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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Effect of class size on student achievement in attaining two objectives of learning Carruthers, John Frank

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of class size on student achievement in attaining two of the objectives of learning, namely, remembering and understanding, as these objectives are associated with the subject matter presented. To permit a statistical analysis of the data collected, the following hypotheses were proposed: 1. Class size will not be a significant factor in student achievement in remembering, by recognition or recall, discrete items of information. 2. Class size will not be a significant factor in student achievement in understanding the concepts and generalizations presented. Student achievement for each objective was defined as the difference between the scores obtained on alternate forms of the measuring instrument administered before and after the experimental period. The objectives of learning for this study, namely remembering and understanding, were limited to the equipping of each student with: 1. a specific body of information (Remembering), 2. the understandings necessary to make full use of the information learned (Understanding). The investigation was undertaken by teaching a chemistry unit to three matched classes of grade ten Science 20 students. The classes of fourteen, twenty-eight and fifty-six students respectively were matched for means and standard deviations on the basis, of the student's Otis I.Q. scores, previous science performance scores and chronological age and sex. The learning material taught during the investigation was based upon the topics covered by the Anderson Chemistry Test. Each of the classes was taught by the investigator, using the lecture-question-discussion method. Student achievement on the Anderson Test was measured by applying the "t" ratio test to the difference between the means of the classes, for each objective of learning. The difference between means was deemed significant if "t" reached the 0.01 level of confidence. Since "t" did not approach this level for any of the objectives tested it was concluded that, within the conditions imposed by this study, class size might possibly be as large as fifty-six without significantly changing student achievement. This conclusion is valid only within the limitations of this study, namely; 1. The population available. 2. The method of assigning students to classes. 3. The objectives of learning selected. 4. The way in which the objectives were defined. 5. The teaching method. 6. The number of teachers and classes involved. This study does not conclude that class size, alone, is an insignificant factor in student achievement. Rather, that class, size might be an insignificant factor for some objectives of learning when the traditional method of teaching is used. The scope of the investigation makes any definite conclusion questionable.

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