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

In the previous blogs, I have talk about the advantages and disadvantages of small class learning, the ways to implement it, and the teaching strategies of SCL. In order to find out whether it is beneficial to both students and teachers, the blog of this week I am going to discuss the views of both students and teachers on SCL.

In terms of the teacher’s opinion, Leahy, S. (2006) carried out a study to investigate teacher’s views on the reduction of class size. The researcher used survey as a method to obtain the opinion from participants. As a result, the overall rating showed that the majority agreed that SCL would improve student academic performance. There were seven questions in this survey and six of them were strongly agreed by the participants.

Moreover, the final report of Hong Kong Education Bureau (2009) showed the study of SCL in primary schools. The teachers completed the questionnaire in 2005/2006 and 2007/2008 school years. The results showed that there was almost uniform agreement that teachers felt more comfortable, enthusiasticand relaxed when teaching in a small class. Moreover, the survey also reported that teachers recognized that smaller class enable them to pay more attention to the students and thus cultivate a better relationship between both of them. Therefore, students would be more motivated to study harder. Although there would be a scruple that students couldn’t meet a lot of friends in class, most teachers recognized SCL plays an important role in students academic performance.

On the other hand, Willie Tan (no  date) collected the data from National University of Singapore on 1983 to investigate what kind of factors can determine student feedback on assessing teacher. In this paper, it listed a lot of determinants which included class size. According to the information, it showed that students would rate the feedback score higher when the class size is smaller, and vice versa. Thus, we can predicted that students would show more motivated in learning in a smaller class.

Addtionally, Schulten, K. (2011) wrote a blog on a website and ask students who were thirteen or above to leave a comment to express how they feel about class size factors in learning and whether they prefer small or big class. According to the student’s feedback, all most all of them think that class size is a vital factor in learning. The majority prefer smaller class because they recognized that it was easier to concentrate on class and easier for teacher to manage the class. Some of them even noticed that teachers in a larger class didn’t know the name of the quiet and shy students. Thus, they think that smaller class is not only beneficial themselves, but also the teachers can simply get to know the students.

From the above, it is clearly that the feedback of both students and teachers are positive. Unfortunately, there are just few studies that is related to student’s ratings on smaller class size learning. Therefore, I just found one paper and one website for supporting student’s positive comments on SCL. However, although it is just a commentary on the website, it reflected the real-life situation of students in learning. Therefore, it is suggested that both students and teachers benefited from SCL.

Reference

Hong Kong Eduction Bureau (2009). Study on Small Class Teaching in Primary Schools in Hong Kong, Final Report. Retrieved 23 November 2013, from http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr09-10/english/panels/ed/papers/ed0513-rpt0912-e.pdf

Leahy, S. (2006). A Survey of Selected Teachers Opinions to the Effects of Class Size on Student Achievement among Middle School Students. Language Teaching, 13, 14.

Schulten, K. (2011). Does Class Size Matter?. Retrieved 23 November 2013, from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/does-class-size-matter/?_r=0&apage=5#comments

Willie Tan (no  date). Determinants of Student feedback scores. Retrieved 23 November 2013, from

http://www.cdtl.nus.edu.sg/publications/studfeedback/Student_Feedback_Scores.pdf

Teaching strategy in SCL

Last blog I have talked about what kind of factors that should be taken into account when implementing small class learning (SCL). As showed last time, we clearly find that both teacher’s personality and teaching strategy are the vital factors of impementing an effetive SCL. However, as we metioned before, there were still some teachers using the traditional teaching methods in teaching small size class. Thus, we are going to discuss what kind of teaching strategy that teachers should be used in SCL.

Firstly, IUP (no date) mentioned that it is important for teachers to know the teaching strategy of SCL. Otherwise, SCL would not exert any positive effect on students. In this article, it pointed out that it is important to divide students in group rather than individually. Moreover, it displayed a lot of teaching strategy which were considered in terms of students. For example, it is important to praise students in order to stimulate learning in their subjects. Moreover, when carrying out group disussion, it pointed out that teachers can let students to decide the questions. Because students sometimes may even know more about the relevant information about them.

