Sunday, January 30, 2011

critical thinking and class sizes

"There is less personal attention in the classroom, fewer tenure-track positions, and more classes are being taught by teaching assistants and in some cases undergraduate students," said McCluskey, a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "Obviously, that has an impact on our learning and the experience we get in college."

After reading the article in the Huffington Post, I think it is evident that class size is in a direct relationship with critical thinking utilization in higher education. All of our classes here at MCLA utilize class discussions, whether in class or on blackboard vista. These discussions, and the impact of participation on the student’s grade, make critical thinking a necessity to partake in such discussions.
Being one in a sea of hundreds of students in a class makes it possible to just show up and not critically think about anything that is being conveyed. In those types of classes, a student probably only has to learn for the test, which very well could be online and therefore, probably open book. It seems that student’s are paying a lot more than a MCLA student to essentially go through the motions.
Although a student in a large college should be conscientious of their own studies, chances are they probably won’t be, and since they’re not being encouraged to go above and beyond to learn, they won’t.
After watching the State of the Union, President Obama stressed education as crucial to the US remaining a strong force ahead of the game. Having students that are going to college, but not actually critically becoming better at anything, is not progress. Although large universities are necessary due to the large numbers of students seeking higher education, I think institutions should work to make class sizes reasonable. Students should be seen as more than money, and the students should ensure that they are being treated than more than a tuition payment. Also, those professors of the large classes should be focusing on instilling as much information as possible to the students, not just throwing it out there to get it done.
Despite what large universities can offer, I think small colleges and universities are still the better choice to ensure critical learning is achieved. Large classes just create logistical problems that make it tough to demand quality thought and reasoning.

Has it come to the point where an education at a smaller institution is necessary for quality education?

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