IMPACT OF CLASS SIZE ON STUDENTS INTEREST IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN AWKA SOUTH LGA OF ANAMBRA STATE

3,000.00

Abstract

The study set out to investigate the Impact of Class Size on Student’s Interest in English Language in Secondary schools in Awka south local government area of Anambra state. The population of the study consisted of all the government owned secondary schools in Awka South Local Government Area. The researcher adopted descriptive survey research design, also simple random sampling techniques were used to select the respondents for the study. A sample size of One hundred and twenty (120) junior students gotten from six (6) schools out of nineteen (19) governments owned secondary schools in Awka South L.G.A of Anambra State was used as respondents. Three (3) research questions guided the study. Questionnaire was the instruments used to collect data, which was made up of (4) point rating scale. A mean of 2.50 and above was adopted as a cut off mark for the acceptance of items. The study revealed that the most suitable class size for teaching English language is 30 – 40 students, also there is a great impact of class size on student’s interest in English language and finally, Providing quality public address system, employing more teachers, employing teaching assistants to organize tutorials in small groups, reducing large class size to small sizes, creating more arms of classrooms and having a lively class are possible measures to manage class size of students in teaching and learning of English language. Based on this, the researcher recommends that schools should adopt the National Policy on Education of class size of 30 – 40 students to a teacher and that the possible measures to manage class size of students in English language class be put in place ensure increase in student’s interest in English language and finally she made some suggestion for further study.

INTRODUCTION

Background to the study

English as a language plays a number of roles in the socio-economic, political and cultural development of Nigeria society. It originated from the Jute, Angles and Saxon who are the early settlers in Britain. It is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo European language family. At the initial stage English was confined to British alone. Later, it grew within the British Empire as a prestigious core language among all other European languages in the upper classes of London, Oxford, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Cambridge and England. It further developed and got to other people of the world. It spread to Asia, Germany, Africa and other continents as a native language or foreign languages. English language today has gained constitutional recognition to have served as an official language and even gaining the advantage of being the First Language {L1} over the Mother Tongue {MT}. Despite all the importance and position of English language in the country’s educational system, English language still suffers set back in its output. This has been ascertained and established by various examination bodies, government, education planners and individuals. It is highly pathetic and embarrassing that a secondary school graduate could not write an error- free sentence. Some of these students are eloquent but their reading and writing are nothing to talk about (Opeola, 2015), some of this issues that can cause this set back are teachers teaching method, poor study habit of students and large class size.

Badures (2016) opined that class size is the number of students or individual in a particular classroom. He also opined that number of the students required in particular class should be below 40. Any class that has a total of 40 and above students is large class.  The effectiveness of class size on students’ achievement  and motivation, and its synchronous relation to teaching process and teachers’ workload, attitudes and motivation, is probably the  most written about but however a least explored topic in the educational field. Yet, there is no consensus definition in literature to what constitutes a large class as material developers, teachers and students in different parts of world have various perceptions of what frames large, small or ideal classes. According to Hayes (2011) there is no numerical determination of what shape a large class as teachers’ perceptions of large classes differs from one context to another. Badures  (2016) believed that regardless of the number of students in a class, it is a teachers’ perceptions towards the class size in a certain context with particular tools and facilities which are provided that make classes either small or large. Hence, we can say that large classes are those with a specific number of students that teachers cannot handle and resources are not enough to facilitate the teaching and learning process and can pose insurmountable problems for both teachers and students. Mulryan-Kyne (2010) also shares that view and points to a large class as “a class that is too large for effective teaching to occur”. Finn (2013) revealed that class size has great effects on students’ social and academic involvement in the class and on the teachers’ personality as well. That is to say that students in small classes, on contrary to their peers in large ones, are always under pressure to participate in class activities as “they are on the frying line”, by being more visible to the teacher and may be called upon at any time to answer questions or to participate in a class activity”. On a similar view, Resnick (2013) claimed that smaller classes elevate students’ interest which in turn improves their achievement as teachers in such context pay greater attention to each and every student, leaving students with no time to either be destructive or distracted by any means. Consequently, students in small classes encounter continuous pressure to engage in various activities and become active class. On a similar view, Normore and Ilon (2016) conclude that classes of a small size positively influence the teaching process as they encourage students and teacher engagement, allow students to be more cognitively engaged, offer ample time for teachers to cover the whole materials and provide safe school environment with fewer misbehaved students. Teachers in small classes are able to pay great attention to their students and the benefit from the presented activities is considered to be high. From that, we can say that it is abundantly evident that English teachers encounter great challenges when teaching large classes as they encounter difficulties in knowing all students in the class, having time for all individuals or presenting effective activities and therefore many students, especially the weak ones, tend to lose concentration. Another problem which is borne out in the words of the teachers, and hinders the learning process in large classes is identifying and controlling students who tend to distract their classmates from concentrating on the lesson.

