Effect of class size on students academic perfomance in biology at SSCE
1.1 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.