Impact of classroom population on the academic performance of pupils in public primary school

IMPACT OF CLASSROOM POPULATION ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF PUPILS IN PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

As school increases, classroom population also increase, the performances of pupils become an issue. According to Dror (2005), classroom population has become a phenomenon often mentioned in the educational literature as an influence on pupil’s feelings and achievement, on administration, quality and school budgets. In his words he noted, that classroom population is almost an administrative decision over which teachers have little or no control. Most researchers start from the assumption that size of the class would prove a significant determinant of the degree of success of pupils. In fact, with the exception of a few, many studies have reported that under ideal situation, classroom population in itself appears to be an important factor.

Classroom population refers to an educational tool that can be used to describe the average number of pupils per class in a school (Adeyemi, 2008). This varies from country to country. Kedney (2009) saw it as a tool that can be used to measure the performance of the education system. In relation to size, Stepaniuk (2001) reported that the rational utilization of classroom space depends upon population This in turn would depend upon the area of the classroom. He argued that there are approved norms of population 40 pupils per class for grades 1 to 8 and 35 pupils per class for the senior classes; while the standard allocation of class space per pupil is 1:25 square metres. In this regard, Dean (2004) compared classroom population in some countries and found that Turkey, Norway and Netherlands had classroom populations of 20 more; the UK, USA, Japan, Canada and Ireland had classroom populations of between 15 and 20 while France, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg and Belgium had sizes of below 15.

In Nigeria, however, Okoro (2010) reported that the classroom population in primary schools ranges between 35 or40 pupils. He argued that few pupils per class are uneconomical, as they do not make full use of space, teachers and teaching materials. Adeyemi (2008) reported that average classroom population influences the cost of education while capital cost could be reduced by increasing the average classroom population in schools while Nwadiani (2000) argued that the higher the classroom population, the lower the cost of education. He contended however, that most classrooms are over-crowded spreading resources thinly and thereby affecting the quality of education. Ajayi (2000) supported the viewpoints and argued that in order to control rising capital cost of education, the average classroom population could be increased. These points were also supported by Toth and Montagna (2012) who reported that the increase in enrollment in many institutions which has become major concerns of pupils could definitely lead to an increase in classroom population.

The relationship between classroom population and academic performance has been a perplexing one for educators must especially Nigeria primary school, Studies have found that the physical environment, class overcrowding, and teaching methods are all variables that affect pupils’ achievement (Molnar, et al., 2012). Other factors that affect student achievement are school population and classroom population (Gentry, 2010; and Swift, 2010).

The issue of poor academic performance of pupils in Primary  School  in Nigeria has been of much concern to all and sundry. The problem is so much that it has led to the decline in standard of education. Since the academic success of pupils depends largely on the school environment, it is imperative to examine the impact variables of classroom population and school population on the academic performance of pupils in Nigeria primary school.

Large classroom population and over populated schools have direct impact of the quality of teaching and instruction delivery. Overcrowded classrooms have increased the possibilities for mass failure and make pupils to lose interest in school. This is because large classroom population do not allow individual student to get attention from teachers which invariably  lead to low reading scores, frustration and poor academic performance. In order to better understand the skill levels of pupils, it might be necessary to evaluate factors affecting their performance. These factors can include: school structure and organization, teacher quality, curriculum, and teaching philosophies (Driscoll, Halcoussis, &Svorny, 2003). The idea that school population and classroom population might affect student performance is consistent with the growing literature on the relationship between public sector institutional arrangements and outcomes (Moe, 2014).

Again, Adeyemi (2008) in his findings revealed that schools having an average classroom population of 35 and below  obtained a better result than schools having more than 35 pupils in primary schools. Small classes may benefit pupils more when instruction relies on discussion, by allowing more pupils to participate and be recognized, than when lecture and seatwork are the main modes of instruction. According to Nye, Hedges and Konstantopoulos (2000).while small classes benefit all kinds of pupils; much research has shown that the benefits may be greatest for minority pupils or pupils attending inner-city schools. For these pupils, smaller classes can shrink the achievement gap and lead to reduced grade retention, fewer disciplinary actions, less dropping out, and more pupils taking college entrance exams (Krueger and Whitmore, 2001).

The most dramatic impact seems to be achieved by reaching pupils early. Ideally, pupils should experience small classes of 13 to 17 pupils when entering school, in either kindergarten or first grade.

According to Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran&Willms (2001), there are many reasons why smaller classes might contribute to higher achievement, including better teacher contact with parents and more personal relationships between teachers and pupils. For example, pupils may pay better attention when there are fewer pupils in the room. Similarly, teachers who use a lot of small group work may find their instruction is more effective in smaller classes, because fewer pupils remain unsupervised while the small group meets with the teacher. In these instances, teachers could carry on the same practices, but achievement would rise in smaller classes because the same instruction would be more effective.

In light of rapidly increasing admission in many university  across the nation, administrators are under fire concerning the issue of growing classroom population and the potential diminishing of academic standards. Van Allen (2010) asserts that the “quantitative product”, monetary gains afforded by increased enrolment far outweigh the “qualitative product” of well-educated and knowledgeable graduates. This view point shows that there are returns to investing in smaller classes for certain pupils and it provides some evidence on why past literature has produced such inconsistent findings on the impact of classroom population.

