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Effect of Class size on Students Achievement

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Abstract

This research is being carried out to find if there is a relationship between class size and its effect on students’ performance. Preliminary research shows that there is a negative relationship between the two variables however final hypothesis testing can only be done after the completion of research. It has been found that the number of students in a class has the potential to affect how much is learned in a number of different ways. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) For example, it could affect how students interact with each other the level of social engagement.

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This may result, for example, in more or less noise and disruptive behavior, which in turn affect the kinds of activities the teacher is able to promote.

It could affect how much time the teacher is able to focus on individual students and their specific needs rather than on the group as a whole. Since it is easier to focus on one individual in a smaller group, the smaller the class size, the more likely individual attention can be given, in theory at least.

The class size could also affect the teacher’s allocation of time and, hence, effectiveness, in other ways, too for example, how much material can be covered. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) Teachers may choose different methods of teaching and assessment when they have smaller classes. For example, they may assign more writing, or provide more feedback on students’ written work, or use open-ended assessments, or encourage more discussions, all activities that may be more feasible with a smaller number of students.

Exposure to a particular learning environment may affect learning over the time period of exposure, or it may have longer term or delayed effects (e.g., by increasing self-esteem or cognitive developments that have lasting effects). (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001)

Statement of the Problem

The research problem is that to find out if there is a relationship between class size and its effect on students’ performance. Preliminary research shows that there is a negative relationship between the two variables however final hypothesis testing can only be done after the completion of research. It has been found that the number of students in a class has the potential to affect how much is learned in a number of different ways. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) For example, it could affect how students interact with each other the level of social engagement. This may result, for example, in more or less noise and disruptive behavior, which in turn affect the kinds of activities the teacher is able to promote. It could affect how much time the teacher is able to focus on individual students and their specific needs rather than on the group as a whole. Since it is easier to focus on one individual in a smaller group, the smaller the class size, the more likely individual attention can be given, in theory at least. The class size could also affect the teacher’s allocation of time and, hence, effectiveness, in other ways, too for example, how much material can be covered. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) Teachers may choose different methods of teaching and assessment when they have smaller classes. For example, they may assign more writing, or provide more feedback on students’ written work, or use open-ended assessments, or encourage more discussions, all activities that may be more feasible with a smaller number of students. Exposure to a particular learning environment may affect learning over the time period of exposure, or it may have longer term or delayed effects (e.g., by increasing self-esteem or cognitive developments that have lasting effects). (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001)

Purpose of the Study

The purpose to carry out this research is to find sufficient evidence backed by relatively accurate data to either reject or do not reject the claim that there is a negative relationship between the class size and students achievement in class room setting.

Research Question & Hypothesis

The objective of this research is to find an answer to the question: What is 2nd grade teacher perception of relationships between class size and student achievement in reading?

At the end of this research on the basis of collected data we shall either reject or fail to reject the Hypothesis that: There is a negative relationship between class size and student achievement in reading.

Limitation

The measurement of class size is not as straightforward as it might seem. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) It can vary considerably for a single child at different times during a school day and school year, because of student mobility, student absences, truancy, or the presence of pull-out special education classes. Thus, a class with 20 registered pupils will vary in its class size from day to day, and may have far fewer than 20 pupils at particular times. In the middle and secondary school grades, class size tends to vary by subject area, and therefore can vary for each pupil during a school day. Ideally, one would like to have a measure of the actual class size experienced by every pupil during every school day, over the school year. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) Although class-size data may be available to researchers who intensively study a small number of classrooms, in practice, data on pupil/teacher ratios are more readily available to most researchers than detailed data on class sizes.

Pupil/teacher ratio data can be used to examine the relationship between schooling outcomes and pupil/teacher ratios, but this relationship is likely to be weaker than the relationship between schooling outcomes and class size, as class size is more closely linked with learning. Class-size data that include a temporal dimension are seldom available; in most cases, researchers use data pertaining to the number of pupils enrolled in a class. “Class-size” measures thus typically contain considerable measurement error. (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran & Willms 2001) If this measurement error is random, estimates of the relationship between schooling outcomes and class size will be biased toward zero. That is, the relationships that are estimated will, on average, be smaller in absolute value than the true relationships between class size and school outcomes.

