Thursday, June 13, 2013

Class Size and Teacher-Student Interaction

This was written by the Canadian Education Association and is an excerpt from their report Reducing Class Size: What do we know?

by the Canadian Education Association

The Ontario study reinforced many of the findings of other class size reduction studies with respect to teacher student interaction. Nearly three-quarters of the primary teachersreported that the quality of theirrelationships with students had improved as a result of the smaller classsize, and two-thirdssaid theirstudents were more engaged in learning than before class size reduction. Primary teacherstold the researchers that smaller primary classes gave them more time to help individual students experiencing learning difficulties and allowed them to carry out intensive, focused, teacher-guided activities effectively.

During group learning,the smaller groupingsmade possible by smaller classes enabledthe teacher to be more aware of, and to encourage, each student’s individual participation. Primary teachers noted that they felt better able to monitor children’s activities during work time, compared with larger classes where student behaviour might go unnoticed for a longer period of time. The more spacious classrooms often allowed for a dedicated location where the teacher could interact with one or a few students while the others worked independently on other activities. 

Improvement in student-teacher interaction appeared to contribute to improved classroom behaviour, as well.Teachers reported that students were calmer than in the past, a fact they attributed to easier and more frequent access to adult attention. Over half observed that peer relationships within the classroom improved, probably another benefit of reduced competition for adult attention.

There may also be child safety benefits to smaller classes. For example, in one context where students and teachers were rehearsing a lock-down drill,smaller classes were seen by teachers as important to ensuring a quick emergency response to account for all children. Similarly,teachersfound it easierto keep track of young children leaving the classroom to line up in the hallway to use the washrooms and to supervise students on class excursions outside of the school.

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