Archive for September 2, 2009

Kazakhstan Class Size and Academic Achievement

I finally signed my teaching contract for fall semester, even though I have been teaching over 100 students with five different classes and three preps for almost three weeks.  Unfortunately, there is NO wiggle room to negotiate.  Before I showed up on Almaty soil, while back in the U.S., I could see that registration showed my teaching FIVE classes!!! However, I didn’t know the enrollment numbers for my classes would exceed the max of 20 in each classroom.  In some classes I have on my roster 22 or 23 students.

The following answers to a quiz I gave to my writing students sums up what the reality is in Kazakhstan.  The fact that we are a “westernized university” seems to have little bearing on the fact that though I’m “student-centered” in my teaching methods, I am being paid as if I am “teacher-centered” in my approach.  Obviously, I will not be able to give as much time and attention to my students this semester because I have so many of them. 

“Teacher-centered” teachers or administrators don’t seem to understand the quandry I’m in because there is the financial crisis to attend to!!!  However, the students’ tuition continues to increase and they are not getting the quality of teachers that they should if we really ARE a western-styled university,  where “Education to Change Society” might come into fruition. 

Read on to see what my first year students had to write after reading the assignment on “Academic Achievement.”

 Sasha – Academic Achievement plays a great role in a society.  There are different ways to improve this such as reduction of class size.  We have a lot of problems with this and we need to reform our system of education.  Among the factors that affect academic achievement in our country are the low salaries for teachers, not sufficient books, corruption, etc.  And finally it is national test that was introduced several years ago.  All students must write this test to graduate from the school.  According to some experts such tests are not efficient.

Daniyar – In KZ, I had about 30 students in class but nevertheless, it didn’t make my achievements smaller (I guess).  More pupils – more competition.  I didn’t find how this article [about class size] connected to Kazakhstan, we didn’t consider this problem.

Aina – I read about how class sizes influence on students’ achievement.  If the class is small, students discipline will be good, they can take more knowledge and for the teacher it will be easy.

Karlygash – in my opinion, it is better to have small classes.  This text shows us different points about this topic.  In our Republic, classes are very big, nearly 30 people.  It is not good for children to get good knowledge.  So, I absolutely agree with this statement, that good knowledge is only in small classes.

Azamat – This text about academic achievement, the main idea is that it is better to have small class in order to have great academic achievement.  Because, teacher has more time and more chance to work with students.  Moreover, more time spent with each student in order to help him.  However, there are some problems with this.  It means that more classes, more teachers and more money needs.  I think in our country we have so many classes in schools which are full of students.  As a result, there is no individual work with students.

Jeon – Improving education is an important matter to every nation.  However, sometimes it is sad that education is evaluated by efficiency.  Making a person as a good member of society is crucial and takes hard work.  To make them like that we need many directors to care for them individually.  It is a reasonable opinion.  However, in Korea, there are many students in one class.  Even though the students cannot be cared for much, it is beneficial to them because they can meet a variety of friends who have different backgrounds.


Nariman – I have learnt that increase in quality of education takes a lot of resources, but it will give huge dividends in the future.  Healthy and well educated people contribute much more in a country they live in than that of less educated people.

Yerkezhan – In our country, sizes of classes also are big and it absolutely has bad influence on education.  Maybe the government should pay attention to this problem.

Xeniya – In our country, in villages, children study in very large classes.  I think that there are too small amount of teachers.  Children can’t gain good education.  Only in private school, children may study in smaller classes (10-15 pupils).  Because they have money.  I trust that these problems will be solved in the future, and all our pupils will gain perfect education.

Askhat – In this text I found a lot of information about foreign countries, how they teach their students.  Some methods, which our country needs, for example, small-size classes.  It is better than sitting in the big classes with 20-30 pupils.  There was some research which found in small classes easy to gain knowledge and there will be more attention from teacher to every pupils.

Saniya – I have learned that reducing class size having problems with money, class equipment and with professors.  Even if this program has problems, it’s really helpful for students.  I think we need this program in Kazakhstan. I know that in some private schools, there are classes with 5-10 people only.  But in the government schools, classes are full with sometimes forty children in one class.  It is a difficult situation for a teacher.

Jisun – I agree with the opinion that making the class smaller is more effective.  It could include problems such as cost and employing more teachers but it could help the students to study harder.  In fact, at the elementary, middle and high school in Korea, there are almost 40 students in one class, so it is hard for the teacher to make all of the students concentrate in the lecture and also the students don’t have many chances to participate.  If the class is smaller, I think the students will achieve more than studying in a large class.

Aigul – I have learned that class size is important thing because the smaller class (not class as in a room but less students or pupils) the more they understand the subject they learn.  But this causes some other problems, such as lack of teachers or lack of classrooms.  But some studies show that class size doesn’t play an important role.  In Kazakhstan, class sizes are normally 25 pupils for each class, I think its okay.  I have been studying 11 years at school in classes with 25 and even 30 people…

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