Quality Teachers, Not Smaller Classes, Key to Resilience in Disadvantaged Students

A recent study published in the International Journal of Science Education has found that reducing class sizes in schools does not necessarily lead to increased resilience among students from low-income families. The study, which analyzed data from more than 2,700 disadvantaged secondary school students in China and Japan, suggests that the quality of teachers, rather than the quantity, is the primary factor in fostering academic resilience.

The researchers, led by Professor Tao Jiang of Taizhou University, discovered that smaller class sizes did not result in better grades for disadvantaged students and could even decrease the odds of achieving the best results. The study also found that the number of teachers did not significantly impact the academic success of students from the poorest backgrounds.

Instead, the study highlights the importance of high-quality teachers who effectively use teaching methods, maintain classroom discipline, and provide support to their students. These factors were found to increase the likelihood of students becoming academically resilient, which is defined as an individual’s ability to overcome adversity and perform well in school.

The study’s authors urge policymakers to invest more in high-quality teachers rather than focusing on reducing class sizes. Professor Jiang states, “This study supports the view that the quality of teachers, rather than the quantity, is the primary guarantee of students’ resilience.”

The study also revealed that high-resilience students were generally positive towards school, science, and their future careers, dedicating more time to learning science than their peers. However, they did experience anxiety about exams.

The findings emphasize the crucial role that science teachers and their teaching methods play in building students’ resilience. In Japan, inquiry-based teaching was the most robust predictor of high-level resilience, while in Macau, it was teacher-directed instruction.

The study’s authors suggest that further research is needed to analyze how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected teaching in the context of student resilience.


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