RU Reacts: Do Small Class Sizes Really Benefit Students?

By Andrea Lee and Abigail Bovard
Staff Reporters

Each Roosevelt student has their own unique reason for attending the university, from wanting to become active in the Roosevelt’s mission of social justice or simply because they were offered a good scholarship. Roosevelt University is truly a unique school that promises students a unique experience as the school has many different attributes that draw all sorts of students in.

One thing Roosevelt boasts about is having small class sizes. There is an 11:1 student to faculty ratio and 53 percent of classes have less than 20 students in them. Although, with 2,419 undergraduate students, small class sizes are not such a hard feat for the university to accomplish.

Roosevelt’s Director of Marketing Planning and Operations and Technology Transfer Administrative Liaison, Mike Kaluzny, said that small class sizes are important to students success here at Roosevelt, which is why it is used to market the school.

“Small class size is a really valuable selling point because we think one of the most important aspects of someone’s educational experience is establishing a one on one relationship with your professor and classmates,” Kaluzny said. “Roosevelt’s small class sizes make it easier to build these relationships.”

It has been proven by study after study that small class sizes benefit students. In a Cornell University study about the benefits of small class sizes, they claim that large class sizes lead to less critical thinking and even lower ratings for their professor’s abilities to keep students interested. With smaller class sizes, students have the ability to get to know their professors and the students around them.

Freshman Sariah Bolden said believes she has benefitted from having smaller classes here at Roosevelt. Bolden said she felt like she can understand better with less students in a class, saying.

“I think I do benefit from smaller class sizes because I’m able to like have a better relationship with my professors and I also feel like I understand more without like you know 100 people around me instead of 20 people,” Bolden said.

Psychology major Diana Payne said she benefits by smaller class sizes with some caveats.

“It depends on the subject, also the teacher and the environment because sometimes smaller classes, they can be kind of pressurized for you to speak up, but I do like smaller sizes if they are discussion based because you get more intimate connections with the teacher and the classmates,” Payne said.

With 2,147 undergraduate students and 1,253 graduate students attending classes on the Chicago campus, Roosevelt is on the smaller side when it comes to universities. Students can really get to know their peers and professors in this smaller environment. Logan Morhs, a psychology major believes he is benefitted by Roosevelt’s small size, he said, “I think I do because it promotes connections with professors and promotes like more of a family around you.”

Criminal justice and political science major Bailey Hastings also believes that the small size of the school benefits her experience at the school. “Yeah because you know a lot of people as you’re walking through the hallways,” Hastings said.

Bolden said she believes that there are pros and cons to a smaller school, but overall feels that Roosevelt’s size benefits her. “I think with a smaller school you’re able to get to know more people and have more than surface level relationships, whereas like with like a big school I just felt like I’d be overwhelmed with so many people, so I think I do benefit from a smaller one just because I don’t feel overwhelmed with as many people and I feel like it was easier to find like my friend group here,” Bolden said.

Payne said she felt that since the school is so small it creates connections with all sorts of people. “I mean where we’re positioned we don’t really have room to branch out so it does force to kind of connect with other people so in that sense I do enjoy it,” Payne said.

Although students are enjoying a more personal experience with their fellow classmates and teachers it seems as though some RU students wish they could have a small class but also a larger school.

Freshman CCPA student Alec Shiman said the overall class size has been positive for his learning.

“With smaller class sizes I have received an increase in personal attention from my professors, especially when it comes to my dance classes. Smaller class sizes give students more time to work on their scenes in acting and ask questions and understand concepts in music theory and keyboard,” Shiman said. “With smaller classes, the teachers get to know you on a more personal level”.  

Shiman said said he sees more benefits from a larger school.  “Personally, I see more benefits with a larger school such as U of I. With a larger school, there are more opportunities to get involved within your community and try and explore new interests and meet new people,” Shiman said. “This being said, I do recognize some of the benefits a smaller school, like ours, offers such as having a stronger relationship with your professors, mentors, and other students”.

When Shiman fellow CCPA classmate Nathaniel Thomas was asked if he also feels like he is being benefitted he said, “Absolutely, I feel like they give me a more personalized attention and allow me to form a bond with my teachers that would not be possible in a larger group setting.” On how he felt about if smaller school sizes benefit him Thomas said, “ I don’t think that because I think it is important to meet people from all walks of life and be exposed to as many different things as possible and I think a larger school setting provides that opportunity.”

The smaller class sizes do not only affect Roosevelt’s students but also their faculty. A number of students have talked about how much they value the opportunity to have a close relationship with their teachers.

Sarah Khazoum is currently experiencing both points of view since she is not only a grad student but also a psychology instructor.

“I feel like I am in a unique position because my undergrad experience was at a Big 10 university so some of my classes were 200 to 300 some people and now as a graduate student at Roosevelt most of my classes are ten to 15 people so I feel like I have really had both experiences and I certainly feel like the smaller class size is much more helpful in terms of getting to know the other students and getting to know the professor,” Khazoum said.

Khazoum expanded on her thoughts further saying if it was more beneficial for students to go to a smaller university rather than a bigger one.  “I think it really depends on what you are studying and what you want out of your undergrad experience because I think that in the classroom students at Roosevelt get more individualized attention because the biggest classes are 40, you know I teach a class right now and I know everybody’s name,” Khazoum said. “I feel like I have a good sense of of what is going on with everybody who participates, etc. and I don’t think that would happen in a large lecture hall or I know it does not happen in a large lecture hall.”

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