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The Modern Public Ivies


Replies to: The Modern Public Ivies

  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,607 Senior Member
    Where are the intro and popular classes in Chemistry, Biology, Political Science, History etc...?
    That's a good, fair question.
    What I generated above was a list of *100-level* (Introductory) Princeton courses, showing 8 out of 282 with enrollment sizes of 100 or more students. (Alexandre had stated that "at most private research universities, Ivy or not, intro-level classes are large (over 150 students) ")

    So let's broaden the definition of "Intro".
    Here's a list of 200-level courses:

    In that list of 219 records, I count 7 courses with over 150 students.

    CHM 202 General Chemistry II
    COS 226 Algorithms and Data Structures
    ECO 202 Statistics & Data Analysis for Economics
    HIS 212 Europe in the World: Monarchies, Nations
    MOL 214 Intro to Cellular & Molecular Biology
    PHI 203 Intro to Metaphysics & Epistemology
    PSY 208 The Brain: A User's Guide

    If you are asserting that, in certain popular fields, many introductory courses are large even at the most selective private universities, then it appears you are correct ... if Princeton is representative, if 150 is our standard for "large", and if 7 (plus the 8 100-levels) is "many".
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    Nearly all private top universities also have TAs doing discussions sections and labs. Many also make heavy use of adjuncts. Even Yale.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,689 Senior Member
    Re: size of courses at Princeton

    If we use popular frosh/soph classes like those in #62, we see the following for spring 2013 (enrolled/capacity):

    CHM 202 172/176 (general chemistry 2)
    CHM 215 15/10 (general chemistry honors course)
    ECO 100 422/350 (intro macroeconomics)
    ECO 101 161/450 (intro microeconomics)
    MOL 214 262/350 (intro cellular and molecular biology)
    POL 210 82/- (political theory)
    POL 240 113/- (international relations)
    PSY 101 171/195 (intro psychology)

    For fall 2012, we have:

    CHM 201 189/200 (general chemistry 1)
    ECO 100 252/450 (intro macroeconomics)
    ECO 101 273/450 (intro microeconomics)
    EEB 211 147/180 (intro evolutionary and organism biology)
    POL 220 133/- (American politics)
    PSY 101 176/195 (intro psychology)
    SOC 101 208/300 (intro sociology)

    Obviously, these classes are big because they are popular (except for the chemistry honors course). But it does mean that even though these classes are few in number, many students will have the "large class experience".
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,689 Senior Member
    Berkeley is not known for small classes, but if you look at the courses listed in #76, we get (for spring 2013):

    Arabic 1B: 6 sections of 4-17/18
    Chinese 1B: 6 sections of 17-20/20
    Slavic 27B: 7/20 (introductory Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian)
    History of Art 11: 162/192 (intro western art, Renaissance to present)

    Yes, History of Art 11 is large (but the corresponding Princeton class is not small either at 87/125), but it is not hard to find small classes at Berkeley. It is just that most students take at least some of the popular (i.e. big) classes. This is true for any medium to large school that is not organized on the LAC model, as we see with Princeton (the LAC model does have trade-offs in terms of upper division course offerings).
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,607 Senior Member
    To re-cap, the average class size distributions (as reported in the Common Data Sets) seem to suggest big differences between most of the Ivies and the "public Ivies". Examples:

    School ... % < 20, % >=50 students
    Columbia .. 80.7%, 7.1%
    Harvard .... 78%, 8.1%
    Penn ........ 71.5%, 8.6%

    Berkeley ... 64.2%,14.2%
    Michigan ... 48%, 16.8%
    Wisconsin .. 43.9%, 19.8%

    However, when you look closely at introductory classes for popular majors (100-level, 200-level bio,chem,econ,polsci,psych) it appears that many of them (at both the public & private schools) enroll more than 100 students. I suspect this would be true for most pre-med courses at both public and private research universities.

    At the public Ivies, big seems to get much bigger. I've noted lecture classes with over 1000 students at Wisconsin and many with 300 or more at Berkeley. That does not appear to happen so often at Princeton. But then, once you get beyond "mid sized" (50 or more?), the effects of this difference may be more psychological than pedagogical. The break-out sections appear to be somewhat smaller at Princeton (but I don't know how consistent or significant this difference is across all the Ivies v. public Ivies).

