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Article
Globalising the class size debate: Myths and realities
Journal of International and Comparative Education
  • Kevin Watson, University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Boris Handal, University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Marguerite Maher, University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Erin McGinty, University of Notre Dame Australia
Year of Publication
2013
Abstract

Public opinion reflects a ‘common sense’ view that smaller classes improve student academic performance. This review reveals that the ‘class size’ effect of increased academic performance, although significant for disadvantaged students and students in the very early years of schooling, does not necessarily transfer to other student groups. Moreover, the literature indicates there are other more cost-effective variables that enhance student learning outcomes such as those associated with teacher quality. Internationally, large-scale interventions concluded that systematic class size reductions were more resource intensive requiring more personnel, training and infrastructure. From the large quantitative studies of the 1980s to the more qualitatively focused research in the last decade, there is a now an understanding that class size reductions function to provide opportunities for more student-focused pedagogies and that these pedagogies may be the real reason for improved student academic performance. Consequently, the impact of class size reductions on student performance can only be meaningfully assessed in conjunction with other factors, such as pedagogy.

Keywords
  • class size,
  • learning outcomes,
  • educational policy,
  • schooling,
  • pedagogy
Disciplines
Citation Information
Kevin Watson, Boris Handal, Marguerite Maher and Erin McGinty. "Globalising the class size debate: Myths and realities" Journal of International and Comparative Education Vol. 2 Iss. 2 (2013) ISSN: 2232-1802
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kevin-watson/3/