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Sample Research Proposal on Abstract

 

A class size is a number of students for whom the teacher is primarily responsible during a school year (Lewitt and Baker, 1997).The debate on the effectiveness of small class size has been specifically "long and contentious" (Haenn, 2002). However, proponents of small class size seem to enjoy the spotlight as many research findings compliment and confirm the relationship of class size with student achievement, teaching effectiveness and staff motivation. But despite many positive findings, there are still educators who do not support the implementation of small class size programs or are skeptic about such programs. This shows that teachers and principals' opinions and views play huge roles in the implementation of small class size projects. This descriptive survey study will answer the questions: How do educators, including teachers and principals view small class reduction professionally? How do they view it personally? What are the factors that make them prefer or not prefer small classes? What specific behaviors prevent small class acceptance? Views and opinions of teachers regarding small class is not very much the focus of research as the trend has been relating or linking class size with the effectiveness of teacher's strategies or approach, and student achievement. Issues concerning special students were also considered in determining the class size reduction practices within school organizations.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

Introduction

 

The issue of class size has taken one of the spotlights of debate in education for many years, particularly started in the seventies. The debate on its effect has been specifically "long and contentious" (Haenn, 2002). Many experts and researchers claim that a small class size is more effective for both teachers and students as it provides them the opportunity. Finn (1997) stated that three themes are apparent in class size research in terms of its importance to at-risk students. The themes are: small classes are academically advantageous, specifically for minority students or students living in poverty; small classes promote the development of classroom behaviors that are important to learning and may provide significant long-term benefits; and that the advantages of small classes is best realized when there are no major barriers to implementation. Small class sizes are said to be effective not just to the "at risk", but also to the average student as research endeavors such as Project Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) proven its effectiveness empirically and longitudinally (Illig, 1996). Project STAR was a four-year class size demonstration project in Tennessee that showed small classes with only 15 to 17 students can academically achieve better than average classes with 22 to 25 students (Illig, 1996). With many positive evidences that a small class size is more beneficial for students and teachers, it cannot be undermined that there are educators who still prefer the traditional class size of teaching and are still not ready to embrace the "STAR suggestion" (Achilles, 1998). Educators basically stand as one of the great barriers for small class implementation, as many are still afraid of change (Achilles, 1998).

            With this regard, this paper will investigate the impact of small class size to students or even to students with special needs.

 

Background

            Class size is defined as a number of students for whom the teacher is primarily responsible during a school year (Lewitt and Baker, 1997). Furthermore, a class size is an organization for instruction important to teachers, parents and students (Achilles, 2003). A class size is different from Pupil-Teacher Ratio. A PTR is a number of students in a school or district compared to the number of teaching professionals (Achilles, 2003). It is long claimed that the smaller the class size, the better students can excel academically. Furthermore, teachers can also perform their roles better than in teaching a class with an average or large size. Different studies e.g. the Tennessee STAR and Indiana's Primetime already provided empirical longitudinal evidences for those claims.  Advantages of a smaller class size often favors teachers, but this means that better performance of teachers result in better achievement of students. Teacher's roles are highly intertwined with the roles that students' perform. Falls Jr. (1999) explained that the three important generalist roles of a teacher were identified to be teacher, leader, and counselor. In other terms, a teacher should be able to communicate their practice to others in order to have a greater control of their practice (Falls Jr., 1999). On the other hand, Gordon (2002) stated that good teachers use a variety of methods all the time. Gordon (2002) stressed several questions that would lead to the recruitment of an effective teacher, which are: Can teachers set high and appropriate learning goals for students? Can they develop assignments and instructions that will help their students achieve those learning goals? Can they develop effective assessment methodologies for determining whether their curriculum has met those goals? Finally, do they have the capacity to turn the data from those assessments into information that informs their future instructions? Those questions stress the importance of teachers' skills and knowledge in raising student performances. Skills and knowledge determine standards and high standards lead to a more effective learning environment. Based on many studies, those roles and responsibilities can be better performed by teachers' if they are teaching a small class size. Swan et al (1985) categorized the advantages of a smaller class for teachers:

Ø      It will promote more energy and interest for the teachers to give concern to every child in the small class;

Ø      Teacher will have the opportunity to spend more time with students particularly to 'special' students and track their individual progress -  a certain thing important in classroom management;

Ø      A chance to employ a huge variety of strategies, methods and learning activities, which can all be more effective in a smaller class;

Ø      It promotes more positive morale and attitude for teachers;

Ø      Good use of added time and space;

Ø      More time to plan, diverse and individualize teaching; and

Ø      The environment will be more conductive of learning (Swan et al, 1985).

On the other hand, it is ironic that teachers, no matter how obvious the benefits they can get, are still on the list of barriers of why small class size policy is not yet prevalent. Achilles (1998) stated that educators remain barriers due to the following reasons:

Ø      Some educators do not believe the results of previous studies;

Ø      Choosing not to believe because of fear of change;

Ø      Some just prefer to "follow the flock" or join the majority;

Ø      Others believe that other strategies can be better but does not give the effort to support their views with research;

Ø      And many other reasons.

From this particular argument in schools, class-size reduction can actually affect the learning-teaching process. This paper also considers not only the regular students, but also the students with special needs. Way back in history, people with specific learning disabilities have been segregated from mainstream school practices as well as economic and social activities (Atkinson et al. 1997). Similarly, several people with sensory impairments as well as physical disabilities have been excluded from the society (Humphries and Gordon, 1992). At times, the segregation of the disabled had led to severe social practices like sterilization and incarceration. Such practices had been observed due to misconceptions on physical and intellectual characteristics (Oliver and Barnes, 1998). The practice of separating the disabled from the rest had originated from the mistaken notion that human bodies must conform to a certain standard or norm. Foucault had discussed this erroneous belief extensively (Rabinow, 1984).

 

Statement of the Problem

            The views of teachers regarding the implementation of small class size need to be determined. Many studies just focused on relating or linking class size with the effectiveness of teacher's strategies or approach, and student achievement, but failed to collect the general views or true "feelings" of the teachers regarding small class size or class size reduction. In addition, this research will describe the perception of educators pertaining to small class size of regular students and students with special needs.

 

Purpose

            The purpose of this survey study is to discover the different perceptions, views, professional and personal feelings of teachers regarding reduction of class size or teaching a small class size of special and regular students.

 

Significance of the Problem

            Investigating teachers' professional and personal perception and behavior towards teaching a smaller class size may be essential in planning strategies to implement the small class policy. Furthermore, such study will be helpful in discovering ways to break through the barriers of implementing small class policy in education.  A simple look on the views of teachers will create the idea on how teachers' professionally and personally respond to innovative reforms and policies that have empirical supports. This research can help educators reflect within themselves and establish a solid view toward small class implementation.

 

Research Questions

 

            The following research questions will be explored in the study:

 

1.         How do educators, including teachers and principals view small class reduction professionally?

2.         How do they view it personally?

3.         What are the factors that make them prefer or not prefer small classes?

4.         What specific behaviors prevent small class acceptance?

 

Assumptions

            The assumption of the study is that educators are torn between their professional and personal view toward small class reduction. For instance, while there are advantages that small size reduction can give such as those categorized by Swan et al (1985), teachers also view that the issue is too much for them or could affect their status quo as mentioned by Achilles (1998).

 

Limitation

            The main limitation of the current study is that there is only little previous research that specifically focused on educators' views or opinions toward small class implementation. Most studies focused on its relationship with student achievement and strategies of teachers without regarding the personal and professional opinions of the educators themselves – on why it should be or should not be implemented.

