Students Get Pushed Out of Classrooms and Into Computer Labs

Secret #4 Students Get Pushed Out of Classrooms and Into Computer Labs

If you were running a college, what is the first place you would try to cut costs? If you have a good head for business, it probably wouldn’t take you long to realize that high-enrollment introductory courses are the place you could save the most dollars without harming the quality of your overall educational product.

A college that offers remedial writing to 100 students will probably pack all of them into one lecture hall for a course taught by one professor - maybe with a few teaching assistants to help with grading. A college won’t send those 100 students into 10 classrooms staffed with individual instructors, because that would cost a lot more.

There are other reasons why big college courses are the best places to cut costs. As students pick their majors, they need a number of smaller classes. So colleges can save money by packing many students into large, impersonal classes for their high-enrollment courses.

It might surprise you to know that there’s a nonprofit organization, The National Center for Educational Transformation, which helps colleges and universities cut the cost of delivering learning to students. NCAT runs initiatives, including The State and System Course Redesign program, which help colleges reduce costs and maintain quality.

Here’s an example: NCAT is currently planning to help redesign the Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra courses at Jackson State University in Mississippi. The school’s Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra classes usually attract 2560 students who are divided into 88 classroom sections. Under NCAT’s revisions, the number of weekly lecture hours in Intermediate Algebra would be reduced from three to two and students would be required to spend two hours each week in computer labs staffed with teaching assistants. As a result, Jackson State could cut the cost of College Algebra from $173 to $135 per student – a savings of 22 percent.

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