Megalecture revisited

By Dr. Margo Husby Scheelar

Editor, the Gauntlet,

Re: “Ironing out the wrinkles in COMS 363,” Jan. 22, 2004,

One student commented that, in order to really learn the communication skills required in COMS 363 he had to put in 10-12 hours per week outside of class. That should come as no surprise to any student.

Every one hour per week in class should require two to three hours per week of study: reviewing, reading ahead, preparing assignments and studying for exams. Therefore, a three hour per week class which also has a one hour per week tutorial should translate into a minimum of eight hours, maximum of 12 hours per week of study time.

This formula holds true for the class of 25 students or the class of 300: we instructors and TAs can present material and do our best to help students learn but genuine learning only takes place when students embrace the process of learning them- selves and own responsibility for doing the learning. The student who learned a great deal from attending class and doing 10-12 hours per week of studying was working within the expected time frame, not suffering from a work overload.

That being said, I continue to believe that smaller classes provide a much better opportunity for teachers to teach and students to learn. If all we are doing is trying to get students to memorize and “re-barf” on multiple choice exams, then maybe the mega-lecture is satisfactory. However, no multiple choice exam can provide opportunity for students to exercise critical thinking, analyzing and synthesizing skills, precisely the skills they should be learning at a university.

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