Chapter Summary

This chapter introduced the research which is to be carried out regarding the relationship between class size and its effect on students achievement. The statement of the problem along with the research question and the hypothesis to test were also presented in this chapter.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

There exists a considerable and current educational literature concerned with the effect of class size on student achievement. (Melvin, Roy & Michelle 2005) In a review of that literature, Hanushek (2001) summarizes the results of attempts to empirically identify the relationship between the variables class size and student achievement. The results are mixed at best. Out of the 277 studies investigated, he reports that 14% show that the relationship between class size and student achievement is significant and positive, that 14% show that the relationship is significant but negative, and that the remaining 72% show that the relationship between class size and student achievement is insignificant. In particular, in a recent issue of this journal, Iacovou (2002) finds evidence that smaller classes are related to higher reading scores but are not related to mathematics scores. (Melvin, Roy & Michelle 2005) These studies investigated were typically hindered, however, because of the existence, at least, of one of four factors: (1) the use of a student/teacher ratio as the measure of class size resulting in measurement error, previously discussed by Hanushek (2001); (2) the estimation of a mis-specified model resulting from the failure to control for family effects (i.e., student innate ability), previously discussed by both Hanushek (2001) and Borland and Howsen (2000); (3) the general failure to take into account the endogeneity of class size with respect to student achievement; and (4) the employment of an incorrect functional form in the specification of the relationship between class size and student achievement. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of class size on student achievement unhindered by the existence of the four aforementioned factors typically associated with prior studies. The results of this investigation suggest that the relationship between class size and student achievement is not only non-linear, but non-monotonic. (Melvin, Roy & Michelle 2005)

An additional problem of earlier studies that attempt to estimate the effect of class size on student achievement can be attributed to the correlation of class size with the omitted variable, student innate ability. Studies such as those by Hanushek (1986) and Iacovou (2002), which explicitly recognize the relationship between class size and student ability, have been unable to control for such ability, given data limitations. (Melvin, Roy & Michelle 2005) To the extent that such a problem exists in earlier studies, the estimates of coefficients on class size are biased. The consequence of this additional problem has been minimized within this paper by the inclusion of a measure of innate ability, previously typically omitted within the student achievement equation. Innate ability is defined as the cognitive skills index value for each student within a class. The test of cognitive skills is an assessment of academic aptitude that includes verbal, non-verbal, and memory skills. Its purpose is to assess cognitive abilities with respect to sequences, analogies, memory, and verbal reasoning. (Melvin, Roy & Michelle 2005)

A further complication referenced in earlier studies results from the condition that class size is not exogenous with respect to student achievement. Hoxby (2000) states that the vast majority of the variation in class size is the result of the variation in choices made by parents, schooling providers, or courts and legislatures, and despite the frequent claim by researchers that the variation in class size is not endogenous to student achievement, they rarely attempt to explain from where such variation is derived. Hoxby (2000), Iacovou (2002), and Bradley and Taylor (2002) use an array of exogenous variables to proxy or instrument for class size in their studies. This paper pursues an alternative technique to account for the endogeneity of class size with respect to student performance by using the predicted value of class size from the first stage of a two-stage least squares estimation of the system. (Melvin, Roy & Michelle 2005) To our knowledge, this is first time that class size has been treated as an endogenous variable by instrumenting within the two-stage least squares framework.

With respect to all the proponents who say there exists a relationship between class size and students achievement The Heritage Foundation, by contrast, claims that “there’s no evidence that smaller class sizes alone lead to higher student achievement” (Rees & Johnson, 2000).

Reviewers of class size studies also disagree. (Biddle & Berliner 2002) One study contends that “large reductions in school class size promise learning benefits of a magnitude commonly believed not within the power of educators to achieve” (Glass, Cahen, Smith, & Filby, 1982, p. 50), whereas another claims that “the… evidence does not offer much reason to expect a systematic effect from overall class size reduction policies” (Hanushek, 1999, p. 158).

Chapter Summary

Preliminary research shows that there is a negative relationship between the two variables however final hypothesis testing can only be done after the completion of research. Well over 100 experiments and quasi-experimental studies of the effects of class size have been conducted, each involving assignment of students to smaller or larger classes. However, most class-size experiments have been small scale and short term. Consequently, it is difficult to know whether the special circumstances surrounding the experiment caused the effects and whether they would have occurred in a more natural setting. That is, the small-scale experiments may have high internal validity, but it is difficult to know whether they will generalize to other settings.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

Subjects

The database of the study will include various schools of early primary level. Since we want to study grade 2 students therefore, early primary school students will be the subjects of our study. As shown in the literature review earlier information form and about the teacher is of considerable importance therefore, valuable information will be acquired from them and they can safe be termed as our secondary subjects for this study (Refer to Appendix pg14).

