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The reality that teachers in developing countries teach large, and even overcrowded classes, is daunting and one that may not go away any time soon. Class size in Kenyan public secondary schools is generally 40–59 students per class. This article reports initial findings on teachers’ and principals’ perspectives related to large classes. We used questionnaires, interviews and classroom observation data to examine teachers’ and principals’ perspectives regarding their capacities to teach and manage large classes; what challenges large class sizes present; and what additional supports teachers and principals perceive to be necessary. Both teachers and principals reported that the current class size has a negative impact on teaching and learning. Additionally, both teachers and principals cited a need for more support in the form of (a) professional development; (b) workload reduction; and (c) increased resources. These areas of support could help to mediate the effects of large class size, including an almost sole reliance on lecturing with little teacher-to-student and studentto-student interaction.
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Africa Education Review
ISSN: 1814-6627 (Print) 1753-5921 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/raer20
Kenyan Secondary Teachers’ and Principals’
Perspectives and Strategies on Teaching and
Learning with Large Classes
Sophia M. Ndethiu, Joanna O. Masingila, Marguerite K. Miheso-O’Connor,
David W. Khatete & Katie L. Heath
To cite this article: Sophia M. Ndethiu, Joanna O. Masingila, Marguerite K. Miheso-O’Connor,
David W. Khatete & Katie L. Heath (2017): Kenyan Secondary Teachers’ and Principals’
Perspectives and Strategies on Teaching and Learning with Large Classes, Africa Education
Review, DOI: 10.1080/18146627.2016.1224573
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DOI: 10.1080/18146627.2016.1224573
Print ISSN 1814-6627 | Online 1753-5921
© University of South Africa
Africa Education Review
Volume xx | Number xx | 2017 | pp. xx–xx
http://www.tandfonline.com/raer20
ARTICLES
KENYAN SECONDARY TEACHERS’
AND PRINCIPALS’ PERSPECTIVES AND
STRATEGIES ON TEACHING AND LEARNING
WITH LARGE CLASSES
Sophia M. Ndethiu
Kenyatta University, Kenya
ndethiu.sophia@ku.ac.ke
David W. Khatete
Kenyatta University, Kenya
khatete.david@ku.ac.ke
Joanna O. Masingila
Syracuse University, NY, United States
jomasing@syr.edu
Katie L. Heath
Syracuse University, NY, United States
klnichip@syr.edu
Marguerite K. Miheso-O’Connor
Kenyatta University, Kenya
miheso.marguerite@ku.ac.ke
ABSTRACT
The reality that teachers in developing countries teach large, and even overcrowded classes,
is daunting and one that may not go away any time soon. Class size in Kenyan public
secondary schools is generally 40–59 students per class. This article reports initial ndings
on teachers’ and principals’ perspectives related to large classes. We used questionnaires,
interviews and classroom observation data to examine teachers’ and principals’ perspectives
regarding their capacities to teach and manage large classes; what challenges large
class sizes present; and what additional supports teachers and principals perceive to be
necessary. Both teachers and principals reported that the current class size has a negative
impact on teaching and learning. Additionally, both teachers and principals cited a need for
more support in the form of (a) professional development; (b) workload reduction; and (c)
increased resources. These areas of support could help to mediate the effects of large class
size, including an almost sole reliance on lecturing with little teacher-to-student and student-
to-student interaction.
Keywords: class size; large class pedagogy; effects of large class size on teaching and
learning
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Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
INTRODUCTION
The reality that teachers in developing countries teach large, and even overcrowded,
classes is daunting and one that may not go away any time soon. The resolution arising
from the 1990 Jomtien World Conference on Education for All, and the follow up later
at the 2000 Dakar World Education Forum, has placed a very high emphasis on the need
to expand access to education for all children. This goal, followed by high population
growth has led to one positive, but also complex outcome – soaring enrolments, which
in most cases are not accommodated by the recruitment of additional qualied teachers,
the increase of physical space, and the provision of more textbooks and other teaching
equipment. Sub-Sahara Africa is home to some of the largest classes where pupil-to-
teacher ratios (PTR) are 70:1 in countries such as Congo, Ethiopia and Malawi, while
South and East Asia follow closely with Afghanistan and Cambodia holding ratios of
55:1 or slightly higher (UNESCO 2006). According to the United Nations Education,
Scientic and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO 2011, 2), data from 45 African countries
shows that Sub-Sahara Africa has an average of 50 pupils per class, ‘a number that is
much higher than average class sizes in the European Union or OECD member countries
which are below 20 in the majority of classes and below 30 in all countries’. Although
the concept of class size and how size impacts student performance has been and is still
a matter of serious debate, research evidence is leading researchers to the conclusion
that there are not two different strategies for teaching – one set of strategies for teaching
small classes and a different set for teaching large classes. What really constitutes a
large class is more a matter of context than a particular number of students or PTR.
Very large classes are the norm in many developing countries and are often perceived
to be a threat to educational quality. In Kenya, we have seen that the introduction of the
Free Primary Education (FPE) Policy in 2003 and the launching of the Free Secondary
Education Programme in 2008 have more than doubled the number of pupils in both
primary and secondary public schools. This problem has not only eroded teacher
condence, but has also placed the issue of class size at the forefront of the educational
and political agenda in the country. As evidenced in numerous stories in the national
newspapers, there has been an outcry from teachers and all citizens for the government
to reduce class size by employing more teachers, and in recent times the shortage of
teachers has led to union agitation against the government. Clearly, due to economic
as well as political factors, the problem of large classes may not disappear from the
Kenyan school system any time soon.
It is imperative that teachers in the context of developing countries be equipped
with the capacity for large class pedagogy (LCP). Research suggests that reducing
class size is not a guarantee that learning outcomes will improve (Hartt 2012; Hattie
2005). Of more importance, therefore, is the need to understand how graduate teachers
in developing countries assess their capability to teach large classes and nd ways
to build teacher and school capacity. This study sought to establish teachers’ and
principals’ perspectives regarding their capacities to teach and manage large classes;
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Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
what challenges large class sizes present; and what additional supports teachers and
principals perceive to be necessary.
