Big Classes Encourage Experiments in Teaching

Cal State U. at Chico reworks courses, while instructors worry

Bigger Classes Encourage Experiments in Teaching 1

Photographs by Paul C. Miller for The Chronicle

In a newly redesigned composition course at California State U. at Chico, some sections were expanded to include 90 students, who also meet periodically in smaller groups.

Back in 2005, officials at California State University at Chico asked students how to improve English 130, a composition course that almost every undergraduate there takes. One consistent response: Class sections should be smaller.

But in the years since then, the enrollment cap on English 130 sections has actually crept upward, from 22 to 30. That's no great surprise. Across the country, budget-straitened colleges have been quietly increasing the sizes of all sorts of courses. At