Pakistani Principals’ and Teachers’ Perspectives and Strategies on Teaching and Learning with Large Classes at Secondary Level
It is reality that secondary schools in developing countries have mostly large classes. Teachers teach large and overcrowded class, and this situation indicates that this issue will not resolve any time soon. The average class size in Pakistani secondary schools is above 50 students per class that is high rate of teacher-pupil ratio. In this scenario, the present research reports teachers’ and principals’ perspectives on teaching-learning with large classes. During this study, researchers used questionnaires, class observations, and principals’ interviews to evaluate the teachers’ and principals’ perspectives regarding issues and challenges of large classes, teaching and learning with large classes, and what additional supports principals and teachers recognize to be necessary. Both principals and teachers stated that current class size in Pakistani secondary schools is large and has a negative impact on teachers and students. Additionally, participants (principals and teachers) cited for more support in the form of professional training of teachers, reduction of class size and workload on teachers, and provision of more teaching learning resources. These supports could help to minimize the issues and challenges of large classes and maximize the teaching-learning achievements in Pakistan and developing countries as well.
Keywords: secondary schools; class size; teaching large classes, effects of class size on teaching-learning
The teachers in under developed countries mostly teach large and overcrowded classes. It is daunting reality and may not resolvable any time soon. 1990 Jomtien World Conference on Education for all and 2000 Dokar World Education Forum emphasis on education for all and it should be within the access to children of any regions on globe. In this scenario, the revolution about children enrolment in schools arises and growth in school has led to one positive (UNESCO 2006). But at the other side, requirements of additional skilled and qualified teachers, increase of school buildings, and supply of textbooks and other teaching tools are still unfulfilled. Student-teacher ratio is at high level in developing countries and touching the alarming point. Sub-Sahara African Countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia and Congo having largest classes with 74:1 pupil-teacher ratio PTR (Duflo, Dupas & Kremer, 2015). Asian countries as Afghanistan, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Bhotan, India, Nepal, and Maldives are holding average ratio of 58:1 (Masino & Nino-Zarazua, 2016). Pakistan is also belongs to the group of countries with high pupil-teacher ratio and holding average ratio of 53:1 among all provinces (Farooq, 2015; Siddiqui & Gorard, 2017). So, the large class size and its impacts on students’ performance is a matter of serious debate. Leading research in this field indicate that there are not different strategies for teaching of large classes and small classes, and large class is all about context more than a particular number of learners or pupil students ratio (Hornsby & Osman 2014; Kulkarni, Wei, Chia, Papadopoulos, Cheng & Klemmer, 2015; Egalite, Kisida, & Winters, 2015; Ndethiu, Masingila, Miheso-O’Connor, Khatete & Heath, 2017; Broadbent, Panadero & Boud, 2018).
Large classes are norm and major issues of under developed countries and are permanent hazard to implementation of educational policy. In a study on Pakistani education policy Ahmad and Hussain (2014) say that free education up to secondary level was introduced in National Education Policy (NEP 2009-2015) as a cornerstone of (UNESCO) and federal government aimed to meet the literacy rate 85% till 2015. Furthermore, it reasoned the enrolment of more than double number of students in schools but at other side construction of new classrooms, introduction of modern teaching equipment and supply of textbooks and other accessories was not taken seriously. So, large classroom size is a serious issue of Pakistan and does not only erode teachers’ confidence and teaching strategy but also effect the pupils’ learning and education quality.
In developed countries, teachers are equipped with the capacity for large class pedagogy (LCP). According to some studies the reduction of class size does not only guarantee to improve pupils’ learning outcomes but qualified teachers and use of modern teaching equipment and strategies increase the learning quality (Peng, McNess, Thomas, Zhang, & Tian, 2014; Evans & Popova, 2015; Leyva, Weiland, Barata, Yoshikawa, Snow, Treviño & Rolla, 2015; Sobaih, Moustafa, Ghandforoush, 2016). The present study pursues to establish teachers’ and principals’ perspectives regarding their capabilities to teach and manage large classes; what are the challenges about large class sizes; and what additional and essential supports teachers and principals recognize.