CONTEXT
Argument for increasing teacher quality
Findings from current research on class size and its impact on student performance are
increasingly leading to the dominant belief that merely reducing class size does not of
itself guarantee positive student achievement. Rather than focus on the perceived benets
of small classes, attention is shifting to understanding teacher characteristics that foster
positive change in students within large classes. Several studies have identied teacher
quality as a key factor for successful learning in large classes (Benbow et al. 2007;
Coleman 2011; Nakabugo et al. 2008; O’Sullivan 2006; Otienoh 2010; Wößmann and
West 2006). Although it is logical to conclude that teaching practices shift when teachers
move from a small class to a large class, research has consistently shown that teachers
use the same strategies with small classes as they do with larger classes (Nakabugo et
al. 2008) and that capable teachers are able to enhance the learning of their students
no matter the class size (Wößmann and West 2006); it all rests on the quality of the
teacher. This essentially means that a poor teacher would not be effective even with a
small class. Coleman (2011) concludes that reducing PTR makes no difference based
on a UNESCO report entitled ‘Financing the quality of education in Sub-Sahara Africa’.
The report, published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in Montreal, was based on
a thorough and comprehensive study carried out by the World Bank in Togo in 2003. It
is evident, based on Coleman’s (2011) study and other studies on class size and student
achievement, that class size on its own does not lead to any signicant difference in
learning outcomes, an observation that has invited focus on the need to study teacher
roles in the context of large classes and approaches that are benecial for teachers
and students in large classes (Benbow et al. 2007; Nakabugo et al. 2008; O’Sullivan
2006; Otienoh 2010; Wößmann and West 2006). Coleman (2011) suggests that more
investments should be focused on improving teacher quality instead of making any
drastic attempts to reduce class size. Given that efforts in class size reduction could
be hampered by economic and other factors, research in such contexts should address
one critical question: How can teachers in developing countries be supported in coping
with the pedagogical challenges of teaching large classes? The answer seems to lie in
building teacher capacity in large class pedagogy (LCP). Buckingham (2003, 71) asserts
the importance of quality teacher preparation by stating that,
class size has less effect when teachers are competent and the single most important inuence on
student achievement is teacher quality. Research shows unequivocally that it is far more valuable
both in education and scal terms, to have good teachers than lots of teachers.
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Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Thus, teachers need to be prepared with pedagogical skills to meet all of the challenges
they will face, including large class size.
In order to enhance teaching and learning in large classes, there is a need for a
paradigm shift. Benbow et al. (2007), Nakabugo et al. (2008), O’Sullivan (2006), and
Wößmann and West (2006) have urged educators to move away from worrying about
class reductions to focusing on the needs of teachers in large classes. Wößmann and
West’s (2006) study, under the International Association for Evaluation and Educational
Achievement (IEA) for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study
(TIMSS), reviewed class size effects in 18 different school systems around the world.
By removing the bias often associated with conventional estimates of the effects of class
size, the researchers found that out of the 18 countries in the study, small classes were
benecial in Greece and Iceland but were not at all benecial in Japan and Singapore.
In Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Korea, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain,
the effects of class size on student performance were ruled out while the study did
not document any conclusive evidence in class size and performance (Wößmann and
West 2006). The authors noted that in countries where class size does not seem to have
any effects on performance, teachers are highly qualied, which is true for Japan and
Singapore (Wößmann and West 2006).
Although there have been efforts in different countries to introduce class size
reduction policies, with specic reference to the United States (US) following the
research ndings from Project STAR, large class sizes are not likely to disappear in
the near future (UNESCO 2006). For most developing countries in particular, reducing
class sizes to numbers where a positive impact begins to be felt is not economically
viable. In reference to research by the World Bank (2003) on the effects of class size in
Togo, Coleman (2011) summarises the conclusions of that study as follows:
1. Most expensive innovation is increasing teacher qualications to rst degree.
2. Cheapest innovation is increasing the number of textbooks.
3. Biggest impact on scores comes from increasing teachers’ qualications to
secondary school certicate.
4. Least impact on scores (zero) comes from decreasing class size.
5. Most cost effective innovation per dollar is increasing the number of textbooks.
6. Least cost effective innovation (zero) is decreasing class size.
In an effort to underscore the need for qualied teachers, O’Sullivan (2006) concluded
that there were helpful practices that teachers in developing countries use to cope with
the challenges of teaching large classes. From his study of teaching approaches in large
classes in Uganda, O’Sullivan (2006) reported that class size does not necessarily result
in better teaching quality even though small classes have positive effects. O’Sullivan
argued that research on large classes in developing countries should be focused on
nding out which strategies are most benecial for teachers and students in this context.
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Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
In his Ugandan example, the following strategies were observed among effective
teachers: teachers praised the children; asked lots of questions; explained clearly; used
eye contact; scanned the classroom constantly; used repetition when necessary; used
detailed lesson plans; and were animated and enthusiastic. Therefore, the current study
was motivated by the need to understand how graduate secondary school teachers
perceive their capacity to handle large classes, as well as obtain their principals’
perspectives on this issue.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Large class pedagogy
There are various problems associated with large classes that affect both teachers and
students. According to Benbow et al. (2007), large classes in developing countries
adversely impact two signicant and interrelated aspects of a teacher’s practice, namely,
instructional time and classroom management. These researchers have observed that
the teaching of mathematics, reading and writing suffer the most due to time constraints
and that balancing time between instructional activities and classroom management is
a serious challenge for many teachers. There are also effects on teacher motivation
and classroom motivation, which in turn affects student engagement. Students in large
classes suffer academically in that it is more difcult for teachers to evaluate and meet
the needs of individual students.
Teachers who are faced with overcrowded or large class sizes face obstacles in the
quality of education being delivered (Benbow et al. 2007). Most teachers feel that it is
easier to teach smaller classes and some researchers propose that smaller classes result
in increased student performance because teachers are able to give individual students
more attention, which is related to better morale among teachers (Anderson 2000; Rice
1999). Anderson (2000) also reports that in small classes there is greater knowledge of
students and in-depth coverage of content. Knowing students is important in teaching
and learning. Teachers with smaller classes give more individual attention to students,
interact more with students, and use small groups more frequently than teachers with
large classes (Rice 1999). Blatchford, Bassett and Brown (2011) examined the effect of
class size on teacher-to-student interactions and noted a tendency for students in large
classes to drift off task due to lack of individualised attention. In spite of the general
view that large classes are problematic, Blatchford (2003) has argued that large classes
also provide opportunities that may not be available in small classes. For example, in
large classes, teacher-to-student interactions may decrease, but students may interact
more with their peers, meaning that large classes present not just difculties but also
opportunities for both teachers and students.
