Proposed Class Reduction
BHSA has just posted this via Facebook:
Dear Classmates,Thoughts? Off the top of my head, I have a few:
The Dean has recently proposed reducing the size of next year’s incoming class to *235-40* students from this year’s size of 252 first-year students. Given this change in numbers, the administration has also proposed realigning the first year classes around 2 large Supermods instead of the current 3 Supermod system.
Under the current system, the class of 252 1Ls is divided into 3 Supermods of approximately 85-90 students. Each Supermod is further divided into 3 Mods, which this year number between 25 and 32 students. Students take a total of 2 Supermod courses and one with their Mod during Fall, and 2 Supermod courses during Spring.
Under the proposed 2 Supermod system, the first-year class would be divided into 2 Supermods of 120 students each. The best scenario for Berkeley students under this proposal would be: 2 SuperMods (120 students), 4 MidMods (60 students), and 8 Mods (30 students). BUT, this is assuming that 20 tenured or tenured-track Berkeley faculty are available.
The administration is anticipating lean times in Civil Procedure for next year and Criminal Law in future years, given the ongoing upper-year teaching demands on our Criminal Law faculty. As a result, it may not be possible to achieve the 2 Supermod scenario of 120-60-30. Rather, shortages in faculty would be solved by dividing the first year classes into a 120-120-30 Fall class system and 120-60 for Spring.
Regardless of how the courses are divided, first-year students would be in Supermods of 120 students.
When considering the new proposal, please also consider the costs and benefits identified by the Dean’s Faculty Advisory Committee:
- Under the new 2 Supermod system, the administration would less likely need visiting professors to teach the 1L core courses.
- The 2 Supermod system would require less faculty members to teach first-year course; thus, allowing for faculty to teach in the upper-level curriculum. For example, faculty could be redeployed to teach additional sections of evidence, criminal procedure, and upper-level business law courses, for which there is significant demand.
- Teaching 120-student sections instead of the current 80-90 sections would impede their ability to teach 1L students effectively, especially with respect to encouraging widespread student participation.
- Adding 120-student sections could exacerbate what some faculty members perceive as a teaching equity problem across the curriculum.
- An important question is whether the change to 120-student class could put us at a disadvantage in recruiting first-year students, especially if our peer schools teach in smaller sections.
The Faculty was expected to vote on this proposal last Wednesday but tabled the matter until a future meeting. The Administration and Faculty is interested in knowing what Berkeley Law students think about the proposed system and will take our input into consideration when voting on the proposal.
If you would like further information on the proposal, please email me at <asalceda AT berkeley> and I would be more than happy to provide further details.
- The addition of MidMods weird me out a little. There's some sense of community within SuperMods. That gets diluted if you have three levels of grouping as opposed to two.
- On hot days, being in one of the large classrooms sans air conditioning will now feel that much more miserable.
- I'm skeptical that there's much of a marginal difference in teaching between 90 students and 120. In both sizes, it's easily to remain effectively anonymous. There will be more gunners competing with each other for speaking time, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
- How do LRW and WOA fit into this? Those are arguably the most important classes in law school, so keeping those class sizes small could matter a lot. (Edit: LRW and WOA class sizes will remain the same).
- Will there be an increase in ASP tutors? Having ASPs for MidMod classes could help 1Ls a lot.