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Large Lecture Class Policy

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Many policymakers nowadays are confused on what must be done in order to have quality education in a wise way. We all know that the most intriguing and most controversial issue is when we talk about the right usage of the country’s budget. This is not only happening in our country but almost all over the world. Wrong usage of funds may lead to budget cuts in the different departments of the government and one of the affected is education. Due to budget cut, heads of some state universities implemented large class policy. They say that it is the best way to give education for everyone. But, it only became a burden for students and teachers of state universities, sacrificing the student’s academic achievement and knowledge and making it hard for the teachers to provide quality education in a large number of students for just a short period of time. One of the state universities that use the large class policy is the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Moreover, UPLB Ex-chancellor Luis Rey Velasco proposed to increase the size of foundational and general classes from 25-40 students into 120-175 students. Many students and teachers were opposed to this idea.

Showing their protest, around 1000 teachers and students walked out of their morning classes. But of course, the administration has many justifiable reasons to pursue the conduction of large class scheme. So, the policy was implemented, starting on the first semester of school year 2007-2008. The implementation of large class scheme is not the ideal solution. Many researches oppose this set-up because of its negative effects. One evidence opposes large class policy is the work of Joe Cuseo. According to “The Empirical Case Against Large Class Size: Adverse Effects on the Teaching, Learning, and Retention of First Year Students” of Joe Cuseo , there are eight findings opposing to the large-sized class: “(1) increased faculty reliance on the lecture method of instruction, (2) less active student involvement in the learning process, (3) reduced frequency of instructor interaction with and feedback to students, (4) reduced depth of student thinking inside the classroom, (5) reduced breadth and depth of course objectives, course assignments, and course-related learning strategies used by students outside the classroom, (6) lower levels of academic achievement (learning) and academic performance (grades), (7) reduced overall course satisfaction with the learning experience, and (8) lower student ratings (evaluations) of course instruction.”

The first finding was faculty reliance on the lecture method of instruction is increased by enlarging the class size. McKeachie (1986) notes that, “Class size and method are almost inextricably intertwined. Thus, the research on class size and that on lecture vs. discussion overlap. Large classes are most likely to use lecture methods and less likely to use discussion than small classes”. Research says that the attention and concentration of students tend to be distracted after 10-20 minutes of continuous lecture. The second finding was students’ class participation is an important tool of learning. However, large class size leads to less active student involvement in the learning process. This will result to decrease in knowledge absorption due to lack of clarifications. The third finding says that the large class system reduce the interaction between the instructor and students. The absence of interaction between them may lead to misunderstanding which can head to acquisition of incorrect information. Carbone and Greenberg (1998) found out that students say that the interaction in large class has the least satisfaction.

The fourth finding says that large-sized class lowers the level of thinking of students. According to the study of Fischer and Grant, class size affects the mental skills of the students. In small-sized class (15 or fewer students), when students answer questions from the instructor, they displayed average thinking while in large-sized class they displayed below average thinking. The fifth finding was large class size restricts the scope of course objectives, course assignments and course-related learning outside the class room. Because of the reliance in lecture method, the course objectives were only limited to knowledge acquisition. The chance to explore the other sides of the course will be neglected. Students’ class participation is an important tool of learning. However, large class size leads to less active student involvement in the learning process. This will result to lack of student-teacher interaction and opportunities to ask and entertain questions. Another finding was students’ academic achievement which is learning, and their academic performances are lowered in courses with large size class. A study conducted in United Kingdom presented evidences on the undesirable effect of class size on students’ academic learning and performance. In this study, it was discovered that the percentage of A and B+ grades was decreased as the module enrollments increased. With this, we can conclude the inverse relationship between class size and course grades.

The next finding was students report less course satisfaction in a large-sized class. A survey discovered that students in large introductory class reported higher level of dissatisfaction than they did in smaller-sized class. This also contributes to lower rates of class attendance. As Cooper and Robinson report, “We often hear that large-lecture attendance dwindles throughout the term and is often down to 30 to 40 percent by the end. And in many larger classes, note-taking services have sprung up as lively businesses through which students buy lecture notes in lieu of attending class. Clearly, students across the nation are sending us signals concerning their disaffection with large classes”. Higher levels of student dissatisfaction in large classes might also include higher incidence of classroom incivility—such as talking in class, and more frequent violations of academic integrity—such as cheating on exams. Lastly, the eight finding was students give lower overall ratings or evaluations for course instruction delivered in large classes.

Research on student ratings of courses and course instructors suggests that students’ overall evaluations of teaching effectiveness decrease with increasing class size. It was revealed that course ratings decline systematically with class size in the following manner: seminars receive higher average ratings than small lecture classes, which in turn are rated higher than large lecture classes. Student evaluations are significantly higher in course sections with class sizes of 15 or fewer students. A study also revealed that students who perceived their overall course instruction to be high in teacher organization and preparation tended to demonstrate significantly larger net gains in standardized measures of learning and cognitive development than did students who judged their course instruction as being less well-organized and prepared. The author concludes that these results suggest that a “positive link between student perceptions of teacher organization and preparation and course level achievement might extend to more broad-based, general cognitive proficiencies”. Supporting on how large lecture class affects all of the people involved especially students and teachers, there is a study conducted by Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) which says that in a regular class with an average of 15 students compare to a larger class, the regular class was found to have an increase of students achievement equal to about 3 additional months of schooling for years.

Studies also in Texas and Israel have found the same worth about having a small class, although their research is quite smaller than those from Tennessee (STAR). Also, in the article entitled UPLB Teachers’ Stand on the Large Class Policy, there is a research that was conducted by Adonis Elumbre for the foundation of STAT1 course, where it says that a large class with a magnitude of 120 class student compared to a larger class consisting of 160 students showed that even if they get what they have paid for, they still lose the academic student-teacher relationships and in-depth discussions. Their study also shows that aside of having a savings of over $12 billion per year salary due to the decrease of teaching workforce by about 7 percent, there are no positive effects of having a large class scheme.

Due to the different scale and variations on the variables that are used such as the grading system and intellectual quotient of students, the generalizations have to be tentative. But still, there are commonalities that exist and that same evaluation is having a significant long-term effect on the achievement of the students for having a large-sized class. The tradeoff between the size of the class and the salaries of the teacher must be thought about cautiously and just like what the article entitled “Class Size: What Research says and What it Means for State Policy” ”The effects on student achievement related to differences in teacher quality are very large”. In which is likely parallel from the findings of STAR which shows estimates of much larger effects for variation in teacher quality within schools was produced by the long term effects for class size reduction.

This indicates that large class size is a relative variable that has generally adverse effects on student learning, mediated primarily by lowering students’ level of engagement and active involvement with the course instructor, classmates, and the subject matter. Thus, large-sized class has undesirable consequences to most persons assuming the gain of knowledge will be deflated having nuisance in understanding what they should learn. Malvataan, Sarah Yvonne P.


Cuseo, J. The empirical case against large class size: adverse effects on the teaching, learning, and retention of first year students, Marymount College. http://www.nordis.net/?p=6127
www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2011/05/11-class-size-whitehurst-chin http://www.uplu.com

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