Less is More
Have you ever found yourself sitting in a class room with sixty other students, listening to a lecture from a professor whom you’ve never even spoken to? If so, how much did you actually take in from that course? Did you walk away from the course feeling enlightened and more knowledgeable? Or, did you feel like you were just another number and glad the class was over? From my own experience, I can say the larger the class I have been enrolled in, the more I dreaded going to that particular class, the harder it was to capture and keep my attention, and the very one’s I wanted to end quickly. I rarely talked to the professor, and I didn’t even participate in class by asking or answering questions, simply due to the large number of people in the class. Therefore, I believe that the size of a class really does play a role in the quality of education students receive.
According to More than a Number: Why Class Size Matters, smaller classes offer numerous benefits to students. In smaller classes, students become more involved in the class and pay more attention to lectures. Also, not only do smaller classes effect students, they can effect a teacher’s instruction as well. So, what do we mean when we say “students become more involved”? Being involved in a class does not mean just attending the class and being on the roster; it means you ask questions, answer questions, share your opinions in class, and engage in open discussions during class. Smaller classes encourage students to be actively involved in courses. By being actively involved in class, students develop relationships with other students and the professor. Developing relationships with other students is important, because you relate to them and you can share opinions and you gain a “study buddy”; someone that you can study with, who motivates you, and helps you understand certain material. Teacher-student relationships are extremely important because students will become more comfortable around their professor. Therefore, students will be less reluctant to ask questions, they will be more comfortable to talk to the teacher if they’re having trouble with certain material, and they will have a person to go to for help with future classes. Do you see these benefits in having larger classrooms? It is very rare (if ever) to attend a class with thirty or more students and engage in open discussion. Therefore, having a smaller class size has benefits larger classes do not.
Students pay more attention in smaller classes. It is easier to doze off in a class with thirty or more people because you are not engaging in any one-on-one time with the professor, and you are less likely to be noticed. In smaller classes, students pay more attention because they ask questions, are involved in open discussions, and are more encouraged to do well; this is because they don’t feel as if they’re just another number. When students pay more attention they are more likely to retain information and material.
As for smaller classes effecting a teacher’s instruction, this is a huge benefit. Teachers gain more one-on-one time with students and are able to conform their teaching methods to each student. Also, they will have less student work to review, therefore, they will be able to spend more time responding to each student’s work. According to Benefits of Class Size Reduction, in California, school suspensions have dropped to 19 percent since the Sacramento school districts have reduced class sizes in grades k-3. This suggests, that by having smaller classes, students are less likely to act out. Therefore, teachers will be less focused on discipline in the classroom and will be more focused on classroom instruction.
Key lessons: Class Size and Student Achievement states that “…reduced class sizes (15 to 18 students) are associated with increased student achievement in specific situations, particularly when small classes are implemented in the primary grades and students participate in small classes for more than one year.” This suggests that it is important to transition into smaller classrooms early in one’s education. By doing so, it was found that students that participated in smaller classrooms had higher achievement scores (particularly in reading and math) than the students that participated in larger classrooms. It is clear that the achievement and success of students are a causation of switching to smaller classrooms, and it is important to continue to incorporate smaller classrooms in schools and universities.
In conclusion, incorporating smaller classrooms into our schools clearly offer benefits that larger classrooms do not. It is important that we do all we can to help future generations get the most out of their education; one way to do that is to implement more smaller classroom environments. Speaking from experience, the smaller classes I have been enrolled in were the classes I enjoyed most, worked harder in, and succeeded in. Therefore, I truly believe that if we transition into smaller classes we will see drastic improvements in the quality of education for future generations.