    It is hard to tease out the difference in exposure to professors v. TAs. Both the Ivies and the public Ivies use grad student TAs to lead the sections for large classes. Princeton, at least, has professors (sometimes distinguished full professors) teaching many freshman seminars. Harvard embeds senior faculty into residential life as House Masters. At these and other Ivies, I don't think the prevailing attitude is that it's a "waste of resources" to expose freshmen to senior faculty. But how effectively do the Ivies v. public Ivies v. LACs deliver good teaching in their many small to mid-sized classes? That is quite hard to assess and document.
  • UCBChemEGradUCBChemEGrad Registered User Posts: 10,277 Senior Member
    It's not what I got at Chicago (years ago). First and second year Core courses typically had discussion classes with ~15 students led by a faculty member (sometimes a distinguished full professor.) Lectures (75 students, maybe) supplemented the discussion classes as background, not the other way around. For each quarter-long course, typically we'd get at least one 5-10 page paper, graded by the professor and returned with comments.
    Chicago grad students get no teaching experience then?
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    Wisconsin has NO classes over 1000 or even close. I told you that data was tricky to interpret. It only shows total students for one course number. That class might have 2 or more separate sections. You have to go to the timetable for that term to see how many sections they had. Largest lecture hall at UW holds under 600. Now Cornell does have some that (1000) large.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    And as to the "purity" of SAT scores--it is bad and getting worse all the time.

    Inequality among students rises - Business - The Boston Globe
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,607 Senior Member
    ^^^ Students in pre-med tracks, economics, or psychology may have had more exposure to TAs than I had when I was at Chicago; students in those (and other) programs may be getting more today. I really don't know.

    But look at the numbers I cited in post #62. Those introductory science and social science courses all have enrollments of under 50 students. In the Autumn 2012 Biology listings, only 3 undergraduate courses have enrollments of (barely) over 100 students. For example, BIOS/20186 (Fundamentals of Cell and Molecular Biology) has a lecture with 107 students (3 50-min periods/week). There also are 5 lab sections (each meeting 230 min/week) with 17-24 students. The same 3 instructors are listed for the lecture and lab sections. Gayle Lamppa and Akira Imamoto are Associate Professors; Tom Christianson is a Sr. Lecturer. There may well be TAs helping in some capacity with that many hours of class time.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    Once you get much beyond 40-50 in a class a lecture is a lecture and it hardly matters if there are 75 or 450 students there. And now you have online classes which some see as educationally effective as live classes.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,689 Senior Member
    Re: University of Chicago

    University of Chicago Time Schedules for spring 2013 shows:

    BIOS 20151: 72/- and 105/- with 13-20/- labs (quantitative biology basic)
    BIOS 20152: 42/54 with 13-16/18 labs (quantitative biology advanced)
    CHEM 11300: 154/286 and 141/174 with 10-15/16 labs (general chemistry 3)
    CHEM 12300: 44/60 with 7-14/14 labs (honors general chemistry 3)
    ECON 19800: 150/- (intro microeconomics)
    PSYC 20400: 128/130 (cognitive psychology)

    POLS (political science) at Chicago does not seem to have a specified set of "core" courses for the major, so there are no courses that are either large or have many sections in that department.
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,607 Senior Member
    POLS (political science) at Chicago does not seem to have a specified set of "core" courses for the major, so there are no courses that are either large or have many sections in that department.

    Chicago's Core social science courses generally are not "political science" or "sociology" or "anthropology" courses. They are interdisciplinary courses such as "Self, Culture, and Society", which might cover readings from Adam Smith, Rousseau, Marx, Max Weber, Durkheim, etc.

    The Autumn 2012 Time Schedule shows:
    SOSC / 12100 (Self, Culture And Society-1) with multiple sections of 8-19 students (all discussion classes, no lecture). Many listed instructors are "Collegiate Fellows", typically Assistant Professors who earned their PhDs in the past several years (Collegiate Fellows | Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts | The University of Chicago)

    University of Chicago Time Schedules

    There are Political Science courses too, of course. A few of them (such as Intro to International Relations) enroll over 100 students.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,689 Senior Member
    tk21769 wrote:
    Chicago's Core social science courses generally are not "political science" or "sociology" or "anthropology" courses.

    By "core", I meant core for the major, not the University of Chicago Core. For example, a political science department may have a major "core" of American politics, comparative politics, political theory, international relations, and quantitative methods courses that everyone in the major has to take (or take at least some of). If that is the case, then these courses will either be large, or have numerous smaller sections. This is analogous to biology and chemistry majors requiring general chemistry as part of their majors' "core".

    University of Chicago's political science major appears to be organized differently.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    UC certainly has detailed policies for TAs that sound like those for TAs everywhere.


    Current Students | Division of the Humanities
  • Etuck24Etuck24 Registered User Posts: 1,386 Senior Member
    This thread will get nothing accomplished. There isn't, and never will be, a fair way to determine this, or any other rankings for that matter. For every reason X school should be higher, there is Y reason why it shouldn't or another school should be.
This discussion has been closed.