I am writing to you to express my concern about 3-unit courses in our university. In a nutshell, students are suffering in 3-unit courses, mainly because they don't get enough help and instructions from the university. In addition, the workload in some 3-unit courses is too heavy. So far I have taken five 3-unit courses and done some research on 3-unit classes. I am certain that the problems about 3-unit courses are common phenomenon in our university.
In our university, nearly all the departments have 3-unit courses. A 3-unit class has three hours of lectures every week. In contrast, most 4-unit classes contain 3 hours of lectures and a one-hour discussion class in total every week, and some 4-unit classes have 4 hours of lectures for each week. As we can see, in the aspect of curriculum structure, the only difference between 3-unit courses and 4-unit courses is that 4-unit classes either have one additional discussion class or have one more one-hour lecture. .
Though the curriculum difference between 3-unit courses and 4-unit courses may seems trivial, the course structure difference actually causes unnecessarily increased difficulty in 3-unit courses. The value of the missing discussion to students is largely underestimated. When I took the 3-unit course, Math 22A, I really wanted a discussion class. Though the professor for my MAT 22A class accomplished his schedule every lecture, he actually never went into some details of our topics. However, his homework and exams were far beyond conceptual question. Thus, apart from our individual study time, we students formed small study groups and gathered on weekends to study math for more than 8 hours each week. As a result, most students in that class felt exhausted to study MAT 22A. The same question rose in people's minds, "Why is there no discussion class for us?" If there is a discussion class for courses like MAT 22A, TAs can cover the shortages of lectures.