1.1 Background to the Study
With the introduction of free and compulsory Education in the state, there is a tremendous increase in school enrollment. This has a consequential impact on class size with many children vying for the few places available in our educational institutions. This situation led to over sized schools with over-sized classes. This is with the attendant problems of inadequate facilities, instructional materials and supporting personnel. Class size is considered therefore as the total number of students in a class at a given time (Udo, 2006).
The National Policy on Education (2004) views class size as the population of a given class in terms of number of students and recommends a normal class size of 25 learners to one teacher, (ie. 25:1). This is hardly achievable in Nigerian public secondary schools. Duyilemi (2003) stated that some teachers put it as ranging from 50 and above per class. Class size may therefore be a singular problem with contributory factors such as increase in the teacher’s work load, inadequate facilities, lack of adequate space, high level of indiscipline and their resulting psychological and physiological consequences on students’ academic performance.
However, the total number in any given class has a great effect on the academic performance of students in any examination. This is because if the number is less, greater attention will be given to the students in the class by the teacher but when the population is much, the teacher will not be able to give good attention to the students while teaching.
Anderson (2002) pointed out that in examination, if an individual is not influenced by fear or other external influences (class size) the individual would always produce consistent action or behaviour which will reflect his/her attitude towards the object of interest. The author observed that over crowding accounts for the cause of poor performance in examination.
It is on this ground that this research is undertaken to ascertain the influence of class size on students’ performance among secondary school students in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The level of students’ academic performance as a result of class size in public secondary schools has been dwindling due to the population of students. The academic performance of students in public secondary schools has been faced with series of problems; one of which is the large class size. The issue of class size in increasingly becoming a subject of concern and controversy among educators. Many people feel that with so many students now enrolled in our public secondary schools, the qualitative education advocated for in the National Policy on Education (2004) may be difficult to achieve because the larger the class, the more difficult it becomes to control and consequently a poor overall output.
It is against this background that a study like this becomes necessary to ascertain the influence of class size on students’ academic performance in Agricultural Science in selected secondary schools in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area, with a view to suggesting measures that will help improve the situation.