be a way of involving a quiet student who you know has useful contributions to make but maybe finds it difficult to raise them in the class.

However, great care should be used when coldcalling students. If some students think that they may be “picked on” to answer questions it may make them very uncomfortable in the class and less able to think and work out their own position or solution. (This may particularly affect the nonnative speakers of English in your class and those with disabilities.) This may also have a knock-on effect on the other students and so the positive atmosphere in the class can be eroded.

If you choose to use a direct questioning approach it is also sensible to think through what you will do when a student cannot answer your question or gives a muddled or an incorrect response. It is likely to fall to the teacher to “rescue” the situation and help re-build the confidence of an embarrassed or flustered student. Because of these potential difficulties it is, therefore, suggested that you do not ask individual students to answer your questions so directly until you have established a good rapport with your class and you have got to know your students better.

With more discursive subjects, it is generally preferable to open up discussion with open-ended questions which will get students thinking about relationships, applications, consequences, and contingencies, rather than merely the basic facts. Open questions often begin with words like “how” and “why” rather than “who”, “where” and “when”, which are more likely to elicit short factual answers and stifle the flow of the discussion. This more

closed questioning approach tends to set up a “teacher/student” “question/answer” routine that does not lead into fruitful discussion of underlying issues. You will want to ask your students the sorts of questions that will draw them out and actively involve them, and you will also want to encourage your students to ask questions of one another. Again, it is for you to decide whether to call on students directly, or leave the discussion and discussant “open”. Above all, you must convey to your students that their ideas are welcomed as well as valued.

Very occasionally you may have a student in your class who experiences more than the normal level of anxiety or shyness when called upon to contribute to the class discussions or to present their work. Treat such situations with sensitivity and if appropriate seek specialist guidance from the Disability and Wellbeing Service, Eden Centre or the Language Centre.

There are a number of pitfalls in asking questions in class. Here are the four most common ones:

  • Phrasing a question so that your implicit message is, “I know something you don’t know and you’ll look stupid if you don’t guess what’s in my head!”
  • Constantly rephrasing student answers to “fit” your answer without actually considering the answer that they have given
  • Phrasing a question at a level of abstraction inappropriate for the level of the class – questions are often best when phrased as problems that are meaningful to the students
  • Not waiting long enough to give students a chance to think.

The issue of comfortable “thinking time” is an often-ignored component of questioning techniques. If you are too eager to impart your views, students will get the message that you’re not really interested in their opinions. Most teachers tend not to wait long enough between questions or before answering their own questions because a silent classroom induces too much anxiety for the class teacher. It can be stressful if you pick on a student for an answer and all the group are waiting for a reply. Many students, particularly those with certain disabilities or dyslexia, students who are not confident in speaking in public, speaking English, or in the subject matter may become flustered in such a situation. Creating a more comfortable space in which to think is likely to induce a better “quality” of answer and increase the opportunities for all students to contribute effectively.

Once the students have confidence that you will give them time to think their responses through, and you show them that you really do want to hear their views, they will participate more freely in future.

Asking students questions about work that they have not done is clearly a different issue from those noted above, and comes back to issues around agreeing ground rules with students to ensure that they prepare adequately for class. It is important to agree on working patterns from the start, and follow them through. Here are a couple of examples of approaches some class teachers use.

Giving a clear explanation

The first piece of advice here is to try not to do too much explaining in class. This may sound a little strange but it is all too easy to be drawn into the trap of giving mini-lectures rather than facilitating learning. However, there are times when your students will look to you to help in clarifying points or linking class discussions and course work with related lectures.

In giving a clear explanation you should start from where your learners are. You may choose to summarise “what we know already” or indeed ask one of the students to do this task for the group. These are four quick tips to help structure your explanation:

  • Structure what you say so that you have a clear beginning, middle and ending
  • Signpost your explanation to make the structure clear to everybody
  • Stress key points
  • Make links to the learners’ interests and current understanding. You can do the latter through the use of thoughtful examples, by drawing comparisons and by using analogy.

It is worth reiterating that classes should not turn into lectures.

