1.1 Background of the Study
Students of chemistry are expected to have a high level of proficiency in the use of chemistry principles and practice to be really grounded in chemistry. Class size is very important in the teaching-learning activities particularly when students’ academic performance is being considered. Class size is an important factor in relating academic performance of students. There is a consensus among various researchers and educationists that the lower the class size or teacher- pupil ratio, the higher the students’ academic achievements. Many studies have pointed out the significance of teacher-pupil ratio to cognitive learning in the school. Idienumah (2005), Ojoawa (2001). The National policy on Education recommended that the teacher-pupil ratio should be 1:35.
It is opined that teachers’ professional responsibility includes not only the organization of the physical classroom environment, but also the managing of the students’ behaviours and learning tasks. If the teacher maintains a highly organized learning environment which is friction-free and satisfying to learners, he would more likely be effective in teaching and learning. It is against this background that the researcher has set out to investigate the influence of class size in student’s academic performance in Chemistry in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. The learning environment is no longer friction-free and satisfying to the students and the teachers seems to be ineffective. This may be attributed to a large class size which is beyond the efforts of the teacher to manage effectively, therefore resulting in poor performance of students.
According to Akpayang (2007), large class sizes pose a threat to all tiers of Nigerian School life. The problem needs to be seriously tackled in the interest of the teeming population of Nigerian children to have a tolerable level of qualitative education. Class size is the number of students in a teacher’s room daily for whom the teacher is accountable. In most secondary schools in Nigeria today, enrollment exceeds the provisions for secondary education in terms of adequate furnished classrooms. The poverty level and low classroom utilization rates in the country worsen the situation (Fabunmi, 2000). Secondary education is poorly funded hence most of the secondary schools experience classroom congestion and low students classroom space which result to low classroom utilization rate. It is also intended that this work will discuss the influence of size of the class on the performance of male and female students in chemistry, learning skills and academic performance and also the non availability of teachers and academic performance.
The effects of class size on student achievement have been of great interest to educational researchers and policy makers the last two decades. Reducing class size to boost student achievement is a policy option that has gained considerable attention nationwide. Currently, many states and school districts have enacted or are considering class size reduction with the objective of improving academic achievement. Studies that used high-quality experimental data have consistently demonstrated the positive effects of small classes on average student achievement for all students. Specifically, these studies indicated that the average student achievement in small classes (15 students on average) was significantly higher than in regular classes (22 students on average). These findings suggest that reducing class size is a promising intervention that increases academic achievement on average for all students.
However, it is tempting to imagine class size reduction as an educational intervention that increases academic achievement for all students and reduces the achievement gap between lower- and higher-achieving students by producing larger gains for low achievers. The important question of whether class size reduction can reduce the achievement gap and hence affect the academic achievement of low- and high-achieving students differently has not been fully answered thus for. In the present study we attempted to answer this question by examining differences in achievement variability between small and regular-size classes using data from a 4-year, large-scale, randomized experiment conducted in Tennessee in the mid 1980s. We also examined differences in achievement between students in small and in regular classes in the upper and lower tails of the achievement distribution. Observed differences in achievement variability along these dimensions would indicate that small classes have varied effects on different groups of students.