On the other hand, after over 20 years of research in large classes, several studies
have clearly conrmed that increasing class size has had a negative impact on student
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Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
achievement at all levels of the education system (Blatchford et al. 2011; Carbone and
Greenberg 1998; Cuseo 2007). Notably, large class size reduces active engagement by
students in the learning process; decreases retention rates; lowers the frequency and
quality of teacher-to-student interactions; while at the same time affecting how teachers
give and obtain feedback from students (Blatchford et al. 2011; Cuseo 2007). Students
in large classes have reported reduced motivation for learning and may not benet from
the development of the same level of cognitive skills as students in smaller classes
(Carbone and Greenberg 1998; Cuseo 2007; Fischer and Grant 1983). Judging teacher
quality based on students’ perceptions has shown that the quality of a teacher tends to
decrease substantially with large class sizes (Bedard and Kuhn 2008). Effectiveness
in teachers’ use of instructional resources is often affected by large class size to such
an extent that the lecture method becomes the primary option and hence the dominant
mode of instruction in large classes (Cooper and Robinson 1998).
What constitutes a large class is a matter of a person’s perspective, culturally,
economically and politically. There have been differences documented on student,
teacher and also societal perceptions of what may be termed as a large class. In the
US, there have been notions of congestion, yet the average class size in a typical lower
secondary school classroom is 24:1 (Rampell 2009). In China, a large English class is one
that has 50–100 students, what most foreigners would describe as very large (Coleman
1989). In Kenya, the average class size is 45 according to the Institute for Public Policy
and Research (Coleman 1989). Benbow et al. (2007, 2) report that, ‘overcrowded or
large classrooms are those where the PTR exceeds 40:1. Such classroom conditions
are particularly acute in the developing world where class size often swells up to and
beyond 100 students’. However, O’Sullivan (2006) disagrees by stating that PTRs do
not provide an accurate reection of class size.
In research on teachers’ perceptions of class size, it is clear that context, and
specically culture, play a very signicant role in determining a teacher’s degree of
tolerance for large classes. Ur (1996) views class size as dependent on a teacher’s
perception in a specic situation regardless of the number of students in the class and
that a large class is one that has more students than the teacher prefers to manage and
available resources can support. According to Rampell (2009), writing in New York
Times blogs on class size around the world, Asian countries. such as Japan, Korea and
even India, are home to some of the best performing students in the world in spite of
their record size classes. Wößmann and West’s (2006) research that looked at class size
effects in school systems around the world supports this claim. In addition to having
highly qualied teachers, parents in these countries are known to play a key role in
their children’s education, which in turn leads to minimal discipline problems among
students (Wößmann and West 2006). In the US, teachers are often faced with varying
behavioural standards, which makes coping with large classes more challenging. Hayes
(1997, 115) concludes, ‘there is no qualitative denition of what constitutes a large class
as people’s perception of this varies from context to context’. Wößmann and West (2006)
7
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
argue that class size effect depends on the specic school system, since schools differ
in examination style; the existence of high stakes for students and teachers; remedial
instruction for lagging students or enrichment programmes for outstanding students; the
allocation of resources; teacher quality; and average class size.
Although class size reductions are often proposed as a way to improve student
learning, research does not suggest that smaller classes will necessarily lead to
improved student achievement (Hattie 2005; O’Sullivan 2006). It has been observed
that even small classes can be seriously affected by inadequate teacher education as
well as a lack of teacher experience. Lowering the number of students in a class does
not guarantee quality of instruction; neither does increasing class size necessarily imply
poor education (Maged 1997; Nakabugo et al. 2008). Ehrenberg et al. (2001) stress that
class size reduction leads to improved student achievement only if teachers modify their
instructional practices to take advantage of small classes.
Pre-service and in-service preparation
Any fruitful discussion of class size issues needs to take into account how teachers are
being prepared to manage large classes by their pre-service programmes, as well as
how they are supported at the in-service level. Even though changes have been made
in the Kenyan schooling system, the teacher-training curriculum has not been modied
(Otienoh 2010). Otienoh (2010) further suggests that teacher preparation programmes
have failed to prepare future teachers to handle large classes. Benbow et al. (2007)
point to a gap in preparation of teachers for large classes and observe that even though
different methods are available for teachers, such as small groups, peer tutoring,
shift teaching, team teaching, and lecturing depending on goals, there is a tendency
for teachers to feel that teaching practices for overcrowded classes are limited. They
argue that most teacher education coursework in developing countries does not seem
to address the topic of teaching large classes; hence, ‘teachers are left unprepared for
the unique challenges faced in the large classroom’ (Benbow et al. 2007, 8). The Kenya
Ministry of Education (MoE 2004 in Otienoh 2010, 59) has accepted this responsibility,
stating, ‘The MoE has not put in place a comprehensive teacher training curriculum to
prepare teachers to cope with the changes and emerging challenges in teaching’. The
MoE goes on to suggest that teacher preparation time is not enough; the several years of
pre-service training does not prepare students for the rapid changes in social-economic
changes (Otienoh 2010).
In an attempt to circumvent the challenges that teachers face in developing
countries, Otienoh (2010) examined the efcacy of the intervention structures that
have been employed to support teachers to cope with large classes at the school level.
Currently, there is no support in place at the school or governmental level even though
teachers have asserted that they lack the capacity to teach large classes (Otienoh 2010).
8
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Garret and Bowles (1997 in Otienoh 2010, 57) express the need for training in
context, ‘Effective teacher development cannot take place alienated from the context
of practice’. Otienoh (2010) and Robinson (1990) also reiterate this point, stating
that such support should be contextualised since class size effects vary depending
on grade level, student characteristics, nature of the programme, teaching approach,
and other interventions. Otienoh (2010) expresses the need for teachers to work with
administrators to make decisions about the professional support they receive because
the top-down approach seems not to work since teachers lack a sense of obligation when
told what to do.
Bain, Lintz and Word (1989 in Underwood and Lumsden 1994, 5) researched the
professional as well as the personal characteristics of 50 teachers who participated in
Project STAR. The 50 teachers were selected for what was evaluated as exemplary
teaching that resulted in students’ above average gains in reading and mathematics,
within the state of Tennessee, US. These teachers were reported to have the following
professional characteristics:
high expectations of student learning;
clear, focused instruction;
close monitoring of student learning and progress;
use of alternative methods when students did not learn;
use of incentives and rewards when students did not learn;
efciency in their classroom routines;
high standards of classroom behaviour; and
excellent personal interactions with students.
Through professional development, these American teachers were able to gain the
needed experiences to advance their students intellectually.
Professional development in Kenyan schools has taken many different forms.