Review of the Literature
In teaching-learning context, various issues and problems are linked with large classes that influence the teachers’ teaching practices and students learning. In this view Negash and Shamim (2007), say that larges classes adversely impact the teacher’s practices, rise the issues related class instructions, classroom management, students’ learning and their own time equally assessment. Various studies in this area indicate that large class’s issues are associated with all subjects, as well as teaching-learning of any level. High ratio of pupil-teachers in science and mathematics classes affects the students’ performance especially in reading and writing due to unbalancing of time between instructional activities and learners’ classroom practices (Rohrer, Dedrick & Burgess, 2014; Eddy, Converse & Wenderoth, 2015; Baker, 2016).
According to Iein (1999), these issues are not raised in recent times but relate to the basics of academics activities for two centuries. From last fifty years, problems related teaching-learning in large classes highlighted as a core issue in academic field at world level. There are many reasons behind the formation of large classes, as additions of multiple subjects, education awareness, educational campaign at world level, but most important reason is increasing of pupil-teachers ratio (Sanders, Wright & Horn, 1997). In Pakistan, after the UNESCO’s revolution “Education for All (EFA)”, the student’s enrolments in schools increased to double at primary level and after one decade these primary students have been moved to secondary level (Shamim & Coleman, 2018). Furthermore, increase in student’s strength demands the constructions of new schools, classrooms, libraries, science laboratories and enrolments of more qualified teachers. These necessary needs have not been fulfilled, and unavailability of these resources and qualified teachers reasoned to increase pupil-teacher ratio up to 53:1.
Delivery of quality education to students is difficult task for teachers those teach the large classes, and face obstacles while assessing and managing the class (Abuya, Admassu, Ngware, Onsomu & Oketch, 2015). According to various scholars’ point of view, small class size increased student’s classroom learning performance because teachers instruct and manage the class affectively with giving more attention to every individual student (Hattie, 2005; Cuseo, 2007; Hounsell, McCune, Hounsell, & Litjens, J. 2008). According to Kulkarni, Cambre, Kotturi, Bernstein & Klemmer (2016), as compare to large class in small class size there is affective and better knowledge for student which increased the in-depth coverage of content in teaching-learning process. Knowledge of students’ attitude, psychology, leaning approach and interest to study are key factors for teachers to maintain grater learners’ outcomes. In this context, Early, Pianta, Burchinal, Ritchi, & Barbarin, (2006), say that teachers in small classes give more attention to every individual learner within classroom, and deal students according to their learning needs, learning approaches and study interest. Another important issue of large class is lack of teacher-student interaction. According to (Blatchford, Bassett & Brown, 2011), class size influences the teacher-to-student interaction; teachers have good, positive and affective interaction to their learners than teachers teach large classes. Even large classes are always problematic to teachers, students and as well as for administration, while at other side large classes also deliver some positive opportunities that may not be obtainable in small classes (Harfitt & Tsui, 2015). For example, teacher-students interactions may minimum, but student interaction with their fellows may increase, may me more peers learning, this scenario indicates that large classes present some positive opportunities for both teachers and students.
Last two decades’ research about large classes and their impacts on teaching-leaning prove that increasing class size has had a negative influence on pupils achievements and teaching performance of teachers, and this impact refers to all levels of academic system (Angrist & Lavy, 1999; Wenglinsky, 2002; Bettinger, Doss, Loeb, Rogers, & Taylor, 2017). In this context Vandenbroucke, Spilt, Verschueren, Piccinin, and Baeyens (2017), say that large class size does not only affect the students’ learning outcomes but also students’ cognitive skills as compare to students in smaller classes. Further, the pupils’ feeling in classroom interlinked with their learning. More care and teachers-student positive interaction always improve the learners’ outcomes, and positive interaction is only possible in smaller class size.
