BEMIDJI -- A change in class size policy at BSU has made it a little easier for students to take the classes they need at a given time.
Previously, after a class filled up at the beginning of a semester, a student who missed the cut would have to get permission from the professor to join the class. Administrators have since adjusted the system to automatically raise the class capacity a certain percentage once it fills up.
The change, they hope, will both accommodate more students as well as help the school determine if it needs to add more sessions of a given class or even hire more staff to accommodate the demand.
Tony Peffer, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, recently spoke about the change with the Bemidji Student Senate.
“It’s a way to help students on a short-term basis,” Peffer said. “And then if courses keep being raised all the time. . . that is a really good piece of evidence that we need another section.”
Peffer also said that if there are a number of courses in the same program that continually have their class sizes increased, it may mean that the university needs to hire additional staff to teach.
The change has the potential to have a large impact. Peffer said roughly 50 students a semester were able to get into a class that already had closed by asking the teacher for permission. Peffer said the change has allowed more than 400 students to enroll in classes that they wouldn’t have been able to previously because of class size limits.
The change won’t affect all classes. For example, if a class size hinges on having enough technology in the classroom, it would not be subject to an increase in students. Also, the university won’t raise the cap on a class size until all the sections of that class are full.
Peffer also clarified that they’re going to pay close attention to whether increasing the class size for a certain course would hinder student learning. While the change affects students, it also affects the teachers who will have to adjust to larger class sizes.
“I can’t say they love it, but they get it -- we’re trying to help the students,” Peffer said about the faculty’s reaction to the change.