One of the main selling points for students who choose Colorado State University-Pueblo over other universities is the low student-to-teacher ratio and small class sizes.
Due to the recent budget crisis and cutting of faculty positions, these attractive numbers are in jeopardy.
In a recent interview on REV 89, CSU-Pueblo Provost Carl Wright said, “There is a possibility that some select classes will be a little larger which is not unusual for universities in this day and time.”
These larger class sizes would mean a heavier workload for faculty and less individual attention from professors. This could have an impact on students who attend CSU-Pueblo for its more personal approach to education.
Wright doesn’t believe that the quality of education will decrease due to these changes.
“There will be more tenured track faculty in front of the classes. They are motivational and this will help with retention and education quality,” Wright said.
Mario Gernazio, transfer counselor for CSU-Pueblo, agrees with Wright.
“We’re still looking good compared to other universities. People who are familiar with other schools will compare our numbers and see that we sit better than most,” Gernazio said.
Gernazio spent two years as a recruiter for CSU-Pueblo and is familiar with what prospective students are looking for.
According to Gernazio, one advantage that CSU-Pueblo has over some other schools is the larger number of tenured faculty.
“There’s no comparison when it comes to the quality of our professors,” he said. “The bulk of the teachers at UCCS are adjuncts. They come in and teach for a couple of years and then are cycled out. Here at CSU-Pueblo, we have instructors who are long term and this makes a difference.”
“I invite prospective students to sit in on classes at other universities and then come to CSU-Pueblo. What we have is a world of difference,” Gernazio added.
Kellee Rassau, a transfer student at CSU-Pueblo, has a different view. She feels that most students don’t differentiate between tenured faculty and adjuncts, and that smaller class size is what sets the school apart.
“Every professor I’ve had at CSU-Pueblo has been wonderful. I’ve taken classes in English and business, from tenured instructors and adjuncts. It doesn’t matter as long as they are good instructors,” Rassau said.
Although Gernazio, Wright and many others on campus believe the increased class size won’t have a significant impact at CSU-Pueblo, many students aren’t convinced.
Francesca Morrone, a junior in mass communications, feels larger classes are going to be a problem for students.
“Having a smaller class size gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with your professors. When your instructors know you, learning is easier,” Morrone said.
Rassau feels that larger classes will make a big difference in the way students view the school.
“Larger classes will take away from the charm of the school which is the reason most people choose to come here,” she said. “Teachers and students won’t be able to get to know each other. Professor won’t even know their student’s names and that takes away the feeling of being part of a team in the classroom.”
Both Rassau’s parents were educators and saw firsthand what happens when class size increases.
“Classes with big numbers of students detract from the quality of instruction. Why do you think people in K-12 complain about the huge numbers? It limits the time a teacher can spend with their students,” she said.
No matter the opinion now, the consequences of increased class size will be difficult to measure until the changes take effect in the fall of 2014.