In the ever-evolving world of engineering education, the size of a class can significantly impact the learning experience. Throughout this article, you can explore this crucial aspect, exploring how class sizes shape the academic journey of engineering students.
This article is not just a mere statistical analysis; it explores how these numbers reflect teaching methodologies, student engagement, and the overall quality of education in engineering. Hence, read on to explore the valuable insights related to engineering classrooms.
What is Considered an Ideal Class Size in Engineering?
Finding out the ideal class size in engineering education is a nuanced subject. While there’s a broad consensus that smaller class sizes lead to better outcomes, not every study agrees. Also, the ideal size can vary based on various factors, including course content and teaching methods.
However, a study conducted at Temple University examined the impact of class size on student success in various fields, including engineering. The research, involving a large sample of 8,000 courses and over 32,000 students, aimed to understand how factors like race, gender, and class size affect performance.
It revealed that the effects of class size are highly variable and depend significantly on these factors. Regarding engineering education, the study found that underrepresented minorities and women are generally unaffected by increased class sizes, except in huge classes.
Interestingly, only white and Asian men in small STEM classes showed a potential increase in achievement. This finding suggests that the impact of class size in engineering education is not simple and can be influenced by the racial and gender composition of each class.
Another study, the Tennessee STAR study, found that reducing class sizes from 22-25 to 13-17 resulted in significantly better outcomes for primary school children. However, it is essential to note that this study focuses on primary education and might not directly translate to higher education.
However, regarding online education, Sieber’s research recommends a class size of 12 for instructors new to online teaching and an upper limit of 20 for undergraduate courses.
What is the Average Class Size for Engineering Major?
What is the average freshman class size in engineering? It can vary widely between institutions and is influenced by factors such as the university’s size, resources, and specific engineering programs. Here are examples from prominent engineering schools and colleges:
- Purdue University: When you look at the Purdue engineering admission requirements and head to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section, the student-to-faculty ratio is 22.8:1, with an average class size of around 45 students. Class sizes range from 10 to 400 students, with larger classes typically in foundational courses and smaller classes in more specialized engineering courses. The university also offers recitation sessions in smaller groups of 20-30 students for large lectures.
- University of Pennsylvania: According to their website, the UPenn average class size in engineering is about 30 students, though it can range from 10 to 85. In some cases, class sizes may reach up to 150 students.
- University of Waterloo: The class sizes for engineering courses, specifically in Management Engineering, vary depending on whether the course is a core or elective subject. Generally, the class sizes are about 70-90 students.
- Texas A&M University: At Texas A&M, as part of the “25 by 25” initiative, there are no engineering classes with more than 100 students. Moreover, over half of the undergraduate engineering classes have 50 or fewer students.
- Standford University: While they do not mention the class size for engineering, their average class sizeis around 20 students. While not specific to engineering, it gives a general idea of the environment at the university.
We can further dive into more statistics by analyzing some data posted by people online. Based on information available up to 2021, here is a summary of typical class sizes in various engineering disciplines:
- Mechanical engineering: Undergraduate courses often have around 30-40 students, while graduate courses usually have 10-20 students.
- Civil engineering: The class size here fluctuates widely. Undergraduate courses generally have 20-30 students, and graduate courses tend to have 10-15 students.
- Electrical engineering: Electrical engineering courses typically enroll around 30-40 students at the undergraduate level and 10-20 at the graduate level.
- Computer engineering: These classes consist of 30-40 students for undergraduate courses and 10-20 for graduate courses.
However, remember that these figures should be taken as broad estimates, as actual class sizes can differ based on the institution and other influencing factors. Moreover, the shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to alter these class size dynamics.
How Does the Average Class Size in Engineering Compare to Other Majors?
The average class size in engineering compared to other majors, such as those in humanities, shows notable differences, primarily in student-to-faculty ratios and the overall number of students per class.
As previously discussed, Purdue University’s College of Engineering reports a student-to-faculty ratio 22.8:1 and an average class size of 45 students. Similarly, the University of Pennsylvania’s engineering classes average about 30 students.
On the other hand, humanities classes tend to be smaller. The University of California, Berkeley’s Arts and Humanities division reports an average lower-division class size of 24 students. The University of San Diego’s College of Arts and Sciences has an average class size of 22 students, with a student-to-faculty ratio 13:1.
In contrast, the average class size for science majors at North California State University is reported to be 35 students. For business majors, Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business reports average class sizes of 30 for core courses and 25 for electives.
So, what do these results tell us about the average class size in college? Well, for engineering, it varies, often larger in the early years and becoming smaller as students specialize. However, the statistics above indicate that engineering classes are generally larger than other disciplines, probably because many students enroll in engineering annually.
Importance of Class Size for Engineering Students
Class size is essential for engineering students because it can significantly impact their educational experience. Class size can impact various dimensions of learning, including the quality of instruction, student engagement, and overall academic performance. Some of the critical aspects related to class size include:
- Quality of instruction: According to a study, 90% of instructors agree that smaller class sizes enhance student education. Larger class sizes, standard in introductory engineering courses, may limit the individualized attention students receive.
- Student engagement and participation: A study found that students participate less in larger classrooms. In engineering, where problem-solving and collaborative projects are critical components of the learning process, actively participating is crucial.
- Peer interaction and collaboration: Engineering classes often involve collaborative projects and group work. Smaller classes facilitate better peer interactions, enabling students to work closely with classmates on complex projects. This collaboration is essential for a deeper understanding of engineering principles and practices.
- Resource allocation and laboratory access: Access to laboratories and equipment in engineering programs is fundamental. Smaller classes ensure that more students have direct access to these resources, allowing for more hands-on experience, a critical component of engineering education.
- Academic performance: Research has shown that students in smaller classes often perform better academically. This can be particularly important in engineering, where the coursework is rigorous and a strong understanding of foundational concepts is necessary for success in advanced courses.
Wrapping Things Up: What is the Average Class Size in Engineering?
The size of a class in engineering education plays a crucial role in shaping the academic journey of its students. From our exploration, it is clear that class size affects various aspects of learning, including the quality of instruction and overall academic performance.
We also discussed the UPenn average class size and the sizes of other colleges. We also compared engineering classes with other disciplines, which revealed that engineering class sizes are generally larger, especially in foundational courses. Hence, the article highlights class size’s impact not just on statistical outcomes but also on engineering students’ educational experience.