Do you prefer whole group instruction to small group?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Do you prefer whole group instruction to small group?
whole group
small group

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The results of this poll may surprise some of you. The majority of teachers prefer small group instruction, but the difference between the two responses wasn't very large. The growing number of students in classrooms has been an issue for a number of years and most teachers advocate for smaller classroom sizes. Why then, isn't the response to this poll an overwhelming majority?

There are benefits to whole group instruction that are often overlooked in the bid to decrease student numbers. More students mean more ideas and opportunities for student interaction during group discussion. Sometimes when all students learn together there is the chance for students to become peer tutors by helping their neighbours with parts of the lesson they didn't understand. Certainly in elementary grades the trend towards larger classrooms can have an impact on students who struggle with learning outcomes. Once they reach high school students have to become more proactive in seeking aid when necessary because large class sizes mean that teachers aren't always aware when a student doesn't understand. Younger children rely more on the teacher to fill in the gaps in understanding.

While whole group instruction has some benefits, the use of smaller groups allows teachers to more easily identify which students are having difficulty understanding a particular concept. There is more of a one-on-one interaction between students and between student and teacher than is possible with larger groups. In most cases, this increases the potential for understanding.

With budget concerns an almost constant in the education system small group instruction is difficult to achieve. Many teachers explain a lesson to the whole group and then subdivide the class into smaller groups based on any number of factors. Pairing more independent workers with students who often require help is one way to address student needs.

As this poll shows that almost half of teachers prefer whole group instruction hopefully it means that teachers have found methods that work for teaching larger groups of students. That's a good thing because it doesn't look classroom sizes are going to decrease dramatically anytime in the near future.