Courtesy of FOOT
In preparation for a slightly larger freshman class in the fall, various freshman programs, introductory courses and academic centers are getting ready to accommodate more students.
Yale runs a multitude of programs open only to freshmen, such as Directed Studies, the Freshman Seminar Program and various summer programs for incoming students. Freshmen also rely on tutoring resources in foreign languages, writing and quantitative reasoning. These programs and resources will have to accommodate approximately 1,800 extra class enrollments next year alone and 7,200 over the next four years, as the size of Yale College expands with the opening of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges.
Faculty and staff working for various departments, programs and centers indicated that they will address the increase in different ways, from employing more teaching fellows to increasing section sizes.
For some incoming freshmen, the Yale experience will begin this summer, either through Online Experiences for Yale Scholars or through the Freshman Scholars at Yale program, which provides a group of incoming low-income, first-generation students with an opportunity to spend five weeks on campus before entering Yale.
Online Experiences for Yale Scholars, which launched in 2014, has almost doubled its size last summer from 59 students to 109, according to math lecturer James Rolf, who oversees the program. He added that he expects to expand the program further by 41 freshmen this year, reaching a total of 150.
“One of the things we tracked was student perception of their experience in light of this increase,” Rolf said. “We saw no drop at all in student satisfaction and similar, very good results in terms of student learning.”
To achieve the expansion, Rolf said more undergraduates will be hired to serve as coaches, each working with a team of four to five students online twice a week during the program.
He added that the hiring would not pose a problem, as he is already seeing “the strongest application cycle” for coaches in the program’s history.
“One of the great things about ONEXYS is that it’s relatively easy to scale up and include more students in a way that’s cost effective and maintains a high-quality learning experience,” he said.
For FSY, which was launched in 2013, all scholars enroll in English 114 — the college’s most popular expository writing class — and receive mentorship from faculty members and student counselors. The program expanded from 34 students in its inaugural year to 60 last year.
April Ruiz, the dean of the program, was unavailable to comment on whether the program will expand again this year.
FRESHMAN SEMINARS AND DIRECTED STUDIES
George Levesque, dean of academic programs and director of the Freshman Seminar Program, said that although the program will not add additional seminars next year, it has been preparing for the increase in class size over the past few years, gradually increasing the number of seminars yearly from an average of 45 five years ago to 65 this year. He said there are about seven seminars that are very popular and oversubscribed each term, but some stay only half full and could benefit from more students.
The students who apply to a seminar but do not get a spot receive an email from Levesque during shopping period, encouraging them to consider taking alternatives not filled, he said.
“In general, students who want to take a freshman seminar can take one if they are flexible about the topic and meeting time, and I expect that to remain possible even with the increased enrollment,” Levesque said. “If that’s not the case, we will consider ways to recruit more faculty to the program.”
Unlike the freshman seminars, Directed Studies will see an increase in the cap on enrollment, according to D.S. Director of Undergraduate Studies Kathryn Slanski. For the past few years, D.S. was capped at 126 students a year with seven sections of 18 students for each of the three courses.
Next year, each of the three courses — on philosophy, literature and historical and political thought — will see one more section, meaning the cap will increase to 144 freshmen. This will be made possible by increasing the number of faculty from 21 to 24 each semester, Slanski said.
LARGE INTRODUCTORY COURSES
English 114 will increase the number of sections next year to accommodate more students, according to English professor Heather Klemann, the course’s co-director. She added that the department has not decided how many sections to add. This year, English 114 filled 340 spots in the fall and 103 in the spring. According to course demand statistics, at least 584 people were shopping the class in the fall and at least 151 in the spring.
The popular introductory biology sequence Biology 101–104 will recruit more teaching fellows next year, said Carter Takacs, one of the course coordinators. This year, at least 307 students shopped the first part of the sequence in the fall and at least 240 in the spring.
Patrick Holland, one of the professors teaching the course “General Chemistry,” said the increase in class size has been a cause for concern and discussion within the department, given that roughly half of all Yale students take at least one chemistry class. Although much of the weekly feedback is done online and the assignments are graded automatically, he said, some troubles may still arise with a larger freshman class.
For instance, according to Holland, the class that meets in room 110 of Sterling Chemistry Laboratory is already approaching the size limit of the room, and a larger classroom with chalkboards and facilities for demonstration might not be possible. If the room becomes too crowded, a portion of the students may need to be moved to a different room where the class will be simulcast, he said, adding that the course has already had to increase its capped section size from 16 to 18 people.
“In my opinion, there should be a campuswide discussion on the limits of section sizes that are acceptable for undergraduate courses,” he said. “This is an important issue because so much of the learning and feedback to students comes in discussion sections.”
Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl, director of the Center for Language Study, said the center anticipates training and hiring more tutors to keep up with the projected increases in foreign language enrollment. The center also expects the number of online placement exams taken to increase, along with the number of various language assessments students are taking at the CLS through language departments.
Jennifer Frederick, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, also said her center will hire more tutors. Along with hiring residential college tutors for Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges, the center will add more peer tutors, since those are often needed by freshmen, she said.
Freshmen account for 41 percent of the usage of the center’s writing partner program, Frederick said.
Correction, March 29: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that “General Chemistry” course may increase its capped section size. It has, in fact, already done so – from 16 to 18 people.