How Large Class Sizes Affect Students

Mr. Argao’s packed honors chemistry class prepares for class, with over 25 student in his classroom almost every seat is full (photo courtesy of Lucy Leen).

Every day approximately 2,800 students walk through the doors of Leesville Road High School and into the classrooms of approximately 140 teachers. Class sizes vary amongst  however the average class size is typically 25 or more students.

Many students agree that large class sizes make the class less personal and often more challenging. “I’m in calculus right now and there are thirty-seven kids in the class, so I feel like the teacher is moving around a lot more, and you don’t get as much time one on one with the teacher. And in that class, you can’t really ask a lot of questions because they are moving so fast, so a lot of kids just kind of go without knowing the answer,” said Alex Walczyk, sophomore.

One teacher for over thirty students makes it almost impossible for individual attention. “I think if its a larger class like the teacher has to accommodate towards more people, so you don’t have that same like, one on one, benefit that you get from smaller class sizes,”said Sophie Cho, senior.

The expansive curriculums teachers must follow oftentimes forces the teacher to move on regardless of each students understanding. Studies from the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) prove that a significant reduction of class sizes by about 32% (equivalent to removing 12 kids from a class of 37) leads to an increase in student achievement, by an amount equal to three months of additional schooling overtime.

Every student has to adjust to the large class sizes in high school.  “I came from a small school, with small classrooms around 14-15 people per class…I definitely try to see if I could sit in the front…I’m not afraid to ask my teacher so whenever I have a question I always just raise my hand,” said Andrew Stepanian, freshmen.

Students like Stepanian made adjustments to their learning to feel comfortable in large class sizes. However, students who aren’t comfortable asking certain questions in front of the entire class or putting themselves out there, often seek individual help that they don’t receive due to teachers overwhelming schedules. This causes students to result to other learning adjustments.

“I’ve started to work more independently and teaching myself if I don’t understand,” said Diego Pardo, sophomore. Strategies like teaching yourself can play out to benefit students or sink them further into confusion. However, this strategy of teaching yourself is extremely similar to the ways of college, so many may argue this is the best way to prepare students. Everyone adjusts differently to large class sizes,  yet to achieve academic success theses adjustments must be made.

There is a strong contradictions regarding the opinions of class sizes amongst the Leesville students interviewed. Almost every student interviewed agreed that large class sizes have had a positive effect of their learning in various ways.

“I would say that it’s [the effect of class sizes] positive because it’s a good way to learn and be ready for the rest of highschool and college,” said Cierra Seller, freshman.

“I think [large class sizes] would have a positive effect because…I have [about] 27 right now in my Bio class and that allows me to communicate with my peers more frequently…there’s lots more group work and group discussions and different questions that are asked,” said Andrew Stepanian.

Although students feel large class sizes have a positive effect, many still prefer small class sizes.  “Yeah, [smaller class sizes are] more personal, and you get more one on one with the teachers. It’s also nice to have a smaller group of students to work with because it’s always fun to be in a small class and have like a close knit group,” said Kristina Hixon, junior.

The idea of having more individual attention is highly desired by many students. It is argued having connections with both the teacher and students within your class provide a more comfortable learning environment in which learning is enriched.

On top of students arguing that class sizes have a positive effect on their learning, they also enjoy large classes do to their social aspect. “It’s just fun you have more of you friends in these classes and you can always talk to them,” said Stepanian.

Having friendships within classes often encourage students to enjoy class; however, friends can often distract each other leading to unproductive work. “When you have a big class, you’re always going to have a lot of friends in it, and whenever I’m with friends for like group work nothing ever gets done,” said Walczyk.

The effect of class sizes on students learning varies amongst every student. Whether those effects be positive of negative are specific to every individual. Large class sizes present a lot of challenges and distractions for students — these challenges continue as students adjust their learning styles to comprehend as much as they can.

It’s inevitable to have large class sizes at Leesville due to the student teacher ratio, but students have the ability to take specialized classes which typically have smaller numbers if they learn best in that environment. With such a diverse student body it is difficult to assume the effects of class sizes on Leesville as a whole, however each student can reflect on their own personal experiences.

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