Information on Course Caps in Online and Hybrid Courses

The Online Education Council (OEC) at GVSU, now known as the Online Education and Microcredential Council (OEMC), reviewed recent research on best practices and peer comparison and determined the optimal course capacity that is most advantageous to quality teaching and learning for most classes is 20-25 students per section. Some practices by discipline may allow for increased numbers, and others may require lower numbers. The OEMC recommends programs review discipline-specific literature where appropriate in order to make determinations for course proposals.

The rationale for their recommendation takes into account that teaching a distance education course requires advanced planning and sustained communication with students throughout each week of a semester in order to fully engage students, often requiring more time and planning than in face-to-face delivery modes.

Selected Research

Lowenthal, P. R., Nyland, R., Jung, E., Dunlap, J. C., & Kepka, J. (2019). Does class size matter? An exploration into faculty perceptions of teaching high-enrollment online courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 33(3), 152–168.

Taft, S.H., Kesten, K., & El-Banna, M.M. (2019). One size does not fit all: Toward an evidence-based framework for determining online course enrollment sizes in   higher education. Online Learning, 23(3), 188-233. doi:10.24059/olj.v23i3.1534

Thomas, R., & Stritto, M. E. D. (2021). Student Outcomes in Online Courses: When Does Class Size Matter?. The Northwest eLearning Journal, 1(1).

Page last modified January 26, 2022