Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

State Universities Too Big to Prepare Students, Prof Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

State Universities Too Big to Prepare Students, Prof Says

Article excerpt

If state universities turn out graduates who are not qualified to work, "Don't blame the students, they're the victims," says a former university administrator and management authority.

Big universities may be compared to companies like Kodak, IBM, and Westinghouse, "who have gotten themselves in trouble because they've gotten too big and too distant from their customers."

Such schools have student bodies, or customers, if you will, with high dissatisfaction levels.

"In virtually every large institution you're going to find undergraduate classes that are too large" and which "are taught by graduate assistants," said Steve Jablonsky, a professor of accounting at Penn State, in University Park, Pa.

Prior to joining the teaching faculty at Penn State in 1975, Jablonsky held a succession of administrative posts over seven years at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, culminating in the position of director of the Office of Short-Range Planning and Control.

"Some of those (undergraduate) classes I'm aware of have 900 students in them. At Penn State and virtually every large university you're going to find similar large classes.

"Even when you've got a dedicated professor, how can you give individual attention to 900 students?" Jablonsky asks.

"What you're seeing is a creep up (in class size) from year to year," he says, "so it's not unusual now for students in their junior and senior years to experience classes of 400 to 500 students where student participation is zero."

Moreover, he added, "a large percentage of survey courses and courses in the majors are being taught by graduate students. I have talked to students who have gone through their entire undergraduate career without ever having had a professor. That's the exception rather than the rule, but it could happen."

At a time when companies are demanding more verbal skills of their employees, Jablonsky says they are getting graduates who got few opportunities to participate in a classroom discussion. …

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