Class size inhibits critical thinking

There are obvious positives and negatives of the decision to move to large classes for the ACC 221 course. But, from what I have learned in my experiences over the last four years as an accounting major, this change will have a negative effect on the overall development of new accounting majors. As is taught in the audit course, ACC 453, an accountant, or more specifically an auditor, is supposed to have a “questioning mind” or operate with “professional skepticism.” I feel the move to the large class structure will inhibit students from questioning what they are learning.

The department of accounting says that this is the reason why they created the breakout sessions to go with the large lectures, but how many of us can remember questions that pop into our head during class a few days after? Daniel Wiegand is a good lecturer but there is no way that he would be able to answer the questions of his 150 students through e-mail, after class, or during office hours. In my experiences in accounting courses I have never once felt apprehensive to ask a question. I also have never been in an accounting class larger than 55 students.

In contrast, I have been in history and zoology courses with 200 or more students and it is intimidating to raise your hand and ask a question for fear of looking “stupid.” If my ACC 221 course had been that large maybe I would have been afraid to ask as many questions as I did. My experience in that course made me change my major to accounting because I had a good professor who was able to answer my questions in class and upheld an active learning environment.

For the business majors that are not accounting majors this new structure may be beneficial, but in order to develop into quality future accountants, we need to be in an environment that will keep us involved, allow us to critically think about what we are being taught, and give us a comfortable venue to bring our questions up in the class for further discussion. The large classes will create a socially uncomfortable situation that will inhibit many students from getting their questions answered as well as prevent active mental participation in the lecture. As a result this will push the start of the development of our “professional skepticism” back another semester or year.


College Democrats needlessly upset

Geoff Lane and the dangerous ideologues at the head of the College Democrats, claim that any Bush appointee is one who, in Lane’s words, “has skewed information to benefit the neoconservative movement.” If one remembers, according to the Liberal-dove cause, it was Colin Powell who is guilty of taking the administration’s “neoconservative movement” before the United Nations in Security Council hearings showing the potentiality of Saddam Hussein having WMDs. To anyone with good sense this is a glaring point.

John Bolton brought to the United Nations a strong perspective that was shared with other nation’s representatives as well. Bolton cried for organizational change following the full exposure of the depth of the Oil for Food bribery scandal. Is it not reasonable for a servant of the U.S. government to do this when the United States is the No.1 funding source of the United Nations?

To those in the know, Lane was throwing a rhetorical temper tantrum because the College Democrats have been unable to bring in a known a speaker for the past two years. Similar fits were thrown in The Student this time last year over the John Ashcroft speech.

This is not because ASG is a conservative body; nobody with would buy that assertion. It is because the College Democrats feel a sense of entitlement. While the College Democrats want money because someone else got money, the College Republicans have sought out multiple organizations to aid in unity funding prospects and sought out other private funding sources. Lane’s presence in Friday’s article offers rhetorically bankrupt comments from a morally and financially bankrupt organization.

Benjamin Alexander

Technology column’s argument simplistic

Tom Speaker’s solution to the problems of technological communication, found in the March 27 edition of The Student, is simplistic to the point of being dangerous. While I agree with Tom that many political movements have used modern technology for tremendous benefit (just look at the Zapatistas), I adamantly insist that much more than technological communication is necessary to create actively participating citizens.

While it is possible for technology to create an “informed citizenry,” it is far less likely to do so than other, more traditional, forms of political interaction. Speaker is right, if one wanted to find information about the multiple perspectives of an issue, one could do so. However, few people actively do this, and even fewer people actively seek out opinions that make them feel uncomfortable. Numerous authors point out how our reliance on technological politics leads to either apathy or “balkanization” of the population (a concept which Cass Sunstein spoke about at Miami).

Secondly, technology is horrifically inept at helping people develop a political identity.

As political scientist Margaret Kohn points out, demonstrations are not just about sharing arguments, they are also “opportunities for forging solidarity through shared rituals.” Technology is just not as passionate as physical political activism.

Finally, there are issues of access that must be addressed. There are still a lot of U.S. citizens that do not have access to the types of technologies which elite sections of the populace utilize. It is far harder for a homeless person to make you uncomfortable when you are always sitting in at your computer, and that discomfort is a political message in itself.

Citizens can become much more informed due to modern technology, it is not enough if one wants to create a bettersociety. I fear that promotions of technology, such as Speaker’s, often come at the expense of other forms of political exchange that are still crucial to our democracy.

Jason Young