Subject Panel Groups (SPGs) have been recommended by the MoE to support peer
coaching and team teaching (Otienoh 2010). Both types of professional development
provide teachers with time to teach, observe, receive feedback, share techniques, receive
emotional support, and seek to improve their skills (Otienoh 2010). School-based Teacher
Development (SbTD) has also been instituted where teachers work to develop reective
practices and then are trained to lead school-based professional development (Otienoh
2010). Finally, Certicate in Education Programmes (CEPs) have been established to
help integrate theory and sound classroom practices (Otienoh 2010). Even though these
professional development opportunities have been developed, Otienoh (2010) found
that Kenyan primary school teachers are ill equipped to teach large classes because the
MoE, as well as INSET programmes, provide support only occasionally and involve
very few teachers. Thus, Otienoh (2010, 58) concludes that primary school teachers
are unprepared to manage large classes because they are used to teaching small classes:
9
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
‘teachers had to make the sudden shift without any prior arrangement for professional
support to ease the transition’. We can infer that secondary school teachers were faced
with similar demands with the introduction of Free Secondary Education (FSE) and
hence they require focused and also contextualised support in large class pedagogy
during pre-service preparation and in-service trainings.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND METHODS
In this research study, we used questionnaire, interview and classroom observation data
to address the following research questions:
1. What are the sizes of secondary school classes in Kenya?
2. What are teachers’ perspectives regarding the effect of class size on teaching and
learning?
3. What are principals’ perspectives on the effect of class size on teaching and learning?
4. What are teachers’ practices in teaching large classes?
We analysed these data in light of research literature in this area, while being open to
other factors and patterns emerging within the context in which we were investigating.
We collected data through questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations (see
the appendices for the questionnaire and classroom observation protocols). Here, we
report on the ndings from the data collected through (a) questionnaires completed
by 194 teachers from among 19 subject areas; (b) interviews with 18 Kenyan public
secondary school principals; and (c) classroom observations of 18 classroom lessons
across seven subject areas in Kenya public secondary schools.
Sample and data collection
In selecting schools and teachers, we began with the eight provincial regions of Kenya
and selected at least one county from each of these regions, for a total of 12 counties.
Kenya has 47 counties in all. Then we selected at least one school from each county with
the overall criterion of having fairly equal representation from three types of schools
– national schools (single gender, boarding school), county schools (single gender,
boarding school), and district schools (most of which are mixed gender). We selected
18 schools across the 12 counties, with six national schools, six county schools, and
six district schools. Thirty-eight per cent of the schools were boys’ schools, 36 per cent
were girls’ schools, and 26 per cent were mixed gender schools, and were split almost
equally between urban (56%) and rural (44%) schools.
We drew on research literature and discussions with teachers and administrators to
develop the questionnaire, interview protocol and observation protocol that we used in
collecting data. We collected the data during February 2013. At each school, between
six and 12 teachers completed questionnaires. We collected questionnaire data from a
10
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
total of 194 teachers who were teaching across 19 subjects. Forty-one per cent of the
teachers who completed the questionnaire were females (n = 79) and 59 per cent were
males (n = 115). The largest age group of teachers who completed the questionnaire
were 30–39 years old (31.8%, n = 52), with the next largest group being 40–49 years
old (27.1%, n = 52), followed closely by the group who were 25–29 years old (26.6%,
n = 51). More than half of the teachers who completed the questionnaire had taught for
10 years or less (31.3% had taught for less than ve years; 21.4% had taught from ve
up to 10 years).
At each of the 18 schools, we interviewed the principal and observed a lesson.
Female teachers taught 56 per cent of the lessons we observed (n = 10) and male teachers
taught 44 per cent of the lessons we observed (n = 8). Table 1 shows the distribution of
the counties and teachers who completed the questionnaire, while tables 2 and 3 show
the distribution of the observed lessons across subject areas and grade levels.
Table 1: Distribution of counties and teachers who completed the questionnaire
Provincial region County Number of teachers
Central (n = 29) Murang’a 29
Coast (n = 19) Mombasa 19
Eastern (n = 26) Machakos 9
Makueni 17
Nairobi (n = 23) Nairobi 23
Northeastern (n = 25) Garissa 25
Nyanza (n = 24) Homa Bay 10
Nyamira 8
Kisii 6
Rift Valley (n = 26) Trans Nzoia 26
Western (n = 22) Kakamega 15
Vihiga 7
Total 194
Table 2: Distribution of subject areas for observed lessons
Subject area Number of lessons observed
Biology 1
Chemistry 3
Christian Religious Education 3
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Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Subject area Number of lessons observed
English/Literature 4
History 2
Kiswahili 1
Mathematics 4
Total 18
Table 3: Distribution of grade levels for observed lessons
Grade level of students Number of lessons observed
Form I (rst year of high school) 1
Form II (second year of high school) 9
Form III (third year of high school) 5
Form IV (fourth year of high school) 3
Total 18
Data analysis
We used an inductive approach to analyse the data by rst compiling the data using
SurveyMonkey (https://www.surveymonkey.com). We used data from the questionnaires
and the observed lessons to answer the rst research question: ‘What are the sizes of
secondary school classes in Kenya?’ We used data from the questionnaires to answer the
second research question: ‘What are teachers’ perspectives regarding the effect of class
size on teaching and learning?’ We used data from the principal interviews to answer
the third research question: ‘What are principals’ perspectives regarding the effect of
class size on teaching and learning?’ We used data from the classroom observations
to answer the fourth research question: ‘What are teachers’ practices in teaching large
classes?’ We used open coding to establish codes for the data that appeared able to help
answer the second and third research questions and then used axial coding to look for
patterns and make sense of the data. Initially, we coded the data individually and then
went over our codes to discuss any discrepancies and to resolve them so that we had
shared understandings of the codes being used.
RESULTS
We will now discuss the ndings from the data collected through questionnaires,
interviews and classroom observations, and address the four research questions.
12
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Sizes of Kenyan secondary school classes
In analysing the data from the 194 teachers who completed a questionnaire and from
the 18 observed lessons, we found a range of sizes of Kenyan secondary school classes.
However, the vast majority of schools had between 40 and 59 students in each class.
Researchers reported that 72.2 per cent of the 18 observed lessons (n = 13 lessons) had
40–59 students, while 76.3 per cent of the teachers (n = 148 teachers) who completed
the questionnaire reported the number of students in each class at their schools being
between 40 and 59 students. Table 4 shows the distribution of the number of students
per class as reported by the teachers who completed the questionnaire, and Table 5
shows the distribution of the number of students in the lessons observed.
