The Class Size Debate: Is Small Better?

By Peter Blatchford; Paul Bassett et al. | Go to book overview

4: Class size and teaching
In Chapter 1, I described a gap between professional experience and research evidence, when it comes to claims about the connection between class sizes and pupils' educational progress. This gap is perhaps most marked when it comes to effects of class size on teaching. Many teachers feel that teaching and learning are likely to be improved in smaller classes, but (as we saw in Chapter 2) the evidence from research is not clear-cut; some even suggests that although teachers may feel their teaching has benefited in small classes, this is not supported by observational data. A main motivation for the research reported in this chapter was to gain insights that might help inform this gap.In this chapter I am interested in just one aspect of teaching - the moment-by-moment interactions during the school day between teachers and their pupils. Arends (1994) lists three main aspects of teaching: executive interactive and organizational functions. Our concern here is with the interactive functions of teaching.Our work in this area has been informed by three general approaches to teaching:
teaching time allocation
research on effective teaching
cognitive approaches to teaching.

Teaching time allocation

Research on teaching has a long and varied history, and studies are far too numerous to be reviewed here. A central position of much research and comment is the importance of maximizing teaching time and instructional support for children's learning (Brophy and Good 1986; Creemers 1994; Pellegrini and Blatchford 2000). On logical and common-sense grounds it seems likely that the number of children in a class will increase the amount of time that

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