This project analyzed the effect of class-size on the quality of academic output of integrated science students in junior secondary schools in Ikere local government area of Ekiti State, Nigeria. A sample of five schools was used through stratified random sampling technique. Data were collected through the use of a well-structured questionnaire and were analyzed with the use of frequency tables and percentages. The findings revealed that schools having an average class-size of 35students and below obtained better results in the Junior Secondary Certificate (JSSCE) examinations than schools having more than 35 students per class. The mean scores were higher in schools having an average class-size of 35 and below. It was therefore recommended that Government should provide more classrooms in all secondary schools in the State to cater for small class-sizes.
Background to the Study
As school population increases, class sizes also increase, the performances of students become an issue. According to Dror (2005), 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). This varies from country to country. Kedney (2009) saw it as a tool that can be used to measure the performance of the education system. In relation to size, Stepaniuk (2000) reported that the rational utilization of classroom space depends upon class-size. This in turn would depend upon the area of the classroom. He argued that there are approved norms of class-size, 40 pupils per class for grades 1 to 8 and 35 pupils per class for the senior classes; while the standard allocation of class space per pupil is 1:25 square metres. In this regard, Dean (2004) compared class-size in some countries and found that Turkey, Norway and Netherlands had class-sizes of 20 more; the UK, USA, Japan, Canada and Ireland had class-sizes of between 15 and 20 while France, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg and Belgium had sizes of below 15.
In Nigeria, however, Okoro (2005) reported that the class-size in secondary schools ranges between 35 or40 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) too, 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 (2000) 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 (2000) 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 (2002) 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 (2000) 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 (2003) classified the outcomes of education into two categories from the economic point of view. These are consumption and investment. Cohn (2005) 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 (2003) argued that the extension of education tends to raise the earnings of those who benefited from it. In this regard, Simkins (2001) 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. Toward this end, Fafunwa (2014) 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/JSSCE 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. Thus, this study was embarked upon to determine the effect of class-size on the quality of output of integrated Science students from junior secondary schools in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Nigeria.
Statement of the Problem
It has been observed that junior secondary schools in Ekiti State appear to be densely populated while classrooms seem to be over-congested. It has shown the views of previous researchers on class-size in various countries. In view of the divergent opinions, the problem of this study was to determine what effect class-size had on the teaching and learning of Integrated Science in junior secondary schools in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State. This situation seems to be impairing effective teaching and learning process in the junior secondary schools in the state and hence the reason for embarking on this project.