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Psychology Course Enrollments

Consider current enrollments (highlighted by hwc) in some psychology classes.

PSYC 101   Introductory Psychology                                  155
PSYC 201   Experimentation and Statistics                            19
PSYC 221   Cognitive Psychology                                      55
PSYC 242   Social Psychology                                         55
PSYC 252   Psychological Disorders                                   55
PSYC 272   The Psychology of Education                               51

Now, as always, this data is difficult to work with. I think that there may be many more students enrolled in PSYC 201 than 19, but that there are multiple sections. In any event, there is no excuse for a Williams major to consist of so many large lecture courses. Why not just go to Penn State? If you do not have a dozen or more substantive interactions with each of your professors over the course of a semester, you aren’t really getting a Williams education.

Why are these classes so large? How rigorously are they taught?

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#1 Comment By frank uible On January 28, 2010 @ 9:21 am

Florida State has better looking broads and a more salubrious climate than Penn State.

#2 Comment By rory On January 28, 2010 @ 9:34 am

yeah, but JoePa>>>>>>>>Bobby B.

to continue this (trollish?) tangent, i’ve noticed that, within the circle of football fans i know, southerners think Bobby B looks trustworthy while us Northeasterners find him to look shady and like a corrupt sheriff of a small town or something.

#3 Comment By Diana On January 28, 2010 @ 10:09 am

I nearly double-majored with psychology, so I took many of these classes. I tested out of 101 with the AP, so I can’t comment on that.

Cognitive psychology: I took cognitive science instead, taught by EphBlog favorite professor Joe Cruz. It had approximately 25 students, but was mostly lecture (although several of them were held outside under a tree). I think Professor Cruz asked questions, which students answered, but there were not discussions, per se.

Social psychology: demand was so high for this class the semester I took it, that it was moved to the large lecture hall right by Schow science library. So it probably had 100-150 students, taught with PowerPoint presentations. However, the professor (Savitsky) was sad that opening the course to more students meant less faculty-student interaction, so he devised an optional thing wherein students could read a research paper (given to them by the prof) and then meet in small groups of 3-4 with the professor. I did this, and it was interesting, but I only did it once and it wasn’t a major part of the course for me.

Psychology of education: Taught by Susan Engel, this is a very popular class. On the first day, it was standing room only (actually, the front of the classroom was covered with people sitting cross-legged) and Professor Engel was just so sad that she was going to have to keep people out of the class. She didn’t want anyone to have to be cut. She was torn between cutting people and keeping the class in the small-ish Bronfman classroom, and allowing more people to join and having to move it. As it turned out, it stayed in Bronfman with maybe 40 students. She was good at fostering discussions in the class, which I always participated in, but many students chose to stay quiet, and this was permitted.

#4 Comment By JeffZ On January 28, 2010 @ 10:37 am

The overall class sizes at Williams are as small or smaller than any of its competitors. So there are really three choices at play (I exclude just hire more profs as a choice in the current climate; besides, the college just hired a slew more profs, anyway): cut out less popular, but curricularly / pedagogically important, classes in favor of making profs teach more sections of more popular classes, enforce stricter caps on class sizes (whereas many more students will be mad at being shut out), or have some larger-than-desirable classes like these in the most popular majors. I don’t really have an opinion on which path makes the most sense, but I do think you have to (as DK usually does) look at this from a zero-sum perspective.

#5 Comment By 1980 On January 28, 2010 @ 11:17 am

Social psych was a big lecture in my day – Bronfman auditorium was packed. It was a very popular class taught by Al Goethals – his lectures were terrific. One of my favorite classes at Williams.

Psych 101 is a big lecture at most colleges.

#6 Comment By eph On January 28, 2010 @ 11:39 am

Frank: ASU. Nuff said.

#7 Comment By frank uible On January 28, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

Florida State has the sugar-sand beaches of the Gulf; Arizona State has for its back yard a sand box which stretches seemingly without limit. Anyone who is not a fool will take the beaches – of course without surrendering the broads and the climate.