UPLB: Appeal Letter to UPLB Chancy on Large Class Scheme

Posted on February 20, 2010

0


February 18, 2010

Dr. Luis Rey I. Velasco

Chancellor

UP Los Baños

College, Laguna

Re:  Full-Scale Implementation of Large Classes in UPLB effective 1st semester 2010-2011

Dear Chancellor Velasco:

We, the undersigned UPLB faculty members, urgently appeal for the immediate suspension of the Full-Scale Implementation of the Teaching of Large Classes effective 1st semester 2010-2011 as per  Memorandum No. 001 Series of 2010 dated  January 4, 2010  and updated by Memo 008 dated January 21, 2010 to include courses not previously stated in Memo 001 [i.e., legislated courses].

This requested suspension is needed to give all sectors of the UPLB community time to

(a) come to a common understanding of the true nature and objectives of this class type; (b) identify in a rational, objective and wise manner the subjects/courses that could be taught in this mode; (c) process the curricular revision proposals for large-class-compatible courses for discussion in and approval by the University Council; and (d) prepare the physical and manpower arrangements and adjustments that might be required as a result of teaching a substantial number of courses in large-class mode.

Most importantly, we submit that the way a course is taught is an academic matter and is, thus, safeguarded by the academic freedom that UP accords its faculty. This requested suspension, therefore, is an invocation of this academic freedom for we hope to give time for the UPLB University Council to debate on and decide, as our highest policymaking body for academic issues, whether the large class mode for all RGEP, foundational and bottleneck courses is the most effective way of teaching these courses. The justice in pursuing and facilitating effective teaching to our present studentry should be recognized especially in view of the recent tuition fee increase in UP.

In addition, we feel that the evaluation and pilot testing of this mode is insufficient. Hence, we cannot be certain of the potential impacts of a full-scale implementation at this time. The number of affected students and the near irreversibility of the effects, whether positive or negative, are such that policy decisions have to be made and the University Council, as a body and as an institution in the UP system,  must be involved in these decisions.

Furthermore,

  1. We are not against reasonably large class sizes since these are not new to us because there are courses that could be taught in large class mode.  What is new is that the current large class mode is expected to have at least 120 students and the size could reach up to 350 students .). Also new is the fact that the decision to shift to large class sizes did not come from disciplinal experts who are expected to know the most effective class size for their respective course.
  1. We are bothered by the implication of what Memorandum No. 001 Series of 2010 stated and what the student evaluation report showed. The Memo stated that mega large classes were piloted in Mathematics and Statistics where, upon evaluation, it was learned that the class size did not affect student performance, and in some classes, student performance even improved. The student evaluation report showed that 23.4% found it hard to learn, 24% were not encouraged to listen and 19.4% said that there was less interaction in class. A little more than half (52%) said they do not recommend large classes, 31.3% were undecided and only 16 %  said yes among those who were enrolled before in large classes.
  1. We are aware that the students have had rallies against the scheme .(The  print media [PDI] and television [ABS-CBN])  had covered these this issue). If any University exists because of its students, it should pay attention to the 6,000 or so students who have used the internet (Facebook blogs) to express their disapproval of mega-large classes. It makes learning more difficult for them. It does not encourage learning through listening and it deprives students of the learning opportunity through interaction with the teacher and the rest of the class.

In the face of these results and of the students’ response, how can we as an academic institution continue to honestly avow that we pursue and promote academic excellence while requiring large class sizes at the same time? What are the implications of this decision on our ‘Tatak UPLB’ quality of education? Can we achieve “quantity and quality” education at the same time? This is a policy question that the University Council should be consulted about.

We sincerely hope and pray that you will consider the above points and see merit in them so that the Full-scale Implementation of the Teaching of Large Classes effective this coming 1st semester will be suspended while the UPLB community studies the issues above comprehensively and objectively .

Thank you.

Truly yours,

TEODORO C. MENDOZA

Member-at-Large, Executive Committee of the UPLB University Council

National Vice President for Faculty, All UPAcad. Employees Union

CORAZON L. RAPERA

Member-at-Large, Executive Committee of the UPLB University Council

Vice-President for Faculty, AUPAEU UPLB Chapter

Signed  by all officers of the UPLB chapter AUPAEU + 44 faculty members of Soc.Sci and Hum. + 6 senior faculty of CA,CF CPaf

Copy Furnished:

Prof.  Emerlinda R. Roman, UP System President

Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, UP Faculty Regent

Posted in: Large Classes, UPLB