PERCEIVED INFLUENCE OF LARGE CLASS SIZE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT ON STUDENTS‟ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

ABSTRACT
This study investigated how large class size and the psychological classroom environment influenced students‟ academic performance. Again, the researcher sought to determine the extent to which large class size and psychological classroom environment influenced the manner in which teaching and learning was mediated in public senior high schools. To achieve this, the survey design was employed. 320 students were purposively selected from ten (10) public senior high schools in the Kumasi Metropolis. Questionnaire with a reliability coefficient of 0.791 was used to obtain data from the respondents. The study revealed that large class size influenced students‟ academic performance and also limits their learning opportunities of students. It was again unravelled that psychological classroom environment had a great influence on the students‟ academic performance. It has been recommended that since small class size and good psychological classroom environment enhance performance therefore, teachers and head teachers should make sure they conform to the required teacher to student ratio of 1:40 by the Ghana Education Service. Teachers should create an enabling environment for students to participate in classroom activities. Furthermore, the study showed that students performed well in smaller class size and good psychological classroom environment. Therefore, the Government should employ more teachers and build more classrooms to solve the problem of large class size in the senior high schools in Ghana.


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Quality education remains the pivot of educational development of every nation. The quality of education depends on, among other factors, the number of students in class and the psychological classroom conditions under which students learn. Large class size and poor psychological classroom environment have been the major concern due to the increase in enrolment figures in our schools since the inception of the school feeding program and all the other social intervention programmes. With this, many educational policies have been put in place to reduce the number of large classes in Senior High Schools (SHSs) but students results remained the same. The widely held aim of education is to equip students with knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies that will enable them to render useful services to themselves and to the society at large. As school population increases, class size also increases and this affects the psychological classroom environment and the academic performance of students (Osei-Mensah, 2012).

The priority of all countries, especially the developing ones, is to improve the quality of schools and the achievement of students (De Grauwe, 2001) since learning outcomes depend largely on the quality of education being offered (Barro, 2006). Barro further notes that higher quality education fosters economic growth and development. But quality education partly depends on how well teachers are trained and the number of students they supervise in class since they are the key inputs to education delivery (Lockheed & Verspoor, 1991). The need to access high quality education has been the concern of many stakeholders in the country. But an aspect of education that has generated less attention is the proliferation of large class size and the quality of psychological classroom environment of students in Public Senior High Schools (PSHSs).

The need for better education and educational activities to build students and make them efficient in production and other endeavours of life is largely dependent on their class size, psychological classroom environment and how teachers are able to supervise students in class. Delong and Winter (1998) add that class size management strategies have a strong potential to positively influence students‟ achievement and learning. They are paramount concern for many teachers, especially novices and teachers who are contemplating new instructional approaches for the first time.

The medium through which the attainment of individuals and the nation‟s education can be achieved is learning outcomes. Learning outcomes have become a phenomenon of interest to all and these accounts for the reason why scholars have been working hard to unravel factors that militate against academic performance (Aremu & Sokan, 2003). This phenomenon has been variedly referred to in literature as academic achievements, or scholastic functioning. Academic achievements of learners have attracted the attention of scholars, parents, policy makers and planners.

In an attempt to provide good education worldwide, many factors have been identified as being responsible for the falling standard of education. Among such factors are the issues of large class size and poor psychological classroom environments of students. Adeyemi (2008) defined class size as an educational tool that can be described as an average number of students per class in a school, while Kedney (1989) described it as a tool that can be used to measure performance of the educational system. Similarly, Hoffman (1980) described it as the number of students per a teacher in a class.

A psychological environment is created based on the interaction of key players in the classroom, namely students and teachers. Research in this area has varied greatly and proliferated during the early twenty-first century. Studies have been particularly concentrated on student class participation rates, teacher support, and communication of learning goals.

