How to Improve Learning Experiences (and Improve Students’ Performance)

A school is nothing without its students. The school is the driver that takes each and every student on a memorable learning journey that enlightens them and helps them in achieving specific learning goals. The journey itself is where the work lies, with obstacles that can possibly interfere with how smooth (or not) that ride is for the students (as well as other passengers) on board.

Student Learning Experience is Everything: All You Need to Know to Improve Student Achievement and Teaching Effectiveness

It is the responsibility of teachers to evaluate those obstacles and tackle them as best as they can. From that, they get the insight they need to change their instructions and align their teaching goals with individual student goals.Of course, teachers are not the only ones held accountable. The school also needs to evaluate student learning, set standards and make better decisions regarding curricula, programs and educational policy. I came across these three insightful  questions that every school (and their teachers) need to answer in order to improve student learning outcomes:

  1. Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?”
  2. “Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning?”
  3. “Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning?”.

Ideally, the answer to all should be yes. Realistically, a lot of schools keep asking themselves everyday and yet don’t have a coherent answer to any. That’s why such schools need to really consider re-evaluating their processes to ensure that the learning curve stays in a progressive state for all their students.

 

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Traditional vs. Alternative Assessment: Which works best?

There’s an old saying that “ All roads lead to Rome”. And that’s exactly what these two assessment methods set out to accomplish: an effective learning path to student achievement (while helping teachers better design instruction)

So assessing a student’s knowledge is not just done by giving continuous assessment (CA) and exams , but by adding new learning goals that encompasses skills  that will allow students to face a world that is continually changing. These alternative assessment methods can provide the important detail of how much your students are learning. (Read this blogpost on Improving Student Learning using Free Tech Tools)

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Traditionally, class evaluations done from CA, exams or assignments give teachers enough feedback to work with and improve their teaching style and course content. Moreover, student performance on these assessment materials has become the basis for such critical decisions as student promotion from one class to the next, and compensation for teachers and administrators. By default, teachers are expected to have mastered assessment practices in order to deliver appropriate learning measures.  The downside, however, is that this method rarely develops students’ general problem-solving ability which is essential in today’s educational realm.

Thinking Out of the Box

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Alternative (or performance) assessments give students feedback on how well they understand information and on what they need to improve on. Basically, students need to expand and explain a lot more. The common alternative assessment materials used for measurement are often written compositions, oral presentations, projects, experiments, and portfolios of student works Apart from those, teachers, also use certain techniques to adjust their teaching to help students  develop an appetite for learning (assessment is not just to simply see who is or isn’t studying).

Such techniques include:

  • Requiring students to write down step-by-step process of how they solved a given assignment. Going through each student’s process gives teachers a sense of how much they are developing their problem solving skills and understand what they need to do during class session to improve that particular academic skill.
  •  Encouraging students to gauge how much time they spend in completing a given assignment or activity and write a brief account of the process and results. This pushes teachers to make students become better aware of habits regarding study time and encourage them to use it effectively  in order to increase their chances of getting great results.
  • Ending each class session by asking open ended questions such as “What point or example in today’s class would you like to see reviewed or clarified?” Or “What were the main points of today’s class?”, and having each student briefly write down their answers. At the next class session, teachers can then discuss the responses and  figure out how they can improve on their teaching methods to make a particular subject easier to grasp and in turn improve student learning experience.

In short, this post highlights why assessment is an integral  and essential part of the teaching and learning cycle. Without question, improving student learning takes good assessment and creating an atmosphere that encourages student achievement through frequent timely feedback, evaluating progress and allowing students to be involved; expand their horizons and apply knowledge to novel situations. Teachers can make inferences from how all this plays out to fine tune their teaching techniques and improve student performance.

 

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