Unpacking the Findings: Some Theoretical Perspectives

  • Gary James Harfitt


The focus of this chapter is to revisit salient findings and issues identified in earlier chapters and then unpack them from a theoretical perspective, something largely absent from the literature on class size. I will use this chapter to argue that it is the learning context or learning conditions in reduced-size classes which allow for the emergence of a community of practice and that it is these conditions which help bring about improved teaching and learning opportunities. On the basis of findings from the case studies carried out in ten Hong Kong secondary schools I propose that the characteristics of a community of practice are more evident in the smaller classes I have reported on. Findings from the case studies have also thrown up some other important findings. I have been able to identify key learning processes that differed between the large and small classes in each school. Crucially, we have seen that teachers and students behaved differently, too. This chapter will revisit the intriguing issue of why some teachers do not always change their practice when moving from large to small classes and why some teachers clearly do vary their practice. Teachers’ decision-making during lessons in large and small classes was highlighted as being an integral factor in students’ access to opportunities for participation. Related to this issue of teachers’ decision-making, I also set out to examine the importance of the physical classroom setting as a powerful tool for teachers to exploit. Based on my findings there is another important question, namely why students in smaller classes were seen to participate more in learning tasks than their peers studying in larger classes.


Large Class Small Class Social Learning Theory Full Participation Class Member 
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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