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Overcrowded Classes

A look at the effects of overcrowded classrooms on STEM learning and teaching
by Joe Comer on 30 July 2013

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Transcript of Overcrowded Classes

The Effects of Overcrowded Classrooms on STEM Learning and Teaching
Jody and Joe
Effects of Overcrowding on Students
States such as Texas and New York report average classroom sizes to be thirty four. This average is artificially low because of the inclusion of special needs classes in calculations. (3,5)
Overcrowded classrooms are the result of too many students being located in a single school district.
There are obvious problems with overcrowding in schools. Students are not as safe in a classroom with no room to move if there were an emergency.
The real problem with overcrowded classrooms is seen when we look at the effects on teaching and learning
Testing has shown that average reading scores on standardized tests are lower in larger class sizes than smaller classes. (6)
Schools are built to accomadate a maximum number of students. Some schools are having to accomadate 45% more students than their max (1)
In order to combat overcrowding in classrooms, many schools place a cap on how many students may be in a single class. Usually, this number is thirty-four. However, most schools can not keep class sizes at this size, and must have larger classes
These caps are often thirty four students in a regular classroom setting, and fifty students in P.E. Some classes in overcrowded districts have as many as fifty students in a regular classroom setting.
Effects of Overcrowding on Teachers
When teachers have to care for too many students, their ability to teach is hindered
Teachers are often judged based on how well their students do on standardized tests. Since students in overcrowded classrooms tend to do worse on these tests, theses scores reflect poorly on teachers.
An important teaching method in STEM classes is that teachers provide adequate one-on-one attention to each student's needs. This is not possible in overcrowded classrooms.
In a class of thirty-seven students with only fifty-five minutes provided for instruction, teachers could not provide more than ninety seconds of individual attention to each student.
Teachers are being graded for the performance of their students, but they are not being given enough time to adequately prepare the students
In an attempt to balance the negative effects of overcrowding, some schools are hiring more teachers so that there are more than one teacher per classroom. This is an expensive method that not many schools can utilize.
Many schools also use "temporary classrooms," or trailers. These are yet another expensive solution to the overcrowding problem, and it's a solution that only works for a short time.
Proposed Solutions
While many solutions to overcrowding have been recommended, most are too expensive for schools to use. Without more funding, schools must look for alternative methods of overcoming the consequences of overcrowding.
One method that STEM teachers can learn from non-STEM teachers is the utilization of group discussions. While large group "conversational" learning is not possible in STEM courses, small group interaction can provide an opportunity for meaningful learning to take place.
Small group interactions is not a replacement for one-on-one teacher to student interaction, it can help to recuperate meaningful learning lost to a lack of one-on-one interactions
Another cost effective method for encouraging meaningful learning in an overcrowded classroom is organization. By this, we mean how the room is set up.
Often, classrooms are filled with too many students, desks, and teaching materials to be a comfortable learning environment. A simple way to enhance learning in this setting is to rearrange the desks.
By organizing the desks so that group interaction is encouraged, teachers are encouraging meaningful learning. Otherwise, rows and columns only help those up font.
References
1.Akhtar, S., Zamurad, N., Arif, M., & Hussain, I. (2012, May). Problems Faced by Students and Teachers in the Management of Overcrowded Classes in Pakistan.. EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/detail?vid=8&hid=4&sid=906f4164-6790-40af-823f-714fa9a176c9%40sessionmgr12&bdata=Jn

2.Jones, D. (2012, October 14). Underfunded Schools = Overcrowded Classrooms.. EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/detail?vid=4&hid=109&sid=2d18e385-58a5-4494-ad8a-f69e4de6d02c%40sessionmgr104&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU

3.Kuczynski-Brown, A. (2012, September 26). New York Class Size: Nearly Half Of Public Schools Have Overcrowded Classrooms, UFT Says. Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/new-york-class-size-uft_n_1914357.html

4.Oberg, T. (2012, May 10). Local school has potential solution to overcrowded classrooms | abc13.com. ABC Owned Television Stations. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/in_focus&id=8656961

5.Oberg, T. (2012, May 10). Class sizes across Texas ballooning after state cuts billions of dollars in education funding | abc13.com. ABC Owned Television Stations. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/in_focus&id=8655264

6.Goettler-Sopko, S. 1990. The effect of class size on reading achievement. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED325826
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