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Article of the Week


Lifelong Learning


A student says, “Yash need a marker.”
How does a teacher respond?
Usually this way: “We don’t say, ‘Yash need a marker.’ We say, ‘Yash needs a marker.'”
What the teacher needs is a new approach, according to Educational Initiatives, an organization working towards improving quality of education in schools through focus on assessment.Educational Initiatives conducts a diagnostic test “ASSET” from class 3 to 10 to measure children’s learning in schools. The questions designed in ASSET make a child think and understand the concepts better in English, Maths and Science. ASSET is taken by over 2,00,000 children from 1000 schools nationwide.It is generally accepted that children have their own understanding of how the world works prior to receiving formal instruction. In ASSET, we find various student responses, which derive a child’s misconception on a particular concept. Children are not learning with understanding, i.e. they perform better on text-book type direct questions, while faring poorly on questions which are application based on the same concepts.

Few real life examples from ASSET:

The below question was asked to Class 6 students. The correct option is B and out of 6858 only 25% answered correctly

About one-Seventh of the earth’s surface is desert. The term desert refers to an area which

is very hot
B. is Very dry
C. has no vegetation at all.
D. has all the above features.
Students of Class 6: 6858 and only 25% answered correctlyThis question tests the basic understanding of deserts as dry lands. Student understanding of deserts seems to be based more on the visuals in text books and movies that invariably tend to represent deserts as sand dunes, and fail to correlate the presence of cactii in deserts (which they do study) as “vegetation”. They also appear to confuse the extremity of desert climate with heat, not applying the fact that deserts can also get extremely cold. The below question was asked to Class 4 students. The correct option is A and out of 4626 only 31% answered correctly Neelu wants to give one third of the sweets shown below to her sister:Neelu wants to give one third of the sweets shown below to her sister:

How many should she give?A. two
B. three
C. four
D. five
Number of students of Class 4: 4626 and only 31% answered correctly

This question tries to test the basic understanding of fractions. The most common wrong answer given by students probably points towards the lack of understanding of the term ‘one third’. They are perhaps confusing the word ‘third’ with ‘three’ and are therefore answering B, three.
There is growing recognition that true/ false, multiple choice, and short answer tests do not give a true picture of what students know and have accomplished. These are primarily measures of memorization and recall, and do not always even test comprehension. They certainly do not give students opportunities to demonstrate that they can apply what they have learned or use their knowledge in creative or even just practical ways.The traditional techniques put the child in a horrible situation where he has to choose between ‘the teacher is right’ or ‘ the parent is right.’ “Creative teaching involves pedagogical skills.

Traditional learning• The teacher is the source of knowledge.
• Learners receive knowledge from the teacher.
• Learners work by themselves.
• Tests are given to prevent progress until students have    completely mastered a set of skills and to ration access to    further learning.
• All learners do the same thing.
• Teachers receive initial training plus ad hoc in-service training.
• “Good” learners are identified and permitted to continue their    education.
Lifelong learning• Educators are guides to sources of knowledge.
• People learn by doing.
• People learn in groups and from one another.
• Assessment is used to guide learning    strategies and identify pathways for future    learning.
• Educators develop individualized learning    plans.
• Educators are lifelong learners. Initial training    and ongoing professional development are    linked.
• People have access to learning opportunities     over a lifetime.

Source: Directions in Development, A report by World Bank

The changing scope of assessment is required. The shift in consciousness from assessment data as organizational hammer to its use as a tool in strategic planning is slow but critical if we in school are to truly develop learning organizations.

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