Table 4: Distribution of number of students in each class as reported by teachers
Number of students in each class Percentage of teachers reporting
30–39 students 1% (n = 2)
40–49 students 43.8% (n = 85)
50–59 students 32.5% (n = 63)
60–69 students 11.8% (n = 23)
70–79 students 5.7% (n = 11)
80–89 students 5.2% (n = 10)
Total 100% (n = 194)
Table 5: Distribution of number of students in observed lessons
Number of students in each class Number of lessons observed
40–49 students 7
50–59 students 6
60–69 students 4
70–79 students 1
Total 18
As stated above in the literature review, Benbow et al. (2007) found that the average
class size in Kenya is 45 students per class, according to the Institute for Public Policy
and Research, which ts with the study data. Large classrooms, according to Benbow et
al. (2007) are comprised of PTRs that exceed 40. Thus, Kenyan secondary teachers are
teaching students in large classes..
13
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Teachers’ perspectives on the effect of class size on teaching and
learning
The questionnaire responses from the teachers regarding the effect of class size on
teaching and learning painted a picture of strong agreement on the negative effects of
large classes (see Table 6).
Table 6: Teachers’ perspectives on class size
Statement Percentage of teachers
Teachers in my school have very large classes. 88.0% agree or strongly agree
Teaching large classes is not a problem in my school. 76.2% disagree or strongly disagree
The school is adequately staffed with enough
graduate teachers.
71.9% disagree or strongly disagree
Classrooms in my school are too congested for
effective teaching.
58.3% agree or strongly agree
Ministry of Education ofcials play a very important
role in helping us become better teachers for large
classes.
72.3% disagree or strongly disagree
Student performance in my school is not affected by
class size.
72.6% disagree or strongly disagree
Performance in the subject I teach is negatively
affected by having large numbers of students.
68.1% agree or strongly agree
Teachers in my school are overworked. 70.8% agree or strongly agree
The vast majority of teachers (88%) agreed or strongly agreed that their schools have
large classes. More than half of the teachers (58.3%) agreed or strongly agreed that
classrooms in their schools are congested. More than two-thirds of the teachers (68.1%)
agreed or strongly agreed that student performance in their classes is negatively affected
by having a large number of students, and 70.8 per cent of the teachers agreed or strongly
agreed that teachers in their schools are overworked.
There was clear support by more than 70 per cent of the teachers that teaching large
classes is a problem in their schools (76.2%); the school is not adequately staffed with
enough graduate teachers (71.9%); MoE ofcials do not play a very important role in
helping them become better teachers for large classes (72.3%); and student performance
is affected by class size (72.6%).
Although the teachers acknowledged many challenges, overall the majority of
teachers expressed condence in handling many aspects of their classes (see Table 7).
14
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Table 7: Teachers’ condence in handling large classes
Teaching task Percentage of teachers
Ability to identify learning needs of all my students 58.3% good or very good
Ability to interact effectively with all my students 53.6% good or very good
Ability to assist lagging students 56.5% fair or poor
Ability to enrich well-performing students 69.8% good or very good
Ability to manage my classroom 78.6% good or very good
Ability to create warm and motivating learning atmosphere 75.3% good or very good
Ability to create assessment modes that lead to meaningful
learning
66.3% good or very good
Ability to grade and provide quick feedback 61.3% good or very good
Ability to support students with special needs in my classes 55.0% fair or poor
These tasks included identifying learning needs of all students (58.3%); interacting
effectively with all students (53.6%); assisting lagging students (56.5%); enriching
well-performing students (69.8%); providing quick feedback (61.3%); and supporting
students with special needs (55%).
However, teachers were also able to identify a number of changes that could support
more effective teaching (see Table 8).
Table 8: Teachers’ perspectives on changes that could support more effective
teaching
Category Number of teachers
listing*
Professional development 41
Workload reduction
Employ more teachers 39
Reduce number of students per class 22
Reduce number of lessons per teacher 10
Integrate ICT into teaching and learning 8
Revise the syllabus to cover less material 4
Resources
Materials for teachers and/or students 39
Facilities, including labs, computer rooms, classrooms, library 29
Equipment, including Internet 12
15
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Category Number of teachers
listing*
Books, including textbooks 12
Excursions and practicals 8
Additional pay for teachers 6
More time for teaching 6
Larger classrooms 5
Other
Parents provide textbooks 3
Parents pay school fees on time to avoid disruptions 1
Have an enrolment policy 1
*Some teachers listed more than one item
More than 20 per cent of the teachers (n = 41) listed a need for professional development,
including teaching new pedagogical skills; a variety of ways of assessing student
learning; ICT skills; team-teaching skills; and how to develop learner-centred materials.
Many teachers (n = 83) commented on the need to reduce teachers’ workload, through
employing more teachers; reducing the number of students per class; reducing the
number of lessons per teacher; integrating ICT into teaching and learning; and revising
the syllabus to cover less material. More than 60 per cent of the teachers (n = 117) noted
the need for increased resources, including materials, facilities, equipment, books,
excursions and practicals, additional pay, more time for teaching, and larger classrooms.
The teachers who completed the questionnaire were almost evenly split in viewing
the role of their teacher training programme as supportive in preparing them for teaching
large classes (48%) and as not helpful in this regard (52%). Many of those who saw
their teacher training as helpful noted how the programme has helped them ‘handle
my classes and to ensure I get the best out of each student’. Those who noted that their
teacher training was not helpful in preparing them to teach large classes made comments
that the training was not very effective ‘as it did not foresee the emerging issues in the
education sector’, and ‘because they dwell on manageable numbers’.
Most teachers (67%; n = 130) saw the MoE, or at least their own school, as taking
some actions to support them in teaching large classes. These teachers noted supportive
actions such as: purchasing more textbooks; hiring more teachers; subdividing classes;
ICT training; upgrading schools to national status and providing nancial support
for resources; providing learning materials; building larger classrooms; reducing the
number of lessons each week for each teacher; and providing professional development.
However, 21.6 per cent of the teachers (n = 42) reported that there had been no support
from their school administration or the MoE to assist them in teaching large classes.
16
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Principals’ perspectives on the effect of class size on teaching and
learning
Each of the 18 principals interviewed noted that class sizes in their school are too large.
