Large class sizes a problem at SDSU, some say

Students+listen+to+a+professor+in+a+large+lecture+class.

Alex Vasquez

Students listen to a professor in a large lecture class.

by Paulette Villicana, Staff Writer

Some students say overcrowded classrooms are a problem at San Diego State compared to other nearby universities.

There are 35,000 students enrolled at SDSU — 30,000 of whom are undergraduates. Meanwhile, just over 8,500 students are enrolled at the private University of San Diego.

That’s a difference of over 25,000. And the difference is reflected in average classroom size.

“You don’t really learn because you’re not close to the teacher, so you’re usually on your phone or your laptop, not really paying attention,” said business senior Nicholas Esparza. “That’s why a lot of people don’t go to large lectures.”

According to the website CollegeData, at USD, 26 percent of classes are 30-39 students. At SDSU, 16 percent of classes are 30-39 students. In addition at SDSU, 16 percent of classes are made up of 50-99 students and 9 percent of classes contain over 100 students. There are no classes of this size at USD.

Psychology junior Jenna Snyder said students can become easily distracted in large classes.

“Large lectures make me less inclined to go to class or to participate in class or to focus,” she said.

Snyder also said her major classes were large lectures, something she found strange. She said she thought they would become smaller as she went on to more advanced courses.

USD political science senior Joseph Busalacchi said his average classes include, at most, 40 students. “I’m getting one-on-one time with my professor frequently,” said Busalacchi.

SDSU students also said large classes can be intimidating, making them less likely to approach the professor or ask questions.

Esparza said there have been many times he didn’t understand the class material but refused to raise his hand because he felt embarrassed.

“I’ll just look it up on Google or something,” he said.

Busalacchi said he never feels intimidated to ask questions in large lecture classrooms. He says part of the reason he feels comfortable talking to his professors is because the classrooms are smaller and therefore more personable.

“The professors are very accessible, they have ample hours for office hours that they offer per week,” said Busalacchi. “They even provide their phone numbers for you, you can call them, they’re more than helpful.”

“You don’t have a personal relationship with them (professors),” said junior Abigail Johnson, when asked if classroom size plays a role in her academic success.

Because of large classroom sizes, professors have teaching assistants to help them and as a result, students are directed to teaching assistants to answer their questions which decreases student engagement time with the professor, Snyder said.

“They always say go to your TA first before me,” she said.

Snyder said she is concerned that she is not getting her money’s worth when it comes to her education. She said that in order to improve her education at SDSU she would like more classroom time, fewer hybrid (online and in-person) classes and smaller class sizes.

“Schools like this are so big they’re running out of room, I think that’s why they do hybrid, because they can’t have the room twice in a week and were paying the same amount of money for that,” she said.

In comparison, Busalacchi said that throughout his college career he has not taken a hybrid class throughout his college career at USD.

“Stop packing us in like sardines,” Snyder said.

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