After 4 weeks, I have gained a more detailed understanding of small class learning (SCL). During the last 4 blogs, I have firstly focused on the benefits and drawbacks of SCL, the ways to implement SCL, teaching strategy in SCL, and eventually both teachers and students views on SCL.
Among the blogs, I can clearly find that SCL exerts a lot of positive effect on students academic learning. In addition, I found that the difference between SCL and traditional teaching. The majority of teachers and students also thought that SCL play an important role in teaching and studying respectively. However, when I was combining the information, I found that there would be two limitations, which were friendship cultivation and teachers teaching quality. Therefore, this blog aims at summarizing the topics of SCL that I have focused on last 4 weeks and lastly discuss the two limitations.
Firstly, from the first blog about SCL, we can concluded that there are several pieces of advantages and disadvantages of SCL. On one hand, students who took part in SCL reported higher grades in academic performance and lower in drop-out rates. Moreover, as the class size is smaller, students would have more chance to learn and the feedback from other students can be easily given. It is also reported that teachers thought that SCL can improve teaching quality. On the other hand, however, it is noted that the number of qualified teachers didn’t fit the demand of SCL. In other words, a lot of not eligible teachers were recruited for teaching in small classes. In addition, it is also reported that although SCL can improve students academic result, it is not long-lasting. Hence, despite SCL exerts positive effects on students, it is still somehow possess drawbacks.
Then, if schools are willing to implement SCL, what kind of things that they should be considered? In blog 2, I have discussed the ways of implement SCL in terms of teachers personality and teaching strategy. In the light of teachers personality, researches pointed out that teachers should be enthusiastic in teaching students. Moreover, sense of humor is also important in SCL. It is noted that teachers should form a good relationship with students parents. In terms of teaching strategies, studies showed that teachers should try to match the teaching program with different students needs. Furthermore, it is vital to modify the teaching time in SCL become more flexible. As working in a small class, it is also important to encourage introverted students to express their own ideas actively. Eventually, teachers should ask students feelings about the class after the lecture in order to improve the teaching quality.
Besides teachers personality, what would be different in SCL by comparing with traditional teaching? In blog 3, I have mentioned that it is important to divide students into groups rather than learning individually. Moreover, teachers are also essential to decide teaching strategies in terms of students, but not just decide themselves. For example, they can praise students when students result in a good performance and this can suppose to stimulate students studying harder. Additionally, teachers should also integrate higher level of thinking skills into learning in order to prevent spoon-fed education, such as target synthesis and evaluation skills. Lastly, it is noted that teachers should spend more time in teaching than managing the classroom.
After knowing the effect and teaching strategies of SCL, how would teachers and students feel about SCL? In blog 4, I have discussed it and found that the majority of teachers and students thought that SCL exert positive effect on both of them. In terms of the views of teachers, one study asked teachers to complete questionnaire to see ow they feel about SCL. As a result, they found SCL did benefit in teaching a lot. For example, they agreed that SCL would enhance students academic performance and teachers can also spend more time on teaching. Moreover, another study also indicated that teachers felt more comfortable, enthusiastic and relaxed in teaching smaller class. They also think that they can pay more attention to different students and cultivate better relationship with them and this could motivate them to study harder. On the other hand, the majority of students also prefer learning in smaller size classroom. One study showed that when students were assessing teachers performance (i.e. student feedback score), they would take class size matter into account. Moreover, this study also showed that students would rate teachers with a higher marks when they were learning in a smaller class. Eventually, I also found a website in which a researcher posted a blog and ask the students to talk about the class size problem and what size of class that they will prefer. Among of the students comments, all most all of them prefer learning in small classes. The rationales for them to chose smaller classes are easier to concentrate and teachers can manage the classes more effectively. Moreover, they also think that the relationship between teachers and students can be improved.
It seems SCL benefit both students and teachers a lot? So is it true to implement SCL in all kind of educational sectors? After doing the topics of SCL, I have found two limitations in SCL that we should be taken into considered. Firstly, it is important to note that smaller class would have fewer students. In other words, students could just make a few friends during learning. This drawback was proposed from the final report of Hong Kong Edication Bureau (2009) that I have discussed in the last blog. In fact, it is true that peers play an important role in learning. As we discussed above, teachers are suggested to divide students in groups rather than individually. Also, students can also give feedback to each other during learning. Therefore, smaller size class would generate a smaller sphere of friend for students may result in decrease in learning achievement. Secondly, although the majority of students prefer smaller class size, there is still someone who opposed it. The last blog I mentioned that a researcher ask students to write their comments about SCL on a website. In fact, most students prefer small class learning. However, one student think that class size matter is not as important as teacher teaching quality. In her comment, she mentioned that “Class size does not matter as much as the quality of the teacher. I have had teachers that have held audiences of 100 captive for three hours at a time, as we productively worked through the curriculum-with a twist, of course. Give me a great, sensitive teacher and I’ll bet you anything that I would learn from them even if I was one of many.”. From her comment, we can clearly see that students academic performance would not affected by class size, but by the teaching quality of teachers. Thus, for this kind of students, it seems that SCL doesn’t benefit them.
What we have know in the previous blogs are the effectiveness, teaching strategies, and comments on SCL. Although most people thought that SCL are beneficial, there are still some drawbacks exist. Therefore, when schools are trying to implement SCL, friendship cultivation and class size should also be taken into account. Because from the above, we can see that not all kind of students are benefited from SCL and hence SCL is not a perfect educational system as well.
Previous 4 blogs