This semester I am enrolled in a class that has about 200 students in it. Since it’s a class that is in high demand, I understand the large numbers. There are only so many faculty members to teach and way more students that need to take it. In this case, the poor student-to-teacher ratio is to be expected. But honestly, this is one of the worst executed ideas I’ve been a part of. Hopefully you can identify. Here are my major problems with this class set up.
First, the classroom is auditorium style. Students are already sitting on top of each other as is. Personally, I like to have some breathing room and a small bit of personal space. But fill every seat, and you’ve got a claustrophobic person’s nightmare. Even the professor commented that he’s never seen this may students in one space. There is a good reason for that. He’s never had a class that big because there shouldn’t be.
Second, this class takes place during the time that many take their lunch. About the time 11:45 a.m. hits, I’m ready to eat, but we still have half an hour to go. All I hear is these 200 some students complaining about how hungry they are, that they didn’t get a chance to grab breakfast, and hear their stomachs growl. Everyone is restless and it is hard to focus. I’m thinking that the professor needs to bring in 200 snacks for all of his students every time the class meets. Problem solved.
Third, with a class that size, there is likely to be many jokesters within the crowd. Remember that kid in grade school? The class clown? The one who always made jokes and got the class to laugh? They brought life to even some of the most boring and dry classes. But in a room with about 200 students, there is a high chance that you won’t find just that one jokester. You’ll find about ten. And they will compete among each other for the best gag; the best joke; the biggest laugh. Who can out-do the others? This is all good and well initially; But then it just gets old.
Fourth, with a class that has that many students in it, the professor often gets distracted frequently. Whether it’s the students chatting or interruptions like people walking in class late or leaving early, it ultimately makes them lose their train of thought. Then nothing gets accomplished. Some students love that because then the whole lecture period wasn’t spent lecturing. But little do they realize that just makes more work for the students later on while studying.
But I would have to say that the big issue with classes being this large is that you don’t get to know new people. With that many students in a room, there is a good chance that you already know someone. Or you signed up for that class with all of your friends. We tend to cling to those we know. Big classes don’t provide the chance for us to get to know new people.
I understand that larger classes are a necessary component to the academics of a college campus. Especially in large universities, these large classes are prevalent. But the least ISU can do for students who don’t prefer these types of classes, is balance them out with some classes having less students enrolled.