Teaching Strategies:Class Size And Students Performance In Physics

Teaching Strategies:Class Size And Students Performance In Physics


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 Biology 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, Biology 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 on the academic performance of Biology in Senior Secondary Schools in Giwa Educational Zone, Kaduna State, Nigeria with the view of providing remedial strategies to improve the situation.

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