The Problems of Big Classes in Sogang
The Problems of Big Classes in Sogang
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  • 승인 2016.11.15 17:45
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The problems related to class atmosphere had always been problem in many universities. Not only does it distract the professors’ ability to perform his well prepared lecture but it also takes the other students’ opportunity to participate in class. Recently, there had been issues in the class of Basic Latin Class. During the class, some students were disturbing class by gossiping, sleeping, texting and some even went out of the classroom, not coming back into the class. As a result, the professor noticed in the class board that he will not hold big lectures any longer. Instead, he will only accept ten students from each grade. I am not trying to make disputes about this issue since it had already happened. However, as students in Sogang University, we need to look back into ourselves and also make sure that problems like this would not happen.

Problems of classes in Sogang

Many students were being interviewed related to the class atmosphere in general. Mostly, students attended classes diligently because of Sogang University’s unique system, also known as FA. When you get FA, (5 absences for the class), you cannot get your grade no matter how well you did in class. As a result, on the surface, we have good attendancy than other universities. However, this does not mean that we also have good quality of participation in class. Most subjects which are related to students’ major usually do not suffer from these problems. It is because they are directly related to student’s major and it usually consists of small number of students. On the other hand, cultural studies, also known as “breaking time”, “honey classes” for students, is a different story. Of course, there are many students who really want to achieve and learn something during their course. However, some minority have poor attitudes in class thereby disturbing the majority who concentrate hard in class.

The Latin class was spreaded out to the Sogang students’ since the incident had been posted on the community. The class was famous for its nice professor, giving good grades and its big class. This accident not only disgraced the professors’ feeling but it also took the opportunity for the rights to listen to the class for other hard working students. It has been also more controversial since there are not many professors who can teach Latin. However, it does not mean that there are no similar problem other than this. These problems always have been issue for many classes. One of the big lectures for students in Sogang is “The Law and Engineering.” This class is also mandatory for some student because in order for them to graduate, they have to attend this class. During the class time, many students were not paying attention. They were texting, reading things that weren’t related to the class, and even sleeping. Some of them were even mentioned in Sogang toc toc, the social network that everyone in the class can see. The professor expressed how disappointed he was by the attitude of their students during the exam time. According to Dayoun Jung, (computer engineering, 16) she mentioned that she was embarrassed by the last comment the professor made although she was always paying attention to the professor. “This atmosphere has to be changed. The students have to know that their behavior during the class is affecting others, and also the quality of the class. We should all know it by ourselves.”

Relatively good atmosphere of big class

Not all large classes have such attitude. There are also classes which can be conveyed through with large members. “The philosophy of Ancient Western” and “The college Math.” These classes are similar with other classes that it is for many students. However, it is different in that it is the mandatory course for majoring, not for graduating. Many students in those classes concentrate well in the class, and there are fierce competitions for getting good grades. The anonymous student said, “It is so hard to study for the course since the difference of very few points decide our grade. It is somewhat stressful in that it sort of brings positive effect on stimulating us to study harder.”

The cases of other universities?

The problem is not only confined in Sogang university. There have been issues with these problems in others as well. Last year, there was a cheating in Seoul National University. It was a very large class containing 250 students, and the subject was a cultural study related to philosophy. Due to the large number of students, it was impossible for the substitute teacher to direct all the students in the classroom. Many students peaked their eyes around the books and they cheated by tricking themselves inside the crowd of other students. All the students in that class had to re-take the exam since so many of them did it. After this incident happened, Seoul National University decided to put more teacher in the large classes. So, now there is one substitute teacher needed to oversee per 50 students in the class. Also, the professor must attend while students take the exam, and students who are caught cheating shall be punished by the law of school.

The Korea University took out the different solution. They made “Vanishing 3 systems” rules, which will be used next year by the professors who want to use them. They made this system due to the fierce competition happening in the classroom. The three systems that are vanishing are the attendancy, directing, and relative grading. Many students questioned this system and criticized it. They thought it was such a retrogression way in our competitive society. If our education system is more focusing on describing our own opinions and our perspective of thought, this system cannot be a big problem, but we have not reached it. However, some think that it is good since it means that we can trust students’ conscience, which sounds exceedingly optimistic.

The solution

Individually, we should always keep in our mind that our attitude decide the quality of the lessons, and the knowledge that the professor can convey to us. However, we should also know that it is the problem that happen because of the structure of the class itself. The philosopher Reinhood Niebuhr said, “Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.” Just as he said, we may be perfect students individually. However, collectively, we can cover ourselves in the crowd of majority. He also said that in order to solve the problem we need to make effort individually and make change in the social structure. I just mentioned the way we could solve it individually at the beginning of this paragraph. The Sogang University has not yet sought for its solution for the class structure itself. The best solution would probably be to make the classes into smaller number of student, but it is not possible right now due to the number of professor and budget constraints for the school. Also, the renovation cannot be done one day unless a big revolution happen between professors and students. The most important thing to do is to make the most effective solution by using less cost. The Professors should grade the attitude of students as well as the attendance, and making the score accounting the bigger portion of the grade. This change may or may not change the class atmosphere in the way everybody want. However, it is definitive that it may have some effect for many students who are sensitive about their grade, and will result in the class quality as well.

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