This study examines the impacts of class size on the learning achievement of English as a second language, using Ikenne local government, Ogun State.
The study used descriptive survey method. The instrument used in the study is questionnaire.
The study revealed that; class size has a positive impact on student learning achievement in English language; reducing the number of students in English language class is positively correlated to higher learning achievement; class size has a positive impact in enhancing the learning achievement of students in English language; and lastly, other factors such as learning environment, instructional material, teachers’ method of teaching and peer group do motivates students learning achievement in English language than class size.
The study concluded that class size had a significant impact on student learning achievement, and as such, it is important that relevant stakeholders, government agencies, corporate organizations, and school authorities should ensure that adequate learning environment and facilities are provided in order to aid effective teaching of students in schools.
The study further recommended that; the educational policy makers should formulate policies that will ensure that the number of students in a class should not exceed 40 students; the federal government, state government, Parent Teacher Association (PTA), philanthropist, corporate bodies and religious organizations should contribute respectively to renovate dilapidated classrooms, build more classrooms; teachers should employ the use of teaching method in classroom in order to carry along the students in teaching on the subject matter; the use of instructional materials such as digital technology in teaching should be provided especially in large classes; stakeholders should endeavour to provide required facilities and instructional materials for the effective teaching and learning in schools; teachers and management of the school should employ rotational students’ group formation and study.
1.1. Background to the Study
In Nigeria Educational System, English language has turned out to be significantly valued and bejeweled among practitioners. According to Bamgbose, Banjo, and Thomas (2015), the dominance of English language in both formal and informal transactional communication is inalienable. In view of the multilingual nature of Nigeria, with over 400 indigenous languages, English is perceived to be the only feasible and realistic choice for the nation at the moment and in the future to come, (Ufomata, 2010). In Nigeria, English language is seen as the official language among the populace, and isn’t generally spoken in the remote communities which consist of three quarters of the country’s population, (Bamgbose, 2014). According to Ajayi, et al., (2017), class size is defined as the number of students per teacher in a given class or the population of a class. Mokobia and Okoye (2011) explained that, educators universally have identified class size as important and desirable feature of effective educational system
Generally, the learners of English language as a second language are usually faced with the issue of proficiency in terms of using the appropriate pronunciation of English sounds either by virtue of being a new language or mother tongue or first language interference, (Bamgbose, 2014). However, there has been emphasis on the quest for Standard English, hence; an English language Instructor as well as learner must aim at proficiency to a degree of the standard form. This will enable the teacher and the learner (student) to acquire adequate competence for practical purpose of teaching and daily communication, (Unoh, 2015).
In Nigeria however, the issue of class size is turning out to be more increasingly uncontrollable, placing teachers in an impractical position of giving individual student the attention required, (Owoeye, & Yara, 2011). In Nigeria government schools, the teachers' eye contact with the students in class has reduced drastically to the point that some of the poorly motivated students can form several committees at the back of the class while teaching is going on to engage in non-school discussion, (Imoke, 2012). Regular class assignments and home works are dread by teachers bearing in mind the staggering number of books they will mark and record. In a study examined by Bosworth (2014) showed that, the correlation between class size and student achievement is complex with a lot of disagreeing results. The study concluded that, class size has little impact on student learning achievement. On the contrary, the findings were not in agreement with the findings of Rubin (2012) in that the findings showed that, as the class size increases, student learning achievement drops.
Corroborating to the above studies, findings from the study of Allen et al. (2013) concluded that, 62 students per teacher was a threshold number and once class size goes above 62, learning effectively stopped. Hence, as the number of students in a class increase more than 62, teachers will find it hard to teach effectively and efficiently leading to students not being able to also learn effectively since low participation of class activities were possible. Despite this finding, Allen et al. (2013) showed that, large class sizes do have moderate unpleasant effect on teaching and learning achievement of students. The finding however contradicts the earlier studies and conclusions by Bosworth (2014).