Then, UCF (no date) also emphasized the importance of teaching strategy in SCL. It proposed that before teachers are deciding what kind of activities should be carried out in SCL, teachers should be firstly recognized different learning strategy of different students. As different students possess different learning style, teachers should considered those learning strategy into account. Moreover, instead of spoon-fed education, teachers should integrate higher-level thinking skills into learning, such as target synthesis and evaluation skills. It is also indicated that it is important to let students become active in learning.

Lastly, Zahorik, J. et al.(2000) showed that someteaching behaviors were positively correlated to students academic result. For example, spendinng more time teaching than managing the classroom and spending more time in discussion. Moreover, working as a group is also a behavior which was positively correlated to students academic performance as well. Besides, this study also displayed that some teaching behavior were negatively correlated to students academic result, such as covered more content in depth and oftenly involved students in problem solving, creating, and experimenting.

From the above, we can clearly see that three of the sources share one similarity : working as a group rather than individually. In fact, however, not all students are suitable in a teaching group. Therefore, UCF (no date) pointed out teachers should take different learning strategies into account before implementing SCL. Still, result from Zahorik, J. et al.(2000) showed that working as a group would enhance students academic performance. Thus, this blog suggested that group studying could be one of the teaching strategy can be used in SCL.

 

 

Reference

IUP (no date). Improving Learning in Small Classes. Retrieved 15 November 2013, from http://www.iup.edu/page.aspx?id=68233

UCF (no date). Small/Seminar Classes. Retrievd 15 November 2013, from http://www.fctl.ucf.edu/teachingandlearningresources/learningenvironments/smallclass.php

Zahorik, J., Molnar, A., Ehrle, K., & Halbach, A. (2000). Smaller classes, better teaching? Effective teaching in reduced-size classes. Laine & Ward, eds.

 

If you want to implement SCL, you have to follow this

Last week I have talked about about the advantages and disadvantages of small class learning (SCL). Obviously, SCL has lots of benefits, such as better academic performance, improved learning attitude, and superior teaching quality. Although SCL possess a lot of advantages, drawbacks are still exist. For example, some research shown that current social resources doesn’t fit the requirement of SCL. This week we are going to discuss what kind of factors that should be taken into account when implementing SCL. We will look at the factors in terms of teacher’s personality and teaching strategy.

 

Firstly, the review literature of Wilson, V., Flodenk, R., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001) pointed out the experiment of Pate-Bain et al (1992). In this study, it showed the personal characteristics of teachers in effective teaching condition of  small class learning. This characteristics included enthusiasm towards teaching student, sense of humor in teaching, good communication with student’s parents, and stimulating students through the class activities, etc. Therefore, in this review literature, it is suggested that teachers in small size class should possess those kinds of characteristics. 

 

Then, Wilson, V., Flodenk, R., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001) also suggested that when teachers are trying to implement SCL, they should try to match the lecture program with students’ needs. Moreover, time management in lectures and remain flexible timetable are also the important factors. EnglishClub (no date) also indicated different kind of teaching strategy in SCL. For instance, it mentioned that SCL is a good opportunity for encouraging shy student to express their perspective. Besides, it also emphasized that teachers should take feedback from students in order to know how they feel within the class.

 

From the above, we can clearly see that the teacher’s personality and teaching strategy applied in SCL. In fact, it is obviously that the teaching strategy in SCL is different from tradition classroom. However, Wilson, V., Flodenk, R., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001) indicated that there were still some teachers in SCL didn’t modify their teaching method. Thus, it is necessary to switch the teaching strategy if SCL is implemented. 

