Effects of class size in effective teaching and learning of history in secondary school


Background to the Study

The relationship between class size and academic performance has been a perplexing one for educators. Studies have found that the physical environment, ethnicity, socioeconomics, overcrowding and teaching methods are all variables that affect student achievement (Molnar, 2000). Other factors that affect student achievement are school population and class size (Gentry, 2000; Swift, 2000; Krueger and White Moore, 2007).

The issue of poor academic performance of students in Nigeria has been of much concern to all and sundry. The problem is so much that it adds to the widely acclaimed fallen standard of education in Lagos state and Nigeria at large. In order to better understand the skill levels of students, it might be necessary to evaluate factors affecting their performance. These include: school structure and organization, teachers’ quality, curriculum and teaching philosophy (Driscoll, Halcoussis and Svomy, 2008).

Overtime, students’ academic performance in both internal and external examinations had been used to determine excellence in teachers and teaching (Ajao, 2001). As school grows, they typically become more bureaucratic, resulting in more formalized human relations and increased curricular specialization. Another stand, typically conducted by economist directs attention to the potential for increased efficiency and cost reductions as schools get bigger. Conclusions from these two streams are not consistent. Although, the studies with an organizational focus generally favour smaller schools, research with an economic focus tends to suggest benefits from increased size.

Overpopulation classrooms have increased the possibilities for at risk students, as well as others, to lose interest in school and do poorly on test. There identifies for specific problems regarding overcrowding, students not getting individual attention, low reading scores, frustration and stress felt by the teachers and the inability of students to concentrate or stay on task while in class. The problem identified can be that teachers are unable to give individual attention to students. Teachers’ aides are not always available and sometimes students have to share textbooks. It can take the entire class time for students to find seats, make sure everyone has a textbooks to look at and then explain the next assignment. This leaves no time for individual attention to explain assignment and answer questions. Thus, with teacher unable to help individual students, those who need extra help in gaining or maintaining their reading skills get left behind. They are unable to keep up the reading or in class discussions because of many students in one class.

Overpopulation in schools and classes is a serious problem in many schools systems, particularly in the inner cities where space for new construction is limited. As a result, students find themselves trying to learn while jammed into spaces never intended as classrooms, such as libraries, gymnasiums, laboratories, lunch rooms and even closets. Although, research on the relationship between overcrowding and student leaving had been limited, there are some evidence particularly in high poverty schools, that overcrowding can have adverse impact on learning. A study of overpopulation in schools found that students in such schools score significantly lower on both mathematics and reading exams then did similar students in underutilized schools. In addition, when asked, students and teachers in overpopulation schools agreed that overcrowding negatively affects both classroom activities and instructional technologies (Krueger and Whiteman, 2001).

Crowded classroom conditions not only make it difficult for students to concentrate on their lessons, but inevitably limit the amount of times teachers can spend on innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning and group work or on teaching anything beyond the barest minimum of required materials. In addition, because teachers must constantly struggle simply to maintain order in an overpopulated classroom, the likelihood increase that they will suffer from burn out earlier than might otherwise be the case.

Although, there is a significantly amount of research analyzing students’ performance (Matuga, 2009; CerezoRUssillo and Casanova Arias, 2004), there is still a need for more concentrate test results. It is necessary to define the effects of environmental, psychological and sociological elements. This clarity will better enable school to provide a quality learning institution – organized and established public domain, with a sphere of knowledge influence and activity (Meram-Webster Dictionary).

The idea that school population and class size might affect students’ performance is consistence with the growing literature on the relationship between public sector institutional arrangements and outcome. The purpose of this study is to further examine the relationship of class size, school population and student academic achievement.

