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Students notice, suffer from big classes

On Tuesday evening I looked back on my first days of school, and was pleased and excited about my schedule and professors. What made me happiest was when I realized that for the first semester in my college life I did not have a large lecture class. I was thankful in light of the recent class- size increases – one of many cutbacks the University is taking to save money. Arguably, a general increase in class- size will most likely affect all USF students; however, some people do not think the change will impact students.

“When class sizes increase, very often I don’t think students are going to know the difference,” said Glen Besterfield, the assistant dean of undergraduates. “A student who has never taken the class before and if that class

increases from 200 students to 300 students, they have no idea whether there should be 200 or 300 in there.”

Besterfield essentially argues that there will be little to no

one-on-one teacher and student interaction in a class when it exceeds a certain number of students, so it makes no difference if an extra dozen people are present.

But it does matter when classes are filled to the extent that students are literally elbow-to-elbow and

knee-to-knee. An environment in which students have enough space to take notes and tests without brushing up against their neighbors is requisite for learning. However, they will be less able to do so if close quarters foster noise and distractions. This is unacceptable, and suggests big classes negatively impact students whether they realize it or not.

A poll conducted at the University of Maryland in 1994 reported that 41 percent of students selected agreed that big classes affected their learning, while 15 percent agreed, though not ‘strongly.’ Although the report was conducted in 1994 it shows that class size – and its possibly negative impact on learning – has been on students’ minds for quite a while.

It is only logical to ask whether large classes serve as an incentive to give students less work, due to professors’ lack of time or desire to grade it.

It is true that large classes are the norm in big state universities like USF. Still, USF needs to make sure they are all getting the resources and room they need to be conducted.

Candace Kaw is a junior majoring in mass

communications.