 

Delimitation

            The research will only concentrate on the views of educators regarding small class size. However, in-depth background and information regarding small class size will be provided in the literature review to guide the researcher in concluding the data. Only the survey approach will be used and will be analyzed through mean and percentage analysis. Respondents will be educators – teachers or principals – only in the elementary level and high school with consideration to students with special needs. This is because most studies linking small class with student achievement and teaching improvement have focused on those two academic levels.

 

Definitions

Performance of efficiency: refers to the ability of teachers to attain his or her instructional objectives as well as to deliver his or her instructional content through the use of teaching procedures, medium of instruction, instructional tools and classroom management approaches thereby fostering student learning (Lewitt and Baker, 1997).

 

Achievement: refers to the feeling that one has been successful in the past and will probably be in the future (Lewitt and Baker, 1997).

 

Advancement: refers to the opportunities that a job affords a person for growth in a career ladder (Achilles, 2003).

 

Classroom Management: refers to the extent to which the following criteria are achieved: orderliness and cleanliness, aesthetic appearance, freedom from disturbance, presence of human atmosphere that is congenial and conducive to learning (Achilles, 2003).

 

Class size: a number of students for whom the teacher is primarily responsible during a school year (Lewitt and Baker, 1997).

Class size reduction (CSR): include processes involved in achieving class sizes smaller than the ones presently placed (Achilles, 2003).

 

Responsibility: refers to the degree of participation that an individual is given the chance to make towards the attainment of a larger goal, often accompanied by expectations of accountability (Achilles, 2003).

 

Teaching Efficiency or Performance: refers to one's competence in teaching as measured by the teaching efficiency or performance rating criteria.  It includes the following: (1) teacher's attitude; (2) attainment of instructional objectives; (3) delivery of instructional content which includes (3.1) teaching procedures; (3.2) medium of instruction; (3.3) use of instructional tools; and (3.4) classroom management and (4) student learning (Achilles, 2003).

 

Teacher's Attitude: refers to the disposition of the teacher with respect to the performance of his duties and responsibilities as a teacher manifested through punctuality, enthusiasm and vitality, sense of humor and demeanor towards students (Achilles, 2003).

 

Teaching Procedures: refers to the methods and techniques applied in teaching which should reflect the teacher's mastery of the subject matter, evidence of careful planning, organization of the lesson, correlation of subject matter to its broader aspect and provisions of individual differences.

 

Summary

            The issue on the relationship of small class size with student achievement and performance of teachers' dates back first in the seventies and then further pushed by projects such as the Project STAR of Tennessee and Philadelphia's Primetime. Advantages of small class implementations favor teachers first as it gives them more focus and concentration in their teaching strategies and approaches. However, despite evidences of effectiveness, there are still educators who are wary of accepting or believing in the efficacy of small classes. Nonetheless, research results of previous studies are still favors the small class size. This study will investigate the views of the teachers – personally and professionally – on small classes and determine the barriers that affect the implementation of small class reduction or perhaps the factors that would push CSR forward.

            In line with this, class-size reduction (CSR) plan should not only consider regular student but also students with special needs. Issues in inclusion and CSR must be viewed effectively by educators to maintain effective education.  Other than the development of students and teachers capabilities, the involvement of equality is probably the most significant aspect of the CSR. Out of this correlation, CSR has given rise to key principles on equality and special children. These principles state that students with special educational needs should not be treated differently from other pupils (this principle is particularly true as many children with SEN encounter difficulties during their education); the purpose and goals of education should be common for all students; if it is possible, students with special educational needs should these needs provided through mainstream schools; in order to obtain these educational needs, mainstream teachers should take charge; in terms of decision-making regarding placement and school provision, students with special educational needs, together with their parents, should be involved; and that students with special educational needs should be evaluated accordingly.

             

 

 

CHAPTER 2

Review of Literatures

Overview

            Education is one of the necessities and the rights of each individual in the world. Parents or guardians have the responsibility of providing education to their children, as this serves as the foundation of learning and knowledge. This is why at an early age, children are sent to school to start and establish a good way of looking at things and gathering knowledge. Through knowledge and education, children can become involved to different activities, which do not only develop their mental abilities, but their personalities as well. Education plays significant effect to the learning capabilities of an individual.  Schools create way and strategies to attain success in teaching-learning process. According to Khan (2006), methods in teaching, capabilities of the learner and the learning environment should be considered in order to attain success.

             Khan (2006) reports that education is the knowledge of putting a person's potential to maximum use, and is important for training the human mind, which makes man a right thinker and it tells one to think and make decisions. Without education, man is as though a closed room, but through education, he finds himself in a room with all its windows open towards outside world (Khan 2006).

            With this importance, it is always better to provide some changes and improvement to the system of education. School improvement programs must be planned effectively and implemented efficiently to help the development of the curriculum, for the enhancement of the learning process of each student. Moreover, school change or improvement programs will also help the teachers improve on their understanding on their subject matter, and thus, enhance their teaching skills. The consideration of class-size reduction policy in schools is an important factor for the speedy reception and understanding of many teachers and students. However this attempt creates debate in terms of its effectiveness.

Information on class size, accordingly, should be foundational knowledge for educators, as the class unit is the basic unit of organization for instruction. (Achilles, 2003) Ehrenberg et al (2001) said the number of students in a class has the potential to affect how much is learned in a number of different ways, e.g., it could affect how students interact with each other-the level of social engagement, which may result in more or less noise and disruptive behavior and in turn affect the kinds of activities the teacher is able to promote and could affect, as well, how much time the teacher is able to focus on individual students and their specific needs rather than on the group as a whole. Theoretically, it is thought that since it is easier to focus on one individual in a smaller group, the smaller the class size, the more likely the individual attention can be given; therefore, the class size could also affect the teacher's allocation of time and hence, effectiveness, in other ways, too—for example, how much material can be covered. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001) Also, teachers may choose different methods of teaching and assessment when they have smaller classes, e.g., they may assign more writing, or provide more feedback on students' written work, or use open-ended assessments, or encourage more discussions, all activities that may be more feasible with a smaller number of students, therefore, exposure to a particular learning environment may affect learning over the time period of exposure, or it may have longer term or delayed effects, e.g., by increasing self-esteem or cognitive developments that have lasting effects. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001)

For these reasons, changes to the class size are considered a potential means of changing how much students learn, as well as one of the simplest variables for policymakers to manipulate. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001)  Nevertheless, the amount of student learning is dependent on many different factors, some related to the classroom and school environment in which the class takes place, others related to the student's own background and motivation and broader community influences. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001)

 Ehrenberg et al (2001) further said that in asking whether class size matters for achievement, another question arises, that is, how class size matters. Accordingly, there are three reasons why the question is important: first, by observing achievement differences and the mechanisms through which these differences are produced, since this will the feeling of confidence that the differences are real and not an artefact of some unmeasured or inadequately controlled condition; second, the effects of class size may vary in different circumstances, and identifying how a class size affects achievement will help in the comprehension of the reasons why the class-size effects are diverse; and third, the potential benefits of class-size reduction may be greater than what has observed already (e.g., suppose class-size reduction does aid achievement, but only when teachers modify instructional practices to take advantage of the smaller classes; if a few teachers make such modifications, but most do not, then understanding how class-size affects achievement in some cases will help reveal its potential effects, even if the potential is generally unrealized (Ehrenberg et al, 2001). In line with the development of class-size reduction policy, different issues emerge such as its impact to the learning environment, its effect to "special" and regular students, impact to teachers and its effectiveness in accordance to teachers and students performance. 