Concluding a class

  • There is inevitably pressure on time, as many GTAs try to cover as much as possible in the time available. Finding that time has simply run out is a common experience. With that in mind, it is useful to plan the end of sessions as carefully as planning the beginning. As such, you may wish to: Use the summing up more as an opportunity to identify any “gaps” or issues that haven’t been addressed, key readings which you have noted students have not yet read but probably would benefit from spending time on, and in giving students some pointers as to further work they may engage with
  • Prompt students to plan ahead, to make links to the next lecture and next class, and ensure that everyone is on track to make the most of the next class in the series
  • Ask students individually, in groups or collectively to contribute key points to the summary.

Running classes: specific considerations

There is a growing interest in UK higher education in helping undergraduates to develop their “core skills”. These include communication skills, numeracy, ability to work with others, problem solving and use of information technology. Classes offer a huge potential for students to develop and improve core skills, and in particular, their oral communication skills both through informal class discussions and by giving formal presentations. To help students do this is, therefore, an important aspect of your work as a class teacher.

  • Discuss with students the overall purpose of student presentations both within the discipline and for their broader skills development
  • Ensure that their presentations link to the class and/or the rest of the course
  • Consider timing and format. For instance, keeping the presentation short is useful so that it does not dominate the class session but acts as a way of structuring the class – placing it halfway through the session for ten minutes, with five minutes for the presentation and five minutes for questions – and limiting the use of PowerPoint to four or five slides at most or one side of A4 is a good discipline
  • Discuss the feedback criteria with the class and, where appropriate, develop a customised feedback sheet. The LSE Eden Centre can work with you on this
  • Offer them visual aid advice, for instance good practice in using PowerPoint, or preparing handouts for other students in the class
  • Suggest a meeting with you before the presentation. This can be useful in ensuring that the student has addressed the question and that the presentation is well integrated into the rest of the session
  • Let the student/s know how they will be receiving feedback (office hours, feedback sheet, Moodle, in the class, audio feedback) and what elements of the presentation they will be given feedback on
  • Outline the structure of the session at the start, indicating when and how long the presentation will be and how it fits into the overall class plan
  • Clarify what the role of the rest of the class is during the presentation/s. Will students ask questions after the presentation? Will they give peer feedback on all or some aspects of the presentation to the student presenting?

Several departments now include guidance on seminar presentations in their documentation to students. You can usefully draw this to your students’ attention. In addition, LSE LIFE runs learning development events on various aspects of seminar presentation and public speaking, and has a range of resources available on its Learning Development Moodle course, several of which are available for class teachers to adapt to their own needs.

Many students use the opportunity of class presentations to learn how to use PowerPoint and operate the computer display equipment. You may wish to alert students to IT training on using PowerPoint. Equipment to enable classroom presentation is now available as standard in the majority of classrooms across the School; and where there is no such facility, you can book portable equipment from the AV Unit. However, the equipment set up does vary from room to room, so encourage students to have a trial run if they can, and be sure to check out how the equipment works yourself (contact the AV Unit for hands-on guidance if you need it). Many students find presenting in class very stressful and for some it is particularly difficult (eg, because of a disability, mental health issues, or due to language difficulties). Encourage students to make you aware of such concerns, and either offer additional support if you feel able and have time, or point them to other support available in the School (eg, LSE LIFE, Disability and Wellbeing Service, Language Centre).


Helping students to develop academic writing skills

There is clearly more to class teaching than simply packaging content and delivering it to students. The School places great importance on students’ abilities to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. This section considers how to help support students with their academic writing skills. These come to the fore in the ways in which students will be summatively assessed, eg, through the essay and through written examination scripts.

This is usually an area of particular difficulty for dyslexic students. It can also cause concerns for some students for whom English is a second or third language, and for students unused to the particular writing style expected in the UK HE system, which is often more critical and analytical than they may be used to.

Class teachers can usefully devote some of their teaching time to the support of these process skills and may want to encourage their students to discuss and review their academic writing abilities. The detail of marking and providing feedback on course work and essays is tackled in detail in Section 4. In addition, class teachers may wish to consider setting aside some class time to work with students on essay writing technique, peer critique and review of each other’s work, and exam technique. Here are some examples of approaches to running classes to help students develop their writing skills used by recent class teachers.