Administration, principals, teachers, and students perspectives about large class size are almost same, but teachers and students are the most important stake holders in educational system those are strongly affected by large classes (Luk & Lin 2017). Furthermore, Teachers’ perspective has had much value than others. Society and culture play an important role in this context, and increase and decrease the teachers’ tolerance for large class handling. Teachers’ perception in specific environment and situation more influence the classroom performance regardless the numbers of learners (Wang, Hall, Goetz, & Frenzel, 2017).So, teachers’ approach reflects the classroom outcomes, and mentally strong teachers handle the class affectively, and this situation increase the students’ performance than unconfident teachers.
Any productive outcome from students is based on how teachers are being prepared to manage large classes by their pre-service programs, as well as how they apply the strategies they learn during training (Fraser, 2015). In majority of the countries, teacher-training curriculums are not established or modifies up to required standards, and this flaw mismatches the progress in educational achievements between developed and developing countries (Cropley & Dave, 2014; Yan, 2015). Further they say that teachers’ educational coursework in developing countries does not seem to topic of large class size, and teachers remain unconfident while handling large classes. Rao and Yuan (2016), say that there is tendency for teacher to handling large classes through different strategies and methods, such as group making, peer tutoring, team teaching, and lecturing on specific topics, and this can be learned through pre-service and preparation of teachers.
Teaching in large classes is almost issue of whole worlds’ literary system, but tackling and managing of these issues differ country to country. African countries suffer more than other world, and this is the reason of decline in education stander and students outcomes. An average rate of students per class in school system is almost 76, and pupil-to-teacher ratio is almost 1:63 (Torelli, Lloyd, Diekman & Wehby, 2017). Asian countries are at second regarding suffering from large class size. In Pakistan average rate of students per class in schools is 54, Bagladesh 63, Srilanka 51, India 59, and Nepal 61 (Arrowsmith & Mandla, 2017; Shamim & Coleman, 2018). At other side, developed countries have been settled class size issues and managed the high standers of in their education system. In America, the average rate of students per class in school is 27, England 26, Germany 33, France 29 and China 36. This situation shows a clear picture of educational achievement among developing and developed countries.
Last ten years are turning this situation to best. UNESCO has been highlighted important aspects, and taken valuable steps to minimizing the pupil-teacher ratio in developing countries. Various researches taken large class size issue as a core issue, and managed their studies (Sleeter & Carmona, 2016; Copland, Garton & Burns, 2014; Bai & Chang, 2016; Shamim & Coleman, 2018). These studies not only highlighted the main issues of class size and factors involved in increasing these issues, but also provided a path towards tackling these problems within available resources.
Ndethiu, Masingila, Miheso-O’Connor, Khatete, and Heath, (2017), investigated the principals’ and teachers’ perspectives about large classes’ issues while teaching and handling at secondary level. Additionally, they emphasized the strategies suggested by principals and teachers for learning achievements with limited resources and large numbers of pupils. After the investigating large classes’ issues at country level in Kenya, researchers found that teaching large classes is a major issue in educational system of Kenya. The limited resources, limited and unqualified teachers, less numbers of schools and government negligence are the hurdles between solutions of these problems. They suggested that, the enrolments of students at secondary level will continue to grow, to fulfill the educational needs of newly students demand the hiring of new qualified teachers and constructions of more schools and classrooms in Kenya as well as in developing countries.
Scholars investigated the following research questions for this study.
- What are the secondary school class’s sizes in Pakistan?
- What are the effects of class size on teaching-learning as teachers’ perspectives?
- What are the effects of class size on teaching-leaning as principals’ perspectives?
- What are teachers’ strategies in teaching large classes?
For present research, we used teachers’ questionnaire, classroom observations, and principals’ interviews to address the above research questions for knowing the teachers’ and principals’ perspectives on teaching learning in large classes. Additionally, effects of large classes on teaching and learning and teachers’ practices in large classes were also examined through teachers’ questionnaire. We collected the data through teachers’ questionnaire, school principals’ interviews and different subjects’ classroom observations. Questionnaire was completed by 160 teachers of 14 subjects, interviews were carried out with 16 Pakistani secondary schools principals, and 20 classroom lessons were observed during class observations across eight subject areas.
