Class is too big

As many of you have found out in the past two weeks, Penn State has some enormous classes that make you feel overwhelmed at some points. After a while going to a class with three hundred people feels normal and when your friends tell you their largest class at their school is fifty, you are in shock. I am completely used to going to the Forum building and seeing countless faces that I never saw before since I am a Sophomore but for others, this could be stressful and affect how they learn. There have been many studies to see how class size affects the learning capability of students, and the outcomes are very shocking.


A study was once done with third graders over a four-year period where they had two class sizes, one above average the other was not. These two classes would take the same standardized test and compare their grades with each other after. Over those four years, on average the smaller class size did five percent better than the bigger ones with both reading and math. Of course these are third graders so it is hard to compare them to college students, but there is still fact that those smaller classes do better on test than the larger classes.


There is also an abundance of reasons why studies like this show smaller classes doing better than large ones. In a small class you are able to get ample one on one time with the teacher if you do not understand something. You can also become closer with your class and get help from them with work and other topics you do not understand. As I said before, larger classes could be overwhelming for some students so a smaller class would make them feel more comfortable and they could concentrate better.

There is also the factor of social Anxiety, which forty million people suffer from and seventy fiver percent of them have their first attack by twenty-two according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Interacting with people is one of the causes of social anxiety and when you are in a class of 300 you are going to be surrounded by people asking you questions and talking. Another cause for anxiety is asking questions, which can be stressful enough to do in a small class let alone a lecture hall. Once a person gets an anxiety attack they will have symptoms such as nausea and light-headedness, which would make it almost impossible to concentrate on the class going on.

I feel that there should be a new plan implemented to have smaller classes, even if that means only cutting down a class by fifty students. Studied are showing us that smaller classes are getting better test grades than large classes, and isn’t school all about getting the best education you can. Well if studied are showing that small classes help you learn the best, shouldn’t we be having smaller classes then?

4 thoughts on “Class is too big

  1. Mairead Donnard

    I went to a small high school so as you can imagine, coming to Penn State was a major shock. Going from classes with at the most twenty people to classes with 300 is insane. At first I definitely was overwhelmed but in the end, I chose a large school and this is one of the consequences of that decision. All in all, I have been able to assimilate to these large classes but I do understand how this might still be a shock for other students. Your points about how students typically do well in smaller classes was especially interesting but it makes logical sense. Smaller settings are less intimidating. Here is an article about the benefits of smaller class sizes:

  2. Trevor Richard Dennehy

    Could the results of this study also possibly be due to the fact that large classes make it easier for people to not pay attention, and thus not do as well as in a smaller class, where it’s pretty obvious if you’re not paying attention. I think that the really dedicated students will still get the information they need, regardless of class size.

    1. Jarrod T Skole Post author

      I would agree with you on that idea. I can say that I have been distracted by others around me and lost my concentration on the class. But I still think a smaller class size would make it easier for all students, the dedicated and the ones who are not to get a better education and learn more.

  3. Parker Jax Yochim

    As someone who came from a school with graduating classes of around 150 students the initial transition into these large classes was quite intimidating. However, I found that if I listened to the professor intently I could learn with ease. I believe that large classes do deprive students of some knowledge, not because of the size of the class itself, but rather because of a lack of individualized attention and assistance that would otherwise be afforded to the student.

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