Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Student Choice

Just a quick thought .....

Recently I was struggling to meet the formative assessment demands of students who were completing a piece of work for summative assessment. Despite scaffolding and providing exemplars for students a bottleneck was occurring as students waited for feedback from me resulting in some off-task behavior. To remedy this, I began the next unit of work and ran both units of learning at the same time. In this way, while they were waiting for feedback from me about one piece of work they had other learning they could be doing. The result of this is the highest engagement in learning I've seen from these students all year. Students liked the fact that they could make choices about their learning - particularly what learning they were going to focus on for the lesson and how to manage their time effectively. I think perhaps one key to improving student engagement is improving the choices they have in their learning. Schools and departments can do this in many ways such as giving students choice in the topics they learn about, books they read, or even just choice in the type of activity they do in a lesson. These are easy changes to make if a teacher is committed and flexible enough to move away from traditional modes of teaching where they make almost all of the decisions about learning. However, at the same time I feel it's important to strike a balance between not giving students too much choice so that they feel indecisive and insecure but just enough so that they don't feel limited and become passive learners.