Sample and Data Collection
For data collection, we selected 20 public sector schools of 4 provinces in Pakistan. Then we selected one class from each school for classroom observations of teachers’ inside classroom practices. Interviews of 16 schools principals were also carried out. From all 20 schools, eighty percent (16) of the schools were boys’ schools, and twenty percent (4) were girls’ schools. All schools were selected from urban area to analysis the large class’s size equally from all provinces. The Baluchistan has low rate of population in rural areas (Nawaz-ul-Hud, Burke & Azam, 2017). So, availability of large class size in rural area was not possible.
To collect the data for present study, we adapted questionnaire, classroom observations protocol and principals’ interviews protocol from Sophia M. Ndethiu, Joanna O. Masingila, Marguerite, Miheso-O’Connor, David, Khatete & Katie, (2017). We collected the data during February 2018. During this research, we collected questionnaire from 160 teachers who were teaching 14 subjects. Seventy-seven percent of the teachers were male (n= 124) and twenty-three percent were female (n= 36). The maximum age group of teachers were 50-59 years old (9.4 %, n = 15), next largest group having 40-49 years old (28.1%, n = 45), and third age group of 56 (35%) teachers were with 30-39 years age. 36 (22.5%) participant teachers were with 25-29 years age and last group was of 8 teachers (5%) with age less than twenty four years. Out of 160 teachers 25 (15.6%) were with above 20 years teaching experience, 34 (21.2%) were with 15-20 years teaching experience, 41 (25.6%) mentioned their teaching experience 10-15 years, 44 (27.5%) were with 5-10 years of teaching experience, and 16 (10%) teachers had taught less than 5 years.
We interviewed sixteen school principals and observed a lesson during class observations among all schools. Eighty percent male teachers (n = 16) were observed during teaching a lesson inside the classroom and twenty percent female teachers (n = 4) were observed. Here, table 1 guides about the distributions of provinces and teacher who completed the questionnaire, however table 2 is about observed lessons’ subjects.
Table 1: Distribution of provinces, cities and teachers who completed the questionnaire
Number of teachers
Punjab (with highest population among country)
Karachi (at second number with population)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (at third number of total population of country)
Dera Ismail Khan
Baluchistan (at last number with population)
Table 2: Distribution of subject areas for observed lessons
Number of the lessons observed
Table 3: Distribution of grade levels of observed lessons
Grade 9 (first year of secondary level)
Grade 10 (second year of secondary level)
To answer the research questions, we used collected data from teachers’ questionnaire, class observations, and principals’ interviews. To answer the first research question: ‘What are the secondary school class’s sizes in Pakistan?’ we used data collected from questionnaire and class observations. Data from questionnaire was used to analyze the second research question: ‘What are the effects of class size on teaching-learning as teachers’ perspectives?’ Our third research question is ‘What are the effects of class size on teaching-leaning as principals’ perspectives?’ to answering this question, we used data gathered from principals’ interview. Further, to answer our fourth research question ‘What are teachers’ strategies in teaching large classes?’ we used information collected from class observations. Data from questionnaire was compiled through figures calculation as ticked by teachers. For interview analysis, first we used initial coding method to establishing codes of transcribed interviews and then used focus coding to make sense of data. We used same coding method for analysis of four written question given at the end of questionnaire.
Results are based on data collected through teachers’ questionnaire, principals’ interviews, and observed lessons during class observations. Results of presents study address the four research questions.
Secondary Level Class Sizes in Pakistani Schools
After analyzing the questionnaire data of 160 secondary schools’ teachers and 20 class observations, we were able to found the size of secondary school classes in Pakistan. The questionnaire results indicate that 53 schools had between 41-50 students in each class. It is vast majority with 33.1% of 160 schools. The results of 10 (50%) out of 20 classes’ observations also indicate that majority of classes were between 41-50 students. Furthermore, questionnaire results show that at second, 44 (27.5%) classes were founded with 31-40 students, between 51-60 students were in 18 (11.2%) classes, 14 (8.7%) classes were with 21-30 students, 12 (7.5%) out of 160 classes were with between 71-80 students, there were between 81-90 students in 5 (3.1%) classes, and with the vast numbers of students between 91-100, there were 3 classes, which is 1.8% of total 160 classes.