LSE LIFE offers support for academic writing skills’ development through its learning development events, the LSE Study Toolkit, the Learning Development Moodle site and one-to-one sessions. A report on an innovative series of academic writing skills surgeries, taking place in LSE’s Department of Social Policy, was recently produced for the LSE Education Blog.

Helping students to prepare for their examinations

Many LSE courses are assessed by end-of-course written examinations and your students will be keen to maximise their performance in these assessments. You can do much to help in their efforts and you may wish to use some class time to work with students on exam preparation.

You do need to inform yourself about the form that your students’ examinations will take. How many questions do they need to answer? Do they have any choice? Has the exam format changed since last year? Previous year’s exam papers are available on Moodle (where solutions or commentaries may also be provided). The LSE Library’s website also provides past papers going back many more years.

Your students may find it useful to work through old exam questions in class. You can use these in revision classes in a number of different ways. For example, you could ask students to work in small groups and answer two or three questions in class and ask them to jointly present their views for discussion. Alternatively you could set a “mock” exam where students work independently on questions in class under exam conditions, etc.

You can mark your students’ answers and give them constructive feedback but you can also invite students to mark each other’s answers and encourage them to apply the assessment criteria used in the department. Such formative assessment can be a very powerful teaching tool and many students gain a great deal from making and defending judgements about the quality of their own answers, those of a peer or those presented in an anonymous answer (from last year) that you keep for teaching purposes. This can be an active and engaging way to help your students understand the quality and standards of work required by your department. It will often prompt discussion and questioning about the detail of the exam. For example “How long should my answer be?”, “How many references should I include?”, “Can I refer to my own experience?” etc.

You may also be able to ask the course convenor for common “errors” that students make when tackling his/her questions and discuss these during your class.

If you are teaching first-year students, it may be helpful to discuss approaches to revision with your class and encourage them to draw up realistic plans and timetables. It is probably worth reminding new students that most people work more productively in (short) timed bursts and when they are not tired, hungry or upset/worried. Your students can obtain advice and support by attending the exam preparation sessions offered by LSE LIFE You can also guide your students to look at the information and advice provided on Moodle course Learning Development, whose materials you are welcome to adapt and use with your own classes.

Teaching room equipment

The majority of classes at LSE take place in designated teaching rooms that are normally supplied with whiteboards and pens, overhead projectors and an internal telephone to make emergency calls.

Most rooms are now also equipped with internet access as well as data, audio and video projection facilities. If you require any additional audio-visual (AV) equipment you can book them from the Audio Visual (AV) Unit in advance.

You can also check the equipment that is provided in your allocated room before you begin your teaching. See the LSE Timetables Page and scroll down to the link to Teaching rooms. The site includes room layout, a photo of the room and details of the equipment provided.

Guidance on the use of equipment is available. 

If you feel that rearranging furniture and layout would improve the running of your class, do feel free to move the furniture, but please re-set the room at the end of your class for those who will use the room after you.

Also useful are the video clips and information about teaching room technology at the LSE Eden Centre’s Classroom technologies web page.

Note that one of the most common problems you will encounter is a lack of pens or working pens. It is always worth carrying a few with you – your department may provide teachers pens for just such a reason – but make sure they are “dry wipe” pens, as other pens may be “permanent” and take considerable effort and special solvents to remove from the whiteboards. Pens are replaced every day by the room monitors, but they do not have time to check each pen. So when you realise a pen is dry, please throw it away rather than putting it back in the box!

If you wish to use the data projection facilities, it is best to seek advice in advance, and check out the precise operating instructions for your room. You will need your LSE email user name and password to log in in the first place. You will usually need to turn the projector on via consoles on the desk or switch on the wall.

Disseminating classroom materials

Your departmental manager or course secretary will be able to help you with stationery and any materials you need for your teaching, such as photocopied handouts. These should be freely available to you, but do check if there are restrictions or departmental guidelines.