Lazear (2014) assumed that if a student misbehaves and begins disturbing the class, the teacher has to attend the disturbance and control the noise. Such action from one student or more in a large class will block the learning of that moment and demolish the capability of others to learn. Pedder (2013) confirms: in larger classes, more time is needed for non-academic activities related to administrative and organizational procedures and to the management and control of discipline. Reductions in the quantity of learning opportunities constrain teachers from achieving the necessary pace, depth and breadth of curriculum coverage as class size increases (Pedder, 2007). Noise level of some students is also considered to be a problematic issue as it will produce disturbance and prevent their classmates from learning.

Interest is an emotional state of a person prompting such person to cognitively engage in learning activities and seriously desiring to know. In another opinion, Essien et al (2015) viewed interest as a condition in which an individual associates the essence of certain things or situation with his needs or wants. Interest is also defined as specific predispositions of individuals which can develop over longer periods of time. A. Krapp et al (2015). Interest is often thought of as a process that contributes to learning and achievement. It has been opined that academic interest can help students of English language deal with learning struggles and achieve high performance (M. Jansen (2016). Students’ interest in learning has been observed to correlate significantly and positively to academic achievement; thus, interest in learning significantly predicts their academic achievement Peter James et al (2014). Further study showed that the higher the levels of interest of individual students in English language, the higher the achievement in the subject Kabunga Amir (2020).

The need for development of English langauge in this nation will not be successfully achieved without solving the problem of students’ interest in the subject (Betiku, 2012). According to Onu (2014), the usefulness, power and place of English langauge in the field of human endeavor continue to be recognized. In trying to develop a nation, English langauge is the key. The importance of English langauge is not a doubt, which is why in the first ordinance enacted by Fredrick Lord Luggard (1914), writing and reading were among the three areas in which the pioneers of formal education in Nigeria were trained. The need to identify suitable class size by which students, especially with medium and low ability can be made to receive teachers’ attention, gain large interest and to grasp the content of the subject easily and intelligibly is the focus of this study.

Education (FRN, 2007) recommended an average class size of 30. Anikweze (2014) recommends teachers/pupils ratio to be 1:35 in order to be more effective to, cope with an over-crowded classroom in our schools. The present study considers class size as the total number of students in a class at a given time to a teacher. That is students/teacher ratio of 20 students to a teacher, which constitutes a small class size; 40 students to a teacher as average class and 90 students to a teacher as a large class. These are to be tested in this study to see the effectiveness.  The National Policy on Education (FRN, 2007) recommends an average class size of 40 students to a teacher, but hardly is this attained in Nigerian schools. Duyilemi (2011) observed that in most Nigerian schools what exists in the class ranges from 50 to a large number of 120 students to a teacher in many secondary schools. The major objective of this study is to investigate the impact of class size on student’s interest in English language in secondary schools in awka south LGA of Anambra state. This is with the view to establishing what might be considered appropriate class size that will help improve student’s interest as well as promote teaching and learning of English language in schools.