How to Ensure Student Learning

Richa Kumar

Principal, Orchids The International School, Mumbai

This is a burning topic for any education sector starting from preschool to post graduation. Whether it is management, teachers or parents, all are worried how to ensure student learning, the question looms up at us, how to make it happen?

Will you appreciate, if I give a statement –It is simple, let them learn it ; their way.

Theory teaches us the process for ensuring student’s learning by asking the facilitator to know the content well, adapt to the circumstance or situation and deliver the lesson plan accordingly, keep student’s engaged and involved in the listening , if necessary reteach and finally reflect on the learning that has taken place.

When students are in charge of their own learning, they feel a sense of belonging—the classroom becomes a space defined by them. And paradoxically, in providing greater autonomy for students, teachers become more important than ever because only a skilled teacher can set up the scaffolding for this kind of learning experience and thoughtful guidance that students require at each step of the process.

Like adults, students feel valued and respected when an experience challenges them, reflects their interests, and allows their voices to be heard. And when students are the authors of their own stories, they attend to each moment because they care deeply about the rising action, the falling action, and the resolution—the triumphs and the lessons are their own.

But it does not change here, assessment is the most important parameter to assure quality. Focusing on quality and recognition of the facilitator’s efforts to improve student learning can greatly contribute to establishing the sometimes elusive culture of assessment.

Facilitators / Teachers who develop useful assessments, need to provide corrective instruction and give students a second chances to demonstrate success. They can improve their instruction and help students learn and relearn. Assessment should intrigue the learner to know more, questions like quiz, multiple choices, puzzles, etc. should make the learner think analytically and apply his learning to real practice. But the teacher needs to modify her approach while evaluating the assignment by providing accurate feedback on the learning progress and thus help students in identify learning problems.

The question here is do you teach to assess or do you teach to ensure learning? If assessment is the most important factor for what facilitator/ teacher is imparting in the classroom then we are right that we are teaching only to ensure that all students clear exams. But if we desire to establish learning goals as the foundation of student’s learning experiences then assessment or examinations are merely extension of the same goals.

I have always told my teachers, do not evaluate students but evaluate your teaching, if you want to ensure student’s learning has taken place. If a concept or skill is important enough to assess, then it should be important enough to teach. And if it is not important enough to teach, then there's little justification for assessing it.

But let us not ignore a teacher’s effort, who prepares well before entering in the classroom. 'Don't students have responsibilities in this process? Shouldn't students display initiative and personal accountability?' Indeed teachers and students share equal responsibility for learning. After imparting lesson plan if teacher has not reached half the class in the assessment, she/he needs to improve instructional methodology. Universal design of learning asserts that teacher should teach in the way student wants to learn and teacher should evaluate as per student’s self-expression where he /she can relate to the concept understood in the classroom. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a way of thinking about teaching and learning that helps give all students an equal opportunity to succeed.

To ensure student’s learning , we need to develop a flexible approach, build on student’s strength and needs and diverse learners at large.

Richa Kumar

Principal, Orchids The International School, Mumbai