 

Historical Overview

            As mentioned, the issue of class size started in the modern world as early as early seventies. From then on, many investigation about small class size emerged. However, three studies stood out from the rest because of their reputation as the creators of the current state of knowledge (Finn, 1997). They are: Glass and Smith's (1978) meta-analysis that concluded small class size, particularly below 20 pupils, is effective in boosting student achievement; the Educational Research Service study (Robinson, 1990; Finn, 1997) which found that small classes are probably beneficial in reading and mathematics in early primary grades, and that disadvantaged students in terms of economy or being a minority perform better academically in smaller classes; and the Project STAR which was discussed earlier and will be discussed further later on (Finn, 1997).

Class size is not the same thing as the pupil/teacher ratio, as the calculation of a pupil-teacher ratio typically includes teachers who spend all or part of their day as administrators, librarians, special education support staff, itinerant teachers or other roles outside the classroom, therefore, pupil/teacher ratio is a global measure of the human resources brought to bear, directly and indirectly, on children's learning; on the other hand, class size refers to the actual number of pupils taught by a teacher at a particular time. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001) One of the varying characteristics of class-size and pupil/teacher ratio is that from an administrative or economic perspective, pupil/teacher ratio is very important, because it is closely related to the amount of money spent per child, while from a psychological point of viewpoint-in terms of how students learn-what matters is the number of students who are physically present interacting among themselves and with the teacher. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001)

Moreover, the measurement of a class size is not as straightforward as it might seem. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001) It can vary considerably for a single child at different times during a school day and school year, because of student mobility, student absences, truancy, or the presence of pull-out special education classes, thus, a class with twenty registered pupils will vary in its class-size from day to day, and may have far fewer than twenty pupils at particular times. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001) In the middle and secondary school grades, class size tends to vary by subject area, and therefore can vary for each pupil during a school day. Ideally, one would like to have a measure of the actual class size experienced by every pupil during every school day, over the school year. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001)

            In addition, although class-size data may be available to researchers who intensively study a small number of classrooms, in practice, data on pupil/teacher ratios are more readily available to most researchers than detailed data on class sizes. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001) Pupil/teacher ratio data can be used to examine the relationship between schooling outcomes and pupil/teacher ratios, but this relationship is likely to be weaker than the relationship between schooling outcomes and class size, as class size is more closely linked with learning. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001) Class-size data that include a temporal dimension are seldom available; in most cases, researchers use data pertaining to the number of pupils enrolled in a class, thus, "class-size" measures typically contain considerable measurement error; now, if this measurement error is random, the relationships that are estimated will, on average, be smaller in absolute value than the true relationships between class-size and school outcomes. (Ehrenberg et al, 2001)

Consequently, many class-size studies collectively told educators much about schooling and identified that there were right ways to use small classes, where some interesting results yielded include: that small classes are more preventive than remedial, as they help teach young students what is expected in schooling; that the longer a student has small classes the better the outcomes, not just while in small classes, but through high school and beyond; and also, that small-class students had significantly higher graduation rates, lower retention in grade, and higher percentage of honors diplomas. (Achilles, 2003b)

Of course, results favoring small classes have not been spared from the criticisms and comments of other class size researchers. Accordingly, small-class critics typically build on the comments of Eric Hanushek, whose works Achilles (2003b) had described as typical of production function studies that use large, nonspecific databases not established for or from class-size research, as well as the one who pointed out that pupil/teacher ratio are not the same as class size, and, that the only data available over long periods refer to teacher-pupil ratios, only rely on pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) estimates and not on class-size work. In addition, Achilles (2003b) said Hanushek's comments that small classes do not yield better student outcomes simply ignore class-size research findings such as early intervention, intensity, and duration, and that Hanushek, accordingly, excluded Project STAR's results, therefore garnering criticisms from scholars, such as Rob Greenwald, Richard Lane, and Larry Hedges (1996) and Alan Krueger (2000), all commenting that Hanushek's data actually showed that small classes were associated with increased student outcomes, contrary to his claims that small classes are associated with student achievement.

Investigations of small class size can be categorized into four: student achievement; smaller classes, pull-out programs and homogenous groups; classroom and teaching characteristics (i.e. instructions, individualization, student engagement, understanding the causal mechanism); and staff development (Scudder, 2001).

 

Theoretical Literature Review

            Swan et al's (1985) statements regarding the benefits of small classes can be considered theoretical as the paper did not provide samples and empirical evidences. Once more, Swan et al (1985) stated that the benefits of a small class are: promotion of more energy and interest for the teachers to give concern to every child in the small class; the teacher will have the opportunity to spend more time with students and track their individual progress; chance to employ a huge variety of strategies, methods and learning activities, which can all be more effective in a smaller class; promotion of more positive morale and attitude for teachers; good use of added time and space; more time to plan, diverse and individualize teaching; and more conductive environment of learning.

            On the other hand, when it comes to why some teachers do not believe in small size effectiveness, Achilles (2003) theorized that: some educators do not believe the results of previous studies; choosing not to believe because of fear of change; some just prefer to "follow the flock" or join the majority; and others believe that other strategies can be better but does not give the effort to support their views with research.

            The theory of reasoned action fits well with the main concern of this research – which is the personal and professional views of educators toward small class size. The Theory of Reasoned Action (TORA) maintains that a person's decision to engage in purposeful activity is a function of several factors, some of which are highly situationally bound and all of which may be mediated by personal dispositions or traits (Stewart and Roach, 1998). TORA implies that a person's attitude toward a behavior consists of a belief that that particular behavior leads to a certain outcome and an evaluation of the outcome of that behavior (Ajsen and Fishbein, 1980).  If the outcome seems beneficial to the individual, he or she may then intend to or actually participate in a particular behavior (Ajsen and Fishbein, 1980). This theory is applicable to the current study because small class reduction is a matter of engaging into changes as Achilles (2003) implied. Thus, teachers may have different views and opinions toward class size reduction as they reflect the changes it implies with their personal and professional situations.

 

Relevant Research

            In hope to find the link between class size and student achievements, many States such as Tennessee, North Carolina and Indiana have conducted investigations. The Project STAR from Tennessee is considered as one of the most comprehensive small class reduction study (Scudder, 2001). Folger and Breda (1989), citing from the Project STAR, said that students in small classes perform better, as in the four years of Project STAR experiment, small class students scored significantly higher than students in regular classes in reading and math as well as in other subtests of the Stanford Achievement Test. Accordingly, there is a significant positive small class effect for both reading and math at the end of kindergarten, the effect increases at Grade 1, then declines in Grades 2 and 3 (Folger & Breda, 1989). It was also found that small classes help low socioeconomic students' achievement, but they help high SES students' achievement about as much (Folger & Breda, 1989).  The STAR basically confirms the study of Glass and Smith (1978).

            Munoz (2001) evaluated the CSR program in 34 elementary schools in Kentucky's Jefferson Country Public School and found that teachers and principals are very enthusiastic in reducing classes from 24 to 18. They also felt the importance of the CSR to student learning and achievement. According to the study, teachers experienced increase in levels of attendance, less disciplinary problems, and less time spent on classroom management activities. Teachers and principals also benefited from the program. Principals stated that it promotes higher level of personnel morale. Furthermore, the teachers experienced the following: higher level of satisfaction and morale; lower level of stress; increased enjoyment; improved accountability; and becoming more responsible (Munoz, 2001). However, there were also other teachers who are skeptic with the idea and still continue to practice and favor traditional teaching (Munoz, 2001).

