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AN INVESTIGATION INTO CLASS SIZE AND OTHER FACTORS AFFECTING THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCES OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL BIOLOGY STUDENTS IN NASARAWA LOCAL GOVERNMENT

 

ABSTRACT

 

This study examined an investigation into class size and other factors affecting the academic performances of senior secondary school biology students in Nasarawa local government, Nigeria. The study was guided by four objectives, and four research questions, and corresponding two research hypothesis.  Experimental research design was used to carry out this study. Sample size of the study consisted of 80 SS 1 biology students were selected to represent both the large and small class size. Experimental research design was used to guide the study. The research instrument was questionnaire designed by the researcher in the form of Biology Achievement Test (BAT) which was used as a test items for the students and administered for the students after the lesson (treatment). . The data collected was analyzed using mean; standard deviation, percentage, paired sample t-test, and Pearson correlation. Results of the t-test analysis for research question one indicated that; on an average, biology students in small class size (M=14.758, SE=0.944) have greater academic performance than students in large class size (M =11, SE=0.836), t(32) = -3.513, p <0.001. The result of the Pearson correlation analysis for research questions two revealed that;  students’ performance in the different class sizes was the same irrespective of their gender whether male or female. The findings of research question three revealed that; large class size negatively have effect on the academic performance of biology students. It was revealed from the findings of the study that factors that mostly affect class size were; inadequate class rooms, increased of the number of students admitted, and lack of funds/support from government. It was finally recommended that; The Ministry of Education in collaboration with principals should employ more biology teachers so as to reduce the workloads hence lessen overload related stresses among teachers and its negative impacts to teacher/leaner performance; and more instructional materials should be provided to include public address system so that the students in a large class could be instructed as appropriate

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

Biology is a comprehensive study about life and all its firms. The importance of biology in everyday life is unquestionable as it follows the humans to know their body better, its resources and potential threats in the environment.

Biology helps the scientist to deduce what kind of nutrition and exercises would best work on a human body for heath, longevity and a prolonged physical performance. Treatments vaccines and cures for ailments and diseases are mainly outcome of biological research unit.

The scope of biology is unlimited. However an element of wonder that is tagged with biology is what makes this popular among leaders.

Biology as a science is one of the fundamental requirement for most cure science based. There is therefore the need to adopt efficient teaching and learning strategies that will enhance better performances and retention of the subject matter by students. 

Class size refers to the number of students in a given course or classroom, specifically either the number of students being taught by individual teachers in a course or classroom or the average number of students being taught by teachers in the school, district or education. The class size could be large or small. However, sparks (2010) noted that class can be said to be large when the number is more than 25. Studies have shown that class size is an important factor that affects student’s performance in biology.

When a teacher teaches over 25 students, the teacher is faced with the challenges of class control, assessing and evaluating students in class. The difficulty arises because too many students in the same class reduce a teacher ability to access each of the students individually and also monitor the student to identify the student’s areas of weakness and strength. This leads to de-motivation of the subject teacher hence affecting the student’s performance. Usman (2013) asserted that inadequate teacher’s supply is responsible for the poor performance observable among students while research findings have shown that teachers turnover (Leaving for other professions) is always high because many  teachers tend to leave the  teaching profession if and when more attractive jobs become available in government. Thus, teacher’s turnover is capable of leading to serious teacher short supply in schools.

The issue of poor academic performance of students in Nigeria has been of much concern to all the problem in so much that it adds to the widely acclaimed fallen standard of education in Nasarawa state and Nigeria at large. In order to better understand the skill levels of students, it might be necessary to evaluate factors affecting their performance. These include school structure and organization, teacher’s quality, curriculum and teaching philosophy Driscol, 2010).

Overtime, student’s academic performance in both internal and external examinations had been used to determine excellence in teachers and teaching (Ajao, 2011). As school grows they typically become more bureaucratic, resulting in more formalized human relations and increase curricular specialization.

Over population classrooms have increase the possibilities for at risk students, as well as others, to lose interest in school and do poorly on test. There identifies for specific problems regarding overcrowding, students not getting individual attention, low reading scores, frustration and stress felt by the teachers and the inability of students to concentrate or stay on task while in class. The problem identified can be that teachers are unable to give individual attention to students. Teachers aides are not always available and sometimes students have to share textbooks. It can take the entire class time for students to find seats, make sure everyone has a textbooks to look at and then explain the next assignment and answer questions. Thus, with teachers unable to help individual students those who need extra help in gaining or maintaining their reading skills get left behind.

They are unable to keep up the reading or in class discussion because of many students in one class.

Overpopulation in schools and classes is a serious problem in many schools systems, particularly in the inner cities where space for new construction is limited. As a result, students find themselves trying to learn while jammed into spaces never intended as classrooms such as libraries, laboratories, lunchrooms.

A study of overpopulation in schools found that students in such schools score significantly lower on both mathematics and reading exams than the similar students in under-utilized schools. In addition, when asked, students and teachers in overpopulation schools agreed that overcrowding negatively affect both classroom activities and instructional technology (Krueger and Whiteman, 2011).

