"The core question is, as far as I can reduce it down, do more bodies in seats per each section = greater teaching productivity/efficiency? In these times of budgetary woe, it seems like my administrators at least think that the answer to that question is 'yes.' There's lots of talk about raising class maximums, about finding ways to have tenure-line faculty teach more and more students, about how to organize teaching in a way that costs less and that yields more profit. There is something to be said for this model of thinking about things. According to a corporate model, efficiency = fewer dollars spent and more students 'served.'
"But this is where things get sticky. What does it mean to "serve" our students? Are students "served" by ever-increasing class sizes? Yes, more of them will be able to enroll in and to complete a greater number of courses under this model. But is teaching productivity measured (solely) by enrollment figures? Should it be?"