Table 4: Numbers of students in each class as reported by teachers in questionnaires
Students’ strength in each secondary class
Reported teachers’ percentage
8.7% (n = 14)
27.5% (n = 44)
33.1% (n = 53)
11.2% (n = 18)
6.8% (n = 11)
7.5% (n = 12)
3.1% (n = 5)
1.8% (n = 3)
100% (n = 160)
Table 5: Number of students in observes class.
Students strength in each observed class
According to Shamim and Coleman (2018) that the average class size in Pakistani secondary schools is 50 students per class. This class size indicates the high pupil-teacher ratio PTR 50:1 that is exceed the stander rate (Siddiqui & Gorard, 2017). The results of presents study show the same ratio, and it is clear evidence that majority of teachers in Pakistani secondary schools are teaching large classes.
Pakistani secondary school teachers’ perspectives on the effects of class size on teaching-learning.
Results gathered from teachers’ questionnaires indicate that large classes put negative effects on teaching and learning. Table 6 explains the results of teachers’ perspective on class size.
Table 6: Teachers’ perspective on effects of the class size on teaching-learning
Teachers’ point of view
Teachers in my school have very large classes
63.75% of teachers were agree or strongly agree
Teachers in my school are confident in handling large classes
38.75% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
Teaching large classes is not a problem in my school
38.75% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
The school has enough resources and facilities to support teaching and learning
61.87% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
The school is adequately staffed with enough graduate teachers
62.5% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
Classrooms in my school are too congested for effective teaching of large classes
79.37% of teachers were agree or strongly agree
The school administration provides teachers with support for teaching large classes
56.25% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
Ministry of Education officials play a very important role in helping us become better teachers for large classes
73.75% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
Student performance in my school is not affected by class size
51.87% of teachers were disagree or strongly disagree
Performance in the subject, I teaches is negatively affected by having large number of students
68.12% of teachers were agree or strongly agree
Teachers are able to cover syllabus using regular class lessons
70% of teachers were agree or strongly agree
Teachers in my school are overworked
71.25% of teachers were agree or strongly agree
These results paint a picture that majority of teachers (63.75%) are agree or strongly on large classes in their schools. 38.75% teachers are disagreed are strongly disagreed that they feel confident while teaching in large classes. Same ratio (38.75% teachers) is regarding large classes are problem in their school. 61.87% teachers are disagreed and strongly disagreed that schools have enough resources to support them while teaching large classes. There was a clear evidence of 62.5% teachers’ views that schools have not trained and graduate teachers. 79.37% of teachers are agreed or strongly agreed that classrooms in their schools are very congested and put negative effects on teaching-learning. 56.25% of teachers are agreed or disagree that schools administration provide teachers with support to maximize the teaching-learning in large classes, while 73.75% of teachers are denied any specific support from Ministry of Education to minimize the issues and challenges of large classes. More than half of the teachers (51.87%) disagreed or strongly disagree that class size does not affect the students’ performance. Majority of the teachers (68.12%) are agreed or strongly agreed that large numbers of students in class negatively affect their teaching performance and 71.25% are agreed and strongly agreed that teachers in their schools are overworked which badly affects teaching-learning.
Furthermore, on the basis of questionnaire data, we analyzed the teachers’ confidence and skills in handling the large classes. Table 7 identifies the results related teachers’ skills.