Two-thirds of the principals mentioned that the size is making the classes difcult to
manage; two-thirds also noted that there is no end in sight to the issue – class size will
continue to grow. The principals made remarks such as: ‘not healthy’; ‘overcrowded
and inaccessible during teaching’; ‘teacher-to-student interaction is very low’; ‘little
attention to individual differences’; and ‘a challenge to teachers, especially when
managing slow learners who may not participate fully’.
The researchers asked the principals what they consider to be an ideal class size
for their schools. Out of 18 responses, 14 fell in the range of 30–40 students per class,
while four responses were in the 40–50 students range. Five principals gave an exact
number of 35 students per class; one principal thought 30 students per class would be
ideal; another thought 45 students would be ideal; and one thought 40 students would be
the maximum number of students per class that would be manageable.
The principals who were interviewed had a range of perspectives on the effect of
class size on teaching and learning, all of them negative. Table 9 lists these perspectives,
which are in line with the teachers’ responses to the questionnaires.
Table 9: Principals’ perspectives on the effects of class size on teaching and
learning
Perspective Percentage of principals
Class size is too large; difcult for teachers to handle; teachers
are overstretched
44.4% (n = 8)
Difcult for practicals in science and mathematics 16.7% (n = 3)
Lack of individual attention to students 11.1% (n = 2)
Large classes are ruining education 5.6% (n = 1)
Lack of support from the government 5.6% (n = 1)
Large classes are forced on us 5.6% (n = 1)
No room for the teacher to move around 5.6% (n = 1)
Researchers asked the principals about the perspectives of the teachers in their schools
on class size and all noted teachers’ complaints and unhappiness about the current class
sizes. The principals noted that large class size is affecting how teachers assess: ‘The
teachers feel the weight in teaching and marking … so they only give short tests.’ One
principal noted that the teachers in the sciences, mathematics and languages, particularly,
nd the large class sizes difcult to manage. Many principals noted that the teachers are
overworked, feel challenged, and get worn out.
17
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Researchers asked the principals their perspectives on the major challenges related
to large class sizes and the principals’ responses demonstrated a concern for the teaching
and learning occurring in their schools (see Table 10).
Table 10: Principals’ perspectives on the major challenges related to class size
Major challenge Percentage of principals
Marking is too much 33.3% (n = 6)
Lack of individual attention for students 33.3% (n = 6)
Poor class control; indiscipline 27.8% (n = 5)
Inadequate resources and facilities, especially in sciences and
mathematics
22.2% (n = 4)
Compromised standards 22.2% (n = 4)
Teachers only lecture; passive learning 16.7% (n = 3)
Heavy workload 11.1% (n = 2)
Lack of feedback to students 5.6% (n = 1)
Lack of textbooks for students 5.6% (n = 1)
Difcult to organize eld trips 5.6% (n = 1)
Poor student performance 5.6% (n = 1)
Almost all of the challenges noted can affect student learning. When asked how
class size affects student performance in their schools, the principals noted the lack
of individual attention (33.3%); poor class control (27.8%); inadequate resources and
facilities (22.2%); and compromised standards (22.2%). All of the principals noted that
they lacked resources; needed more teachers; had inadequate classroom space; a lack of
textbooks and other books; inadequate laboratory equipment and materials; inadequate
boarding facilities; and a lack of ICT equipment for teachers and students.
Out of the 18 principals, 12 noted that there is no support in the school or through
the government to improve teachers’ skills in meeting the diverse needs of large classes.
Six of the principals reported that there are workshops or seminars for teachers in their
schools. Almost the same percentages of principals reported similar responses related to
support for teachers who nd it difcult to manage teaching large classes: 11 out of 18
principals said there is no support; six said that there are workshops or seminars for this
purpose (with several providing lunch as motivation for teachers); and one noted that all
the teachers at his/her school are competent.
We found that principals were generally unaware of specic strategies that teachers
use to meet the needs of large classes. Out of 18 principals, 12 were unaware of specic
strategies the teachers might use; four noted that the teachers worked in groups to plan
18
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
and/or had students work in groups in class; and two mentioned that the teachers use
ICT as a way of engaging students in learning more actively.
The principals overwhelmingly (77.8%) viewed pre-service teacher programmes
as not preparing teachers with the attitudes and skills necessary to teach large classes,
with another principal noting that he/she did not know. Three principals thought that
pre-service teacher programmes were preparing the teachers adequately with regard to
teaching large classes. One principal noted the need for pre-service teacher programmes
to include this in their programmes ‘now that the problem is with us’. The vast majority
of the principals (72.2%) see teaching experience as important in teachers being able to
handle large classes. Their comments indicated that experienced teachers ‘have devised
their own ways that work’; ‘can handle classes differently depending on the students’
level’; and ‘learn to diversify teaching and methods and become more innovative with
time’.
We found that the principals’ perspectives on changes that could support more
effective teaching coincided in many ways with the teachers’ perspectives (see Table
11).
Table 11: Principals’ perspectives on changes that could support more effective
teaching
Category Number of principals noting
Professional development 13
Workload reduction
Employ more teachers 11
Reduce number of students per class 2
Integrate ICT into teaching and learning 3
Resources
Materials for teachers and/or students 10
Facilities 6
Books, including textbooks 1
Additional pay for teachers 2
Other
Pre-service teacher training 3
Assessment of teachers’ skills 1
Attend to emotional needs of students 1
Out of the 18 principals, 13 identied professional development for teachers as a needed
change, while 16 out of 18 principals said that teachers’ workload should be reduced,
19
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
for example, by employing more teachers; reducing the number of students per class;
or integrating ICT into teaching and learning. All of the principals identied additional
resources as being necessary to have more effective teaching with large classes,
including materials for teachers and students, facilities, books, and additional pay for
teachers. Three principals spoke about the need for training pre-service teachers to teach
large classes, while one spoke extensively about the need to attend to the students’
emotional needs.
Teachers’ practices in teaching large classes
In the 18 classroom lessons that we observed, we found that the teachers spent the
majority of the lesson time lecturing. As shown in Table 12, the teachers spent little
lesson time on demonstration, class practicals, question and answer time, pair or group
work, or class discussion.
