Does Class Size Really Matter?

Elisa Maroney & Amanda Smith
Western Oregon University
The interpreting Studies faculty at Western Oregon University conducted a longitudinal study from 2009 to 2016. Part of this study included the collection of Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) scores for graduating seniors. We looked at many variables that might affect the scores and have found three that correlated with EIPA scores. In this short “news brief,” we will report on one of those variables, the cohort size.
Our findings support the CIT Position Paper: Instructional class size (Conference of Interpreter Trainers, n.d.), in which small class sizes are recommended for interpreting skills courses. In addition, our findings support the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education standard 4.7 in which the recommended faculty/student ratio for skills development courses is 1 to 12 and for field experience, 1 to 10 (Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education, 2014).
A single-tailed t-test was conducted to assess the relationship between cohort size and EIPA scores. A significant relationship between cohort size and EIPA scores was found, the smaller the cohort, the higher the EIPA test score.
We have test scores for 122 students who were members of cohorts that ranged from 11 to 23 students. We found that the average scores for cohort sizes of 13 or less were higher than those that were 15 or more. The average for all 122 students is 3.39. For cohorts of 13 or smaller, the average is 3.45. The average EIPA scores for cohorts greater than 15 was 3.3. The lowest average scores were for the two largest cohorts, one of which consisted of 23 students with an average score of 3.28. The other cohort consisted of 19 and the average EIPA score was 3.26.
This data shows that class size does matter. Having this data leads to questions about what the significance of cohort size is and why it impacts the EIPA scores for graduates. Perhaps, more frequent practice with prompt commentary and more individualized attention on individual processes leads to graduates with more command over their skills and decision-making.

References

Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education. (2014). CCIE accreditation standards. Retrieved from http://ccie-accreditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/CCIE_Accreditation_Standards_2014.pdf
Conference of Interpreter Trainers. (n.d.). CIT Position Paper: Instructional class size. Retrieved from http://www.cit-asl.org/docs/PositionPapers.pdf