            In another study, Munoz and Portes (2002) investigated the perception of teachers and principals on CSR programs. Here, data was collected through qualitative unstructured interviews and triangulated observations and data analysis. Similarly, their study found that job satisfaction and morale of teachers are at higher level in a small class size. However, principals experience problems such as the number of students enrolled and space limitation. Furthermore, CSR is expensive and still requires further research.

 

CSR Effect: Problems in Managing Change

            It has been reported that managing school change and improvement is one of the most complex tasks of school leadership ('Critical Issue: Leading and Managing Change and Improvement' 1995). Moreover, it has been pointed out that school leaders need to understand the change process in order to lead and manage change and improvement efforts effectively, and must learn to overcome barriers and cope with the chaos that naturally exists during the complex process of change ('Critical Issue: Leading and Managing Change and Improvement' 1995). Problems still arise despite the intentions of improving a school's curriculum and improve its educational system. With the implementation of the class-size reduction (CSR) policy, several problems can also be encountered, in relation to the teachers, students and the institution itself.

            One of the problems that could be encountered is the financial issues. Actually, CSR is effective if the budget in education is enough. The number teachers and education facilities need consideration in order to have successful implementation of CSR. Teaching instructions for "special" students should be also considered since their learning depends on their learning environment ('Critical Issue: Leading and Managing Change and Improvement' 1995).

            There are also some debates concerning effectiveness of CSR policy. Achilles (2003), believes that CSR might help the learning process in school but the effiveness depends on the capabilities of both learner and teacher to help each other.  Teacher should undertstand and effectively performs in educating the students.  Students should cooperate to attain learning on their part. From the previous discussion, class size reduction needs to be part of an overall strategy for improving student achievement. Just reducing class size without attention to the other important influences on student achievement is likely to produce only modest increases in achievement at very high costs. In a period of great concern about improving student achievement while controlling cost increases, class size reduction will need to be targeted to specific outcomes, and connected with an overall strategy for change. Unless that can be done, the high cost of across-the-board class size reduction will be prohibitive.

Apparently, the saying "change is inevitable" seems to be a good application to this study, as being proved by the different changes in implementations in several academic institutions. The introduction and implementation of the CSR to different schools is one change process that can present a myriad of positive results. The use of the CSR policy would largely improve the learning processes of the many students, especially during primary school years, where visual stimulation is the most effective strategy for easy learning. The introduction of this practice would also improve the teaching skills of many teachers, as they would be able to concentrate to the topic with minimal effort for the benefit of better education since the class-size was reduced. Although a handful of problems and issues can be encountered in the implementation of the CSR, several tips in managing change can still be followed, to prevent the adverse effects brought about the these changes. Moreover, changes must not be treated negatively, but perhaps, must be given attention and understanding to maximize its potential and turning it as an advantage.

           

CSR and Inclusion Policies: The Case of Students with Special Needs  

Traditionally, children requiring special educational needs (SEN) are segregated into separate learning environments. While this education practice has been established for years, other educators and analysts have been questioning its efficacy. Most of them suggest that students with SEN should be included into mainstream schools so as to maximize their learning experiences. Several other benefits as well as issues have been raised in relation to this educational issue. In line with learning experiences that the students with SEN needs, issues pertaining to CSR should be evaluated carefully. Actually, CSR for students with SEN have both positive and negative impacts. CSR can actually help the students with CSR because it promotes focus learning.  On the other hand, both CSR and inclusion can also cause a feeling of discrimination and hindered the students to learn more through their peers.

 

Segregation versus Inclusion

The provision of appropriate educational needs for children with special disabilities has long been a common issue in education. Arguments and debates have been raised in line with the right policies on how to educate children with special educational needs (SEN). According to Jenkinson (1997), children with disabilities are traditionally educated in segregated classrooms, specifically designed to cater the students' certain incapacities. Educators find this segregation system beneficial, as they are able to apply curriculum formulated specifically for special children. Likewise, children with disabilities benefit from this system not only because of the appropriate curriculum but the thought of attending classes with classmates of the same disabilities enhance their confidence or self-esteem as well. Furthermore, being segregated assures the security and sufficient support the special children needs. In regards to CSR policy and segregation issues, small number of students can also increases the educational support needed by these students.

            However, CSR and segregation of special children involves many issues of concern, which were generalized into four main points of argument including the students' academic achievement, the detrimental effects of labeling associated with placement outside the mainstream, the racial imbalance in special education, and recent advances in individually paced curricula which would make it possible to accommodate students with disabilities in the regular class. Furthermore, several educators have argued that exposing children into ordinary education settings will be the most effective means of equipping children into better self-supportive adults in the future (Jenkinson, 1997). The students are not the only ones affected by the segregation system. Teachers or educators are also isolated through this kind of setting. Being isolated, their teaching competencies become limited as well. Considering this various significant points, educators have suggested to include special student into normal education set up (Smith, 1998).

            Indeed, the topic regarding the integration of students with special educational needs in ordinary schools has been a common argument. This key educational matter has recently introduced the term inclusion that exemplifies a whole range of ideas about the meaning and purpose of school (Kliewer, 1998).

CSR involves the reorganization of ordinary schools, in such a way that every school is only capable of accommodating limited number of students in classroom; making it limited that each learner belong to a small community. The concentration of CSR is more on the discussion focused on values. Thus, the principle behind CSR is founded on the broad agenda of human rights; clearly emphasizing that small number of students creates limited environment, limited peers, limited ideas from other learners, thus resulting to limited learning experiences.

Actually, CSR problems have also issues similar to inclusion problems. A familiar statement about the basis for inclusion is the Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994). Although it makes an explicit statement concerning the children's rights, it refers to the level of education and learning rather than inclusion. It does not only states a view on the children's right, but it also asserts the children's uniqueness and stressed on considering the wide diversity of these children's characteristics and needs. The Salamanca Statement proponent provides an effective education to the majority of the children improving the efficiency and ultimately the cost-effectiveness of the entire education system (Leyser, Y., Kapperman, G. & Keller, R. 1994). It implies a tension between application of proposed system for all children and a view that it may not be effective for all, implying that inclusion may be a less effective system of education.

This then gives rise to the conflict of implementing an uncertain reform that supports human rights against a politically structured educational system for the special children. Moreover, the inclusion system had been described as follows by Oliver (1996, p. 84): a process rather than a fixed state; problematic; political; requires changes in school ethos; Involves teachers who have acquired commitment; needs changes in the given curriculum; Involves recognition of moral and political rights of pupils to inclusive education; recognition that students with special needs are valued and that their achievements should be celebrated; acknowledgement of the importance of difference rather than sameness or normality; and inclusion needs to be struggled for.

In spite of these apparent conflict and varying views, certain significant factors should be discussed in order to determine whether the CSR should be implemented into present school systems.

 

Children's Development

            Inclusive schools are established primarily for the special children's better learning and development. In inclusive schools, the number of students is limited. In line with the CSR, limited number may cause focus on education but may also hindered the learner to learn from his peers resulting to self-discrimination and unhealthy learning experience. However, inclusion and CSR aims to benefit special children through improvements on their learning outcomes, including their social skills academic achievement and personal development. So as to meet all the learning needs of the children within a community, inclusion promotes the initiation of mainstream school restructuring. According to Ainscow (1991, p.3), inclusion aims to establish more effective schools that recognize students' difficulties in learning; hence, effective schools support the need for appropriate reforms. 

