THE IMPACT OF LARGE CLASS SIZE ON STUDENTS PERFORMANCE IN DESCRIPTIVE ESSAYS
The main purpose of this study was to examine the impact of large class size on students performance in descriptive essays. To achieve the specific objectives of the study, research questions were set to guide the study. The research design for this study is the survey research design. The area of study selected by the researcher includes all the public secondary schools in the study area. The population of this study consists of all the English teachers in public secondary schools.
The sample size of this study comprised of one hundred and twenty (180) respondents. The study adopted the simple sampling technique which was applied by sampling 20 teachers each from nine (9) secondary schools. The instrument used for data collection was questionnaire. The research questions were answered using mean deviation. The findings of the study revealed that, large class size has a significant impact on students’ performance in descriptive essay.
The Impact of Large Class Size on Students Performance in Descriptive Essays
1.1 Background to the study
Class-size is an educational tool that can be used to describe the average number of students per class in a school. It is also the number of students per teacher in a class. It is a tool that can be used to measure the performance of the teacher in a given subject. It is simply referred to as the teacher-student ratio (Twan, 2012). Class size as defined by Adeyemi (2018) is an educational tool that can be described as an average number of students per class in a school, while Hoffman (2010) described it as the number of students per teacher in a class.
Ogbu (2019) 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.
The English Language is the Language Nigerians inherited from the British. Azikiwe (2018) pointed out that the English Language was introduced in 1842 by the first batch of missionaries who arrived in Badagry for education and evangelization. In order to bridge ethno-linguistic barrier, the colonialists implanted the English Language in Nigeria. Today, it is absolutely an essential medium of interaction amongst the different ethnic groups in Nigeria that have no known national language.
It is a compulsory subject in both primary and post primary schools in Nigeria. The study and the use of the English Language are taken serious amongst students and the school authorities of the various higher institutions of learning through the Use of English Unit –General Studies. Examination bodies such as the WAEC, NECO, and JAMB recognize the great importance of the English Language for their candidates and make it compulsory in their examinations.
Besides, there are educational, edifying, and recreational writing in the English Language. These write-ups are popular with the general reading public and in the prescribed texts of various examination bodies. There are printed and well-written books in English in fiction, drama, poetry, current affairs and literary criticism. Above all, the English Language is one of the mediums for instruction in schools in Nigeria. In fact, it is the Language of communication – instruction in the classroom, decoding and encoding of prints in texts in English and media announcements, diplomatic relations as well as in maintaining contacts with former colonial lords.
In many countries where the English Language is being studied including Nigeria, it is common to find parents, teachers, and even the government crying about the standard of both the spoken and the written forms of the language amongst the students. This is because a good pass in the English Language qualifies a candidate to secure admission in school and get good job. It is Nigerians official Language.
It is pertinent to state here that a good mastery of any language is measured by the standard of the languages spoken and written form. According to Collier (2017) without oral and written English Language skills, students are hard pressed to learn and demonstrate the knowledge of mathematical reasoning, science skills, social studies concepts and so forth. Students who lack proficiency in English are at a decided disadvantage in school.
The WAEC Chief Examiner’s Reports of November/December (2019) stated that candidates’ Performance was poor in the English Language and that generally; the performance of the candidates was not impressive. In this report, the main weakness observed in the students‟ scripts range from insufficient exposure to the skills of writing, lack of familiarity with the required formats, construction of loose sentences, transliteration from mother tongue to the abuse of basic rules of grammar.
Besides, Ohuche (2012) has already pointed out that despite all the changes introduced in the secondary school English Language/curriculum, students have continued to perform poorly in the language. According to him, the greatest shortcomings of these students are in their inability to express ideas correctly in English. When these students enter tertiary institutions, many of them do not gain much from the service English Language lecturers give, for the mere fact that the number of them in a class makes it difficult for the teacher to handle their individual problems.
The level of academic achievement for students with limited proficiency in English has lagged significantly behind that of their language majority peers. One congressionally mandated study reported that these students receive lower grades, are judged by their teachers to have lower academic abilities, and score below their classmates on standardized tests of reading and mathematics, according to Moss and Puma (2015).
From the above reports, it became pertinent to look into the learning and writing of the English Language essay of the Senior School Certificate Exam, which often is given much mark allocation than other parts of paper 1 of the English Language to show the importance of writing. Writing is invaluable for effective and efficient diplomatic ties. For the fact that very few students who write the Senior School Certificate English Language Examination obtain credits or distinctions make it a thing to worry about.