Smith (2009) on the other hand, suggest that small classroom populations in the first four years of schooling can lead to higher attainment by the time the pupil reaches primary  education. According to these researchers, pupils taught in smaller classes during the primary phase of their education were more likely to go on and eventually proceed to higher education.

Debate around the inverse connection between classroom population and student achievement

The aspect of the subject area comes into question; would it perhaps be different depending on whether the subject is content, concept or practical- oriented? Instructional activities offer significant boosts to achievement, but the results of instruction do not seem to differ between small and large classes.

There has however been much need to view the aspect of classroom population as a holistic factor that does not operate in isolation. For three decades, a belief that public education is wasteful and inefficient has played an important role in debates about its reform. Those who have proposed greater spending programs for educational institutions to improve student achievement have been on the defensive. According to Trow (2012) the presumption has been that changes in structure and governance of schools, standards, accountability, and assessment, to name a few are the only way to improve student outcomes. Traditional interventions, like smaller classroom population and higher teacher salaries, have been presumed ineffective. Surely classroom population reductions are beneficial in specific circumstances for specific groups of pupils, subject matters, and teachers. Secondly, classroom population reductions invariably involve hiring more teachers yet teacher quality is a more important factor than classroom population in affecting student outcomes. Third, classroom population reduction is very expensive, and little or no consideration is given to alternative and more productive uses of those resources.

The relationship between classroom population and academic performance has been a perplexing one for educators. Studies have found that the physical environment, class overcrowding, and teaching methods are all variables that affect pupils’ achievement (Molnar, et al., 2000). Other factors that affect student achievement are school population and classroom population (Gentry, 2000; and Swift, 2000).

The issue of poor academic performance of pupils in Nigeria has been of much concern to all and sundry. The problem is so much that it has led to the decline in standard of education. Since the academic success of pupils depends largely on the school environment, it is imperative to examine the impact variables of classroom population and school population on the academic performance of pupils in primary  school. Large classroom population and over populated schools have direct impact of the quality of teaching and instruction delivery. Overcrowded classrooms have increased the possibilities for mass failure and make pupils to lose interest in school. This is because large classroom population do not allow individual student to get attention from teachers which invariably lead to low reading scores, frustration and poor academic performance.

In order to better understand the skill levels of pupils, it might be necessary to evaluate factors affecting their performance. These factors can include: school structure and organization, teacher quality, curriculum, and teaching philosophies (Driscoll, Halcoussis, &Svorny, 2003). The idea that school population and classroom population might affect student performance is consistent with the growing literature on the relationship between public sector institutional arrangements and outcomes (Moe, 2014).

 

Statement of the Problem

       Many public school face the problem of overpopulation in a class which usually leads to poor performance of the pupils. Large population and over populated schools have direct impact of the quality of teaching and instruction delivery. Overcrowded class room have increased the possibilities for mass failure and make pupils to lose interest in school. This is because large classroom population do not allow individual students to get attention from teachers which invariably lead to low reading scores, frustration and poor academic performance of the pupils.

The issue of poor academic performance of pupils in primary school in Nigeria has been of much concern to all and sundry. The problem is so much that it has lead to the decline in standard of education. Since the academic success of pupils depends largely on the school environment, it is imperative to examine the impact of variable of classroom population and school population on the academic performance of pupils in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State to achieve this, this research therefore examine the impacts of classroom population on the academic performance of pupils primary school.

 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the research study is to examine the impact of classroom population on the academic performance of pupils in public primary school, with special reference to Selected primary schools in Edo State

Research Questions

The research seeks to answer the following questions

  1. Is there any correlation between classroom population and academic performance of pupils?
  2. Is there any relationship between school population and student academic performance?
  • Does over population of classroom affect the school management?
  1. Does over population posses any challenges on the teachers?
  2. What are the problems and challenges faced by teacher and pupils in large classes?

 

Delimitation of the Study

The study is specifically talking about the impact of classroom population on the academic performance of pupils in public primary school in selected schools in Edo State.

Significance of the Study

The Nigerian education system is progressively becoming more and more complex.  But the catalogue of sources shows that Nigerian primary school is over congested and thereby leads to a decline in the teaching.

Based on this, the research work contains the researcher’s contributions that would be of help and useful to education policy planners, Educationist, Ministry of Education authorities, Stakeholders, school administrations and management in primary schools towards helping  pupils to improve the quality of facilities in the education system.

Apart from the above, the research will provide valuable information on the influence of different interacting factors on the impacts of classroom population. The content of the study will also serve as resource materials for others who want to carry out further research.

 

Definition of Terms

The definitions used in the historical classroom population debate vary according to the researcher. The following definitions are ones that will be used in this research.

Classroom population: For the purpose of this study classroom population was defined as the number of pupils for whom a teacher is primarily responsible during a school year. A small class was defined as a class having 11 of fewer pupils. A large class contained 20 or more pupils.

Classroom population reduction: Classroom population reduction is the processes to achieve classroom populations smaller than the ones currently in place (Achilles, 2003).

Academic performance: Is the outcome of education — the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals.

Instructional Strategies: Are devices or techniques employed by the teacher to enhance effective teach-learning process.

Educational Facilities: Are infrastructure designed to promote effective learning.

Teacher :A person who cares enough about abusive and ungrateful teens to work for crappy pay and long hours while hoping someday pupils mature enough to realize how lucky they are to have someone who gives a shit about them.

Student: a person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college; or any person who studies, investigates, or examines thoughtfully:

 

 

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