Evaluating Class Size in Online Education

Student-Generated Content
Author Information
Susan H. Taft, PhD, MSN, RN
Tracy Perkowski, MSN, RN, PNP-BC, CNE
Lorene S. Martin, MSN, RN, CRNP
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Kent State University College of Nursing
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The question of optimal class sizes in online courses has been addressed in research but not resolved. In many, if not most, university settings, higher education administrators seek to enroll as many students as feasible in online courses for purposes of generating higher levels of revenue, whereas faculty seek to fill their courses with the "right" number of students to fit the content and pedagogical strategies selected to promote effective learning. The authors of this submission reviewed the current multi-disciplinary research available to determine what, if any, guidance on online class size exists. The research to date offers no consensus regarding appropriate student-to-teacher ratios in online courses. The authors propose the use of three educational frameworks to guide class enrollment decisions that maintain educational quality: Bloom’s taxonomy, objectivist vs. constructivist teaching strategies, and the Community of Inquiry model. Integrating these frameworks, the authors propose guidelines for sizing online course enrollments.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

I have this information compiled in a table, which would not upload the formatting. Please see attached description of practice.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

No research has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of this set of guidelines. However, the authors have presented the information nationally via webinars and at a peer-reviewed educators conference. In these venues, university-level faculty responding to the practice have consistently found it to be an intuitively and pedagogically sound approach to determining enrollment sizes in online courses.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

The practice addresses both learning effectiveness and faculty satisfaction.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 


Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

No costs associated with the practice except that it provides guidelines for enrollment sizes in university courses. The course size recommendations may be viewed as "too low" by university administrators and, if followed, not as profitable a model as they would like.

References, supporting documents: 

Please see attached article - with the list of references - in which this practice is described.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Susan H. Taft
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