Table.7: Teachers’ confidence in handling large classes
Ability to identify learning needs of all my students
57.5% good are very good and 42.5% fair are poor
Ability to interact effectively with all my students
50% are good are very good and 50% fair or poor
Ability to assist weak students
66.8% are good are very good and 33.2% fair or poor
Ability to enrich well performing students
69.3% are good are very good and 30.7% fair or poor
Ability to manage my classroom
70% are good are very good and 30% fair or poor
Ability to create warm and motivating learning atmosphere
60% are good are very good and 40% fair or poor
Ability to create assessment modes that lead to meaningful learning
56.8% are fair or poor and 43.2% good or very good
Ability to grade and provide quick feedback
82.5% are good are very good and 17.5% fair or poor
Ability to use different student activities
50.6% are good are very good and 49.4% fair or poor
Ability to use the lecture method effectively
78.1% are good are very good and 21.9% fair or poor
Ability to use computers
54.3% are good are very good and 45.7 fair or poor
Ability to create your own teaching materials
69.3% are fair or poor and 30.7% good or very good
Ability to creatively use other methods apart from lecturing
58.7% are fair or poor and 41.3% good or very good
Ability to support students with special needs in my classes
60% are fair or poor and 40% good or very good
These results provide information that majority of the teachers’ abilities in identify the learning needs of students, to assist weak students, to enrich well performing students, to manage my classroom, to create warm and motivating learning atmosphere, to provide quick feedback, and to use the lecture method effectively are good or very good, while fair or poor in creating assessment modes that lead to meaningful learning of students, to create their own teaching materials, to creatively use other methods apart from lecturing, and to support their students with special needs in my classes. Teachers’ ratio to interact effectively with his/her students and to use different student activities is almost fifty/fifty. The majority of the teachers are founded to prefer the traditional teaching method of lecturing and avoiding other teaching activities. They are not capable to create their own teaching material and activities base teaching classrooms.
Teachers’ perspective on changes that could support makes teaching more interesting and effective in large classes.
Results of short questions given at the end of teachers’ questionnaire identify the teachers’ perspective on requirement of necessary change that could support teaching large classes. Table 8 is related these results.
Table 8: Teachers’ perspective on more effective teaching
Number of teachers*
Recruitments of more teachers
Reduction of classes per teacher
Reduction of classes
Integration of modern teaching aids
More material for students and teachers
More construction of Labs, computer, classrooms, and libraries
Free books, copies and other items
Large and comfortable classrooms
Rules and regulations for teachers and students
More supports from Ministry of education
*some teachers given more than one suggestion
60 percent of the teachers (n = 96) suggested that more professional teachers should be recruited in educational department. Minimizing of overcrowded classes per teacher is listed by 71 teachers which is 44.3% of all participant teachers. Teachers (n = 52, 32.5%) pointed that number of students per class should be reduced. Needs of modern teaching aids are highlighted by 47 (29.37%) teachers. According to 41(25.6%) teachers, Pakistani secondary schools should be provided with Labs, computer labs, new classrooms, and libraries. Majority of the teachers (n = 131, 81.8%) are agree that large and comfortable classrooms are necessary for more effective teaching in large classes. 70.6% of teachers (n = 113) listed that students should be provided with free books, copies and other necessary items. 119 teachers with the ratio of 74% wanted more support from ministry of Education, while (n = 53, 33.1%) argued about proper rules and regulations should be maintained for teachers and students.
Teachers’ practices in teaching large classes
During classroom observations, there were 20 classroom lessons were observed. Table 6 show the time spent detail during classroom instructions.
Table 6: Time spent on different teaching instructional methods in classroom
100% time (5% of teachers, n = 1)
75% time (45% of teachers, n = 9)
50% time (15% of teachers, n = 3)
25% time (35% of teachers, n = 7)
25% time (25% of teachers, n = 5)
25% time (35% of teachers, n = 7)
Question / answer
25% time (70% of teachers, n = 14)
Pair and group work
50% time (20% of teachers, n = 1)
25% time (45% of teachers, n = 9)
According to these figures teachers spent majority of time in lecturing. Demonstration technique was followed by only 25% teachers (n = 5) with average time 25 % of total class time. Class practical strategy was observed by 7 teachers which is 37 % of all 20 teachers. Teachers spent 25% of class time for class practical. The ratio of question and answer was also found better than demonstration, class practical, pair-group work and class discussion. 70% teachers (n = 14) spent 25% of class time in question-answers in classroom. Pair work and group work is a affective tool for handing large classes but no teacher out of twenty was followed pair work or group work method. 25% of total class time was observed in class discussion by 9 teachers which are 45% of 20 teachers.
