In a class with more than 100 students, Connor Murphy rarely
speaks up or asks a question.
He sits through the lecture, takes notes and then leaves. If he
doesn’t understand part of the lecture, he feels uncomfortable
asking the professor in class.
“Sometimes it’s awkward to ask questions in class because there
are so many people,” said Murphy, a freshman open option major. “I
usually ask someone in my hall or e-mail the professor, but it’s a
last resort to ask the professor during class.”
CSU’s class sizes on average are larger than other universities
statewide, according to a new report by the Colorado Commission on
The report compared CSU to other schools across the nation that
participated in similar studies. Each university informed the
commission as to which schools are comparable to their own in size
and type of institution, said Joan Ringel, spokesperson for the
In Colorado, CSU was compared to the University of
Colorado-Boulder, the University of Northern Colorado and
At CSU, 17.5 percent of classes enrolled more than 50 students.
This number is higher than every other Colorado school in the
report. CU-Boulder and UNC had 15 percent of their classes have
more than 50 students and CU-Denver had 8.3 percent.
CSU also had fewer class sections with less than 20 students
than CU-Boulder or CU-Denver. CSU had 38.8 percent of classes and
Boulder had the most with 45.7 percent, and UNC had the least, at
The benchmark is a compiled average of the schools compared
nationwide in the study. Classes with more than 50 students had a
benchmark of 43 percent and classes with fewer than 20 students had
a benchmark of 11 percent.
Colorado schools were very close to these percentages, but this
benchmark is an average of their peers, Ringel said.
“The commission would like to see the benchmark raise the bar,
we want Colorado schools to be above average,” she said.
Peter Nicholls, provost/academic vice president, said recent
budget cuts have forced the administration to reduce costs in many
areas of the university, one of the largest cuts coming in
“We chose to cut faculty because it is such a large part of our
budget,” Nicholls said. “The alternative is to not have the section
(and keep the class size small). Our highest priority is to ensure
students graduate on time, so we had to offer larger sections.”
These numbers mean professors are teaching to larger numbers of
students, making the workload of the professor more
“I try to learn all the students names and call on them when
they ask questions,” said Mark Frasier, who teaches human gross
anatomy, a 300-level class to more than 300 students. “Of course,
I’m lucky if I learn 30 of them, but just knowing that I know some
of their names I think makes the setting more comfortable.”
Frasier also instructs gross anatomy labs that can have up to 75
students, but he said he has close contact with students by putting
them in groups and giving each group individual attention.
“Over the years, I have developed a style that lends itself to a
larger class, and I think it works well,” Frasier said.
Nichole LeClere, a natural resource recreation and tourism
major, said her senior classes are smaller than those she took as a
freshman, but she has noticed that the classes are still larger
than she would like.
“I’m more comfortable voicing my opinion in a smaller class,”
LeClere said. “In a bigger class I’m more apt to sit and take in
the information, whereas in a smaller class, I participate and the
lecture gets more in-depth.”