The Benefits of Smaller Class Sizes



This paper examines the effect of class proportions on pupil performance in introductive accounting from the perspective of a dynamic learning setting. Class-group behaviors were implemented in both small and large divisions as an integral part of the education process. This paper analyses the studies conducted by academics and argues for the thesis statement. An investigative look into the conclusions of scholars and scholars reveals that the thesis statement is, in fact, real and proven.

Academic Evidence

The subject of class size and its influence on student knowledge has been a time-honored debate across institutes and schooling levels (Siegel et al., 1959 cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271; Simmons, 1959 mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271; Shane, 1961 mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271; Laughlin, 1976 cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271; McConnell and Sosin, 1984: mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271; Williams et al., 1985: Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271). Analyses have been wide-ranging through disciplines. Simmons (1959: p309-15) detected a higher failure degree and lesser overall accomplishment for intermediate algebra learners in high-class settings.

Benefits of Smaller Class Sizes

However, Williams et al. (1985: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272), Siegel (1959: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272), and Laughlin (1976: mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271) in studies through numerous disciplines, all resolved that class size does not affect pupil education. On the subject of accounting class proportions, Anderson (1964: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272) contended that, though tiny classes with outstanding teachers are best, large classes with exceptional teachers are better than small classes with less-skilled teachers. A revision by Baldwin (1993: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271) concentrated on this matter. It examined whether a reputable teacher with an exceptional standing as a lecturer could attain results in a bulk lecture a segment that was equivalent to or better than doctoral pupils could accomplish with smaller divisions. Baldwin determined that there was no noteworthy variance in apprentices’ performance. Likewise, Hill (1998: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p271) discovered no performance benefits for small classes. Indeed, when Hill reckoned for grade point average (GPA) and attending, the large fragment outdid the small division in both concluding examination marks and general course ranking.

Literature Review 

The Baldwin 

(1993: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272) learning has limits that propose extra inquiries may add to the facts concerning class size in accounting studies. In his research, Baldwin disclosed that a prized teacher trained the large section whereas doctoral students instructed the smaller classes and that this teacher observed some burden to do a decent job so as not to hurt an otherwise satisfactory teaching status. Baldwin’s goal was not to regulate variables other than strength proportions but to match outcomes from Introductory Accounting communicated in a bulk-lecture design by an exceptional teacher to results achieved by doctoral student teachers in smaller divisions. Lastly, Baldwin writes, ‘Another limitation common to this type of experimentation is that the outcome assessment tool used was a set of multiple-choice examinations’ (1993, p. 110: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272).

Hill (1998: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272) also recognized limits of founding performance indicators on multiple-choice questions and the lecture technique. She documented that multiple-choice questions do not permit teachers to assess high-order reasoning abilities.

Moreover, Hill specified that substitute educations, like supportive learning and group activities, were not deliberated achievable by the teachers partaking in her research. Therefore, the lecture technique was used in all fragments.

This paper looks at matters like those explored by Baldwin and Hill. It could be contended that assembly cases can be used more successfully in small classes to improve critical thinking talents. The teacher has more time to allocate to both groups and individual pupils within groups. Therefore, higher performance is probable in smaller divisions on examinations comprising of analytical questions and dissertations. There is proof that multiple-choice questions miss the mark to differentiate between diverse levels of capability (Rogers and Bateson, 1991: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272; Phillips, 1999: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272; Rayburn and Rayburn, 1999: mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272; Burton, 2001: mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p272). Both Hill and Baldwin recognized that the capacity to simplify their answers is restricted by their exclusive use of multiple-choice questions.

It is upheld that the skill of Hill and Baldwin to simplify their answers, as recognized by Hill, is also restricted by dependence on the lecture technique. Empirical data are missing about the connection between class proportion and performance, within the background of group activities, when questions are established to assess critical thinking abilities. Both the general and accounting collected works on class size, nonetheless, takes the spot that small classes improve essential thinking and erudition (Simmons, 1959: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273; Schnittke and McAllister, 1962: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273; Anderson, 1964: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273; McCormick, 1967: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273; McKeachie, 1970: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273; Kempner, 1970: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273; McConnell and Sosin, 1984: mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273). Opinions such as active-learning systems result in better education, and critical thinking abilities are convincing (Christensen, 1991: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273). Instinctively, it would be probable that the teacher in smaller classes is more able to enable group communication, causing more stimulating conferences of analytical and academic matters. To the degree that such issues are tried in greater wisdom through problem and essay questions, pupils who have been educated more have the chance to display this profound knowledge. While active learning methods have been related to higher learning (Burns and Mills, 1997: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273), it is not vibrant that group events, precisely, are active in significant class situations.

