A community college class usually evokes visions of a small group of students sitting in a small room, listening intently to an instructor’s lecture. Most students expect to be among 20, maybe 30 others. However, to many students, the reality is that many classrooms seem like stadiums. Many students, especially new enrollees, wonder if they will be ever able to say a word to their professor.
What effect does the size of a class have on your academic success?
Is their any truth to the myths surrounding the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of larger classes?
Recent studies have shed some light on the topic of class size. However, the interest in size of classes is not by any means new. Comenius, considered one of the fathers of modern education, believed it was essential for a teacher to instruct several hundred scholars.
Decade-old research suggests that there is little correlation between large classes and lower grades. In fact, in some studies, the relationship between the two has been deemed insignificant. Recent research has gone even further, indicating that class organization and student characteristics are higher on the Richter scale of learning, leaving class size to the wayside.
However, in her testimony before the California Assembly Higher Education Committee in December of 2003, the Academic Senate President of California Community Colleges, Kate Clark, advised, “students would be better served by directing money to already proven methods and support structures.” Among such structures, she listed small classes with individual human interaction.
The majority of Yuba College students interviewed claimed that the success of the student is based entirely on student characteristicsa and class curriculum. However, each student claimed to have a general feeling of discomfort when first entering into a class with a larger size.
When Yuba College student Nick Hall was asked whether or not he believed that class size positively or negatively affected a student’s learning, he replied, “It’s all in the student’s drive,” after admitting a feeling of nervousness when entering into one of his classes. “My biology class is pretty ridiculous, it seems like it has a hundred people in it.”
Yuba College English professor, Rich Edmunds admitted, “Ten (students) instead of 30 is better: more individual time with the students. Composition classes need feedback. Seventy-five percent of work is done outside of class.”
The intimate setting and the amount of interaction a student receives compels one to believe that learning in small class environments would be more intellectually stimulating. However, many overlook the many advantages of learning in large classroom settings, such as the synergy one will receive and the interaction and assistance from fellow students.
Whether you prefer the intimacy of learning in smaller classes or enjoy the interaction of the larger classes, Yuba College offers them all with skilled and helpful professors to boot.
Whether you are a new or returning student, don’t be spooked by seemingly large classes. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Never let your schooling interfere with your education.”