ERIC Number: ED315841
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-May
Reference Count: 0
How Changing Class Size Affects Classrooms and Students.
Mitchell, Douglas; And Others
Finding an unequivocable answer to the class size issue is vitally important to the future of American public education. Sorting out conflicting viewpoints and determining supportable conclusions are this report's primary purpose. Three factors--research motivation, the effects of confounding variables, and problems related to distinguishing between student achievement and other classroom process changes--are largely responsible for the divergent, sometimes conflicting views expressed in the literature. For all student populations, class size research shows an important link between lowered student/teacher ratios and higher achievement. This conclusion can be reached by using appropriate complex statistical methods and research designs promoted by the National Education Association. An extensive literature review yields seven related conclusions: (1) class size research has had a history of limited research design, inappropriate methodology, and biased literature reviews; (2) the most seriously misleading conclusions have often been repeated in subsequent analyses; (3) development of a theoretical framework for determining class size influences on learning has been slow; (4) various studies have shown that achievement effects are mediated by changes in teachers' handling of classroom responsibilities; (5) alternative cost-effective strategies for reducing effective group size are available; (6) redeployment of existing school staff offers the most promising strategy for reducing instructional group size; and (7) some class reduction benefits can be gained by creative redistribution of students and incorporation of small-class techniques into routine classroom practice. One statistical appendix is included. (269 references) (MLH)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: California Educational Research Cooperative, Riverside.