EFFECT OF CLASS SIZE ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SOCIAL STUDIES
1.1 Background to the Study
According to Adeyemi and Adu (2010), it is widely accepted that education is one of the leading tools for promoting economic development as it covers some processes individuals go through to help them develop and use their potentials. Furthermore, Okeke (2007) said that, through education, individuals acquire knowledge, skills and attitude that are necessary for effective living.
In an attempt to have sound education worldwide, many factors have been identified as being responsible for falling standard of education where it is perceived and established. Among such factors is the issues of ‘’class size’’. Adeyemi (2008) defined class size as a situation that can be described as an average number of students per class in a school, it is the number of students per teacher in a class. Kedney (1989) described it as a tool that can be used to measure performance of the education system. A lot of argument has gone on the impact of class size on performance, some fingering over-bloated class size as the main factor responsible for falling standard of education, most especially in the elementary or secondary level of education in Nigeria. However others see this as mere coincidence seeing other factors as being responsible.
In many countries over the world there has been a widely reported debate over the educational consequences of class size differences. Opinions vary from those academics and policy makers who argue that class size reduction is not cost effective to those who argue that it should be a main feature of educational policy. In some countries policy has changed in favor of small classes. In the U.S.A, over 30 states have enacted legislation for class size reduction (CSR) programs. Current Government policy in England and Wales is for a maximum class size of 30 for pupils aged 4-7 years, and larger cuts are planned in Scotland. In East Asia, many countries and cities (including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Korea and Japan) have implemented ‘small class teaching’ initiatives (Blatchford, Bassett and Brown, 2011).
Most attention has been paid to whether or not smaller classes lead to better academic outcomes for pupils. There is a good deal of controversy over the magnitude of these effects (Blatchford, Russell and Brown, 2009; Hattie, 2005 and Wilson, 2006). Though there are some agreement, drawing on experimental and naturalistic studies that smaller classes have positive effects on pupil academic performance (Finn and Achilles, 1999; Blatchford, Bassett, Goldstein, and Martin, 2003).
Responding to this problem of over-bloated class, some state governments in Nigeria embarked on correcting this anomaly. Numbers of students per class were reduced especially at the Junior Secondary School level and more classrooms were built to cater for this reformation. This brought a great relief upon teachers and administrators of schools and there was a great expectation that with this reformation, there should be an improvement in the output of teachers and this should consequently improve the academic performance of the students (Tobih, Akintaro and Osunlana, 2013).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The poor funding of education in most third world countries does not enable the school system to have manageable class sizes, adequate classroom space and appropriate class utilization rates. The fact that these factors are capable of influencing the productivity of teachers and students academic performance, has necessitated this study to investigate the extent to which class factors like class size, large or small class size, student-classroom space and classroom utilization rate determined secondary school students’ academic performance in Education District V of Lagos State of Nigeria.
In an attempt to put sound education on ground worldwide, many factors have been adduced as being responsible for falling standard of education where it is perceived and established. Among such factors is the issue of class size. Fabunmi et al (2007) pointed out that classroom congestion and low utilization rate of classrooms are common features of secondary schools in Nigeria. They have negative impact on both secondary school teacher productivity, student learning and thus secondary school student academic performance.
Following the trend of educational system in the country, particularly in Lagos State, population explosion without a commensurate increase in infrastructure in our schools has constituted a great problem which has threatened the essence of learning. This problem became so terrible that over 100 students were put in a class without enough infrastructures; consequently, many students received their lessons while standing. One then wonders how students can learn optimally under such an atmosphere and the effect of such environment on the academic performance of students.
Over-bloated class size has been indicated as one of the main factors responsible for falling standard of education, most especially in the elementary or secondary level of education in Nigeria. There have been argument and counter argument on the relative influence of class size and students’ academic performance, Eke (1991) found out that class size does not affect students’ achievement. On the contrary, Keil and Partell (2009) found that increasing class size has a negative effect on students’ achievement, that is, it lowers students’ achievement at a decreasing rate. Whether in fact there is a negative or positive effect of class size on students’ academic performance is an empirical issue that remains open. It is against this backdrop that this research seeks to present a critical appraisal of the relationship between class size and students’ academic performance with a special reference to some selected secondary schools in Education District V of Lagos State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general objective of this study was to explore the relationship between class size and students’ academic performance. Other specific objectives are:
i. To investigate if there is any significant relationship between class size and students’ academic performance.
ii. To determine the effect of large class size on male students academic achievement.
iii. To find out if small class size have effect on female students’ academic performance.
1.4 Research Questions
This study was guided by the following research questions:
1. Is there any significant relationship between class size and students’ academic performance in social studies?
2. What is the difference in the mean scores of male students in large and small classes?
3. What is the difference in the mean scores of female students in large and small classes?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research tested the following hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance:
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between class size and students’ academic performance in social studies.
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean scores of male students in large and small classes.
Ho3: There is no significant difference in the mean scores of female students in large and small classes.