Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Robert Reardon


This was a multi-faceted mixed methods study that investigated several aspects associated to class size and the perceived effects on student achievement in Title I elementary schools. The data collection in this study was conducted through two separate phases. The first qualitative phase was a case study that was comprised of teacher interviews and classroom observations. The case study took place at a Title I school in Central Virginia, chosen for its diverse representativeness of the student population. Classroom interactions were coded during five-minute segments in each full-day classroom observation, as well as field notes made for specific types of instructional methods being used within each Title I classroom: individualized instruction, small group instruction, connecting personally with students, and incorporating technology into daily instruction. While a majority of the interactions within each classroom were positive, patterns emerged within the negative interactions that occurred. Interview responses indicated that the perceived ideal class size for Title I schools is 12-18 students, as well as provided explanations behind the perceived effects of class size on student achievement. Findings from the first phase were used to create a survey that was distributed during the second qualitative phase of this study. This survey was distributed to the larger Title I teacher population within the same school district to generalize the findings from the case study. Finally, systematic student assessment data was collected to compare the perceived effects of class size to the observed effects of class size on student achievement data. Although the findings from the student achievement data were inconclusive, there were several factors associated to class size that are discussed to explain the observed effects on student achievement data in the case study Title I school.


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Date of Submission

May 2010

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