Statement of the Problem

In recent times, performance of Secondary School students according to report made by office of the statistics SSCE, calls for proper investigation of courses of poor performance of students. Probably the high level of students enrolment without adequate provision of corresponding learning facilities in our schools. The


National Policy on Education (NPE, 2014) stipulates that a normal class size should be forty(40) students per class for effective teaching and learning. However, prevailing conditions in most secondary schools today is that a single classroom has a population of about 80 or more students, yet the same class to teach the class-size of 40 students are also being used in teaching the class-size of 80 students. It would be expected therefore, that the increase in students enrolment would create problems for teachers and effective classroom management. This could be the major reason responsible for the decline of students performance in History since population explosion directly affects effective teaching learning procedure.

Although, several scholars have proposed various factors responsible for the poor performance of students, only a little research has been dedicated to the correlation between class-size population and academic performance.

The high rate of failure in public examination is  a proof that the education sector is ailing and requires urgent attention. In an attempt to find out the cause of this mass failure, several factors have been identified to be responsible for this situation. One of such factors is the high teacher-students ratio. It has been observed that some schools record book contain eighty or more students in a class. This  problem  is  particularly severe in Giwa educational zone. The objectives of secondary school education is to produce high quality students who should be able to face  the challenges of the society  and prepare them for higher education. Today, History students  are  faced  with large class sizes which lead to ineffective teaching and learning of social studies. It also leads to students not being able to understand the subject  in the correct way. This results  in the decline of students academic performance. Hence, this study is aimed at evaluating


the effects of class size in effective teaching and learning of history in secondary school with the view of providing remedial strategies to improve the situation.

Objectives of the Study


The major objective of the study is to investigate effects of class size in effective teaching and learning of history in secondary school More specifically the objectives of the study are:

  1. to find out the effects of class size on academic performance scores of SSCE History Students.
  2. to find out the effects of class size on academic performance scores of male and female SSCE History students.
  3. to find out the effects of class size on academic performance scores of rural and urban SSCE History students.

Research Questions


The following research questions guided the study:


  1. what is the effect of class size on academic performance scores of SSCE History students?
  2. what is the effects of class size on academic performance scores of male and female SSCE History students?
  3. what is the effects of class size on academic performance scores of rural and urban SSCE History students?


Null Hypotheses


Based on the research questions raised above, the following research hypotheses have been formulated to guide the researcher in the study.

H01:     there is no significant effects in the academic performance scores of SSCE History students based on congested and incongested classroom.

H02: there is no significant effects in the academic performance  scores  of male  and female SSCE History students based on congested and incongested classroom.

H03:     there is no significant effects in the academic performance scores of urban and rural SSCE History students based on congested and incongested classroom.

Significance of the Study


The study of the effects of class size on History students academic performance in Senior secondary schools is significant in a number of ways. Some  of these are outlined below.

Firstly, the study provides valid research based on the data that brings about improvement in the educational programme. It is difficult to ascertain if the educational programme is doing what it is supposed to do when it  has not been formally evaluated as  it relate to the current large class sizes. Secondly, the research findings are significant to stakeholders in education like: Government and policy makers. They will find  the findings of this study useful as it will assist them to identify, analyse and interpret the negative consequences of large class population on students academic performance in the study area and beyond. This will help in providing the much needed data for planning and evaluation purposes which by looking at the situation to improve special consideration.


To the UBEC and SUBEBS, the study will assist them in the area of providing necessary information about students on small class benefit to enable them refine the various level of educational programmes and reposition them for greater efficiency thereby producing students that will be toast of the society.

This study is significant to curriculum planners and developers who want to evaluate and modify the SSS curriculum, making it progressive for the development of learners in the aspect of cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains.  Also, teachers and students can benefit from the findings of the study as it will provide a good guide for effective classroom management. The research also aids in stimulating cordial teacher/student relationship and enhances the teaching/learning process. In addition, this study will serve as a necessary impetus to principals and school administrators to organize workshop, seminars and symposia on the effects of class size on students academic performance in the Senior Secondary Schools. Furthermore, the study serve as a background for other researchers to identify areas for further studies the relationship between class size and students improvement at various levels of educational programme particularly in secondary schools.

Scope of the Study


This study is limited to senior secondary school student  in Giwa Educational Zone Kaduna State, the Zone has twenty six (26) Senior secondary schools

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