Many Language teachers often use essay writing while assessing students literacy development over time since it tests the ability of the students to use English as an effective means of communication to express themselves with clarity and coherence in a manner appropriate to the situation. The process of learning to write clearly and effectively is not a simple matter of acquiring information or memorizing rules. It requires a parallel and simultaneous process of learning to read with more sophistication. Because reading and writing are related activities, learning to write entails a complex interaction between writer and reader.
Students write; teachers respond. But a teacher’s response must be more than “correcting” and more than perfunctory grading: Evaluations most involve a detailed reaction, often in conference with the student; to each piece of writing.
Descriptive essay is an essay writing which is important because many aspects of life demand a person’s ability to give accurate descriptions. One may at one time or another be required to describe a person, a place, a process, a scene and an event. It is made in such a way that the mental picture of what is being described is fully registered in the reader’s mind. On this, some candidates may not possess the appropriate vocabulary to convey their description. The topics are treated scantily giving rise to lazy descriptions, which do not register any impression with the reader. According to (Ukwuegbu, 2014) the students’ descriptive writings are often marred by mother tongue influence resulting in usages that do not conform to standard English.
According to UNICEF, the recommended class size is 1:35. However in Nigeria, the National Policy in Education recommends a class size of 1:40 in upper secondary schools (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). Based on the above, class size can be classified as large, optimal or small. In Nigeria, a class is large if it has over 40 students; it is optimal if it has 40 students and small if there are less than 40 students in a class in the secondary school.
The classroom still remains the main learning environment in the schools although learning can take place in other venues. On this premise, it is imperative that educators strive to make the classroom the best venue for students to attain their full potential in academic performance (Fullon, 2015).
It is what teachers’ think, what teachers do and who teachers are at the level of the classroom that ultimately shapes the kind of learning that young people get (Ukpong, 2017). A large amount of a child’s time is spent sitting in a school’s classroom. This place is where they will learn the various skills deemed necessary and proper for them to achieve success in the global society. The classroom is where they will gain an understanding of their place in the world as well as discovering their potentials. It is where the student develops what they want their future to look like, as well as knowledge of the skills needed to reach that goal.
With the classroom being such an important place in the growth of a child it is important to understand the ways in which to affect this environment in order to receive maximum effectiveness instruction. If schools really do play a large role in teaching the next generation how to be successful members of society then every precaution should be taken to make sure that the learning environment is one thing that helps students thrive.
If not approached correctly, a classroom can be set up in a way that stifles creativity or does not promote a positive learning environment. There are many things that can affect this environment. There are physical elements such as wall art, arrangement of desks, or resources.
Also, there are intangible elements such as the energy of the classroom, the rules, or the sounds within the room. Each of these can impact students focus and achievement in the class. Also teacher’s attitude in the classroom is one of variables we cannot do without. The way in which a teacher organizes their class, or how they control it, will yield positive or negative consequences for their students. If a teacher is unmotivated, there will be negative impact on the students within the classroom but if a teacher is motivated there will be positive impact on their students as well. It is important for a teacher to understand this cause and impacts in order to understand how to organize his classroom to create a better learning environment.
The different class characteristics in schools are closely related to the academic performance of students in school subjects including Economics. Going by the fact that the Nigerian education system has continuously experienced an upward trend in schools, the enrollment at all levels have also increased tremendously since after the civil war in 1970. This has in turn impacted on the class-size in terms of the population of individual classroom (Osim, Chika & Isaac, 2012).
Inflated class-size is very critical to teaching-learning process as teachers sometimes have difficulty in dealing with students on individual bases. This is observed in a situation where a teacher stands in front of the classroom throughout the lesson period without moving around from time to time to supervise what the students are doing because there is hardly space between one row of lockers and another especially since the introduction of free and compulsory education in some parts of Nigeria.
Class-size is an important factor with respect to academic performance of students. There is also a consensus among researchers and educational scholars that, students’ performance decreases as class- size increases. It is refers to educational tools that can be used to describe the average number of student per class in s school. In emphasizing the importance of class-size to the learning process, the federal government through the National Policy on Education (2004) stipulated that class-size in secondary school should have the ratio of 1:40. Regrettably, the classes are so large that teachers cannot recognize the students by names and sometimes by their faces.
Class-size has also impinged on the quality of assessment, evaluation and feedback system carried out by teachers in our schools. A number of reports attest to this including Wosyanju (2015) who maintained that large classes pose teaching challenges such as delayed feedback provided to students, low quality individual feedback resulting in insufficiency and poor quality of students reduction in teaching, less assignment which encourages shallow learning and students become faces instead of people.