 

 

 

 

 

reference list

 

EnglishClub (no date). Teaching Small Classes. Retrieved 2 November 2013, from http://www.englishclub.com/teaching-tips/teaching-small-classes.htm

 

PATE-BAIN, H., ACHILLES, C.M., BOYD-ZAHARIAS, J. & MCKENNA, B. (1992). Class size does make a difference. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 3, 253-256 cited in Wilson, V., Flodenk, R., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Does small really make a difference. A review of the literature on the effects of class size on teaching practice and pupils’ behaviour and attainment.

 

 

 

Does small size class work?

Implementation of small size class is prevalent nowadays. On one hand, students divided into small groups can stimulate them take part in the lecture more interactively (Kenndy, R. , no date). However, on the other hand, someone believed that small size class would increase student anxiety as some students would be shy or inactive when participating in a mini-group (Schreiner, E. , no date). Thus, we are going to explore the advantages and disadvantages of small size class in this passage.

 

Firstly, according to the organization of class size matters (no date), it pointed out that students who had been taught in a small size class would have a higher grades and lower drop-out rates. Also, it also mentioned the result from national survey which carried out in 2008. In this study, it showed that about 76% of the teachers in first year of university recognized reduction of class size would be an effective way to improve the teaching quality of teachers. Jedeikin (2013) also recognized that smaller class can increase the class attendance as it is easier to notice there is someone missing in a smaller class. Moreover, students would have more chance to learn and be given feedback from peers.

 

Nevertheless, there are still some drawbacks of small size class. Chen (no date) indicated that as classes were divided into smaller groups. Thus, there would be an increasing demand of teachers. In  fact, there is a problem that the number of teachers can’t fit the demand of small size classes.

A website also indicated that some schools began to employ the teachers where were not qualified (GreatSchools, no date). Moreover, Chen also pointed out that some studies showed that even students can get better grades in small classes, this improvement is not long-lasting.

 

From the above, we can clearly see that reduction of class size can improve students’ grade. In addition, teachers’ teaching quality can be improved as well. However, resources for implementing small size classes may not enough, such as limitation of qualified teachers.

 

 

Reference

 

Chen, G. (no date). Smaller Class Sizes: Pros and Cons. Retrieved 26 October 2013, from http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/18

 

 

Class size matters (no date). The Benefits of Smaller Classes. Retrieved 26 October 2013, from http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/benefits-of-CSR-6-10.pdf

 

GreatSchools (no date). How important is class size?. Retrieved 26 October 2013, from http://www.greatschools.org/find-a-school/defining-your-ideal/174-class-size.gs?page=all

 

 

Jedeikin. J. (2013). 5 benefits of a small class size. Retrieved 26 October 2013, from http://www.phoenix.edu/forward/perspectives/2013/01/5-benefits-of-a-small-class-size.html

 

 

Kenndy, R. (no date). Why Small Class Sizes Work. Retrieved 26 October 2013, from http://www.boardingschoolreview.com/articles/73

 

Schreiner, E. (no date). Disadvantages of Teaching a Small Class. Retrieved 26 October 2013, from http://www.ehow.com/list_7324788_disadvantages-teaching-small-class.html

Learning outside the classroom

In this week, I am going to talk about outdoor education. Outdoor education can be referred to experiential learning in the external environment (Cameron, D. , no date). According to Institute of outdoor learning (What are the benefits of outdoor learning, no date), outdoor education would improve personal and communication skills. Moreover, it also increases physical and mental health. On the other hand, however, Jacobsen, K. (2012) showed that outdoor education might not suitable for all students. It depends on students’ temperament. In this passage, we are going to discuss the advantages and drawbacks of outdoor education.

 

Firstly, there are lots of pieces of evidence that supported outdoor education exerts benefits to students’ learning. Research showed that external environments have a potential to improve learning education, personal and social development (Mirrahmi et al., 2011). In addition, outdoor learning cultivates students’ passionate in learning, fosters critical thinking, enhances leadership qualities and makes students become real-world problem solvers ( National Environmental Education Foundation, no date). Besides, a case study also showed that the participant had greatly increased his score on different subject and class participation after changed to outdoor learning (Oliver, A. , no date). 