As the population of school students increases class sizes as well increase, the learning achievements of students turn out to be an issue. According to Dror (2015), class size has turned out to be a phenomenon often cited in the educational literature as an influence on pupil’s feelings and achievement, on administration, quality and school budgets. Dror (2015) further stated that, class size is almost an administrative decision over which teachers have little or no control. A good number of scholars start from the assumption that the size of class would prove a significant determinant of the degree of success of students’ learning achievement. Infact, with the exception of a few, a lot of studies have reported that under ideal circumstances, class size in itself appears to be a crucial factor, (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 2017). Ajayi and Ogunyemi (2010) in their study of the relationship between instructional resources and student’s academic performances in Ogun State, found no significant relationship between class size and students’ academic performance.
Study on class size shows that, students in smaller classes may be more willing to partake in classes by asking questions and engaging with the teacher. Such engagement may include students asking their teachers for assistance and clarification during lessons, either orally or by non-orally manners, like lifting up their hands or signaling for attention, (Adebayo, 2014). Students in small classes may as well sense a lighter learning atmosphere simply because of a stronger sense of unity and cohesion among classmates, (Wang & Finn, 2015). According to Blatchford, Moriarty, Edmonds, and Martin (2014), class size is a very important and significant factor that impacts teachers and pupils in a number of ways, however, the other contextual factors should not be disregarded.
Therefore, it is based on the above that, a lot of emphasis and efforts be placed on the learning achievement of English language as it will assist the students to develop their pronunciation skills sufficiently in order to aid effective communication with both native speakers and non-native users, (Fakeye & Ogunsiji, 2014). Similarly, it is apparent that, the general mistakes seen among the teachers and learners of English as a second language today are; wrong pronunciation, mispronunciation, wrong intonation, as well as misrepresentation of phonetic sounds. For example, a lot of students misplace the qualities and length of vowels. It is in view of these problems that recent development in language teaching and learning has made the teaching and learning of English not only a necessity but as well a pre-requisite for assessing the learner’s competence and achievement in language use and acquisition, (Idris, 2015).
Learning achievement is the level to which a student has achieved their short or long-term educational goals, (Bossaert, Doumen, Buyseand, & Verschueren, 2011). In majority of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the cumulative GPA is used to ascertain the academic performance of a student, (Fam & Yacob, 2016). For students to have a CGPA score they have to go through exams or continuous assessments periodically, (Magnuson, 2007). A lot of educational scholars have attempted to explain the motives behind low academic performance in tertiary institutions. Motives such as poor educational facilities, students’ distraction on campus, the use of social media and the Internet and a lack of motivation, (Heckman, Stixrudand Urzua, 2006; Tomporowski, Davis, Miller & Naglieri, 2008; Friedman & Mandel, 2011). However a major factor being overlooked is how class size affects the learning achievement of students in English Language.
Therefore, based on the above background, this study will seek to examine the impacts of class size on the learning achievement of English Language as a second language in Ikenne local government area, Ogun State.
1.2. Statement of the Problems
Class size is a universal issue that cut across a lot of countries; yet, in spite of the vital role that class size play on the learning outcome of students’, there is no clear consensus in the research whether increasing average class size will have an effect on student learning achievement. Though, it has been suggested by a number of authors that changing class size would have a significant impact on student learning outcome, (Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope, 2017; Edmondson and Mulder, 2014).
Teachers have claimed that large class sizes are the reason for a lot of the problems they face while teaching such as lack of adequate instructional facilities, poor teaching methods, poor learning environment, inability to control the class and carry the students along, etc., To a large extent, according to Duppenthaler (2013) large class sizes may contribute to teachers’ workload, though, there is little evidence from English language teaching contexts that large class sizes adversely affect learning achievement,.