The notion of feeling supported as students have also been extensively examined in the classroom environment literature. Patrick, Ryan, and Kaplan (2007) found that there is a strong, positive relationship between students' level of motivation and engagement and their perceptions of the classroom environment as being socially supportive. The perception of a climate of mutual respect is required in order for students to increase their use of effective study strategies and increase feelings of confidence about their ability to successfully complete assignments. Furthermore, when students perceive that they receive emotional support and encouragement from their teachers and academic support from their peers they are more likely to be on-task in the classroom and use self-regulated strategies.

The national population growth of about 3.7% per annum puts a lot of pressure on the existing deteriorating PSHSs educational facilities in the country. The situation is most prevalent in PSHSs in the Ashanti Region. This problem can be attributed to the fact that Ashanti Region, being the fortress of education and sport competition in Ghana has some of the good PSHSs that are good academically and in sporting events in the country. For instance, the in 2014 academic year the average number of students in the General science and General Arts classes at Kumasi Girls School was 60 respectively. In Kumasi High School, the average number of students in a Science or General Arts class was 57. At Prempeh College, a similar report indicated 62 students in the Business, Visual Arts and Science classes. At Armed Forces Senior High and University Practice Senior High School almost all the classes have more than 55 students in all classes. The researcher wants to check if the overcrowded students in classes and their psychological classroom environment have a link with their academic performances.

Statement of the Problem
For decades now, the traditional approach to teaching and learning has dominated Ghanaian schools. This traditional approach was mostly based on the behavioural principles and laws of learning (Seda, 2008). Students are often viewed as the recipient of knowledge and teachers have control over students‟ subject matter. The behavioural model requires strong management techniques on the part of the teacher (Garrett, 2005). This explanation shows that teachers are the classroom supervisors and have the responsibility of all on going issues in the classroom on how to maintain discipline in large class size and the psychological well-being of the student.

In view of the behavioural model approach, the Ghana Education Service (GES) instituted a teacher to students‟ ratio of 1:40, with the aim of enhancing effective teaching and learning procedure effectively in class. Adeyemi (2008) in his findings on the influence of class size on the quality of output in senior high schools revealed that schools having an average class size of 35 and below obtained better results in the secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) than schools having more than 35 students per class. Oguntoye (2011) as cited in (Muraina, & Muraina, 2014) found that class-size had negative coefficient with students‟ academic performances in examination. Earthman (2002) revealed that comfortable classroom temperature and smaller classes enhanced teachers‟ effectiveness and provided opportunities for students to receive individual attention, ask more questions, participate fully in discussion, reduce indiscipline problems and perform better than students in schools with larger class size. Fafunwa (2010) as cited in Ayeni (2012), postulates that there is a gap in the quality of students in crowded classrooms, using inadequate and obsolete equipment, disillusioned teachers and psychological classroom environment on students. These combined deficiencies perhaps affected the students‟ academic performances.

But it is obvious to find 60 to 70 students in PSHSs in the Kumasi Metropolis and that leads to high incident of large class size and influences the psychological classroom environment of students as well. From the annual general meeting of Headmasters‟ conference held in July, 2015 at the University of Ghana, the speakers lamented on the increasing number of students to the inadequate facilities, teachers and other dwindling resources in schools. The increasing demand for PSHSs in the Kumasi Metropolis and subsequent increase in the number of students is a great concern to most teachers in the metropolis in recent times. At a staff meeting at Opoku Ware Senior High School (OWASHS) at Kumasi during the end of the 2014 academic year, teachers complained bitterly of the increasing number of students in a class. Psychologically or emotionally students cannot concentrate when they are in such classes, a phenomenon that has been evolving in recent times. The same classroom that was given to 40-45 students some years back is now being occupied by 60-70 students hence causing discomfort to students in the class.

From my personal observation and checks from five (5) PSHSs in Kumasi Metropolis that I visited showed that, there was no school that has less than 40 students in a class. Table 1 gives the picture of the yearly percentage increase in enrolment in the Kumasi Metropolis.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 113 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: GH110 ($20)  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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