In high school, we are used to relatively small classrooms with no more than 20 to 25 students. We all know each other even without having spoken before, and teachers know every student personally. We are more than just a name or a number, and we are used to one on one interaction. All of that changes in college. Classrooms are filled with students; all the way from five to 100. At first, the change can be hard and it will take time to adjust. You need to know that the size of your class will affect your learning process.
For most of my semesters, I was lucky to be able to participate in small classes. Most of them did not have more than 15 students. However, when I did my semester abroad, I had two classes with —give or take— 90 students and one of them with 17. After this experience, I noticed I did better in classes with fewer students. Here are the reasons why I believe that happens to a lot of people:
Many teachers ask the students to be participating in class constantly. We are encouraged to ask questions and share our thoughts with the rest of the group. You would think that with a larger group, we would tend to participate more. However, most students are scared to be judged more by a bigger amount of people. Having all eyes on you may trigger anxiety so you decide to stay quiet. Therefore, students have a tendency to interact more in class when groups are smaller and certain levels of trust have been established. With less students come more students eager to participate.
One on One Interaction
I noticed when there are over 30 students, teachers start seeing them as numbers. In larger classrooms, we lose our names and become a number on a list, a particular seat we always choose, or our last grade. We lose our sense of individuality and it is harder to connect with our teachers. This lack of connection prevents us from reaching out when we have doubts or need help. When the class is smaller, teachers learn names and begin to get to know each student individually. This kind of student-teacher relationship allows for better communication, and, in the end, better results.
In my opinion, a student needs to create three kinds of connections when in class: student-teacher connection, student-material connection, and student-student connection. In the first one, the student needs to feel like the teacher is accessible and willing to answer any questions and help resolve any problems. In the second one, they need to be able to connect with what is being taught so they are able to understand better, to learn better. And in the third one, students need to establish relationships with their classmates to create an in classroom support system, to trust each other. It is my belief that these connections are stronger in small classes. With fewer classmates, students will be able to connect with their teachers, to concentrate on what is being taught, and to create relationships that will help create a better learning environment.
The people around you in college will have a big influence on you whether you realize it or not. Most of them will be in your classroom. Getting to know them is important and that probably happens better in a small class. When the groups are smaller, the learning process is easier. You are able to communicate your ideas, connect with others, and understand the material better. I believe the fewer the students, the more beneficial the class will be.
What do you believe? Does the size of your classroom affect the way you learn?
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