Does math class size matter?
One of the reasons private math tuition is effective can be attributed to the math class size. Researchers from numerous studies all agree that smaller class sizes produce positive social, emotional and academic results. This includes Glass and Smith’s class size research from 1978 and Tennessee’s Project STAR conducted in the mid 1980s. Both studies concluded that smaller class sizes:
– result in higher test scores,
– produce fewer dropouts, and
– level the playing field for minorities and children living in poverty.
But what math class size gets such results?
After all, “small” is subjective. What is considered a small class size to one may not be to another. Similarly, reducing the size of class from let’s say 40 down to 20 isn’t going to get the results hoped for because 20 isn’t considered small enough.
The research demands a student-teacher ratio of no more than 18:1 and this should start in primary school not secondary. However, at secondary school age, small classes are still a good idea.
Is class size alone the answer?
Just carrying on as normal while reducing class size won’t result in any difference. There needs to be a change in the teacher’s practice, which must be learned, and there must be a change in the students’ behaviour, which will happen naturally the smaller the class becomes.
Teacher practice: Simply having a small class size but using the same techniques to teach the class as you would a large class won’t result in any benefits. The teacher needs to adjust the way the class is taught to more personalised and individual instruction. The teacher needs to be trained to provide instruction to a smaller class size. What works for a large class won’t work in the same way for a small class.
Student behaviour: Students will find it difficult in a small class to avoid doing the work and are more likely to pay attention, especially as they will be getting more personalised attention from the teacher.
At Matrix Math, we keep our classes small to allow our teachers to provide the personal level of tuition and really address each student’s individual learning challenges. Each student will have different needs so it takes a small class size to be able to help them at this level.
In addition, our teachers are trained to teach in a small class size environment to be able to give each student personalised attention.