Table 12: Lesson time spent on different instructional methods
Instructional method Lesson time spent
Lecture 58.8% of teachers spent 50–100% of lesson time
Demonstration 100% of teachers spent 0–25% of lesson time
Class practical 100% of teachers spent 0–25% of lesson time
Question and answer 66.7% of teachers spent 0–25% of lesson time
Pair or group work 88.9% of teachers spent 0–25% of lesson time
Class discussion 88.9% of teachers spent 0–25% of lesson time
For half of the lessons (nine out of 18) we observed, the teachers had a lesson plan
or lesson notes. In ve of these cases, the lesson plan was drawn from a scheme of
work (the plans for the entire term). Researchers noted that in 15 out of the 18 lessons,
the classroom was congested, and noted that while in some cases the classrooms were
large enough to accommodate the number of students, in other cases there was no
space between the desks and the students were too close to the blackboard and to the
teacher. One researcher noted that there was no room for the teacher to manoeuvre in the
classroom so the teacher stayed at the front. Another researcher noted the same situation
and commented, ‘The classroom did not allow the teacher to reach all learners effectively.
The teacher stood in front of the classroom throughout the lesson.’ For another lesson,
the researcher noted that the students were sharing desks and participation was very
limited. Another researcher noted that the students ‘had to write on their laps’.
Researchers noted that three teachers used special classroom arrangements in order
to adequately achieve the lesson’s objectives. Two teachers used group work and one
teacher used random marking to check for understanding. Regarding textbooks, for half
20
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
of the lessons (9 out of 18) researchers noted that the textbooks were adequate; for the
other half of the lessons, the researchers noted that students had to share textbooks.
Researchers rated the teacher-to-student interaction as ‘good’ in two of the lessons;
as ‘fair in six of the lessons; and as ‘poor’ in 10 of the lessons. Researcher comments
included: ‘There was minimal interaction due to space. The large numbers of students
hindered movement of the teacher to maintain the attention of all students’; and
‘She tries to reach all students, but only a few can get turns to read and contribute’.
These ratings and comments demonstrate the constraining effect of a large number of
students on teacher-to-student interaction. Large class size may also have contributed
to the minimal student-to-student interaction noted by the researchers. In 15 of the 18
observed lessons, researchers noted that there was no student-to-student interaction or
very minimal, if any. Researchers further noted that for two of the lessons, student-to-
student interaction was good, while for another lesson the researcher commented that
student-to-student interaction was ‘fairly good given the prevailing circumstances; only
limited due to facilities and time’.
Despite the large class size, researchers noted that the teacher was able to manage
classroom activities effectively within the time and space available in 12 out of the 18
lessons, and in 16 of the 18 observed lessons researchers noted that the teacher had good
control of the class. Researchers also noted in 14 out of the 18 lessons that the lesson
objectives had been achieved, and that in all 18 lessons the teachers were generally
condent.
CONCLUSION
Class size in Kenyan public secondary schools is generally 40–59 students per class,
which the participants (teachers and principals) agreed is too large. The research
literature would also classify this as a large class (Benbow et al. 2007). Both teachers
and principals reported that the current class size has a negative impact on teaching
and learning due to a heavy workload for the teachers in terms of marking; a lack of
individual attention for the students; inadequate resources such as textbooks; and the
teachers feeling limited to using mainly lecture as an instructional approach.
Approximately two-thirds of the principals reported that there is no support at the
school or MoE level for preparing the teachers in large class pedagogy. Most also did
not see the pre-service teacher programmes preparing teachers with these skills. Further
research is needed to determine what type of professional development and pre-service
teacher education would be most helpful and most effective in preparing the teachers in
large class pedagogy.
Despite the challenges they face in teaching large classes, the teachers reported they
are generally condent in their teaching responsibilities. However, both the teachers and
principals cited a need for more support in the form of (a) professional development;
(b) workload reduction (e.g. hiring more teachers, reducing the number of students
per class, reducing the number of lessons per teacher, integrating ICT in teaching);
21
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
and (c) increased resources (e.g. materials for teaching and learning, books, facilities,
equipment). These areas of support could help to mediate the effects of large class size
that researchers observed in the lessons, which included an almost sole reliance on
lecturing with little teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction.
The Kenyan government’s role in assisting schools to realise the goals of quality
education is evident through efforts to increase the number of teachers in order to cope
with the increased enrolment brought about by the FPE Policy (Abuya et al. 2015). In
spite of this, Kenyan schools continue to grapple with the problem of teacher shortage
(Majanga, Nasongo and Sylvia 2011). Additionally, a lack of resources, especially
printed materials and textbooks. has affected instruction in large classes, as well as a
lack of trained teachers (Oketch et al. 2010).
The implementation process for FPE, which was to ensure that the massive
enrolment in Kenyan schools was effectively managed failed as a result of weak
implementation policies that relied mainly on top-down instead of bottom-up approaches
or a combination of both (Abuya et al. 2015). Bottom-up approaches encourage team
work, focused leadership and excellent communication, whereas top-down approaches
hinder the translation of policy into practice.
Although ICTs have been reported to play a key role in managing large classes,
and in improving learning outcomes, many developing countries, including Kenya,
have not utilised technology in classrooms as might have been expected (Kisirkoi 2015;
Kombo 2015). This difculty has been noted in Kenya in spite of the government’s
demonstrated effort to support the use of ICT in teaching and learning (Kombo 2015). In
making recommendations that could see improved ICT use in Kenyan schools, Kisirkoi
(2015) advises that the teachers be encouraged to take the initiative, with the school
leadership supporting them, to create an enabling environment for ICT use. Her case
study of one school that had successfully integrated ICT into teaching and learning in a
Kenyan secondary school found that school leadership is a key factor in its successful
implementation. The Kenyan government can promote ICT use by encouraging the
formulation and implementation of school-based policies.
It is clear that the demand for secondary school education in Kenya, and in many
developing countries, will continue to grow. While the need for hiring more graduate
teachers is high, equally important is the need for training all teachers, pre-service and
in-service, in large class pedagogy, the use of ICT and other tools to support teaching and
learning, and providing sufcient resources for teachers to be able to support students in
learning. Dealing with these needs appears to be critical in helping teachers cope with
the difculties associated with teaching large classes.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research was made possible by the generous support of the American people through
the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Higher
22
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
Education for Development (HED) ofce, as well as by the Schools of Education at
Kenyatta University and Syracuse University. The contents are the responsibility of the
researchers from Kenyatta University and Syracuse University and do not necessarily
reect the views of HED, USAID or the United States Government.
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APPENDICES
APPENDIX 1: Teacher Questionnaire on Large Classes
This questionnaire has been prepared by both Kenyatta University and Syracuse
University in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Its major purpose is to
collect information about issues, challenges, teaching and management of large classes
in Kenyan secondary schools. The information you provide will be used to help improve
the teacher-training programme at our local universities.
