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A world-class faculty/student ratio of 1:7 allowed ECLA to make use of teaching formats that are particularly effective, but rare in higher education today. Students expected to spend 12-18 hours in the classroom per week during term. All teaching formats used at ECLA were designed to facilitate ongoing dialogue, in and beyond the classroom.

SEMINARS. Most of the teaching at ECLA took place in 'seminars', meetings in which a small group of students discuss an issue or a text with each other and their teacher. The normal size of an ECLA seminar was 5-10 students, and the number was never higher than 15. Each seminar was run by a faculty member, but in a manner that relied on active participation from students. The ultimate aim of a seminar was the joint exploration of some common question or text.

TUTORIALS. A 'tutor' is a teacher who gives private instruction to a single student, and 'tutorial' refers to the period of private instruction. Due to its high cost, very few universities in the world offer this form of instruction at the undergraduate level. It was therefore one of the rare privileges of an ECLA education that every course involved tutorials. In a tutorial, the student and teacher discuss, one-to-one, an essay written by the student. Tutorials lasted at least half an hour, often more. On average, ECLA students wrote one essay per week, and every essay submitted was discussed in a tutorial. This is a particularly intense and efficient form of teaching, made famous by institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge.

LECTURES. At ECLA the lecture format was used differently and less frequently than at most colleges. Lectures were used almost exclusively in co-taught core courses, i.e. courses taught by several ECLA faculty together. The lecture would be given by one faculty member or guest teacher, but other faculty were be present and participated in the discussion afterwards. ECLA students, accordingly, would often see and hear their teachers in discussion. The frequent exposure to discussion among faculty, who represent different approaches to the study of values and defend very different substantial views, was an integral part of every ECLA programme.