Dear Faculty Senate Voting Members:

We have received some feedback that the resolution, “Ad Hoc Committee to Review Class Sizes and Enrollment Caps” is somewhat vague. Thus, this memo seeks to clarify the motivation for the resolution and provide specific examples and suggestions. The vote on this resolution will take place on Monday, April 5.

  • Class sizes and enrollment caps were an ongoing issue prior to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem in some departments.
  • For example, a number of faculty who responded to a survey in December 2020 stated that their class sizes increased in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.
  • This was not a problem created by the Registrar’s Office; rather, departments increased class sizes for faculty without adjusting official workloads.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that the problem happened in two dimensions: the official enrollment caps were increased, and students were manually added to courses beyond official enrollment caps.
  • There are significant discrepancies regarding class sizes and workloads, both within and between departments.
  • A number of faculty have reported that there are discrepancies within their departments for the same course. For instance, faculty are reporting that some have twice (or even 5 times or higher) the number of students as other faculty for the same workload credit for the same course.
  • Within colleges, some departments count larger class sizes as 2x the workload credit, while others do not.
  • These discrepancies create inequities among faculty which have direct impacts on annual reviews and promotions. In some departments, this is also creating animosity among colleagues.
  • This affects both CT and TT faculty.
  • Class size discrepancies are leading to inequitable experiences for our students.
  • Some students are lucky to be placed in small sections, while others are placed in very large sections (of the same course). Students in small sections are able to spend more one-on-one time with the instructor and receive more personalized feedback.
  • Although some large courses cannot be avoided at UD, we should not put some students at a disadvantage and others at an advantage for the same course. Students should have equal opportunities for success, especially for core curriculum courses that serve as gateways to majors/minors.
  • One possible solution is to require that each department includes a statement on class sizes in their workload policies.
  • This would encourage departments to think carefully about their class sizes and associated workloads and create a policy that works for their discipline.
  • Some departments already have such policies in place.
  • The ad hoc committee proposed by the resolution could review existing policies and make recommendations.
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