May 21, 2020

Understanding How Class Size and Student-To-Faculty Ratios Impact Student Success

Educators and reformers have fought to close the achievement gap for decades. Policy reform, changing standards, and a focus on course completion have been used in an attempt to understand and reduce the gap. The wrong targets have been aimed for, but now colleges and universities are foregoing the law of the average and using new metrics of big data to encourage course completion amongst students.
Source: Pixabay

The achievement gap has been a moving target that educators have tried to close for decades now. Through things like reforming policies, moving from standards to standards, and analyzing data trends, the field of education has been a constant bouncing ball leaving instructors confused on which target to focus on at the time. With multiple standards for teachers and students to adjust to within a ten-year period, it’s no wonder the achievement gap is barely moving. Now, colleges and universities are revamping their previous focus on the traditional classroom and law of the average in favor of metrics that target course completion.

High stakes teacher evaluation systems came into the scene approximately a decade ago. The idea was that these accountability rubrics would reward teachers who were making significant academic impacts and retrain or remove those who were not. This quickly lost steam when instead of a positive change occurring, it became a system loathed by educators and administrators as a micromanaging, mistake focused way to catch teachers out and punish them for things beyond their control. The teacher evaluation systems were inconsistent throughout the country and the unfairness of some caused seasoned teachers to leave in droves and left a huge gap in teaching positions that many counties could not fill. It was quickly obvious that something else had to be done to fix the academic gap, and student-to-faculty ratios became the next targeted metric.

Using Classroom Population Control to Drive Academic Success

The buzzword in closing the achievement gap years ago was “class-size.” Reducing the number of students a teacher was accountable for was supposed to allow them to spend more time creating quality lessons and differentiating instruction and less time performing crowd control. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, though, many challenges had to be overcome for it to successfully impact academics.

Counties quickly found that it was difficult to find enough teachers that met the “highly qualified” definition to fill the extra classroom roles. Schools had to be expanded, classroom supplies purchased, and administrators and resource personnel already spread thin were required to cover even more ground. The instructions were given, but the manpower and funds necessary to implement them were not.

In the schools where this implementation was successful, another challenge appeared. Socioeconomic status percentages of a school affected the big data collected, regardless of class size. If the number of students in a class and the student-to-faculty ratios weren’t the answer, then what was?

Leaving the Old Metrics Behind 

By university level, administrators knew they’d have to make a change quickly. Their students were entering the real world shortly and it was their school’s responsibility to prepare them! Many schools switched their focus to encouraging course completion through discarding student-to-faculty member ratios and limiting class sizes. Instead, analyzing the efficiency of course sizes and available resources became the target, with students completing courses prepared for their future career the new target.

Instead of using the average student to drive their instruction, professors were encouraged to push quality instruction on a measure that accommodated the need of each student. For this to occur, new instructional methods were implemented:

●      A focus on reducing the demand on teacher resources by analyzing the course completion rates and reallocating funds to fill new instructional roles when the demand was there rather than overwhelm the professors

●      Analyzing the data of instructors based on their completion rates and reassigning them to other classes or providing them with further guidance and support for success 

●      Encouraging communication between faculty and students to make students aware of the available resources that they had access to and improving the efficiency and relevance of those resources

●      Allocating funds to create tutoring opportunities for students

By shifting the focus from the old metrics to new ways of analyzing data that focus on students rather than teachers, these universities have transitioned into the new world of education.

How Impactio Can Help

Proving academic impact through data collection, especially with new avenues of collective research, requires a professional approach. Busy educators don’t have the time to sort their citation and publication data, create individual graphs and analytics reports, and integrate the information into outdated methods of presentation.

That’s where Impactio steps in. With one program, you can seamlessly insert your citations and publication data into a template and quickly create high-quality presentations. From PDFs to real-time web views, Impactio does the background work so you can get back to the forefront of making an academic impact.

Tags Academic Success Class Size Academic Research
Jason Collins
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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