            In general, inclusive schools are characterized by strong emphasis on quality instruction as well as administrative leadership; emphasis on the student's acquisition of basic abilities; high levels of expectations for students as well as confidence on teachers to deal and support the individual needs of their students; obligation to give a balanced and broad coverage of curriculum experiences appropriate for all children; promotion of secured and orderly environment conducive for both teaching and learning; and close evaluation and monitoring processes for each student's learning progress (Ainscow, 1991).

Indeed, inclusion illustrates an almost perfect educational system. However, is there any proof that these aims were successfully attained? Several tests and research have been done to answer this inquiry. A number of studies deal with the inclusion of children with certain disabilities in general education classrooms. A previous study of three preschoolers with profound disabilities (Hanline, 1993) established the social and communication benefits of full inclusion for these children.  The results of this study conflicted with previous studies of preschool children with disabilities who seemed to be socially isolated in general classrooms (Peterson & Haralick, 1977; Peterson, 1982; Faught, Balleweg, Crow, & van den Pol, 1983). A further study (Cole, 1991) examined social integration of children with disabilities in 43 Minnesota classrooms. The 2-year study compared integrated and segregated (special education only) sites and determined that developmental skill progress was similar in both types of schools, but that children in integrated sites progressed in social skill development while the segregated children actually regressed.

While social skill development may vary based from numerous results of previous studies, inclusion is capable of enhancing children's academic achievement through speech and language programs, improved parent–teacher communication, greater use of group work, a student participation in class discussions, and increased community acceptance of people with disabilities (Jenkinson, 1997, p. 155). Students at mainstream schools were more likely to have higher academic achievements than those at special schools, even when developmental level was similar. Against these benefits, inclusion also brought its share of challenges. From the evidence set by Jenkinson, in his survey, he said that some focus group participants felt that students with disabilities are receiving too much attention and concerns with inadequate resource provision for these students meant that students without disabilities were missing out on the attention and encouragement are needed to solve this. Evidence indicates that nearly all children with physical and sensory difficulties, including children with no other impairments should be educated at mainstream school but it is important not to overlook on their emotional and social needs (and in some cases medical or personal need). Success or the ease of inclusion shouldn't be decided on the basis of who makes the least fuss need to monitor emotional and social well being.

In a study done by Khan, MW (2006), the researchers commented on the failure of inclusion in enhancing academic achievement. This study showed that the average BD/ED or LD student in special class placement was better off than 61% of his/her counterparts in a regular class. This study provided evidence that segregation is better than inclusion. However, the results of this study are not applicable to the general context. There is an example on children with learning difficulty in a regular class at U.K. A boy is always at the bottom setting which he can't read, write, and with a very bad behavior. He plays electric for scaring others and considered it as a fun game. For security reasons, he has been sent to a special school. Changing a new environment with more attention, the boy is changed. He is very happy, getting more attention and getting no troubles at all in a special school. This case is evident and shows that integration should be based on individual needs.

            Dyson, A (2001) commented on this aspect of inclusion and noted that the level of inclusion, either locational, social, or functional, should be based on the needs of each child and the exigencies of the situation. Once these factors have been identified and considered, the focus of the educator can now be a combined view of mainstream and individual educational need children with SEN.

            Aside from integrating mainstream and individual need factors of children, inclusion can enhance academic achievement of children through proper learning environment. According to Jenkinson (1997, p. 193), the environment shall be designed to ensure maximum interaction between students with severe disabilities and their chronological age peers, at a level that should also occur in the wider community. This will be the main purpose for integration. For an appropriate school and classroom environment, Sailor (1989) identified six minimal requirements for successful inclusion of students with severe disabilities (Jenkinson, 1997, p. 192).

Classroom and learning environments should be age appropriate; close enough to the students' home in order to minimize excessive time spent on traveling to school; provide program interaction within the school building; procedures shall be implemented to encourage interaction between students with disabilities and non-disabled students; and no more than ten percent of students in any school should have severe disabilities. In considering the proper learning environment, it should not be based on Sailor's view alone, but other needs and support should be considered and provided to them.

Kaufman, Agard and Semmel (1978) identified a number of environmental factors that were related to performance. Take an example on the age appropriate, in larger special schools often possible to have a loose grouping in terms of CA and MA. As Leyser, Y., Kapperman, G. & Keller, R. (1994) need to research on inclusion in relation to different SEN/disabilities and also individual differences within individuals with the same disability, so dilemma often increases with age. 16 years old student is not possible with an MA of 5 years be included full time with a class in inclusion school. Peer shall be as a person of the same age, status or ability. Peers learning together are not only in academic but also in interaction, culture, activities that related to psychology condition. As intellect disability children who are 16 years old but in 5 years old pre-school that may be not suitable to grow up with same mental age children. Physical difference may have a negative impact for children with disability.  In the same age, children with disability will develop to identity with their peers. Also, it make's a more common activity outside of the classroom to increase interaction if they have different age that could have a gap between them. In short, students in mainstream schools were more likely to have higher academic achievements than those in special schools, even when developmental level was similar (Jenkinson, 1997, p. 57).

            Secondly, as a range of individual difference within an environment that may require a large variety of curriculum materials and public equipment to be accessed and suffice children with difficulties. Funding is always a burden for mainstream schools if they only take ten percent of children with disability; it is for minority not for majority. The function of the facilities could be making such a waste. If special school setting could be intensive develop for children with disability need and not wide spread facility but it is benefit for both children with disability and non-disability.  In order to provide a better environment for the quality of participation class activity, relationship interactions with the peers is an option.

 

Synthesis

            The literature reviews showed that there are still mixed perceptions regarding the effectiveness or value of small classrooms. Teachers and principals share different views and perceptions, although most of them stated the advantages of CSR. Through the theory of reasoned action, perception of teachers on the program can be explored deeper and barriers and improvements can be further discovered and suggested.

 

 

Summary

            The small class size issue, which started in the seventies, is backed up by many studies as being effective in student achievement and teaching. Three main studies stood out from the rest as they have created new foundations for the study. They are Glass and Smith's (1978) meta-analysis; the ERS; and the STAR. Investigation on small class size has focused on student achievement; smaller classes, pull-out programs and homogenous groups; classroom and teaching characteristics; and staff development (Scudder, 2001). Most of the benefits of small class size favor teachers, but there are still those who prefer traditional classes. Achilles (2003) mentioned several reasons why this is so. Basically, this can be further investigated with the theory of reasoned action as there are many factors that affect the educators' perceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

Methodology

            The purpose of chapter 3 is to present methods that will answer the questions presented in Chapter 1, specifically: how do educators, including teachers and principals view small class reduction professionally? How do they view it personally? What are the factors that make them prefer or not prefer small classes? What specific behaviors prevent small class acceptance? Literature reviews were conducted using the ERIC database, Questia Online, Library, Google and available books in the library. Descriptors used are: teacher, small class size, large class size, teacher's roles, and student achievements.

 

Research Design

Descriptive research is the research strategy to be used in the paper. A descriptive research intends to present facts concerning the nature and status of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study (Creswell, 1994). It also concerns with relationships and practices that exist, beliefs and processes that are ongoing, effects that are being felt, or trends that are developing. (Best, 1970) In addition, such approach tries to describe present conditions, events or systems based on the impressions or reactions of the respondents of the research (Creswell, 1994).

