I attended a wedding on Saturday at West Point, home of the United States Military Academy and training ground for the U.S. Army’s officer corps. The bride and many of the guests are teachers at West Point and explained how instruction is organized. Although the government strives to minimize costs, like a private or state university, they are much more interested in the outcome because they will be employing the graduates.
Class size is typically 12-14 students. About half of each class is devoted to reviewing student homework and having students work through problems collaboratively. The West Point philosophy, sometimes referred to as “the Thayer Method”, is that sitting passively in a lecture is not going to result in too much learning; the students must be active for a substantial portion of each class and the instructor must find out what they’ve actually learned by talking to the students .