Size does make a difference!
We are living in such a wonderful time when we can draw parallels almost between any spheres of our lives. When many concepts are interconnected, it is easy to find some similarities in different fields and try to fix them. In fact, within the game of football, no one cares about why do matches are played 11 versus 11 because it looks so natural and balanced like there is no other way to play the game. But have you ever thought about the size of the class? What is the ideal number of students to have in class?
The youth is our future, and every child deserves comfortable educational settings to be able to develop, get involved in the process of learning and become educated. There are endless debates across the different stakeholders about the perfect size of the class. On the one hand, some would say that this issue faces budget constraints, some would complain about the lack of teaching staff. On the other hand, this issue deserves attention here and now. There is no need to explain how the reduction of class size can impact not only on educational but on social aspects too. In general, it is believed that class size reduction enhances positive performance and there is so much research done on this issue, and later I’d love to share with you some links for your further reading if you become interested. But today I’d rather like to share my views based on my personal experience of being a student at the school, enrolling as an undergraduate at University, teaching language for classes of different sizes and becoming a graduate student at Nazarbayev University.
When I was at school, there were some cases when I was really happy even being not ready for that day’s lesson because I knew that I wouldn’t be asked. 30+ students at class and only 45 minutes given for the lesson and there is only one teacher, it’s almost impossible to involve all the students and control their full contribution either for class activities or homework checking. In many cases, a teacher gives a list of names who will be asked for the next lesson. And the only thing you need is to be ready when your turn comes. So much information is lost, so many students are ignored. And there is nothing to do as the time is limited but the number of students is not.
The second matter is worth to mention that there should be the difference between the size of class for humanitarian subjects and science subjects. Because it is much easier to give a task to a group of 30 students and to wait for them to solve it. However, it is much harder to give a chance to speak for every child whereas speaking abilities of students are required to be developed. To be honest, while my teaching experience I faced the rule (or even law) that if the number of students is over 24, the class must be divided into 2 groups. But this is the case only for language classes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t practice this rule due to the lack of another teacher. In addition, there was no available, convenient and prepared for language teaching room (according to the administration of school). As if the place where we studied was convenient for language teaching, but this is another question.
Another point is higher education, where students are believed to be mature enough and self-contained. When students take the responsibility and try to grow and develop academically with the help of professors, the obstacle of limitations again arises. It is obvious that they cannot manage the class of 30-40 students and pay enough attention to everyone. I believe that this is the case not only for “ordinary” universities of our country but for the Nazarbayev University (which is thought to be “flagship” university) as well.
What size of the class would you consider ideal?
What are your perceptions regarding the number of students in class here at NUGSE?
Promised links which could be interesting to read: