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1.1 Background to the study

Education is the systematic training of the individual in order to bring about positive change in his or her behavior so as to become fulfilled citizen, Angelo (1993). Classrooms are used as appropriate places for seeking and acquiring the education usually from a teacher to a learner. The National Policy on Education NPE (2004) viewed classroom size as the population of a given class in terms of number of accounting students (learners) and recommends an average of twenty(20) as normal class size of accounting students (learners) to one teacher. Three class sizes are normally distinguishable in the educational sector. A large class size falls within 40 and above learners to one teacher. A medium class size is within 30 - 35, while small class size is within 20-25 learners to one teacher (Webb, 1992). Many scholars including Glass and Smith (1982), Molnar (1998), Booze and Maloney (2001) and Shuaibu (2003) all support this classification of class sizes.

 Performance, according to Chomsky (1973), is a person‟s actual use of language in producing and understanding sentences in the Accounting language. Saussure (1964) further asserted that there is difference between a person‟s knowledge of the language (competence) and how a person uses this knowledge in producing and understanding sentences (performance). In other words, the difference between linguistic competence and linguistic performance can easily be seen, for example, in the production of long and complex sentences.

The increase in overall enrolment in various institutions in the midst of limited resources from the 1980s and 1990s to this day has translated into more number of classes. The social demand for formal education in the nation‟s development and growth as well as manpower, gave birth to enrolment explosion in institutions of learning. The phenomenon of large classes has become an issue consistently faced by all levels of education (primary, secondary and universities). This simply means large classes would be the future outlook in all classrooms and lecture theatres without corresponding required resources. 

The effectiveness of any educational system depends on many indices. These include the type of instructional materials and class sizes or methods adopted by the teacher. This is why Fafunwa (1987) cited in Obono (2001) posited that, education unlocks the door to modernization but that the methods used and other indices hold the key. In learning process (Goldstein, 1995), it is not all teaching methods, strategies and techniques that lend themselves to the effective teaching of the Accounting language. Therefore, Offoma (2000) advised that learners‟ active participation depend on the number of learners to a teacher in class. Offorma argues that such consideration and methods will lead to greater performance of the accounting students.

Accounting language as a subject is very wide and hence this study is concentrated on the listening skills, which comprise of listening to write down main points, listening to carry out instructions, and listening and note-taking. The effect of class size on the performance of accounting students in these skills calls for concern. 

Pastella (1977) argued that there are significant evidences to support the claim that class size affects accounting students‟ achievement. In the same vein, Shu‟aibu (2003) asserted that a manageable class size has tremendous effect on the performance of the accounting students. 

 Generally, teaching a small group is less cumbersome than teaching a large group. Interpersonal interaction is easily possible in a small class in which the teacher can easily identify particular student(s) who have specific problem(s) in learning the listening skills of Accounting. The teaching strategies in use in most schools are designed for small class sizes. Often, such classes need not exceed 40 accounting students per class (Mckeachie et al, 1985). However, the prevailing condition in most Nigerian schools today is that a single class can have a population of up to 80 or more accounting students, yet the same strategies designed for teaching the 20 accounting students are still being used for teaching the 80 or more accounting students in one class. It would be expected, therefore, that the increase in size of the accounting students for the teacher is bound to create one or more problems. Several factors have been identified to be responsible for this situation. One of such factors is the high teacher- accounting students ratio. It has been observed that some school registers contain eighty (80) or more accounting students in a class. In such a situation, teaching becomes very difficult, especially where the same strategies used in small class sizes are adopted by such teachers. Another problem is coordination and assessment of such large classes. More important here is the inability of the accounting students to understand the subjects/lessons taught due to high population of such classes. The end result is the decline in performance by accounting students in listening skills of the Accounting language. 

One of the ways by which performance of the accounting students could be enhanced is by improving the teaching and learning strategies of listening skills at the primary school level through encouraging accounting students/teacher interaction, stimulating interaction among accounting students, reducing the feeling of accounting students‟ anonymity, use of supplemental illustrations/examples and cooperative learning strategies. This study, therefore, seeks to investigate how these strategies for teaching and learning Accounting could be improved in small and large classes by comparing accounting students‟ performances from the two different classes who have been exposed to cooperative learning strategies and other suitable methods for teaching in these classes. The study would subject, large and small classes to the same strategies and compare their effectiveness. What, therefore, inspired the researcher to carry out this study includes the following:

a-      The contradicting statements on the number of teacher/ student ratio in an ideal situation. This calls for concern and investigation, (West Africa Magazine, 1977 cited in Baraka 2008).

b-      The call by Baraka (2008) that the high rate of failure in a participatory class studies involving 30 public schools in different class sizes in Zaria between 2001 and 2004 needs further investigation and careful scrutiny.

c-      The conflicting results in the study carried out by Talabi (1988) regarding class size and achievement and the suggestion for a need to carry out further studies on the effect of class size on performances.

1.2 Statement of the Problem 

In teaching the accounting, the contact between learner and teacher is very important, also it enhances performance. Learners have problems of understanding correct utterance from their teachers in large classes. To achieve maximum performance, the number of learners in a class to one teacher cannot be overemphasized. 

As far as teaching accounting skills in large classes is concerned, teachers need communication aid to effectively communicate with the crowd. Where the communication aids are not made available, it hinders effective teaching and learning. The problem, therefore, is poor listening, which results in low performance in the accounting.

Accounting students suffer inadequate space and facilities. They lack proper communication and contact with the teachers. Learners cannot receive adequate attention they deserve. 

The class size can determine the level of listening that will take place between the accounting students and the teacher. When the teacher is teaching, those accounting students at the back of a crowded class may find it more difficult to listen than those in the front. Listening instruction requires that accounting students pay attention to the teacher and invariably the teacher should spend ample time for the feedback from the accounting students. However, in large classes, because of the reduction in the quality of the auditory input, problems of identifying relevant information, instruction or listening and note-taking from the speakers might result. The major problem here is whether or not small and large class size facilitates learning.

 Finn, Pannozzo and Achiles (2003) are of the opinion that the level of attention of accounting students is stronger in small classes than in large classes and that this affects the academic performance of the accounting students.  Therefore, there is the need for this research to investigate the view of Finn,

Pannozzo and Achilles (2003).

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The specific research objectives for the study are to:

1.      determine the effect of class size on the performance of accounting accounting students in listening to write down main points. 

2.      assess how class size affects the performance of accounting accounting students in listening to carry out instructions like accounting computation.

3.      evaluate the effect of class size on the performance of JSS3 accounting students in listening and note- taking in Accounting.

1.4 Research Questions 

This research examined and answered the following questions:

1.                  What is the effect of Class- Size on the Performance of JSS 3 accounting Accounting students in Listening to write down main points?

2.                  What is the effect of Class- Size on the Performance of JSS 3 accounting Accounting students in Listening to carry out Instructions?

3.                  What is the effect of Class- Size on the Performance of JSS3 accounting Accounting students in Listening and note- taking?

1.5 Hypotheses                                                                                                                     

The following null research hypotheses were tested:

1.      There is no significant difference in the Performance of JSS3 accounting Accounting students in Listening to write down main points in Large and Small Classes.

2.      There is no significant difference in the Performance of JSS 3 accounting Accounting students in their

Listening to carry out Instructions in Large and Small Classes.

3.      There is no significant difference in the Performance of JSS3 accounting Accounting students in their

Listening and note-taking in Large and Small Classes.

1.6 Significance of the Study   

The study would assist stakeholders in education in planning the curriculum of listening skills (listening to write down main points, listening to carry out instructions, listening and note- taking). Also it would help accounting teachers to understand the effect of class-size in order to improve their structure on the three listening skills in addition to knowing how this is affected by the class size.

The research work could assist the Accounting teacher in adopting different methods and strategies in teaching accounting students in the various classes. This can be achieved through teacher/student interaction and feedback, use of sharing strategy with close by schools.

The findings could also guide the educational administrators by providing suggestions on how to review its policies on effective teaching of accounting. This might be through providing more facilities and equipment necessary for teaching the accounting skills. Also, suggestions on how to review educational policies, building more classes, employing adequate and well-trained teachers in schools would benefit the ministry of education.

The study is also significant for educational planners because they could find the outcome beneficial for reviewing the curriculum of Accounting in the listening skills at junior secondary school level and this would improve the accounting students‟ performances in accounting.

1.7 Basic Assumptions

The study is conducted based on the following assumption in mind:

1. Accounting accounting students in Small Classes Perform better in Listening to write down main points, listening to carry out instructions and listening and note-taking than those in Large Classes.

1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

This research is restricted to the effect of class size and performance of JSS3 accounting accounting students who are matured enough and have time to be examined at the junior secondary school level. It studied all the junior secondary schools because of their poor performance in listening skills. These schools are located in both the rural and urban areas of Zaria Local Government of Kaduna State. They were grouped into small and large classes.

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