It would be probable that group circumstances are less conjoint in big classes due to the augmented requirement for the teacher to devote time with every group. Constant with the previous opinions, it can be projected that pupil in small classes will performsuperior to students in large classes in exams that comprise of analytical questions and dissertations. It is assumed that these sorts of reviews more efficiently test critical thinking abilities. Therefore, it is likely to find proof to back the thesis statement below:

Students in small classes stressing on group actions will perform superior on analytical questions dissertations than students in large courses underlining group activities.

Depiction of Study

In the early 1990s, one precinct in a state university association in the USA modified its first year of Accounting through Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) with a donation from the U.S. Department of Education. These early two-semester developments, as modified, are focused chiefly on the user, a transformation from the previous old-style preparer- focused the first year of Accounting. The motives for the alteration were connected to the Accounting Education Change Commission’s (1990: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p273) demand for universities to regress from the rule-grounded and process-oriented emphasis of most Preliminary Accounting courses to set of developments that highlight thinking critically, cracking shapeless problems, making choices, and communicating productively.

Five units of the 1st semester of Introductory Accounting were presented in the fall of 1998.

This course is a combination of financial and managerial accounting models and was intended to center on those mentioned above problem-solving, critical thinking, communicating abilities, and decision-making. Of the five divisions presented, four were reduced classes, with registrations of 38, 39, 40, and 37. The other was a significant fragment with 280, for a total of 434 initially registered. Even though it would have been desirable to have allocated pupils arbitrarily to small and massive divisions, material and ethical respects prohibited such a procedure. Pupils chose which unit of the course in which to register. There were hardly any relocations, superfluities, and removals, including all fragments that befell during the 1st two weeks of the course (Murdoch, 2010: p273).

The more prominent division met on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (MWF) from 10:00 to 10:50 am. The four smaller divisions met (i) MWF from 11:00

  1. :50 am, (ii) Tuesdays and,
  2. ys (TTh) from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm, (iii) TTh from 12:

45 pm, and (iv) TTh from, and

5 pm (Murdoch, 2010: p274).

  1. Matching course sub

Acts, prospectus, projects, and planned activities were used in both small and hefty divisions. Cases were comprehensively used to stimulate innovation learning. The context was making choices in which pupils were given both pertinent and immaterial data. Pupils operated in groups during class to examine these data to make a choice. For instance, a first case requested students to choose whether a bank should create a short-term business advance when the debtor had substantial equity, but diminutive in the way of liquid assets. A latter case asked pupils to conclude, for a new firm, which was the superior inventory method, LIFO or FIFO, for resolutions of assisting a bank loan demand and for making the most of cash flow (Murdoch, 2010: p274).

Coaches in the small fragments spread during the time allotted to these group events, delivering explanations and guaranteeing that groups stayed on duty. The broad division had several pupil counselors (higher division Accounting majors) who helped the large fragment teacher, as one teacher could not observe all teams.

There were 15 team situations during the 15-week semester. Fourteen of these were completed in the course of class time, with every student separately accountable for understanding the case, and occasionally completing initial work, earlier than coming to class. The only team case to be finished outside of class time was the planning of a small business plan, including Pro-forma financial statements. Every group was accountable for offering its business plan to the remaining of the class (Murdoch, 2010: p274).

The teacher arbitrarily allocated maximum students to a group of five. Scarce groups were assigned a minimum of four or full six pupils since the number of students in every division was frequently not dividable by five. Roughly 40% of all class intervals were set apart for pupils to work in team events and to get a response on these accomplishments. The course had a general consideration of pupil and teacher communication, with every teacher needing students to protect their discrete as well as team decisions.

