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There is a variety of theories on Pupil Learning, filling the pages of books associated with classroom practice and education with each presenting a varied idea of how pupils learn? The main reason of this diversity is attributable to the fact that definition of learning shows a discrepancy according to each theory. However, these theories are united because of their aim to deliver a comprehensive guide of effective teaching practice leading to an improvement in the learning skills of pupils. (Sotto, 2007, p.126) The learners are placed in a specific position so the phenomenon of learning either happens to the pupil due to an outside force or they get it as a result of internal practices, depending on the theory.
The process of learning is defined as the
Different backgrounds of pupils--
I have felt that the Vygotsky's idea of Zone of Proximal Development greatly implies on pupil as they learned to do things on their own in the absence of elders who were assisting them before. Vygotsky stated "if a pupil is learning in the presence of some elder then he can achieve the same results when he is doing it alone." He also made a few key points for educators that in order to understand children we have to understand their culture and history. So that adults can convey that child with a perspective of his history and culture and children become able to carry out more challenging tasks when assisted by competent people. It promotes the maximum cognitive growth i.e. in fact the application of Zone of Proximal Development. (C. Alfrey, ed. 2003, p.3 to 11) (ITEM# 3)
(Bloom et al, 1956)
Learning takes place when teaching is effective
I have learned that Bloom's Taxonomy explained the six levels of students' learning. The use of Bloom's Taxonomy in kindergarten implies great challenges. I noticed that the degree of difficulty went higher as the level of hierarchy went higher. I have experienced that every component had its own challenges. When I conducted a lesson on my reader Gruffalo, I felt that at Remembering Level pupils easily recalled whatever they learnt about the story and some of them were capable of relating it to stories of animated movies of monsters. As level rose to the Understanding Level, the students were provided exercises of sentence reconstruction which turned up as a challenging task for most of them. This was expected as it was the start of recognition and restatement. The Applying Level had its own challenges due to an elevation in the level of difficulty. Pupils were given an activity to draw and label a diagram of Gruffalo without ignoring the fact that most of them required assistance. The next level was the Analysing Level. The students compared the character with other characters of the story and mentioned how it was different from others. Finally the most complex parts, Evaluation and Creativity gave students a trial to create, design and write about Gruffalo. The performance of the pupils encouraged me to apply the Bloom's Taxonomical Structure in other lessons as well making them to independently choose and write about the topics that they learned.
The questioning technique in my course taught that it triggers the cognitive learning process to check the understanding level of students. It helps to lead them from simple concepts to complex concepts linking with the prior knowledge.
Why do we ask questions?
We evaluate our own teaching through the questions we ask. We learned that the incorrect answers of students are not as important as their thinking, so we need to ask questions to assess their thinking. If a pupil answers wrong in first attempt then I ask him a suitable comparison question to ponder, it helps the student to derive the answer himself along with an understanding of what he had neglected to do so. Fusco and Lowry gave a similar concept in their book Effective Questioning Strategies in the Classroom (2012) devising how important it is to effectively use thoughtful questioning.
My questioning technique was weak before this course because I mostly asked low level cognitive questions i.e. close ended questions which gave very less space to the students to answer and ponder upon the concept. But now I have started to work upon the suggestion of Perret that it may be more profitable to think of questions on pupils thinking. He also mentioned that High order questions provoke thought and reasoning in pupil compared to low order questions that restrict the thinking of students with close end answers of Yes & No. (Perret, 1982, Reading 13.5)
What I learned from Questioning Technique?
We have to consider more factors that how we can keep everyone involved in listening and thinking. If we reject or pass over a response we use useful strategies involving various kinds of pacing, redirecting, prompting, recording and praising.
The Pacing technique implies that we give the student time to ponder upon the question and reach the accurate answer by brain storming. It is a rather slow but very helping technique for the pupil to get the concept clear.
The Redirecting technique follows the concept of questioning other pupils which enables them to get involved in thinking at the same time.
The Prompting technique involves asking students questions, by giving hints, clues and asking leading question to get the right and complete answer.
The Probing questions are planned in a way to help students to answer comprehensively with a grasp on the concept.
The recording technique allows the students' thinking to focus on the answer that is recorded on the white board so they can grasp the concept more carefully.
I would like to work on all these questioning techniques in my daily practice to enhance the learning of my students. I use some of these strategies that make my pupils to answer like I prompt them by giving hints and clues to get a complete and correct answer that depicts they have grasped the concept.
Being a teacher the biggest challenge I have to face is an attempt to respond to a wide range of needs, learning styles and backgrounds of students. This spectrum of student needs is known as differentiation. Differentiating Instruction is defined by Diane Heacox as:
"Differentiating instruction means changing the pace, level, or kind of instruction you provide in response to individual learners' needs, interests or styles with in the same class."
There are five types of differentiation according to Stradling and Saunders (1993) which are given as:
Differentiation by Task, where pupil cover the same content but in a different manner. E.g. in maths I gave them addition exercises on worksheets, number lines, counting objects and solving questions on white board.
Differentiation by Outcome, it involves the students to come to the accurate answers with flexible means like above average child can solve extension worksheets and below average can work at his own level to attain the same result.
Differentiation by Learning Activities, the students have to deal with the same content in a varied way, like some pupil like to learn by hands-on-experience and some like to learn by watching.
Differentiation by Pace, it implies that students go through the same subject matter at the same level but at a different performance rate. E.g. few students grasp the concept quickly but others might need more practice time, instructions or feedback.
Differentiation by dialogue, it involves the teacher to discuss the task with students to get accurate results by modifying the content according to their level.
Another important factor is the gender influence on learning. Michael Gurian, brain researcher gives the facts of how learning is influenced by gender. (Michael Gurian, 2001, p.18). he mentioned that Girls master reading faster than Boys, whereas Boys tend to grasp the mathematical concepts, three-dimensional reasoning with a preference of action and exploration to passive learning.
Karen Rogers, an educational researcher worked on female learning differences. She suggested that Girls learn best in diverse atmospheres that offer a variety in instructional tasks. The content can include tasks with numerous correct answers, activities with hands-on practice, opportunities to ask questions and discuss concepts and ideas. (Karen Rogers, 1990)
I have learned that differentiation is a 2 step process:
Analysing the extent of challenge and diversity in present instructional plans.
Adapting, Modifying and Designing new approaches to teach according to the varied responses of interests, needs and learning preferences of students.