As a result of this, Osim, et al (2012) observes that teachers adopt the strategies of concentrating on ‘true or false’ answers or objectives test to ease marking. This reduces writing and creative skills in the students. Class-size problem is like a vicious circle in the study area since the introduction of free and compulsory education policy. It leads to teacher’s poor work quality, which resulted in student’s poor learning outcomes and culminates in turning out half-baked products into the tertiary institutions and the labour market respectively.
The Impact of Large Class Size on Students Performance in Descriptive Essays
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Writing is said to be a highly sophisticated and individualistic activity. Since writing is a solitary affair, it is likely to be affected by the writer’s disposition and competence in writing components. The experience of several teachers suggests that the phenomenon of large class is widespread, and might have influence on students’ essays. Researchers the world over are now showing a growing interest into the investigation of large class size as it affects learning and achievement.
It is also observed that most public secondary schools are over populated, as such teachers lack classroom control which in turn affects academic performance of students. These problems arise because of large class size ratio to a teacher, poor utilization of instructional materials, poor classroom structure, poor classroom organization etc.
Observation reveals that in recent years, there has been astronomical rise in class-size due to increase in enrollment of students in public secondary schools in the State, especially since the introduction of free and compulsory education policy. Some schools have as many as eighty (80) students and above per class as against the recommended ratio of 1:40 by the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2O13). This situation has multiple impacts on the teaching and learning as well as students’ academic performance in Economics.
The level of failure recorded in both internal and external examinations in recent time calls for concern. Apart from this, students no longer have confidence in writing examination on their own without examination malpractices (Nlgbekern, 2014). This is also consequent upon the fact that large class-sizes do not encourage conducive teaching and learning environment.
It is also on record that teachers who teach large classes are faced with the challenges on their tasks performance in terms of teaching, evaluation, feedback and assessment of students’ academic performance as well as classroom management (Osim, 2015). It is against this backdrop that this research is carried out to investigate the impact of large class size on students performance in descriptive essay.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study was to examine the impact of large class size on students performance in descriptive essays.
Specifically, the study sought to:
(1) find out if large class size has any impact on students’ performance in descriptive essay writing.
(2) find out the impact of National policy on Education guiding teacher-student ratio on students performance in descriptive essay.
The Impact of Large Class Size on Students Performance in Descriptive Essays
1.4 Significance of the Study
The study will be useful mostly to policy makers in the educational sector as well as Government. Educational planners will find the study useful in designing school facilities such as classroom in a way that will be conducive to learning.
The Government will also find this study a useful guide in deciding on the spread of infrastructure such as the quantity of classrooms that will be adequate for the available and anticipated school enrolment. The study will also be useful to school principals in deciding on the number of students to be admitted into each class in any given session.
This study would benefit the teachers who form the centre of the teaching learning process. The finding of the study will provide a basic for the teachers to evaluate their students and his /her class arrangement techniques.
It is important to note that, the findings in this study will also serve as a source of reference for other researchers who may want to conduct the same or similar study in other subjects area.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions were postulated to guide the study:
(1) Does large class size has any impact on students’ performance in descriptive essay writing in the English Language?
(2) How effective is the National policy on Education guiding teacher-student ratio on students performance in descriptive essay?
1.6 Limitation of the Study
Some of the challenges encountered while conducting the research include insufficient funds, short duration for the study and difficulties in having access to related materials.
1.7 Delimitation/Scope of the Study
This research work is delimited to the impact of large class size on students performance in descriptive essay. This study covers all the senior secondary schools two (SS2) students in public secondary schools in the study area.
1.8 Operation Definitions of Terms:
The following are defined as they are applied in the study:
Classroom: the formal setting or space within which teaching and learning take place. The classroom therefore allows for instructional interaction between the teachers and learners or between learners and learners.
Class Size: This refers to the total number of students in a particular class at any given time. Class size in this study was categorised as follows:
- Small class size 1-30 students
- Medium class size 31-40 students
- Large class size 41 and above.
Academic performance: This is used in the study to refer to student’s attitude to competition for excellence in their attitude. It can also be defined as the outcome of education, the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals.
Descriptive Essay: A descriptive essay is an essay that attempts to describe an object, idea, situation, or even a person.
Lawson Peter – Chief Editor in Projectvilla Nigeria. A writer and academic researcher.