An investigation of learner-centered education in a large class developing country setting: evidence from Lilongwe, Malawi.
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The study investigated the implementation of Learner-Centred Education (LCE) in a larger class defined as having more than sixty learners. LCE requires learning to be participatory, active, reflective, and thought provoking. As such, the study undertook the task to examine the learning practice in a large class so as to establish the true situation in relation to the expectations of LCE. To achieve this objective, sixteen Participants to the study comprising teachers, education advisors and an inspector of schools were engaged in in-depth interviews on their experience in implementing LCE. Results showed that effective implementation of LCE in a large class environment is practically very challenging. Teachers fail to provide individual support to learners, they have limited teaching methods that engage all learners in active learning, and learners’ assessment is done periodically to avoid high workload of assignments from a larger group of learners. The study found that teachers are not adequately trained in handling large classes during their teacher training program. In the course of teacher training program, special and smaller classes of sixty learners (that is an officially normal class size in Malawi) are created for student teachers during teaching practice. However, the arrangement does not correspond to the daily situation of class size in the schools. Therefore, the teacher training and continuous professional development programs should embrace challenges faced in implementation of LCE. Teachers require specialized knowledge and skills in handling large classes. Lastly, the study calls for more studies in classroom environments with smaller numbers to further investigate the extent to which class size impacts on student performance.