Research Design

This research will be a cross sectional study as we shall try to collect data about the students’ performance from Primary schools and also conduct interviews of teachers. The research will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will cover the acquisition of data from various schools regarding the past student achievement trends and the enrollment of students in the classes. The second phase will be carried to conduct brief interviews form teachers preferably of same schools so that direct relevance of the data can be studied and appreciated (Refer to Appendix pg14).

Analysis of Data

The data shall be analyzed by constructing a model of relevant factors which affect the relationship other than our primary variables of class size and students achievement. These variables can be determined in terms of time as the literature review shows class size affects the total amount of time given to each student by the teacher. The components in our model can be the attainment during time student has been exposed to resources of the school, the time during which he has been exposed to these resources.

Another set of factors which need to be analyzed relates to the characteristics of the school community in which students have been educated each year up until age and the characteristics of the classrooms in which they were enrolled each year. So too, may the way that students are grouped in classrooms. Students in classes that are heterogeneous, in terms of the “ability levels” of the students, may learn more, or less, than students enrolled in classes in which students are fairly homogeneous in terms of their ability levels.

Instrumentation

The instruments to use as identified in earlier sections are surveys for data from Primary Schools which shall require visits and acquiring various informational documents. As mentioned before this will be a cross sectional research therefore, a round of brief interviews with the Teachers of Primary Schools shall also be conducted (Refer to Appendix pg14).

Chapter Summary

This chapter highlighted the statement of the problem along with the research methodology and the database of subjects. The methodology chosen is cross sectional and requires a pair of data instruments.

References

Biddle, Bruce J., Berliner, David C., (2002) Small Class Size and its Effects,  Educational Leadership, 00131784, Feb2002, Vol. 59, Issue 5

Borland, M. V. and R. M. Howsen (2000) Manipulable variables of policy importance: the case of education, Education Economics, 8, pp. 241–248.

Bradley, S. and J. Taylor (2002) Ethnicity, educational attainment and the transition from school. Working Paper 007, Lancaster University Management School.

Ehrenberg Ronald G., Brewer Dominic J., Gamoran Adam, Willms J. Douglas. (2001) Class Size and Student Achievement. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Blackwell Publishing Limited. Vol. 2, no. 1, May 2001.

Glass, G. V., Cahen, L. S., Smith, M. L., & Filby, N. N. (1982). School class size: Research and policy. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Hanushek, E. A. (1986) The economics of schooling: production and efficiency in public schools, Journal of Economic Literature, 24, pp. 1141–1177.

Hanushek, E. A. (1999). Some findings from an independent investigation of the Tennessee STAR experiment and from other investigations of class size effects. Education Evaluation & Policy Analysis, 21(2), 143-163.

Hanushek, E. A. (2001) Evidence, politics, and the class size debate. Available at http://edpro.stanford.edu/eah.htm

Hoxby, C. M. (2000a) The effects of class size on student achievement: new evidence from population variation, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, pp. 1239–1285.

Iacovou, M. (2002) Class size in the early years: is smaller really better, Education Economics, 10,pp. 261–290.

Melvin V. Borland, Roy M. Howsen And Michelle W. Trawick (2005) An Investigation of the Effect of Class Size on Student Academic Achievement. Education Economics. Vol. 13, No. 1, 73–83, March 2005

Rees, N. S., & Johnson, K. (2000, May 30). A lesson in smaller class sizes. Heritage Views 2000 [Online]. Available: www.heritage.org/views/2000/ed053000.html

Appendix

Questionnaire Form for Teachers

Surname Name:                     ­_______________________________________________
First Name:                            _______________________________________________
Gender:                                  Male/Female
Contact Number:                   _______________________________________________

Teaching Experience:             _______________________________________________
(Please mention School          _______________________________________________

Name and Classes taught)     _______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Unique Teaching Methods:   _______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Time spent per session:          _______________________________________________

Average Attainment Level of students:  (Encircle Choice)
Poor                Good              Very Good                 Excellent

Were you satisfied with the output/response of students? (Encircle Choice)
Somewhat      Very                Perfectly                     Don’t Know

How long do you intend to stay in this profession?
5 years                        10 years          Lifelong                      Don’t Know

Thank You for your Time!

 

Cite this Effect of Class size on Students Achievement

Effect of Class size on Students Achievement. (2016, Sep 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/effect-of-class-size-on-students-achievement/

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