Graders were given to all teachers to grade both single and team projects. Total points owed to team activities and separate home-task projects were 230 and 270, correspondingly. Team members were required to be present on the day the team case was completed in class to obtain marks for that case. The mid-term and final exams were both worth 200 marks. Course rankings were allocated by the specific teacher based on the scores gotten by each student out of a maximum of 900.

At the closing of each of four educational modules, every student filled an assessment form for everybody in the team, counting herself/himself. The teacher used these assessments to remuneration or penalize separate team members, if needed, so that more worthy group members got more marks. Point rearrangements were very rare, nonetheless. Ruling on by the team evaluation forms, maximum pupils functioned realistically tough in their teams. Most assessments about discrepancies mirrored dissimilarities in student aptitude rather than alterations in the effort. It is believed that the actual value of the pupils’ peer assessments was that they encouraged students to join in (Murdoch, 2010: p275).


It was assumed in this paper that team learning methods could be used more efficiently in small modules than in large ones and would produce in grander exam routine in minor divisions. Academic works reinforce this assumption. Even though this discovery may propose that team activity should only be used in small fragments, it does not openly speak of the subject of whether team activities may also develop better learning in bigger classes. Past study has shown that class size does not move performance when using the speech-method and objective questions (Baldwin, 1993: cited in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p281; Hill, 1998: mentioned in Murdoch and Guy, 2002: p281). Connecting the run-through of active-learning techniques (e.g., team activities) in big classes to the lecture-method in big classes, tied to the problem solving and dissertation exams, will deliver an additional sign of the efficiency of active-learning procedures. It is expected that these genera of assessments more proficiently test critical thinking talents. That is why small class groups are considered better when it comes to student performance at any analytical activity because the instructor or coach can give individual attention to each student and can help him/her to be able to absorb the knowledge according to his/her cognitive abilities. After all, understanding is nothing but wishful thinking.

The evidence also reveals, when it comes to literature and non-technical subjects, it doesn’t make a difference whether the class is small or big. Consequently, it is very likely to find evidence supporting the original thesis statement that lower levels improve student performance when it comes to critical or analytical skills, provided that they are tested through group studies.

Works Cited;
  • Accounting Education Change Commission (1990) Objectives of education for accountants: Position Statement Number 1. Issues in Accounting Education 5(1), 307–12.  Anderson, W.T. (1964)
  • Large classes in elementary accounting.  The Accounting Review 39(4), 1034–36
  • Baldwin, B.A. (1993) Teaching introductory financial accounting in mass-lecture sections: Longitudinal evidence. Issues in Accounting Education 8(1), 97–111.
  • Burns, C.S., and Mills, L.K. (1997) Bringing the factory to the classroom. Journal of Accountancy 183(1), 56, 58, 60.
  • Burton, R.F. (2001) Quantifying the effects ofchance in multiple choice and true/false tests: question selection and guessing of answers.
  • Assessment & Evaluationin Higher Education 26(1), 41, 50.
  • Christensen, C.R. (1991) Premises and practices of discussion teaching. Education for Judgment, pp. 15–34. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
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  • Laughlin, J.S. (1976) A sacred cow – class size. College and University 51(3), 339–47.
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  • McKeachie, W.J. (1970) Research on College Teaching: A Review. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education cited in E.K. St. Pierre, M.P. Riordan and D.A. Riordan (eds) 1990,  Research in Instructional Effectiveness, p.
  • Harrisonburg, VA: Center for Research in Accounting Education, School of Accounting, James Madison University.
  • McCormick, F.L. (1967) Large group instruction in elementary accounting. The Accounting Review 42(3), 592.
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  • Phillips, F. (1999) Business students’ learning preferences and associated task performance. Journal of Education for Business 75(1), 27–32.
  • Rayburn, L.G. and Rayburn, J.M. (1999) Impact of course length and homework assignments on student performance. Journal of Education for Business 74(6), 325–31.
  • Rogers, W.T. and Bateson, D.J. (1991) The influence of test wiseness upon high school students’ performance on school-leaving examinations. Applied Measurement in Education 4(2), 159–83.
  • .Siegel, L., Macomber, F.G. and Adams, J.F. (1959) The effectiveness of extensive group instruction at the university level. Harvard Educational Review 29(3), 216–26.
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