The relationship of class size to teaching styles and teacher - pupil interactions in Geography: an observational study

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Lifalalo, Kangumu Gabriel
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This observational study was designed to investigate the relationship of class size to teaching styles and teacher - pupil interactions in geography. This study focused on the secondary school classes at senior level encompassing grades 10 to 12. Class sizes in these grades tend to be large, not only in geography but also in other subjects. Unlike in developed countries where a class size of 35 pupils is considered large, class enrolments in developing countries like Zambia may range from about 40 to 60 pupils. Yet, such large enrolment patterns are not in conformity with those stipulated by the Education Act (1966). Three class sizes are identified, namely standard (45 pupils or fewer) , large (46 to 55 pupils) and very large (56 pupils or more). The study establishes the relationship of these class sizes to the adoption of varied teaching styles in geography classes. It further discusses the levels of teacher-pupil interactions (fewer, more or high) which characterise each class size in relation to the adopted teaching styles. The study identifies 14 geography teaching styles which fall into 3 categories, namely formal, informal and mixed. The formal comprises lecture, direct and indirect observations, and demonstration styles. The informal consists of discussion, project, discovery, debate, role-playing and simulation game styles. Mixed has question - answer, problem - solving, inquiry and field (study) - trip styles. The three class sizes (standard, large and very large) were found to be characterized by different patterns of teacher - pupil interactions. Standard classes were found to be characterized by high teacher-pupil interactions due to the teachers' ability to adopt both informal and mixed teaching styles. The large classes experienced more teacher-pupil interactions while very large classes had less interactions. The fewer interactions in very large classes are due to the-adoption by teachers of more formal teaching styles which are teacher - centred and thus impede pupils' full classroom participation. A number of recommendations are suggested for desirable class sizes and the adoption of geography teaching styles that may enhance high teacher - pupil interactions. In addition, areas for further studies have been suggested.
Teacher - Pupil interaction , Geography teaching , Class size