Out of 20 observed lessons, only 7 (35%) teachers had their lesson planes and remaining 13 (65%) were taught their classes without any lesson plan. 17 (85%) teachers were taught lesson from given syllabus, while 3 (15%) teachers were taught out of recognized syllabus. classroom environment was observed uncomfortable for students learning. 11 (55%) classrooms out of 20 were founded congested, while 9 (45%) were founded little bit suitable for teaching a class. For their lesson, only 1 (5%) teacher was used especial classroom arrangement in laboratory for biology subject, but other 19 (95%) teachers followed their traditional teaching style. Students-teacher interaction inside the classroom was not extraordinary, majority of the teachers was shown angriness to their students, which puts a negative impact on students’ classroom learning. Students’ interaction among each other was better as compare to student-teacher interaction. There was a big question mark on availability of items and resources which are necessary for learning environment. Uncomfortable desks and books were only learning facilities for students. No one classroom was facilitated with necessary teaching-learning tolls, as computer, projector, audio system, charts, internet and science laboratories. Majority of the teachers were founded unconfident and unable to manage classroom activities, assessment and questions-answers effectively within class timings. Due to these weaknesses, lessons objectives were not achieved according to syllabus plan.
Principals’ perspectives and strategies on teaching and learning with large classes
For present research, principals’ perspectives on effects of class size on teaching and learning are resulted on the basis of 16 interviews carried out by school principals. Principals perspectives’ are noted related classes issues, effects of class size on teaching and learning, major challenges of large classes, and suggestion about making teaching more effective in large classes. Interviewed principals given lot of perspectives on the effects of class size on teaching and learning. Table 9 shows these perspectives.
Table 9: Principals’ perspectives on the effects class size on teaching-learning
Number of principals
Classes to much large ;overcrowded teachers
(n = 16) 100%
Teacher lacking interest in teaching;
(n = 5) 31.2%
Lacking of students encouragement and teacher-student interaction
(n = 4) 25%
Ruining the students’ performance
(n = 3) 18.7 %
Less support for large from government
(n = 9) 56.2%
Large classes are our reality
(n = 4) 25%
Insufficient space for teacher in classroom
(n = 2) 12.5%
During interview, researchers asked the principals about effects of large classes on teachers and students, and how these affect their teaching and learning. All principals were agree that they have large classes in their schools, and teachers complaint and unhappy about the current class size. 5 (31.2%) principals pointed that large classes are reason for lacking of teachers’ interest in teaching. 43.7% (n = 7) principals told that large classes discourage the students and ruining their performance and limited the teachers-students interaction. 9 (56.2%) principals complained about the less support by government to minimize the effects of large classes on teaching-learning. 6 (37.5%) principals pointed that large classes are forced on use, and teachers have insufficient space to move inside the classes.
Further, researchers questioned the principals about their perspective on major challenges related large classes in their schools. Table 10 states the principals’ response on challenges of large classes.
Table 10: Principals’ perspectives on the major challenges related to large classes.