Crowded classroom conditions not only make it difficult for students to concentrate on their lessons, but inevitably limit the amount of times teachers can spend on innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning and group work or on teaching anything beyond the barest minimum of required materials. In addition, because teachers must constantly struggle simply to maintain order in an over populated classroom, the likelihood increase that they will suffer from burn out earlier that might otherwise be the case. Although, there is a significantly amount of research analyzing students’ performance in the schools. The idea that school population and class size might affect student’s performance is consistent with the growing literature on the relationship between public sector, instructional arrangements and outcome.

When a teacher teaches a class of over 70 students, the teacher is faced with the challenges of class control, assessing and evaluating students in class. This difficulty arises because too many students in the same class reduces a teacher’s ability to access each of the students individually and also monitor the student to identify the student’s area of weakness and strength. This leads to demotivation of the subject teacher hence affecting the students’ performance. The inadequate teachers’ supply is responsible for the poor academic performance observable among students while research findings have shown that teachers’ turnover (leaving for other professions) is always high because many teachers tend to leave the teaching profession if and when more attractive jobs become available in government, politics or private enterprise Adeyemi (2011). Thus, teacher’s turnover is capable of leading to serious teachers’ short supply in schools.

The purpose of this study is to further investigate the effect of class size and other factors on the performance of biology students in secondary schools.

 

1.2       Statement of the Problem

While knowledge of science is the bedrock of all technological advancement, Biological knowledge and practice are essential to building a suitable relationship between nature and human society. The teaching of Biology education should be programmed in a way that it will create time and less workload for the teacher in this 21st century. The science curriculum in secondary schools has been improved upon in recent years in both objectives and content. There is no gain saying that no matter how good a curriculum plan may be, its implementation is very crucial to its success.

Teachers as agents of curriculum implementation are very important so also is their availability to both urban and rural secondary schools where their services are immensely important. It has been discovered that at the moment we do not have enough number of Biology teachers in secondary schools despite the growing number of students and the compulsory nature of the subject in the school system. Many teachers would now have to cope with large classes which translate to poor performance and create negative disposition towards learning Biology. Based on this, the study sought to investigate the effect of class size on the performances of secondary school students in biology.

 

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the research project is to carry out investigation on how class size and other factors affect student’s academic performance in biology with special reference to some selected secondary schools in Nasarawa local goverment area in Nasarawa State.

            The specific objectives are:

1.      To investigate the effect of class size on the academic performance of biology students.

2.      To determine the relationship between gender performance scores and class size.

3.      To examine how quality class size helps in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning biology.

4.      To identify factors that affect the biology class size.

 

1.4       Research Questions

            The following questions will be answered:

1.      Is there any difference in the academic performance in large class size and small class size class students in biology?

2.      Is there any relationship between gender mean performance scores and class sizes?

3.      How does class size helps in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning biology?

4.      What are the factors that affect biology class size?

 

1.5       Research Hypothesis

            Hypothesis One:

H0:       There is no significance difference in the academic performance of biology students in large and small class size.

            Hypothesis Two:

H0:       There is no significance relationship between gender academic performance scores and class sizes.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study is important for several reasons. First, the findings will help teachers to identify the reasons for the low academic performance of students in large classes with high population and how they can address the problems.

Secondly, it will provide comprehensive information for educational planners, educators and parents or how they can assist students to cope in large classes.

Thirdly, assist teachers of biology in adopting suitable teaching methods in teaching over-populated classes.

Fourthly, assist teachers of biology in adopting suitable method in achieving proper class management.

Fifthly, serve as a measure for government to know their weakness and thus make provisions for infrastructural and human resources.  

Sixthly, provide education planners and curriculum planners with ways of combating problems of teaching biology in over-populated classes

Lastly, it will serve as a contribution to knowledge in the subject area. In regard, it will be useful for other researchers who might want to carry out research in related areas.

 

1.7       Scope of the Study

The study is specifically taking about the correlation between the effect of class size and the academic performances of biology students in senior secondary schools in Nasarawa Local Government area in Nasarawa state. The study sought to concentrate on the effects of class size on the effect of class on academic performance of biology in four (4) senior secondary schools that consist of male and female students and these schools are;

1.      Government Secondary School Nasarawa,

2.      Government Science Secondary School, Nasarawa

3.      Government Senior Secondary Tammah, Nasarawa

All these schools are within Nasarawa metropolis, Nasarawa State.

 

 

1.8       Limitation of the Study

Separating students into male and female class was a bit difficult as the school practiced. This was resolved through the assistance of the class teacher.

 

1.9       Operational Definition of Terms  

Class Size: The number of students in a classroom for continuous prepared lesson delivery by teachers.

Small Class: Is a class with the population of students ranging from 1 to 20 students

Large Class Size: Is a class in which the number off student is more than 25 students

Overpopulation: This is when the number of students in a particular class exceeds the standard of student-teacher ratio of 1:30.

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