 

Then, despite outdoor learning plays an important role in education, it also exists limitation. Jacobsen, K. (2012) displayed that individuals’ temperament would also affect the efficiency of outdoor learning on students. On one hand,students with an easy or a withdrawal temperament are suitable in both indoor and outdoor learning environment. On the other hand, outdoor education would be more suitable for students with a difficult or a mixed temperament.

 

From the above, we can clearly see that outdoor learning benefits students in learning. By learning in external environment, students can increase their learning enthusiasm and their academic result. Still, outdoor education has its disadvantage. This is to say, it is not suitable for all students. Therefore, if educational sectors want to implement outdoor learning, they have to firstly examine student own temperament.

 

Personally, I agree that outdoor education is a more interactive way in learning. Nevertheless, it is obviously not suitable for all students. It is important for teachers to examine students in terms of their behavior and attitude before implement outdoor learning.

 

Reference list

 

Cameron, D. (no date). What is outdoor education. Retrieved 18 October 2013, from http://www.ardroy-oec.co.uk/schools-outdooreducation.asp

 

Institute of outdoor learning (no date). What are the benefits of outdoor learning. Retrieved 18 October 2013, from http://www.outdoor-learning.org/Default.aspx?tabid=213

 

Jacobsen, K. (2012). Individual Differences and Possible Effects from Outdoor Education

Long Time and Short Time Benefits. World Journal of Education, 2(4): 20-33

 

Mirrahmi, S. Z., Tawil, N. M., Abdullah, N. A. G., Surat, M., & Usman, I. M. S. (2011). Developing Conducive Sustainable Outdoor Learning: The Impact of Natural Environment on Learning, Social and Emotional Intelligence. Procedia Engineering, 20, 389-396.

 

National Environmental Education Foundation ( no date). Benefits of environmental education. Retrieved 18 October 2013, from http://www.eeweek.org/pdf/EE_Benefits.pdf

 

Oliver, A. (no date). The Benefits of Outdoor Education and

its Effects on Reluctant Learners. University project. Retrieved 18 October 2013, from http://www.smcm.edu/educationstudies/pdf/rising-tide/volume-2/VOL2-article3.pdf

Study in group? or individually

The topic that I am going to talk about is the efficiency of group studying in learning. In fact, group studying is a prevalent phenomenon in education. In other word, some students prefer it rather than individual studying. According to Fleming (Would Group Study Improve Your Grades? College Professors Think So!, no date), students who took part in cooperative learning would be more likely to follow the studying schedule, write organized notes, and participate actively in learning. However, unable to acquire knowledge in a large portion and affected by irresponsible group mates would be the disadvantages of group studying (Clumeck Muchnick, no date). In this passage, we are primarily going to discuss the comparison between group studying and individual studying , and lastly discuss the limitation and suggestion of group studying.

 

Firstly, we are going to discuss the advantages of group studying. According to the study from Gökçe (2011), students thought group studying would make them involved in learning more actively, found studying more interesting, cultivated friendship, and developed responsible attitude in cooperation. Besides, the perspectives of teachers also exhibited that group learning enabled students to develop solidarity, cultivate communication skills, and acquire knowledge in a more enjoyable way. Moreover, one website (Is group study more efficient than independent study?, no date) also showed that group studying enables students would be more motivated to absorb knowledge, less stressed in studying, and more interacted with others.

 

Then, although there are lots of advantages of group studying, there are still some shortages of it. Based on the study of  Gökçe (2011), despite it showed that students showed more active in learning, group studying existed some limitations. In terms of the opinion of students, they argued that task responsibility were not evenly allocated. Besides, they also thought that group discussion produced a lot of noise which made them can’t be concentrated. On the other hand, teachers recognized that every students didn’t take the task responsibility in an equally level. Also, it takes time from group forming until task completed.

