August 29, 2014

Higher Education: Class Size

Class Size Struggle

The number of courses on Florida campuses with 100-plus students is rising.

Art Levy | 7/1/2011
lecture
The percentage of classes with 100 or more students at Florida universities rose slightly from 4.7% in 2005 to 5.4% in 2009. [Photo: University of Florida/ Kristin Nichols]

Class size is on the rise at Florida's universities, but not drastically. In 2005, for example, 4.7% of all state university classes had 100 or more students enrolled. In 2009, the percentage increased to 5.4%. Moderately large classes — those with between 50 and 99 students — are also increasing, from 10.6% systemwide in 2005 to 11.9% in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage of classes with fewer than 30 students declined, from 59.6% in 2005 to 56.5% in 2009.

"Class sizes have increased over the last several years, probably not to the degree people think," says Frank Brogan, chancellor of the state's university system. "It's not as bad as some people would lead you to believe."

Another way to look at class-size numbers is to evaluate student-teacher ratios. Presumably, the fewer students per teacher, the better. According to the 2011 rankings of the world's best colleges compiled by U.S. News & World Report:

  • The University of Florida's student-teacher ratio is 20:1.
  • The ratio at the Florida A&M University is 18:1.
  • Florida State University's is 22:1
  • University of South Florida's is 27:1
  • The University of Central Florida's is 31:1.

In comparison, the ratio at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is 14:1, according to the magazine. "If there's one metric that I think speaks to the quality and depth of investment in student education, it's the student-teacher metric, and Florida is not doing well across the board," says Ralph Wilcox, USF's provost.

» Next page: Charts showing which Florida universities have the biggest -- and the smallest -- classes.

Tags: Education

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