Class sizes

The following position statement was approved by APSCUF's legislative assembly in February 2014.

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Policy
Statement on Class Size

Credentialed faculty members are the appropriate determiners of class-size limits for courses in their disciplines. Limits should be derived by calculating the demands of the subject matter, the most appropriate methods of delivery and assessment, and the resources available. Where applicable in specific disciplines, accrediting organizations may appropriately require class size limits for specific courses. University curriculum committees must engage faculty in the appropriate discipline in dialogue concerning these factors to provide class size recommendations for courses.  Should university administrators not follow the faculties’ recommendations, academic integrity demands that they should engage the faculty and clearly and explicitly explain to the faculty at large, the students, and the public the rationale that guides their disagreement.

As a general rule, smaller class sizes provide the best opportunity for student learning and engagement.  Smaller class sizes allow, among other things, direct interaction, opportunities for greater immediate feedback, increased opportunities for written work, and they maximize the range of assignments an instructor may assign to students.  Smaller class sizes are particularly helpful for at-risk students since they provide for greater interaction with the faculty.

Universities should never arbitrarily alter class sizes, and faculty should never be required to teach large lectures without appropriate training.  It is never appropriate for the size of a classroom to determine class sizes or for administrators to arbitrarily increase class size maximums indiscriminately or solely on the basis of budgetary concerns.

Large lectures rarely provide the opportunities for student participation and engagement available in smaller classes.  Smaller classes allow students to better know their faculty, and visa versa, which personalizes their education and invests them in their education.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education should immediately reestablish a class-size task force, including faculty, to examine whether the universities are providing the best possible learning environments for their students.