Teachers’ Perceptions and Practices When Working with Small Classes

  • Gary James Harfitt


This chapter reports findings from the six case studies described in the previous chapter. By adopting an original approach in observing teachers working with one large and one reduced-size class at the same grade level, I was able to identify key differences between teaching and learning in second language classes of varying size. The research design also allowed me to examine how those differences were mediated and whether they translated into more learning opportunities for students. This chapter will report on the six teachers’ perceptions and subsequent classroom practices when working in their small and large classes. I divide it into two parts: the first part of the chapter outlines teachers’ perceptions of teaching reduced-size classes and the second half presents classroom observation data detailing the practices of the six teachers in the case studies. Although class size research has suggested that teachers do not vary their pedagogy when moving from large to small classes, evidence from the six case studies in this research reveals subtle, but significant differences between teachers’ perceptions and their subsequent classroom practice particularly in task design, classroom organization, feedback and interaction patterns. This leads to my claim that teachers can and do change their pedagogy when working with small classes and that these changes can have a significant effect on teaching and learning, but it is a very complex picture. The same study also tapped the student voice and findings related to the students’ perspectives and experiences are presented in Chap.  4.


Interaction Pattern Classroom Observation Classroom Management Small Class Pedagogical Difference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary James Harfitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong SAR

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