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1000-student enrollment lectures (possible at ASU)

  1. Oct 29, 2008 #1
    In the Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday... "Arizona State University plans to lay off at least 200 non-tenure-track faculty members in the coming months, a move that could push some lecture-style classes to enrollments of 1,000 students."

    Link

    Just some thoughts:
    Does ASU even HAVE a lecture hall that houses 1000 students without violation of fire-codes?

    Are they counting on low attendance and high drop-out rates?

    Are they truly going to have lecture or class sessions, or will they become an online institution?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2008
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  3. Oct 29, 2008 #2

    jtbell

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    They must have an arena for basketball games etc. They could hold classes there. Or use satellite lecture rooms with video monitors, or streaming video to students' PCs.
     
  4. Oct 29, 2008 #3

    Moonbear

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    Do they plan to teach them all at the same time? Or will it just be that one lecturer will give their lecture twice to two different sections of the course? A lecture course with an enrollment of 500 students is not uncommon. There's also no mention of teaching assistant availability.

    The details offered are too sketchy to really be meaningful. We don't know what sort of teaching load the tenure-track faculty currently hold, and the article seems to be assuming they won't be doing more teaching than they currently do. That may be a false assumption. I've been at institutions where budget cuts led to cut-backs in non-tenure-track lecturers, but the plan wasn't that classes would be consolidated or cut, but rather that those tenure-track faculty who were doing minimal teaching and had lost grant funding would be required to step up and increase their teaching loads considerably. Basically, the non-tenure-track lecturer positions were a luxury bought and paid for by the well-funded tenure-track researchers. If those with tenure weren't bringing in that money, they didn't get the luxury of passing the teaching burden to someone else.
     
  5. Oct 29, 2008 #4
    That's what we've been discussing they must be doing. The arena... our university just downsized ours in order to create some special box-seating for shmoozing donors! But even with the downsizing, it still technically seats 24,535! Imagine that class size!
     
  6. Oct 29, 2008 #5

    Moonbear

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    I doubt they'd have to go to the extreme of classes in an arena. Most large state universities have some sort of performing arts complex with plentiful seating. When conferences are held at those institutions, that's where things like plenary talks for an audience of 1000 to 2000 are held.

    If a course is purely lecture, I don't see the big deal. To me, if all I'm doing is lecturing, it doesn't matter if there are 10 students, 100 or 1000. The information is still distributed the same way to all of them. Actually, for the students, they might perceive it as more fair to all be in one lecture. When courses are divided into multiple sections with more than one lecturer but a common exam, there is always the perception that one of the sections might have an advantage because they had the better lecturer. In fact, when I was an undergraduate, I used to sit in on the other section's lectures because I really DID think that professor was better at lecturing, and we all had to take the same exam, so if I had time to get across town to the other campus, I'd rather sit in that lecture.
     
  7. Oct 29, 2008 #6

    jtbell

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    Classes that large that require significant student participation should have separate recitation and/or lab sections anyway. But those are usually taught by teaching assistants, instructors and junior faculty who are most likely to be cut.
     
  8. Oct 29, 2008 #7

    Moonbear

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    When I was in college, recitation sections were taught entirely by TA's. Those are very unlikely to be cut. Departments still have to have grad students, and have to fund them some how, so TAs are a really cheap way to fund them. But, note in the full article, they're talking about courses like philosophy. They don't need recitations and lab sections. Probably just some TAs as graders if the exams are essays (I can't imagine having to grade 1000 essays, and I don't think you could give a philosophy exam as multiple choice).
     
  9. Oct 29, 2008 #8
    Our biggest lecture hall in current use is a performing arts center that seats 800 (and the student I've spoken to this term that has history in the hall with about 400 other students says there is no grader for the essays, just the lecturer!) Presently I think just history and economics have some classes there. It unfortunately doesn't have a large number of projection screens (just one), and I've seen pictures taken from a student's seat where the student can't even see the writing on the powerpoint slide since the screen is so far away (and all seats in front of the student were occupied). I show it the first day of my class as a "what not to expect" picture... In my class, I will know you, and you will not be passive. You will be involved.

    The arena might be better than our 800-person hall on campus. It has multiple large screens... but of course (like most state schools) we couldn't/wouldn't violate our sacred athletes' turf with academics. :surprised
     
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