A descriptive research utilizes observations and surveys. In this study, survey will be utilized. Surveys are the most common form of research method for collection of primary data (Commonwealth of Learning, 2000). One of its purpose is to describe, e.g., to count the frequency of some event or to assess the distribution of some variables such as proportion of the population of different age groups, sex, religion, castes and languages, knowledge, attitude and adoption of practices about particular issues, and other information of similar nature about the population (Commonwealth of Learning, 2000). The independent variable in the study is small class size; while the dependent variable is the perception and opinions of educators (i.e. principals and teachers) toward it.

 

Population

            The population of the research will consist of 70 primary school teachers and 10 primary school principals from 10 primary schools with special and regular students. Convenience sampling will be used in the study to make the research process and data collection flexible.

 

Measurement

The Likert Scale is the measurement tool to be used in the survey. In the Likert technique, the degree of agreement or disagreement) is given a numerical value ranging from one to five, thus a total numerical value can be calculated from all the responses. (Underwood, 2004) The equivalent weights for the answers will be: 4.50 – 5.00 (Strongly Agree); 3.50 – 4.49 (Agree); 2.50 – 3.49 (Uncertain); 1.50 – 2.49 (Disagree); 0.00 – 1.49 (Strongly Disagree).

 

Procedures

            A structured survey-questionnaire will be constructed. Items will be based on positive and negative perception list toward small class size. This list will be originally constructed based on existing literatures, specifically about the common attitude of teachers and principals toward class size. The theory of reasoned action should also play an important role in this part as variables can be used to construct attitude and opinion statements. Thus, secondary research on existing literatures will be conducted prior to the construction of survey questionnaires.

            Questionnaires will be pre-tested to 5 teachers within the university. Their answers will be analyzed statistically using percentage and weighted mean analysis. It should determine if the questionnaire is valid for analysis. Furthermore, suggestions of the teachers on the questionnaires will be welcomed to improve the contents and statements placed.

A letter for permission to conduct the study will be delivered to 20 elementary schools nationwide. 20 will be the initial number of schools that will be addressed, so as to fill up the 10% margin of error that can possibly happen. In the end, 10 from those schools who permit the research will be chosen as sites for the study. After the knowing that the research is permitted, the survey questionnaires will be sent depending on the choice of the university: FedEx or email (their choice will be asked in the permission letter). Questionnaires are expected to be sent back after a period of 1 to two months.

Once the questionnaires were returned, answers of the respondents will be tabulated and will be analyzed with the use of the latest SPSS software. Interpretation on the results will be given once the findings are finalized.

            The estimated budget and time schedule is presented in the Appendices.

 

Ethical Considerations

            Respondents will be informed about the purpose and importance of the study. They will be assured that their views about the statements in the questionnaire will be confidential, as well as personal information about them.

 

Data Analysis

            Percentage and weighted mean analysis will be used to measure the Likert Scale and the level of agreement of the respondents.

To interpret the quantitative data that will be gathered, the researcher will use the following statistical formulae:

1.       Percentage – to determine the magnitude of the responses to the questionnaire.

            n

% = -------- x 100        ;           n – number of responses

            N                                 N – total number of respondents

2.       Weighted Mean

            f1x1 + f2x2  + f3x3 + f4x4  + f5x5

x = ---------------------------------------------  ;

                        xt

where:             f – weight given to each response

                        x – number of responses

                        xt – total number of responses

Summary

Using descriptive survey strategy, this study will survey 70 elementary school teachers and 10 elementary school principals from 10 elementary schools. Convenience sampling will be sampling method, and questionnaires will be structured with the use of the Likert Scale as the measurement tool. Pre-testing and validation of questionnaires will be conducted prior the actual survey. Permission will be asked from 20 schools, and 10 who agreed will be chosen as the main sites for the research. Questionnaires will be sent using either email or FedEx delivery. Questionnaires are expected to be sent back within 1 month with the responses of the respondents. As an ethical consideration, the purpose of the study will be explained in the permission letter and the confidentiality of respondents' personal information will be assured. Data analysis will be percentage and weighted mean analysis with the use of the latest SPSS software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

Analysis, Presentation and Interpretation of Data

           

An assertive approach to teaching and classroom management presents only positive outcomes for teachers and students alike. First, however, the teachers need to realize that in the learning environment, they are the authority. From thereon, they could proceed in doing their responsibilities in an assertive manner. As assertive teachers clearly and firmly communicate with their students and are prepared to back up their statements with appropriate action, discipline is observed from the student population. However, to attain successful learning environment, the teacher should consider the number of its students.  In this paper, it is assumed that effective teaching-learning environment varies on the number of students in a classroom. In all styles of teaching and classroom management, there are proper ways of carrying out the strategies so that the ends to these styles may be met.

This part of the study illustrated the information gathered through survey questionnaires. Moreover, this study shall be discussing the findings based on the collated information on the combinations of interviews coming form both the teachers and principals. The main objective of this study is directed towards the perception of the respondents pertaining to class reduction program in their respective schools.

            Then again, primary research and secondary research was used. Primary research was conducted using questionnaires that were sent to selected individuals related in school and education. The questionnaires were used to collect quantitative data and the interviews were used to provide qualitative insights into the data collected.

            The respondents of the study, that are teachers and principals, came from the different primary schools. This means that those involved in educating and teaching 'special' students was also included as part of the sample.  A sample size of not more that 70 teachers and 10 principals coming from different schools would be a sizable amount of respondents that the researcher hopes to gather data from.

            The findings of the study are presented in two different sections. The first part provides the demographic profile of the respondents. The second part of this chapter illustrates the perception of the surveyed respondents pertaining to the effect of class size reduction in schools.

            Of particular significance to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the study – which is to be an instrument of analysis of the institution to gauge where it is now and where it is heading, thus what changes are to be made – is to be able to answer the following questions:

1.      How do educators, including teachers and principals view small class reduction professionally?

2.      How do they view it personally?

3.      What are the factors that make them prefer or not prefer small classes?

4.      What specific behaviors prevent small class acceptance?

 

Part 1. Demographic Profiles

In line with this, the respondents were asked pertaining to their demographic profiles such as gender and age. The respondents were also asked with their number of years in the teaching. Their perceptions towards class-size were also evaluated if they are optimistic, neutral or pessimistic.

 

Figure 1. Age

            As part of the evaluation of the effectiveness of classroom size reduction, the age of the surveyed teachers were asked.  From the information gathered, it is found out that majority (70%) of the respondents are in 21-30 years old.  Meaning to say, majority of the respondents are young.  From this distribution, we can assert that the surveyed young teachers are deeply concern to the impact of class size reduction to attain effective teaching-learning process.

 

 

 

Figure 2. Gender

            Figure 2. This figure illustrates the equal distribution of data in accordance to the gender of the subjects. Based on the figure, 50% of the total subjects are female and another 50% goes to male subjects.

 

Figure 3. Years in Teaching

The percentage distribution of the respondents in their number of years of teaching was shown in figure 3. As we can see, 39% of the respondents were in teaching profession for 3 to 5 years.  But the, 37% of the respondents were in the profession for 0-2 years. Interestingly, 24% of the respondents were working in as teacher for more than 6 years.

