Large class size impedes learning


Kai Smith, Staff editor

Throughout the past few years in Dulaney High School, the number of students entering high school has steadily increased because of the smaller amount of high schools compared to the amount of middle schools in the county. This, in turn has caused the sizes of classes in the school to increase exponentially, while also impacting how well students learn in their more crowded environment.

The current number of students within the school system is 113,814, with 18,202 employees – 9,834 of them being teachers., so the student-teacher ratio of the schools should be around 12 students per teacher. However, with the sheer number of students attending high school

AP Economics teacher Lynda Motiram has faced direct effects of the increased class sizes. One of Motiram’s classes has 32 students enrolled: 14 students above the recommended amount of 18 students per teacher as suggested by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a company that provides schools with learning resources and textbooks. While there are many difficulties in teaching a large class, one of the main problems that Motiram believes impacts her is that the larger class makes it harder for her to understand and help with every problem her students have.

“The difficulty is being effective because when you have a large group, you have difficulty meeting the varying needs that are in the classroom,” Motiram said.

Many studies have shown that classes with higher amounts of students tend to not learn as well as the classes that have less students. One study from the University of Berkeley affirmed the same thing as other studies: the smaller the class size, the better the students did on tests and comprehension skills.

Senior Sophie Slomkowiski is one of the 32 students in Motiram’s largest class. While she enjoys being around people, she recognizes that being in a larger class is harder to concentrate and do well in.

“I do like being surrounded by a lot of people because I like to be social. However, it has definitely been harder to learn topics in class than it has in the past,” Slomkowiski said.

AP Seminar teacher Maria Hiaasen has the added challenge of trying to make sure her smaller class and larger class are maintaining the same schedule for projects and assignments.

“With the [smaller class] I try to take more time for them to give each other feedback after each presentation, and with the [larger class] I started with them being able to do that, but then I had to just say okay, talk for 30 seconds at your table for what you just saw,” Hiaasen said.

Hiaasen believes that, ultimately, a smaller class can yield more information for students than a larger class can ever do, causing it to be difficult for students in the larger classes to learn with as much ease as its smaller counterpart.

“When you engage in the content, when you can talk, and you can get that affirmation from the teacher, thanks, that’s great, that’s what I needed to hear, thanks for that right answer or thanks for that wrong answer, you buy in, and you get more out of it, and if there are more students in the class you’re not going to get that as often.”