A. PERSONAL INFORMATION
Tick one space as appropriate
1. Gender: □ Male □ Female
2. Age: □ less than 24 □ 25–29 □ 30–39 □ 40–49 □ 50–59
3. Teaching experience: □ Less than 5 years □ 5–10 □ 10–15 □ 15–20
□ 20 and above
4. Subjects taught: 1 ___________________________
2 ___________________________
B. SCHOOL INFORMATION
1. □ Girls □ Boys □ Mixed
2. □ Rural □Urban
3. County ___________________________________________
4. Average number of students per class ___________________
C. TEACHER VIEWS
Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with statements below by placing a tick
in the appropriate space.
Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D), Strongly Disagree (SD), Not Sure (NS)
1. Teachers in my school have very large classes.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
2. Teachers in my school are condent in handling large classes.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
3. Teaching large classes is not a problem in my school.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
4. The school has enough resources and facilities to support teaching and learning.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
5. The school is adequately staffed with enough graduate teachers.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
6. Classrooms in my school are too congested for effective teaching of large classes.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
26
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
7. The school administration provides teachers with support for teaching large classes.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
8. Ministry of Education ofcials play a very important role in helping us become
better teachers for large classes.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
9. Student performance in my school is not affected by class size.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
10. Performance in the subject l teach is negatively affected by having large number
of students.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
11. Teachers are able to cover syllabus using regular regular class lessons.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
12. Teachers in my school are overworked.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
13. Teachers in my school are motivated to do their work.
□ SA □ A □ D □ SD □ NS
D. TEACHER SKILLS IN HANDLING LARGE CLASSES
Please rate your level of condence and your skills in handling large classes. Tick as
appropriate.
Very good (VG), Good (G), Fair (F), Poor (P)
1. Ability to identify learning needs of all my students.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
2. Ability to interact effectively with all my students.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
3. Ability to assist lagging students.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
4. Ability to enrich well performing students.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
5. Ability to manage my classroom.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
6. Ability to create warm and motivating learning atmosphere.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
7. Ability to create assessment modes that lead to meaningful learning.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
8. Ability to grade and provide quick feedback.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
9. Ability to use different student activities.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
10. Ability to use the lecture method effectively.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
11. Ability to organize learning activities outside the regular class time.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
27
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
12. Ability to use computers.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
13. Ability to create your own teaching materials.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
14. Ability to creatively use other methods apart from lecturing.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
15. Ability to support students with special needs in my classes.
□ VG □ G □ F □ P
E. SUPPORT WITH TEACHING OF LARGE CLASSES
1. Would you like any kind of assistance in order to teach your class more
effectively?
□ Yes □ No
2. If your answer is yes, what kind of assistance or skills would you need?
_______________________________________________________________
3. How would you describe the role played by your teacher training programme in
making you better able to teach large classes?
_______________________________________________________________
4. Identify any specic support that your school administration and the Ministry of
Education have provided to support you in teaching large classes.
_______________________________________________________________
5. What additional information or comments would you like to share with us
regarding teaching of large classes in your specic school?
_______________________________________________________________
28
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
APPENDIX 2: Classroom Observation Guide
This instrument was prepared by both Kenyatta University and Syracuse University
in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Its purpose is to collect information in
Kenyan secondary schools regarding issues, challenges as well as strategies relating
to large classes in Kenya.
1. Date: ________________________
2. Class level: ___________________
3. Subject: ______________________
4. School category :_______________
5. No of students in class: __________
6. a) What percentage of lesson time is used by teacher based on following
instructional methods?
Lecture □ 100%, □ 75%, □ 50%, □ 25%, □ 0%
Demonstration □ 100%, □ 75%, □ 50%, □ 25%, □ 0%
Class practical □ 100%, □ 75%, □ 50%, □ 25%, □ 0%
Question/Answer □ 100%, □ 75%, □ 50%, □ 25%, □ 0%
Pair and group work □ 100%, □ 75%, □ 50%, □ 25%, □ 0%
Class discussion □ 100%, □ 75%, □ 50%, □ 25%, □ 0%
Other (specify) ___________________________________________
6. b) Does the teacher have a lesson plan or lesson notes? □ Yes □ No
6. c) Is lesson drawn from a scheme of work? □ Yes □ No
7. Is classroom too congested? □ Yes □ No
Explain ____________________________________________________
8. Has teacher used special classroom arrangement in order to adequately to
address today’s lesson objectives? □ Yes □ No
Explain ____________________________________________________
9. Describe nature of teacher student interaction and effects of large class size if any.
__________________________________________________________
10. Describe nature of student to student interactions.
__________________________________________________________
11. Describe availability of resources, desks, books, etc.
__________________________________________________________
12. Is teacher able to manage classroom activities effectively within time and space
available? □ Yes □ No
13. Is class under teacher’s control? □ Yes □ No
14. Is teacher generally condent? □ Yes □ No
15. Have lesson objectives been achieved? □ Yes □ No
29
Ndethiu et al. Kenyan Secondary Teachers' and Principals' Perspectives and Strategies
APPENDIX 3: Principal Interview Protocol
This protocol was prepared by both Kenyatta University and Syracuse University in
collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Its purpose is to collect information in
Kenyan secondary schools regarding issues, challenges as well as strategies relating
to large classes in Kenya.
1. What do you think about the size of secondary school classrooms in Kenya?
__________________________________________________________
2. What do you consider to be the ideal class size in your school or education zone?
__________________________________________________________
3. What are your views about class size in your specic school?
__________________________________________________________
4. What do teachers in your school feel about class size?
__________________________________________________________
5. What major issues relate to class size in your school?
__________________________________________________________
6. How do you think class size affects student performance in your school?
__________________________________________________________
7. Do you feel that you have adequate resources for the number of students in your
school, such as teachers, classrooms, print and other materials?
__________________________________________________________
8. Do you think that teachers in your school are skilled enough to meet diverse
needs of large classes?
__________________________________________________________
9. Is any specic support provided for teachers that are not able to manage teaching
effectively due to large classes?
__________________________________________________________
10. Do you think teachers in your school use any specic strategies to meet the needs
of large classes?
__________________________________________________________
11. Do you think preservice training in Kenya prepares graduate teachers with
attitudes and skills necessary for teaching large classes?
__________________________________________________________
12. Is the length of teaching experience important in handling a large class? Explain.
__________________________________________________________
13. What should be done to meet the needs of students in large classes?
__________________________________________________________
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