Figure 4. Stance toward Small Class Size

Basically, the respondents were asked regarding their view towards small class size.  Although Figure 4 shows different stance about this idea, still majority of them (54%) are optimistic regarding this strategy.  Actually, these respondents argued that they can easily give instructions to a small number of students. The students were easy to handle although small class corresponds to high education budget.  Issues regarding additional teachers, classrooms and teaching materials should be considered. Basically, these teachers stated that they become more student-centered if their numbers are small. Direct instruction is easy to issue. The term direct instruction as defined by Slavin is used to describe lessons in which the teacher is in control of the transfer of research-supported knowledge directly to students, structuring class rime to reach a clearly defined set of objectives as efficiently as possible (Pearson Education, Inc., 2005).  Student-centered instruction or the constructivist approach is a kind of instruction wherein the teacher is seen as the facilitator of learning by delivering lessons in a manner that makes information meaningful and relevant to the students and giving them the opportunity to discover and apply ideas on their own (Pearson Education, Inc., 2005). 

            Direct instruction requires a high degree of teacher direction and a focus on academic tasks.  Teacher presentation, demonstration, drill and practice, posing of numerous factual questions, and immediate feedback and correction are all key elements.  Advocates of the student-centered approach claim that students learn more on experience than theory.  This kind of instruction consists of hands-on activities like projects, group work, and field trips.  It is an approach that view academic content as inherently dull while advancing cooperative learning which is regarded as an effective way to learning since students are given a chance to interact with each other thereby making the flow and sharing of knowledge vital (Schug, 2006).

            In a direct instruction lesson the teacher usually spends some time lecturing a well-defined body of knowledge and skills for the students to master (University of Saskatchewan, 2006; Pearson Education, Inc., 2005).  Afterwards, the teacher guides the students through a complex problem, with the problem broken down into simple steps; then the students are given, one by one, the simple steps to carry out on their own; finally, the students are given one or many sample problems to accomplish on their own (University of Saskatchewan, 2006).  Student-centered Instruction, on the other hand, is premised on the notion that students are not merely passive recipients of knowledge and information provided by the teacher to them.  They are also capable of figuring out information and constructing their own pool of knowledge (Pearson Education, Inc., 2005).  They are allowed to identify the paths they find most fruitful in constructing their knowledge based on what they know and what they need to know (Ridgeway, Titterington and McCann, 1999).

            Student-centered approach to learning is deemed effective because of its ability to make students figure out what information they need to know and then learn from it.   Pedersen and Williams (2004) claimed that the students have ownership of goals and activities.  They are given freedom to choose their actions in order to meet their goals making the whole process meaningful and personal.  This situation encourages depth of understanding and an intrinsic motivational orientation (p.1).  Direct Instruction is a developmental-logical progression of learning where students are always prepared for the new learning in current lessons because of previous lessons and exercises and next lessons always teach students to use what they have recently learned.  There is no inert knowledge; whatever children learn is relevant to their current and future activities (Kozloff and Bessellieu, 2000). In addition to the optimistic view towards small-class size, teachers viewed it an advantage especially to students with special needs.

 

Part 2. Perception of the Respondents towards Class-size Reduction

Table 1. View towards Small Class Size

 

Weighted Mean

Standard Deviation

Interpretation

1.  I am looking forward to teach (or to teach again) a small class size.

2.0714

1.09441

Agree

2.  Small class sizes are easier to handle than larger or average classes

1.8857

0.97122

Agree

3.  I can easily utilize my teaching strategy within a small class than a large or average class.

1.5571

0.86201

Agree

4.  Small class sizes are easier to discipline than large or average class sizes.

2.7714

1.57122

Undecided

5.  Students in small class size understand my lecture more than students in large and average class.

2.0000

0.61385

Agree

6.  Unnecessary student behavior problems such as being talkative to seatmates are being avoided in a small class size. 

2.4429

1.40016

Agree

7.  I can give enough energy and interest to every student in a small class.

1.5714

0.49844

Agree

8.  Large classes are too exhausting.

2.1429

1.18304

Agree

9.  I can easily track individual progress of students in a small class size.

1.4714

0.58288

Agree

10. I can spend more time with each student in a small class.

2.2857

1.44606

Agree

11. I feel that morale is boosted when teaching a smaller class.

1.7143

0.68404

Agree

12. I feel being more positive when teaching a smaller class.

1.8143

1.13307

Agree

13. There is more added time and space when I am teaching a small class.

2.0143

1.05628

Agree

14. There is enough time to plan and diverse, as well as to attune my teaching strategies with student thinking in a small class.

1.7143

1.15649

Agree

15. The learning environment is more conductive of learning and more inspiring than a large class.

1.3857

0.59692

Strongly Agree

16. I believe that small class size is advantageous for the university.

1.8286

1.00681

Agree

17. There is no need to fix an unbroken thing (class size). Small class size is just a waste of time in implementation.

3.5000

0.50361

Disagree

18. My job will be affected when small class size policy is applied.

1.4857

0.5034

Agree

19. Many parents and enrollees will complain with a small class size policy.

3.5143

0.53141

Disagree

20. I do not understand what the proponents of small class size are trying to prove.

3.5857

0.55149

Disagree

21. My stand on small class size is attuned with the stand of our university.

3.5000

0.65386

Disagree

22. There is not enough evidence to prove that small class size is effective.

3.2571

0.69545

Undecided

23. Reducing class size is hindrance to me because my strategies are attuned for average or large class size.

3.3143

0.57843

Undecided

 

            This part of the study illustrates the perception of the respondents pertaining to class-size reduction.  The table illustrates that majority of them are positive pertaining to the issue since majority of them agreed on positively constructed statements (i.e. from 1-16).  Aside from these results, the 17-23 statements which are all negatively constructed shows impressive results.  These statements receives a mean response of either disagree or undecided expect for statement 18 i.e. "My job will be affected when small class size policy is applied". From this result, we may deduce that the job of teachers will be affected when small class-size is applied but this effect is for positive effect.

            Basically, these teachers are looking forward to teach (or to teach again) a small class size since small class sizes are easier to handle than larger or average classes.  From 1.55 mean, majority of them argued that they can easily utilize their teaching strategy within a small class than a large or average class. For them small class sizes are easier to discipline than large or average class sizes. They also added that students in small class size understand their lecture more than students in large and average class.

According to the dominant response in the survey questionnaire, unnecessary student behavior problems such as being talkative to seatmates are being avoided in a small class size.  In addition to this positive effect of small class-size, the teacher can give enough energy and interest to every student in a small class since for them large classes are too exhausting.

In addition to the positive effect of small class-size, the teacher can easily track individual progress of students, they can spend more time with each student,  feel that morale is boosted, feel being more positive and there is more added time and space when they are teaching a small class.

The table also revealed that there is enough time to plan and diverse, as well as to attune their teaching strategies with student thinking in a small class. The learning environment is more conductive of learning and more inspiring than a large class. And majority of them agree that small class size is advantageous for the university.

 

Synthesis

The results of the analysis show that small class-size in schools provides several advantages according to both surveyed and interviewed respondents. Although class-size reduction or small class-size implementation proves to be an advantage, there are still drawbacks that need consideration.  Issues regarding additional teachers, facilities, and overhead costs should not be neglected. According to the interviewed participants, small class-size implementation might improve the current education setting. It is also favorable to special students since they needs focus instruction. Basically, teachers face constant dilemmas (Dyson, 2001). The dilemma includes pace, learning styles, seating arrangements, and individual attention. Catering for a range of needs in a single class was difficult for some teachers. Where adequate resource staff were available, successful integration could be jeopardized by poor coordination between resource room and classroom teaching, or by over dependence on an untrained teacher aide (Jenkinson, 1997, p. 23).

