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Does SCL is the best learning system???

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. 

 

Reference

Previous 4 blogs

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5 responses to “Does SCL is the best learning system???

  1. psue34

    Your blog has given a great synthesis into the current standing on small class sizes. I feel the reasoning for such a strong emphasis on smaller class sizes is largely because of the socio-economic benefits. If one considers the impacts that having a small class size will have on communities it is easy to see why the topic is so vehemently discussed. Some of these benefits are the increase in funding for teachers, resulting in an increase in employability in the community; parents of pupils feeling an increased level of care for their children; more interaction time for the student with the teacher, and so on. However throughout this module research has identified the value technology has for increasing our zone of proximal development, meaning that the teacher no longer needs to be the encyclopaedia of all knowledge, and that the way in which teachers teach is largely resistant to change, no matter what size the classroom is. These reasons here support the example that you have given in your post, that what is important is the ability the teacher has to teach, and not the size of the classroom.

  2. YE HE ⋅

    I was following your 2 previous topic posts, and I found this is a very interesting topic to discuss. From what I know, only few peers in our module mentioned this area of issue in education, your topic is really attractive because it is different from the others. I like your idea that SCL definitely bring many benefits to both students and teachers. Being a student, I personally prefer to study in a small class; I would like to hear feedback from teachers and peers in order to improve myself either in academically or personality, but I know it is so hard to achieve if I am learning in a large class, and the teacher have to face hundreds of students, he/she may even does not know who I am. I believe that many teachers also are glad to help each student, but it is really tough for them to do it if the teacher has hundreds of students in class. I was a psychology student in university as an undergraduate student, and there were approximately 200 students in a module, the lecturer was very nice and teaching quality was so high, students love his teaching style; however, there was one problem, because of the big numbers of students in that module, our assignments and exams were graded by 4 tutors; I understand that was overloaded for one professor to grade and mark 200 students’ assignments and exams, but I still think professor’s feedback would be more useful. In addition, I think you had a good try to mention the limitations of SCL in your blog, but I hold a different view from your point that “students could just make a few friends in SCL”. From what i think, students in a large class are more likely to have few close friends because students usually separate into many small groups in large size class; for example, 4 or 5 girls are stick together everyday, and they will not make so many friends outside the small group; however, students in a small size class (approximately 20 people) are more likely to act as one group, they are less likely to separate into many small groups, because the class size is already small. In a small size class, children can know each other more deeply, for example each one’s personality, so their relationship should be more stronger I guess. In here, I think there is a every important limitation of small size class, which has to be mentioned. SCL causes a financially increased in hiring teachers, which definitely is a big amount of money toward schools to spent in hiring more teachers. SCL is more hard to achieve in countries that have large numbers of population, such as China; the student population in China is large, so schools are less likely to hire so many teachers just to implement small size class learning.

  3. It was interesting to read your blog, as it was a topic that was not covered by other. I like that you have covered not only the positive aspects of small class learning but also the negatives. It would appear that there are many positive outcomes of small class learning, such as an increase in learning and performance and a decrease in dropout rates. It is easier to give immediate feedback, which has been found to be a valuable aspect when encouraging learning success, as well as student’s attitudes towards learning. You have done well to highlight the important implications that should be considered when introducing small class learning, especially when it comes to the teachers. I believe that the qualities needed in teachers for small class learning can also be beneficial to large class learning, when small class learning is not an option; characteristics such as humour, enthusiasm and flexibility.
    I guess one way of dealing with the friendship issue would to have both small and large class learning. For example P.E would involve the whole class but whilst teaching English the class can be split into groups. Also students may have different abilities in different subjects, so using the idea such as set classes based on ability; the chances are that each student will not have the same class mates in each small class. This allows for their individual needs to be met in each subject, whilst still allowing them to interact with a number of different people. Small class learning allows for students with similar learning styles to be grouped together and so the teacher can cater more easily to the group’s needs.

  4. Jessica

    I believe that small class size is extremely beneficial for student learning but there are obvious drawbacks with this being easily done. One interesting factor to consider is whether or not small class learning is beneficial to all ages or not. I’ve noticed you haven’t mentioned any findings in age differences. From reading about this, it has been found that smaller class size can substantially improve academic performance for children in lower years. Later on in education, small class size does not make much difference.
    I think this is something to consider when talking about the effectiveness of class size.

  5. psue68

    Hey there! I have enjoyed your blogs and your synthesis blog presents some interesting propositions of small class learning (SCL), that I never consider friendship acquisition as a limitation of SCL. Since I believe that students can meet new friends through school activities or other learning methods, educators implementing small class learning with individual learning and large class learning could eliminate this concern. Besides, the altered perspective of SCL is that it helps to establish the bounding between peers or students and teachers. In my personal experience, I am more likely to engage in conservation with the white students in POPPS class as there are only 15-20 students, and more eye contacts occur between us.

    As I have commented in your second topic blog, the composition of small group is also very decisive, that gender, group size and ability determining the success of its implementation (Dillenbourg & Schneider, 1995). In addition, I suggested that the appropriate teaching resource or materials matching with the expected teaching outcomes are also influential to an effective teaching strategy apart from the teachers’ characteristics (Davis, 1999).

    Personally I agree with Vera’s comment above that cost is another consideration, which implies that a better resource allocation is needed in the education section (sustainability!). Another coursemate, Hannah, has brought out a good viewpoint on her synthesis blog that “providing individualised feedback may be difficult to achieve due to teachers’ time constraints”. Therefore, small group learning would allow teachers to produce more informative feedbacks for every student in order to improve their ability.

    References
    1. Davis, B. C. (1999). Cooperative Learning: Students Working in Small Groups. Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, 10(2), 1-4. Retrieved from: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/CTL/Newsletter/cooperative.pdf
    2. Dillenbourg, P., & Schneide, D. (1995). Group Composition. In Collaborative Learning and the Internet (Section 3.1). Retrieved from University of Geneva, TECFA Website: http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa/research/CMC/colla/iccai95_15.htm.

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