Nearly 45 classes this semester have exceeded the maximum enrollment listed on Bearings. Of these, the Department of Mathematics has the most over enrolled classes with nine, the Department of Government ranks second with four classes above their designated limits.
The course with the most students is Professor Samuel Putnam’s Psychology 101, with 64 students enrolled.This is significantly smaller than last spring’s highest enrollment for Classical Mythology, which had a whopping 96 students and last fall’s Environmental Studies 101, which had an enrollment of 81. To accomodate popular courses, the department will somtimes offer additional sections.
The maximum number of students in each course offered by the College is determined by two comities within the Department of Academic Affairs, the Committee on Curriculum and Education Policy (CEP), and the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC).
Each department also has the ability to suggest the size of their courses, when they propose them to the CEP and the CIC.
“If there’s nothing special about the introductory class, the minimum maximum is fifty,” said Dean of Academic Affairs, Cristle Collins Judd. Professors may admit additional students at their discretion for these introductory courses.
Other circumstances may limit the size of introductory classes. For instance, this may occur for courses were there are a limited number of microscopes, computers, or easels available to students.
Additionally, all language classes are capped at 18 students, due to the “pedagogical evidence” that students learn languages best in smaller settings.
“You want everyone in the class to be able to speak for at least two minutes,” said Judd.
For these reasons, the 18 student cap is non-negotiable, according to Judd. However, this semester, Spanish 102, as well as both sections of Spanish 204 have nineteen students enrolled.
“When it’s a class that’s been designed as a large lecture class with many different interactions for students, the professor doesn’t have to go over fifty, but in consultation with the department, they can,” said Judd of the policy.
First-year seminars are not to be larger than 16 students.
“That’s an absolute part as what we see as a significant part of the experiences,” said Judd. “It changes when it gets to 17.”
With the debut of the College’s new online registration program, Polaris, the College expects it to improve the process by which they determine the number of courses available. Judd hopes that the College will be able to offer students a sneak peak at future course offerings, making it easier for students to plan out their majors ahead of time.
“I think it allows students to have students to think about their options in ways that they can’t now,” said Judd.