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Larger Class Sizes Bad For Students, Teachers, SDSU Study Says

A San Diego State University study says larger class sizes are having a negative effect on teaching and learning in the university system.

Classes have been steadily getting bigger due to increased enrollment and less money for instructors across the state.

Jim Gerber, an economics professor at San Diego State, was part of a committee formed in 2013 by the the San Diego State University Senate. It looked into the effects of higher numbers of students per class.

SDSU Study: Effect Of Large Class Size
The full study from SDSU on the effect of larger class sizes. Final survey results are available on page 26.
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Classrooms at schools like SDSU were originally meant to hold a maximum of a few dozen students, he said, but now 100 or more students per professor are not unusual.

“We interviewed 620 faculty members at SDSU, which is a very large response rate, and asked them if they had noticed this increase in class size, and about 80 percent or so said they had noticed it,” said Gerber. “Of those that had noticed the increase in class size, 85 percent said that it has had negative consequences for student learning.”

A majority of the respondents also said that their experiences teaching had also deteriorated as class sizes increased. For example, many have to rely exclusively on multiple-choice testing, even for writing classes, because it takes less time to grade tests and return them to students.

The committee made no specific recommendations for San Diego State. Gerber said they hope their study will instead become part of a larger conversation.