I don’t take overloads. I don’t add extra students beyond the enrolment cap numbers determined by the Faculty of Arts and the English Department for specific classes.
The caps on enrolment are there for various reasons; I respect and support those reasons. They help to ensure student access to instructors, interactivity in the classroom setting, and careful evaluation of assigned work with comments explaining the grade given.
The assumption with a classroom course is that there is some interactivity: this can take the form of question period, general discussion, small group discussion, and individual or group presentation. The larger the class, the more difficult this interactivity becomes, and people miss out on valuable chances to participate.
Even if I were to choose just to lecture, there is still the matter of assigned work to be evaluated, and even if I do have teaching assistants (this happens rarely in my courses), there are specific and necessary restrictions on the amount of work I can ask of them.
Instructors are discouraged from taking overloads so that departments can legitimately argue for reasonable class enrolment sizes. As for online courses, because they too require the instructor to monitor ongoing interactive participation and to provide detailed feedback in evaluating assignments, their enrolments are capped as well.
NOTE RE: RESTRICTED SPACES – This is why if you see unclaimed restricted spaces I won’t force anyone into them. If I do so, the unclaimed restricted spaces still exist, and if eligible students decide to claim them, I end up with an overload.
I don’t keep a formal wait list. I’ve tried to do so and have mostly found people change their minds and enrol in other courses and then don’t tell me. What I do is keep your email message on file, in a special folder for enquiries concerning the class you are interested in joining.
YOUR ENQUIRY MESSAGE should be brief. Tell me your degree program, your major (and minor if relevant), and year, and supply your full name and student number (useful because email addresses are often mystifying). Briefly provide some indication of why you want to take this course.
MY REPLY MESSAGE will also be brief. It will tell you I will keep your message on file. It will urge you to check the registrar’s list often (daily! more than once a day!), in case a space opens up for which you can register. It will also urge you to look into alternate courses and have at least one lined up that you know you can take, and that meets your degree requirements and fits your schedule (though be as accommodating as possible about your schedule: sometimes that class at 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. might be the best course you’ll ever take, with a wonderful instructor!).
CONTACTING ME DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU A SPACE IN THE CLASS. This is why having an alternative is vital.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO TAKE THE COURSE BEFORE CONTACTING ME. My 300 and 400-level courses require six credits of First Year English or equivalent (e.g. Arts One, ASTU) and third year status in order to register.
FIRST YEAR COURSES ARE ALL REGISTERED THROUGH THE FIRST YEAR OFFICE IN THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT. I cannot sign students into or out of my sections.
UNDERSTAND YOUR REQUIREMENTS. You rarely need a specific course; what you need tends more to be a combination of area, genre, and period, e.g. a senior course in contemporary literature, or a senior Arts elective.
If you have any questions, please email me (Gisele.Baxter@ubc.ca).
© Gisèle M. Baxter. Not to be copied, used, or revised without explicit written permission from the copyright owner.