Does Reducing Class Size Improve Student Achievement?

Posted: July 15th, 2022

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Critical Thinking Paper Writing Guide
Assignment Description
This assignment is designed to stimulate your personal academic interests and develop your
critical thinking skills. In this assignment, you are asked to use what you have learned from this
class to analyze one current controversial issue in educational psychology and explain your
viewpoint in this issue and interpret the reasons. You need to provide theoretical analysis,
evidence, and cite articles and research papers to support your viewpoint. Here are several
potential topics that you can select from, or you are welcome to pick your own topic that
interests you. The argument examples for each topic are provided to help you better understand
the issue.
1. Issue: Does Reducing Class Size Improve Student Achievement?

In January, 2019, Los Angeles teachers started a strike. They demanded increased
pay, smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support staff, such as nurses, counselors
and librarians. However, in academics, there is a debate on whether the smaller class size
can improve student achievement:
Yes: Jeremy D. Finn, Susan B. Gerber, and Jayne Boyd-Zaharias, from “Small
Classes in the Early Grades, Academic Achievement, and Graduating from High
School,” Journal of Educational Psychology (2005)
No: Eric A Hanushek, from “The Tennessee Class Size Experiment (Project
STAR),” Economic Policy Institute (2002)
2. Issue: Does Grading Help Students Learn?
Grades are the primary means of measuring a child’s progress through school.
Some parents reward children for good grades. For most families, the grade is the goal.
However, some scholars argue that grades do not actually help student learning:
Yes: Kyle Spencer, from “Standards-Based Grading,” Harvard Education Letter
No: Alfie Kohn, from “The Case Against Grades,” Educational Leadership (2011)

3. Issue: Should students be Reward for Learning?
For years, educators and psychologists have debated whether students should be
rewarded for school work and academic accomplishments. Some scholars believe that
students have best learning outcome in a responsive environment, which makes learning
process more fun. However, some other scholars argue that using a reward is a way for
teacher to manipulate and control students, hurting their intrinsic motivation.
Yes: Hennessey, B.A., from “Reward, Task Motivation, Creativity and Teaching:
Towards a Cross-Cultural Examination.” Teachers College Record, 2015.
No: Kohn, Alfie from “Rewards versus Learning: A Response to Paul Chance.”
Phi Delta Kappan, 1993.
4. Issue: Are Inquiry and Problem-based Learning effective Teaching Approach
Inquiry, discovery learning, and problem-based learning are very popular these
days, but are they effective? Despite the benefits of increasing students’ engagement and
motivation, some scholars argue that inquiry learning is ineffective and cannot benefit
student learning if without teachers’ assistances.
Yes: Wirkala, C., & Kuhn, D. (2011). Problem-based learning in K–12 education:
Is it effective and how does it achieve its effects?. American Educational
Research Journal, 48(5), 1157-1186.
No: Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance
during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist,
discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational
psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.
5. Issue: Should Girls and Boys be Taught Differently?
There has been a long-lasting debate on whether girls and boys should be taught
differently. Some scholars say that students are better off learning some things with their
same gender counterparts. However, some others believe that gender-segregated
classroom change little for learners, and may reinforce stereotypes and even lead to
greater gender disparities.
Yes: Frances R. Spielhagen, from “How Tweens View Single-Sex
Classes,” Educational Leadership (2006)
No: Kelley King and Michael Gurian, from “Teaching to the Minds of
Boys,” Educational Leadership (2006)
Suggested Sections
a. Introduction
b. Literature Review
c. Discussion
d. Conclusion and Implications
Formats and Requirements
• 6-10 pages (Title page and references are not included); Times New Roman font, size
12; Double space the entire paper.
• Use APA reference style.
o Title Page
o Main Body:
▪ The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
▪ Running head” at the top of every page.
o References: Citation Style
• Do not cite long quotes

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