Cakmak, Melek. "The Perceptions of Student Teachers about the Effects of Class Size with Regard to Effective Teaching Process." The Qualitative Report. Nova Southeastern University, Inc. 2009. HighBeam Research. 18 Sep. 2014 <http://www.highbeam.com>.
Cakmak, Melek. "The Perceptions of Student Teachers about the Effects of Class Size with Regard to Effective Teaching Process." The Qualitative Report. 2009. HighBeam Research. (September 18, 2014). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-214102628.html
Cakmak, Melek. "The Perceptions of Student Teachers about the Effects of Class Size with Regard to Effective Teaching Process." The Qualitative Report. Nova Southeastern University, Inc. 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-214102628.html
There are many factors which affect the teaching process (Kyriacou, 1997). Among these, class size is considered one of the most important factors. The related literature clearly indicates that the class size and the effects associated with class size should be seriously taken into consideration by educators. In his overview of studies about class size, Podmore (1998) stated that research on class size generally examined the relationships with class size and children's achievement, children's motivation, teacher satisfaction, teacher stress, and the organization.
Classes might be small or large in size. In both cases, it is expected that teachers should teach in an effective way with the students' educational interests and learning experience in mind. The definition of a "small" or a "large" classroom might differ in different contexts. Hargreaves, Galton, and Pell (1998, p. 12), for instance, indicate that there is little agreement about the optimal size of a class. As Galton (1997) notes, at the primary level there are variations in the size of school and of classes.
Research conducted by Galton and Hargreaves (1996) and common sense suggests that smaller classes provide teachers with the opportunity to devote more time to each student with regards to talking about the tasks, giving feedback on work, etc. In this context, the question asked by Croll and Hastings (1996, p. 39) is very critical: "What changes when there are fewer children in a class?" According to Croll and Hastings,
Class size effects cannot be just a matter of the number of children in a class. The number of children must have an effect on other classroom processes and activities which themselves bear more directly on learning. The most frequently offered suggestion is that the reduced number results in each child getting more teacher time ... (p. 39)
Time is an important aspect in teaching because teachers need to manage time effectively in order to implement their strategy. However, some researchers emphasize that small classes mean more time for teachers. Therefore, this issue is worth considering in classroom size research.
Blatchford and Mortimore (1994) indicated that there are several concerns about class size reductions. However, as Zahorik, Halbach, Ehrle, and Molnar (2003) indicate, class size reduction alone does not always end up with high student performance. For this, teachers should both acquire and practice effective teaching strategies.
Class Size and Teaching Styles
The numbers of students is one of the factors that determines the teaching methods used in the classrooms by teachers (Kucukahmet, 2000). In their other words, class size inevitably influences teaching styles (Capel, Leask, & Turner, 1995). As mentioned in a study by Bosker (1998), teachers in smaller classes have more opportunities to monitor individual pupils closely; therefore smaller classes provide the opportunity for more individualized instruction and help during practice. Croll and Hastings (1996) also point out that teaching methods and children's experience in the classroom may change in small classes. McKeachie (cited in Dillon & Kokkelenberg, 2002) indicates that while class size may not be significant in courses best suited for lecture style learning, courses that encourage the students to think critically while developing their problem-solving skills are more suitable for a smaller classroom atmosphere. On the other hand, Blatchford, Goldstein, and Mortimore (1998) also suggested that teachers might alter their style of teaching, and tend to use a whole class teaching method when faced with a larger class. This suggests that there might be some differences between teaching in small classes and in large classes.
The literature suggests a possible relationship between class size and teachers motivation strategies. These strategies show considerable variation. Capel et al. (1995) indicates that there is a difference between teaching a large group of -unmotivated and motivated pupils. This is also an important point because motivating students may not always be an easy task especially for student, and newly qualified teachers. Although experienced teachers may easily cope with the competitive and more motivated students, this may pose a problem for newly qualified teachers. For instance, Veenman (1984) investigated beginning teachers' perceived problems. Motivating students was considered to be one of the most challenging problems perceived by beginning teachers in this investigation.
Another effect of class size on teaching may be related to assessment. The findings of the study conducted by Shapson, Wright, Eason, and Fitzgerald (1980) indicate that teachers believe the evaluation process is different in large and small classes. According to the teachers in the Shapson et al. study, teachers working in class sizes consisting of 16 to 23 students were more satisfied because marking took little time and corrections were immediate,; whereas in classes of 30 students marking became more formal, time-consuming, and sometimes delayed. The findings of the study conducted by Korostoff (1998) also support this view. In this study teachers expressed the ease of keeping track of students' achievement, suggesting that the evaluation of students is easier in small classes.
The correlation between class size and student achievement is another important and considerable aspect of the research on class size. Slavin (1989) brings interesting issues to bear regarding class size, indicating that there is no significant correlation between small class size and academic achievement. Capel et al. (1995) also state that class size influences teaching styles in the classrooms, which also effects what can be achieved. Slavin (1989) also stated some important points by reviewing previous researches as follows,
Teachers do change their behavior in small classes, but the changes are relatively subtle and unlikely to make important differences in student achievement. …
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