Small classes are said to provide many benefits to students and teachers: stronger relationships among students and with teachers, more instruction time, less grading work for the teacher. But are classes with low enrollment really something to write home about?
“You get anything under 18 and you start to have a hard time getting people to actually talk to each other. That’s when your real learning comes into play for most student in AP,” history teacher Julie Frederick said.
Frederick’s second period AP World History class has 21 students; a number that Frederick feels is optimal. “There’s benefits- second period is a good size,” she said.
Despite the challenge of getting students to engage, small class sizes still cling to many benefits. “Being in a small class, there’s less noise, more time to work, and more time to ask questions,” sophomore Lucy Gilchrist said. “It’s easier to get your questions answered.” The amount of time allotted per student increases with smaller enrollment.
Additionally, small classes provide more opportunities amongst students. “When we’re working in groups, they can be smaller: like three people instead of five or six,” sophomore Elliott Chesla said. Smaller groups also give each student a chance to get involved in more aspects of a project.
Chesla also noted that smaller classes mean less distracting noise in the classroom, quicker turnaround times for feedback and grades, and closer relationships with fellow classmates.
AP classes, like AP World History, are not the only small classes. The soon to be eliminated digital media program has also been known for small student numbers. There are notable Spanish classes with just 12-15 students. The newspaper production class also has only 12 students enrolled.
It is understandable that certain CTE and specialty courses would have small sizes, but others can be more puzzling. Advanced classes generally have smaller numbers, though the workload and pacing are dissimilar to that of their standard level counterparts.
Taking a small enrollment class can often provide a more enjoyable and sometimes more effective learning experience for students, as well as lightening grading workload for teachers.