New research project on teacher-pupil ratio

How can elementary school pupils benefit from a lower pupil-teacher ratio, or by attending smaller classes? Researchers at the Norwegian Reading Centre are looking to find the answer, in collaboration with us.

The research project Two Teachers will be lead by associate professor Oddny Judith Solheim from the Norwegian Reading Centre. NOK 28 million is allocated directly to the project, while NOK 132 million will be spent on teacher resources at 150 participating schools in Agder, Rogaland and Hordaland counties.

The study will look at the significance for elementary school children of introducing a lower pupil-teacher ratio. It will also investigate how extra teacher resources best should be used, in order to be beneficial for the students, particularly in addressing individual learning needs.

– We need to compare the number of teachers in each class, and we will also compare how the organize their teaching. Lowering the pupil-teacher ratio provides increased opportunities for teachers. The determining factor for children’s learning outcomes seems to be the extent to which teachers exploit these opportunities. The project looks at whether increased knowledge amongst teachers about literacy instruction, and the implementation of carefully developed instructional approaches and programmes, can boost the effect of a lower pupil-teacher ratio, and thus improve learning, says associate professor Oddny Judith Solheim, who is project manager of Two Teachers.

Highly relevant
The Norwegian Reading Centre was awarded the project in competition with several other research institutions, and will collaborate closely with the Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and the UiS Business School, as well as international partners.

– The Reading Centre is known for its high academic standard. The centre has also gained significant and relevant experience from other research projects. The research design of Two Teachers is highly relevant for central and local education authorities. Through its role as a national centre for education, the Reading Centre is in close contact with schools, teachers and others in the Norwegian education sector. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to the dissemination of the research results, says Ane Marte Rasmussen at the Norwegian Research Council.

The question of the significance of the teacher to pupil-ratio has caused great debate amongst Norwegian teachers, parents and politicians. While some are convinced that class size and the number of teachers per class is of significant influence when it comes to children’s learning outcomes, others claim that the number of pupils per teacher is not a determining factor. Both parties look to international studies, which are divided on the matter. For while some studies show that reduced class sizes have a great effect on learning outcome, other researchers find that the number of students per class is less significant. The Norwegian government has allocated a total of NOK 480 million to more teachers in grades 1 to 4, in addition to extra teacher resources as part of research projects.
– We don’t know enough on the effect of increased teacher-student ratio, admits Norway’s minister of education Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

Associate professor Oddny Judith Solheim

Associate professor Oddny Judith Solheim