Research in Higher Education

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 307–318 | Cite as

University class size: Is smaller better?

  • David D. Williams
  • Paul F. Cook
  • Bill Quinn
  • Randall P. Jensen
Article

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between class size and achievement at the college level. Recent meta-analyses have found a strong relationship between class size and student achievement, but few of the studies examined class size larger than 40 or university-age populations. This analysis examines a university's testing-center data-archives representing 305 sections from 24 different courses. Section sizes ranged from 13 to 1,006. A total of 16,230 test scores were analyzed. The results of this investigation reveal that at the college level, class size may be less important an influence on student achievement than some educators have thought.

Keywords

Class Size Test Score Strong Relationship Education Research Student Achievement 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Cahen, L. S., and Filby, N. N. (1979). The class size/achievement issue: new evidence and a research plan.Phi Delta Kappa 60 (March): 492–495, 538.Google Scholar
  2. Cheydleur, F. D. (1945). Criteria of effective teaching in basic French courses.Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin Aug.Google Scholar
  3. Clearinghouse on Educational Management (1978). What do you know about class size?NASSP Bulletin 62 (March): 120–122.Google Scholar
  4. Dubin, R., and Taveggia, T. C. (1968).The Teaching-Learning Paradox. Eugene: Center for the Advanced Study of Educational Administration, University of Oregon.Google Scholar
  5. Edmonson, J. B., and Mulder, F. J. (1924). Size of class as a factor in university instruction.Journal of Educational Research 9(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  6. Feldman, K. A. (1978). Course characteristics and college students' ratings of their teachers: what we know and what we don't.Research in Higher Education 9: 199–242.Google Scholar
  7. Feldman, K. A. (1984). Class size and college students' evaluations of teachers and courses: a closer look.Research in Higher Education 21(1): 45–91.Google Scholar
  8. Glass, G. V., and Smith, M. L. (1978).Meta-analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement. Boulder: Laboratory of Educational Research, University of Colorado.Google Scholar
  9. Glass, G. V., and Smith, M. L. (1979). Meta-analysis of research on class size and achievement.Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 1(1): 2–16.Google Scholar
  10. Laughlin, S. J. (1976). A sacred cow — class size.College and University 51 (Spring): 339–347.Google Scholar
  11. Macomber, F. G., and Siegel, L. (1957). A study in large-group teaching procedures.The Educational Record 38 (July): 220–229.Google Scholar
  12. McKeachie, W. J. (1978).Teaching Tips: A Guidebook for the Beginning College Teacher (7th ed.). Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath.Google Scholar
  13. McKeachie, W. J. (1980). Class size, large classes, and multiple sections.Academe 66 (Feb.): 24–27.Google Scholar
  14. Milton, O. (1972).Alternative to the Traditional. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Mueller, A. D. (1924). Size of class as a factor in normal school instruction.Education 45(4): 203–207.Google Scholar
  16. Nachman, M., and Opochinsky, S. (1958). The effects of different teaching methods: a methodological study.Journal of Educational Psychology 49(5): 245–249.Google Scholar
  17. Rozelle, R. M. (1965).Causal Relations in Attitude Change as Demonstrated Through the Cross-Lagged Panel Correlation. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University.Google Scholar
  18. Shane, H. G. (1961). What research says about class size and human development.NEA Journal 50 (Jan.): 30–32.Google Scholar
  19. Simmons, H. F. (1959). Achievement in intermediate algebra associated with class size at the University of Wichita.College and University 34 (Spring): 309–315.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, M. L., and Glass, G. V. (1979).Relationships of Class-Size to Classroom Processes, Teacher Satisfaction and Pupil Affect: A Meta-Analysis. San Francisco: Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development.Google Scholar
  21. Wood, K., Linsky, A. S., and Straus, M. A. (1974). Class size and student evaluations of faculty.Journal of Higher Education 45(7): 524–534.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • David D. Williams
    • 1
  • Paul F. Cook
    • 1
  • Bill Quinn
    • 1
  • Randall P. Jensen
    • 2
  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Gilbert Public School DistrictUSA

Personalised recommendations