Jan 222004
Authors: Taylour Nelson

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

Higher Education.

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

28 percent.

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.”

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