Teachers can use Moodle, the LSE’s Virtual Learning Environment, to allow students online access to reading lists, PDFs of lecture slides and links to recordings of lectures (where available) and other resources. For more on Moodle see above.

As already noted, legislation requires that you anticipate a wide variety of needs and make “reasonable adjustments” to your teaching resources and handouts to ensure that your teaching remains inclusive. For example, you may need to provide handouts in large font size for students with visual impairment or to accommodate the needs of a dyslexic student who wants to audio-tape your classes. One possibility is to make handouts available via Moodle in advance of classes, so that students can print them out in a format appropriate to them. Please also check with the course convenor before teaching begins to see if you have any students known to have Inclusion Plans so that you can respond to their requirements where possible. If you have any concerns about how to support any disabled students in your classes please do consult with the Disability and Wellbeing Service.

Health and safety considerations

Teaching at LSE is not generally hazardous, but GTAs have an important role to play in safety. You should familiarise yourself with the fire safety information for the buildings in which you teach or run office hours, as you will be expected to lead the students you are teaching to the Fire Assembly Point in the event of a fire alarm being activated. Blue Fire Action Notices in every building tell you where to go, and information is also available on the Health and Safety website. Pay particular attention to anyone who needs assistance.

Should you discover a fire, don’t try to put it out yourself, but raise the alarm (red break glass box near stairs) and report the location of the fire to Security as quickly as possible.

Class sizes are set in line with the capacity of the room, particularly to make sure it is easy for everyone to exit the room in the event of a fire evacuation. You should therefore never allow more people to join the class than the official capacity of the room.

Watch out for people leaving bags, coats and other items where others could trip over them, and ask for them to be moved if they are in the way.

For students who might have difficulty exiting the building (eg, due to mobility difficulties) check if they have arranged for a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan with LSE Security.

Never stand on a chair on castors (wheels) or tip seat. If you need to reach an overhead projector and can’t do so from the floor, contact AV for assistance (using the telephone numbers that are provided in all teaching rooms).

Sometimes a student may be taken unwell during a class. If this happens, call Security on ext 666, and they will send a First Aider. Keep calm, and keep everyone safe. You may need to temporarily suspend the class, or re-locate it. Contact Timetables (on 020 7955 6333 or by email) if you can’t find a room.

LSE is a very open institution in central London, and unfortunately does experience thefts. Never tackle a thief yourself or put yourself in danger, but get as much information as you can to report to Security (ext 666) immediately. Don’t leave items unattended or unsecured, and remind your fellow students to keep their personal belongings secure. Remember to log off any computers you use at the end of every session, so that nobody else can use your computer account.

Further Reading

LSE Education blog posts

  • Mapping the Teaching Environment. How the seating plan or layout can have an effect on class participation and interaction.
  • Read, Think, Write, Repeat . Strategies to use before, during and after class to help our students engage effectively with their assigned readings.

Class teaching

General hints and tips for teaching:

  • Gibbs, G and Habeshaw, T (1992), Preparing to teach: an introduction to effective teaching in higher education, Technical & Educational Services Ltd, Bristol, pp255. LB2393 G43
  • Habeshaw, S, Habeshaw, T and Gibbs, G (1992), 53 interesting things to do in your seminars and tutorials, Technical and Educational Services, Bristol, pp136. LB1032 H11
  • SEDA, the Staff and Educational Development Association, is also publishing Gibbs’s “53 Powerful Ideas All Teachers Should Know About” on its website.

Running discursive classes

  • Brookfield, Stephen D and Preskill, Stephen (1999), Discussion as a way of teaching: tools and techniques for university teachers, Open University Press, Buckingham, pp191. LB2393.5 B87

Revision Questions: What would you do if …?

Consider the questions and make notes about how you might approach these scenarios should they arise in your class. Feel free to share your thoughts with a more experienced colleague from your department or the Eden Centre.

  • What will you do if a student submits an assignment late?


  • Do oral presentations have to be submitted in advance of the class they are due?


  • Should you provide feedback to students on their work individually or prepare general talking points for the whole class?


  • What advice or feedback can you offer a student who appears to be unclear about academic conduct expectations on the course?