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EFFECT OF CLASS SIZE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING OF MATHEMATICS

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Adesina (2000) defined mathematics as the science that draws necessary conclusions and also the manipulation of the meaningless symbols of a first order language according to explicit, syntactical rules. Advanced mathematics is widely used, but often in an unseen and unadvertised way.

Husen (2000) state that education is widely regarded as a basic human right, a key to enlightenment, and a great tool for human and society development. Education is the key factor to industrial and technological development of any country in the world. Knowledge holds key to the attainment of the millennium development goals, which include, food security, eradication of child mortality, and reduction of the spread of HIV and AIDS among others. For any Nation to achieve her aims and objectives in education there must be good, dedicated and committed teachers. The teachers must possess characteristics that will enhance effective teaching and learning.

Therefore, teachers play a major role in the educational sector and their role is a major determinant of educational attainment of any students. However, for anyone to qualify to be a teacher he or she must obtain degree or National Certificate in Education, during the course of study the pre –service teacher will be exposed to both pedagogy and content knowledge in his or her field of study; psychology and philosophy courses that will prepare him or her for the teaching assignment.

As school population increases, class sizes also increase, the performances of students become an issue. According to Dror (2010), class size has become a phenomenon often mentioned in the educational literature as an influence on pupil’s feelings and achievement, on administration, quality and school budgets. In his words he noted that class size is almost an administrative decision over which teachers have little or no control. Most researchers start from the assumption that size of the class would prove a significant determinant of the degree of success of students. In fact, with the exception of a few, many studies have reported that under ideal situation, class size in itself appears to be an important factor. Class size refers to an educational tool that can be used to describe the average number of students per class in a school (Adeyemi, 2008).

Okoro (2009) reported that the class-size in secondary schools ranges between 35/40 students. He argued that few pupils per class are uneconomical, as they do not make full use of space, teachers and teaching materials. Adeyemi (2008) reported that average class-size influences the cost of education while capital cost could be reduced by increasing the average class-size in schools while Nwadiani (2016) argued that the higher the class-size, the lower the cost of education. He contended however, that most classrooms are over-crowded spreading resources thinly and thereby affecting the quality of education.

Ajayi (2010) supported the viewpoints and argued that in order to control rising capital cost of education, the average class-size could be increased. These points were also supported by Toth and Montagna (2009) who reported that the increase in enrollment in many institutions which has become major concerns of students could definitely lead to an increase in class size. Commeyras (2010) however, disagreed with these arguments and reported that effective teaching seems impracticable for teacher educators having large class sizes of 50, 75, 100 or more. In terms of outcomes, Schultz (2010) classified the outcomes of education into two categories from the economic point of view. These are consumption and investment.

Cohn (2011) referred to the consumption aspect as that related to benefits derived by students. He regarded the investment component as including a variety of outputs related to the enhancement of an individual’s or society’s productive skills. Thus, Blaug (2011) argued that the extension of education tends to raise the earnings of those who benefited from it. In this regard, Simkins (2011) reported that output “represents the immediate results of the system’s activities.” According to him, “the main outputs in education are expressed in terms of learning, that is, changes in the knowledge, skills and attitudes of individuals as a result of their experiences within the educational system.” He argued that the educational system is a productive system in the very sense that it produces outputs especially various forms of learning. He expressed that the components of the system could be represented in a model viz: Input Process Output.

Explaining the model, he alleged that the various inputs are processed in the production of outputs. Examinations in Nigerian schools dated back to the advent of formal education. Since then examinations have occupied a central place in the Nigerian educational system .According to him, examination has been “the sole criterion of quality” in Nigeria and “once a higher percentage of the pupils pass their external examinations, the school is considered to be of a high quality.” The importance of examinations in Nigeria even extended beyond this point. This importance as entrenched in the Federal Government of Nigeria National Policy of Education was in the fact that all secondary schools should gear their programmes to meet the requirements of model, he alleged that the various inputs are processed examinations being conducted for the School Certificate.

Fafunwa (2001) argued that “it is an educational truism that examinations control the curriculum and whoever controls a country’s examination system controls its education.” The WAEC Ordinance emphasized the importance of standards in its examinations. According to the Ordinance, standards must be such that the certificates awarded on the basis of performance in the examinations shall not represent a lower standard of attainment when compared with equivalent certificates of other examining authorities. These examining authorities were the Cambridge and London Universities Examinations Boards for the WASC and GCE examinations respectively. Although the SSC examination has replaced the WASC and GCE examinations in Nigeria it still uses the GCE ‘O’ & ‘A’ level standards as its norms since it was pitched between the ‘O’ & ‘A’ level standards. The pattern of grading candidates’ score in the examinations was such that the distinctions grade was represented by A1 to B3. The credit grade was represented by C4 to C6. The ordinary pass grade was represented by D7 and E8 while the failure grade was represented by F9. It needs to be mentioned however, that the distinction and credit grades are the only requisite qualifications for admissions into universities in Nigeria and candidates must have at least five credits in five subjects including English Language in order to qualify for admission .The foregoing review has shown that class-size is a controversial educational tool that has varied from one country to another.

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Updated: 20th June 2017 — 10:55 am

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