LoCastro (2011) have affirmed that, large classes would lead to less effective learning, the lack of explicitly stated links between class size and effectiveness of learning is surprising. In addition, the lack of relationships between class size and learning is that, the issues established by teachers in surveys may reflect teachers’ points of view more than what happen in actual sense. Even though there are fewer studies that investigate what actually happens in large language classes, those that do exist show that the problems linked with large classes may be fewer and less serious than the surveys of teachers’ beliefs suggest.
Allwright (2011) claimed that, lack of study evidence showed that large class sizes are unfavorable to students’ learning outcome, and practically nothing has changed ever since. Contrary to mainstream education where extensive research have been investigated on the effects of class size on learning (e.g. Finn & Achilles, 2015), but in English language teaching there is practically nothing, and the very few study investigated showed that the effects on learning of other factors such as teacher quality or classroom activities greatly outweigh the effects of class size, (Kumar, 2012). In spite of everything, if other factors have greater impacts on learning outcome of students than class size, class size may still influence students’ learning achievement, because it is a factor which is easy to control. As a result, it is essential to know if and to what degree does class size influence students’ learning performance.
Therefore, based on the above, this study will fill the gap by examining how class size influence the learning achievement of English as a second language, using Ikenne local government area of Ogun State as the study case.
1.3. Research Objectives
The main objective of this study is to examine the impact of class size on the learning achievement of English as a second language in Ikenne local government area of Ogun State. However, the specific objectives will be to;
- determine the extent to which class size have an effect on student learning achievement in English language.
- find out whether reducing the number of students in English Language class would result in higher learning achievement of students
- examine if class size affect the effectiveness of students learning achievement in English Language
- find out what other factors motivate students’ learning of English Language other than class size.
1.4. Research Questions
Based on the objectives above, the following research questions were poised for the study.
- Does class size have an effect on student learning achievement in English language?
- Does reducing the number of students in English Language class result in higher learning achievement?
- To what extent is the effectiveness of class size in enhancing the learning achievement of students?
- What other factors motivates students’ learning achievement in English Language other than class size?
1.5. Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will be formulated in their null form, which are;
- Class size does not significant have an effect in the learning achievement of students’ in English language.
- Reducing the number of students in English Language class does not result in higher learning achievement
- Class size does not enhance the learning achievement of students in English language.
1.6. Scope of the Study
The scope of this study was limited to few selected secondary schools in Ikenne Local Government area of Ogun State. The study will be confined to English Language as a second and official language in Nigeria. A total of 5 secondary schools in Ikenne Local Government Area will be examined for the study which are; Mayflower, Ikenne Community High School, Illisan High School, Peekan International School, and Remo Methodist High School. The study will be limited to the use of questionnaire as a primary source of data to gather the opinion of the respondents.
1.7. Significance of the Study
The findings from this study will help to highlight those areas where there are issues in class size and the learning achievement in English Language as a second language, and thus will be of great benefit to teachers, school administrators, students, parents, parents and government, and society at large.
The results of this study would hopefully be significant in the sense that it would enable teachers and school administrators to put in place necessary measures that will help reduce large classes in order to enhance effective teaching and learning outcome of English Language.
Finally, this study will be a supplement to the extant literature in the field and an additional scholarly work on class size and learning outcome in English language as second language.
1.8. Operational Definition of Terms
English language learner (ELL): is a student whose native language is something other than English and/or someone who is either learning English or is not entirely “proficient” in the English language
Class-size: refers to the number of students in a given course or classroom.
Learning Achievement: is the level of student success in learning the subject matter in schools that are expressed in the form of scores obtained.
Teacher: is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.
1.9. Organization of Chapters
This study is organized into five main chapters. Chapter two consists of the literature review that reveals the findings and research that already exists on the topic. Chapter three summarizes the scope and methodology used to organize and carry out this study. The discussion of the results after analysis of the findings and comparison to the information revealed within the literature review is conducted within Chapter four. Chapter five provides a summary of the study, its limitations and further recommendations.