Number of principals
Large classes are main problem in education department
(n = 16) 100%
Social conflict among teachers and students
(n = 4) 25%
Class controlling and discipline issues
(n = 10) 62.5%
Insufficient resources; unskilled teachers
(n = 14) 87.5%
Lack of books and necessary item
(n = 7) 43.75%
Examining and assessing problems
(n = 11) 68.75%
(n = 13) 81.25%
Lack students leaning outcome
(n = 9) 56.2%
Majority of the principals are agreed that large classes affect students’ learning directly and indirectly. All principals noted that large classes are main issue in educational system of Pakistan. 4 (25%) principals highlighted that large class increases social conflict among teacher-students and students to students. According to (n = 10) 62.5% large classes are major challenges to class controlling and maintaining the discipline inside the class. 14 (87.5%) principals stated that insufficient resources and unskilled and non-qualified teachers are major challenges to large classes. Lack of students’ books and necessary items’ challenges are pointed by (n =7) 43.74% principals. More than half of the principals (n = 11) 68.75% pointed about examination and assessment challenges. Unsuitable and uncomfortable environment for leaning is major challenge to large classes, and this is stated by (n = 13) 81.25% principals. According to 9 (56.2%) principals the lack students interest in learning and their low outcomes are main challenge to large classes.
Researched questioned principals about their suggestions and perspectives on the changes that could improve the teaching-learning outcomes. Table 11 is about these perspectives.
Table 11: Principals’ perspectives on changes that could support more effective teaching-learning
Number of principals
Professional training of the teachers; pre-service training of teachers
(n = 11) 68.75%
By improving teaching learning outcomes
(n = 4) 25%
Providing necessary teaching aids
(n = 9) 56.2%
Through assessing teachers skills
(n = 5) 31.25%
By arrangements of required resources for large classes
(n = 4) 25%
With recruiting more teachers in system
(n = 13) 81.25%
Constructions of more schools and classrooms
(n = 7) 43.75%
Out of all 16, 11 (68.75%) principals suggested that pre-service and professional training of the teachers could be supportive for more effective teaching-learning with large classes. According to 9 (56.2%) principals, we can improve and make teaching-learning more effective through providing necessary teaching learning aids, and 4 principals suggested that teaching-learning outcomes can make teaching-learning effective in large classes. Furthermore, according to point of view of (n = 5) 31.25% principals, proper checking and assessing the teachers’ skills can support effective teaching-learning in large classes. 11 (68.75%) principals agreed that provision of required teaching resources and construction of more schools and classrooms could support more effective teaching-learning with large classes. Out of 16 principals, 13 (81.25%) pointed that recruitment of new qualified teachers in system could be effective.
According to the results of present study, the average students per class in Pakistani secondary schools are 50 and above. Participants (teachers and principals) of research are agreed that classes are too large. As, past studies indicate that average class size in Pakistani secondary schools is 50 students per class, and high rate of pupil-teacher ratio 50:1 that exceeds the stander rate (Siddiqui & Gorard, 2017; Shamim & Coleman, 2018). Both teachers and principals are agreed that large classes have negative impacts on teachers’ performance and students’ learning achievement as well. Large classes are reasoned from lack of teachers’ attention to each individual student, lack of teaching classroom resources, and lack of class management and discipline. Majority of teachers and principals are agreed that, there is no any specific support from government to handle the issues of large classes. They are teaching large classes with insufficient resources, and this lacking of teaching and classroom accessories put the negative impacts on students’ performance.
Even without sufficient resources, principals and teachers are confident. They are agreed to do their best to minimize the challenges and issues of large classes, and to maximize the teaching-learning achievements within limited facilities. However, they stated for more support in the form of (a) construction of more schools and classrooms; (b) reduction of class size; (c) recruitment of more skilled and qualified teachers in system; (d) professional courses and workshops for teachers; and (e) providing more teaching tools (e.g. books, computers, multimedia, speakers, and mikes) from Ministry of Education and government.
It is clear that the enrolments of more children in secondary schools in Pakistan, and in other developing countries, will increase day by day. To fulfill academic needs of secondary schools students, it is necessary to construct new schools and classrooms, to improve status of old schools and classrooms, hiring the new teachers in system, providing the necessary teaching-learning aids, pre-service and professional training of teachers, improvement the pedagogical approaches and use of ICT tools, and providing the sufficient resources to teachers that they can face the challenges and handle the issues of large classes. Large classes are reality of Pakistan and developing countries so, it is need to facilitate teachers with modern and necessary teaching tools to minimize the challenges and issues and maximize the teaching learning outcomes with large classes.
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