Being a teacher, I think teaching and learning is an ongoing process (Watkins and Drury,
Trying to understand the process of learning and how people learn is an area
into which much research has been carried, but agreement about what this should
include is hard to pin down.
The science of learning, depends on the art of
teaching and they both are inseparable (Feldman and McPhee, 2008). An
awareness of the learning process provides powerful insights and enables
teachers to effectively match their teaching with their students’ content,
needs and situation.
Teachers need to use their knowledge of
students’ level of understanding, as well as subject content to make professional judgments about classroom practice, and delivering an
effective lesson plan. However, I believe the art of teaching should also be
informed by a robust understanding of the learning process so that teachers can
align their decisions with the best understanding of how students learn. The current
movement towards more student-centred learning stems from the theories of
constructivism and social constructivism (PDQ Core Resources, 2016). That is that students learn best when they are
actively; involved in their learning and creating their own meaning around a
subject either individually or socially as a group.
science has proven that students learn new ideas by relating them to their
prior knowledge, and then transferring them into their long-term memory
For me as a
teacher this means that teachers should make sure that students have—or should
provide students with—the background knowledge needed for understanding new
content. Students without adequate background knowledge, or who are otherwise
not given enough instructional guidance (Vygotsky,
can be quickly overwhelmed in the classroom.
Students retain information better when they
are given many opportunities to practice retrieving it from their long term
memories (Kolb, 1984) and think about its meaning.
For example while nobody likes rote or
“drill and kill” assignments, repeated. I believe deliberate,
meaningful practices of content can both cement student learning and make it
easier for students to remember content in the future, enabling them to tackle
increasingly complex challenges.
According to this theory a carefully sequenced curriculum can
build student knowledge over the course of a school career, enabling students
to solve increasingly complex problems. Teachers can also help develop these
skills by providing feedback that is specific, clear, and focused on the task
and on improvement rather than on the student or her performance. Such feedback is an important component of formative
The primary purpose of assessment is
to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both respond to the
information it provides. Traditionally, teachers use assessments to
measure how much our students have learnt up to a particular point in time.
This is called “assessment of learning” (Harlen, 2007) or what we use
to see whether our students are meeting the standards set up by Cambridge International
Examinations. It limits the chance of creativity. It merely focusses to
increase students’ scores on high-stakes exams such as the O/A levels. Although
“assessment of learning” or “summative assessment” is
important if we are to ascribe grades to students and provide accountability,
one should also focus more on “assessment for learning”
(Brown, 2005) or “formative assessment”. It is most useful part way through a
course or module, and will involve giving the students feedback which they can
use to improve their future performance (William and Thompson, 2008).
Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills develop through
feedback and depends heavily upon background knowledge, this plays a key role
in developing higher order thinking skills
(Biggs and Collis, 1982).
Motivation helps a student
to learn (Ames, 1992). In my opinion ideally, students will be motivated to
engage in course content because they are fascinated by it and enjoy it.
Motivation is a complex phenomenon and depends, on whether a student identifies
with a particular academic setting, or whether he believes that his ability in
an area can be developed with effort. I think there are a variety of steps for
teachers to make sure that students feel a sense of belonging in class and that
their effort is worthwhile. For example, giving credit for participation,
engage students in decision making and avoid controlling student behavior.
Personally I think we can
help elevate the prestige and rigor of the profession that we call teaching by
employing the best provided scientific methods and principles outlined above.