From this summary of studies on teachers' attitude towards small class-size, one may wonder how others can disagree with reduction in spite of its many advantages on learning. What then is the essence of being an educator when no time is allotted for the children's benefit? How can special children learn effectively when their educators are not even open to challenges geared towards better education means? The reduction in class-size then effectively emphasized the primary goal and purpose of educators for special and ordinary students alike. In spite of difficulties the reduction in class-size involves, educators must not initially discourage the idea. Considering the benefits the system can possibly lead to, in addition to an educator's role of applying an educational mean where his students can learn more effectively, small class-size should be treated with a more open and positive outlook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

This chapter will focus on providing the summary of the study, the conclusions that were perceived based on the different information gathered through the methodologies followed by the study, and finally the recommendations of the researcher based on the conclusions that were derived from the research.

 

Summary of the Study

            This section of the chapter will focus on the different subject of the previous chapters of this study. This will serve as a reminder to the readers concerning the subject that is being studied, as well as help recall the aims and objectives of the research. Moreover, it will also serve as a method for the researchers to indicate part of the study to the readers as part of their analysis.

            The first chapter includes the introduction of the problem and its background, as well as some preliminaries concerning the method of how the study is to proceed. The focus of the study is to analyze the stands of the teachers and educators pertaining to class-size reduction. Moreover, the study focuses on the idea that the teachers of schools be given the chance to show the students the ways in which they will be able to appreciate small class-size, all of which will help with the focus learning for the students.

            Basically, the first chapter highlighted the methods in which the study will take place, and shows that the study's concentration is on the possible advantage of small class-size as part of the improvement in schools. It assesses how the teachers view small class size for their students and how they are able to incorporate their standards and their ideas in an effort to help their students learning process and also how to establish these ideas with the students based on the activities that the teachers may introduce, especially with small class-size.

            The second chapter, meanwhile, focuses on the literature reviews that the researcher has accumulated, all of which concentrated on education as a service that the students are receiving. Based on the findings of this part of the chapter, the small class size issue, which started in the seventies, is backed up by many studies as being effective in student achievement and teaching. Three main studies stood out from the rest as they have created new foundations for the study. They are Glass and Smith's (1978) meta-analysis; the ERS; and the STAR. Investigation on small class size has focused on student achievement; smaller classes, pull-out programs and homogenous groups; classroom and teaching characteristics; and staff development (Scudder, 2001). Several acts issues about class-size reduction was also discussed, all of which benefits the students with regards to their needs for the present and also for their future, especially with regards to the special children who need attention. The chapter's discussion also showed that with the cooperation of the teachers, parents, and the students in the effort to ensure the students' added knowledge as well as prepare them for their older life, will all contribute in finding methods that will help improvement of the students' learning experience. Knowledge of such improvements will also help in ensuring the best methods of helping the children.

            The methodology of the study, or the techniques used for discerning the respondents' characteristics, as well as emphasizing on the area in focus of the study, as well as the method of the assessment of the information was the topic of the third chapter. Although the overview of the methodology was already provided in the first chapter, this chapter meanwhile expanded on several issues. The study will be utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research method; this is due to the method of acquiring the information and also due to the method that will be used for these data's interpretation. The method of gaining the respondents who will be used for the study was also considered, and thus the sampling method used was also ensured to be based on the method of study that will be used. The sampling technique used hopefully ensured that the respondents of the study are teachers and educators. There were 70 teachers and 10 principals considered from different schools in Cyprus, all of whom were asked about their concerns pertaining to small class-size.

            In order to gather information from the respondents, the researcher has opted to use the questionnaire, which will be distributed to the respondents and which will be answered through written method, and will be returned to the researcher for assessment. Moreover, the structure of the questionnaire is based on the Likert Scale, wherein the respondents will choose the best answer among the lot and will use this in order to scale their feelings or opinions based on the question in the questionnaire. This method is easy to use and to understand, and also fairly easy for the respondents to answer, thus making the answering more convenient for the respondents. Moreover, it is also easier for the researchers to analyse the information due to the convenient method of gathering them and being able to measure the opinions of the respondents. Assessment of the information will not only focus on the descriptive study but also with calculating for the summated scale as each of the answers that the respondents give has an equivalent weighed numerical value. Discussion of the theoretical framework yielded information concerning possible changes on the views of the teachers concerning their method of teaching and also the priority that they have with regards to the environmental concerns of their country. Finally, the limitation of the study was also discussed, acknowledging that one of its weaknesses is that the study only focused on the information taken from respondents

            The fourth chapter focuses on presenting the information gathered from the respondents, including their demographics as well as the answers to the questionnaires that were distributed to them. In presenting this information, the raw data of the study were already converted and thus constituted the use of several graphs and tables that will help the readers in easily assessing the information taken. From this study, it is assumed that the most of the respondents have sufficient educations, at least degrees that allows them to establish their knowledge and credibility to teach the students; the information gathered also shows that the respondents were mostly grouped at under 30 years old to 40, while there were also many who composed of the groups above 40. The findings of the study also showed that small class-size in schools provide several advantages according to both surveyed and interviewed respondents. Although class-size reduction or small class-size implementation proves to be an advantage, there are still drawbacks that need consideration.  Issues regarding additional teachers, facilities, and overhead costs should not be neglected.

            With the summary of the study presented in this manner, it is then available for the readers to immediately analyse the focus of the study and also be able to give their own perceptions. This summary, however, does not present the whole of the study, and it is encouraged that the readers return to reading the rest of the study if there are still some misunderstandings or misconceptions that the reader might have problems with. Most of all, although some analysis of the summary were given here, the conclusions will still be presented in the next section.

 

Conclusion of the Study

            The conclusions will be based on the research problems that were given in the first chapter, headings following each of the analysis. This will help with the overall assessment of the information that were presented in the previous chapter, with accumulation of the knowledge that the researcher might be able to give and base on those gathered data.

Based on the findings of this study, the researcher concludes the following:

1.  The respondents who took part in this study are already mature in age, responsible and reliable.  They are also aware of what's happening in the school and are deeply concerned about the improvement of the programs in their respective institutions.

2.  The respondents have given an average rating of Agree or Strongly Agree to each of the criteria. Most of the respondents believe that the class-size reduction among classroom is an advantage and has something to do with the improvement of teaching-learning process. This shows that they are satisfied if class-size reduction was imposed. For them education among learners is the most important requirement for the success of the institution and learning of the students.

 

3.  Although class-size reduction proves to be a great advantage, financial issues, additional teachers and facilities should be considered.

 

4.  The study also reveals that small class-size should be considered in attaining the great results in organizations progress. It is also important to have effective implementation procedure to attain success.

 

Recommendations

Based on the foregoing summary of findings and conclusion, the researcher recommends the following:

1.       Update the facilities, equipment, and training strategies to their respective organizations.  Moreover, there should be a strict implementation of the class-size reduction policy to attain successful teaching-learning process.

2.       Maintain open communication lines among the students, teachers and school administrators.

3.       Review the program of the institution and update the content to increase the standard of the organization.  Teachers must also be given stricter teaching requirements to ensure that they understand their job well. 

4.       Organizations open communication lines between school administrators, teachers and students especially in disseminating information and communication.  This is to ensure that the health staff knows what the patient is up to and vice-versa.


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