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Abstract

This study explores alternative approaches for teaching general education courses burdened with serving extremely large enrollments. It compares the effectiveness of a self-contained course in which each course section is taught by one instructor to a large lecture/small lab format in which all course enrollees attend one large lecture section and then are divided into several small lab sections for more intensive training experiences. The study uses the Introduction to Human Communication course at the authors’ university. Two hundred and seventy-five students enrolled in nine large lecture/small lab sections of the course and two hundred and fifteen students enrolled in eight self-contained sections were used for this study. Comparisons were made of cognitive learning outcomes, affective learning outcomes, communication apprehension outcomes, and student evaluations of faculty. Cognitive learning outcomes indicated that students in the self-contained format did better on their first speeches and that those in the large lecture/small lab format did better on their final speech and improved more rapidly from their first to last speech. Little difference was found in level of affective learning or reduction in student apprehension. Students in both sections decreased in communication apprehension over the course of the semester. The large lecture/small lab format appeared to depress teaching evaluations.

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