 

Lastly, it should be noted that there is limitation in Gökçes’ study. As the participants were all from primary school, this study can’t provide a convincing result. Therefore, further study of group studying in learning should be expanded into different educational sector, such as secondary school. In fact, although group studying has lots of benefits, it still contains some drawbacks. Therefore, it is suggested that teachers should be involved in group studying. For example, they should check the schedule of students’ work regularly in order to prevent procrastination. In addition, teachers should assign task to students according to their individual ability and thus to increase efficiency.

 

Reference list

 

Clumeck Muchnick, C. ( no date). Working with Study Partners or Study Groups. Retrieved 12 October 2013, http://www.netplaces.com/study-skills/tests-and-exam-preparation-tips/working-with-study-partners-or-study-groups.htm

 

Fleming, G. ( no date). Would Group Study Improve Your Grades? College Professors Think So!. Retrieved 12 October 2013, http://homeworktips.about.com/od/homeworkhelp/a/study.htm.

 

Gökçe, E. (2011). The influence of group studies techniques upon teaching & learning

process in elementary education.Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15 (2011) 3947–3956.

Is group study more efficient than independent study? ( no date). Retrieved 12 October 2013, http://www.wisegeek.com/contest/is-group-study-more-efficient-than-independent-study.htm

Chunking – An effective strategy exert postive effect on learning

A chunk is a meaning unit of information, such as a group of character or number (Gerrig and Zimbardo, 2010, p. 202). Thus, the process of creating a chunk on the basis of similarity (SpringReference, 2013). Acorrding to George A. Miller (Malamed, no date), he stated that working memory is limited in gaining new knowledge. Morever, cognitive researchers showed that the effectiveness of woking memory is based on the types of information which required to process and the person’s ability of creating chunk (Malamed, no date). Therefore, once the space of working memory was exhausted, incapbility of obtain new items would be occured. In this writings, we will use two pieces of evidenece to support chunking is an operative method on learning.

 

Firstly, according to Nagel ( How ‘Chunking’ speeds up your language learning, no date), chunking was useful when people were acquiring new language. Furthermore,  he explained this method by using of learning Arabic language. For example, “mish ma3aya filus kifaya” means “I don’t have enough money”. In fact, we don’t know the meaning of this sentence. However, we can refer those words in terms of chunk and after a several times of repetition over times, we will get use to this sentence and retrieve it out efficiently when faced with certain kind of situation. Therefore, chunking can deal with the difficulties of learning new language.

 

Then, Steven (1981) showed that transformed verbal into meaningful units improved students’ reading ability in high school student. He provided students with two form of reading test, one was presented with the original form and the other one was chunked by drawing slash line between units. The students were required to answer the questions from these two articles. Consequently, students showed a greater marks on answering the “chunked” article rather than the original passage.

 

Although the above evidences showed the efficiency of chunking, there are still some limitations exist. Firstly, the subjects in Stevens’ study just focused on high school student. In other words, it can not provided a convincing result due to narrow size of participants. Moreover, the participants in Stevens’ study were males. Thus, it didn’t provide any consideration of females’ students. Lastly, learning is a wide field which is not just focus on the part of language acquisition. Therefore, chunking might not suitable in other kinds of learning, such as mathematics.

 

Reference list

Gerrig, R.J. and Zimbardo, P.G. (2010). Psychology and Life (19th ed.). United States of America: Pearson Education

Malamed, C. (no date). Chunking Information for Instructional Design. Retrieved 5 October 2013, from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/

Nagel, D. (no date). How ‘Chunking’ speeds up your language learning. Retrieved 5 October 2013, http://www.mezzoguild.com/2011/09/13/chunking-and-language-learning/

SpringReference (2013). Chunking Mechanisms and Learning. Retrieved 5 October 2013, from http://www.springerreference.com/docs/html/chapterdbid/320485.html

Steven, K.C. (1981). Chunking material as an aid to reading comphrension. Journal of Reading, 25(2): 126-129.