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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Learning Pace

Learning at their own pace


Students learn best when they control their pace of learning. A few good practices to encourage children


   Research says that students learn best when they themselves control the pace of their learning, as each student's learning need is different. But how feasible is the concept considering in an average classroom, a teacher has to handle around 40 students? 


Mindspark recently launched a computer adaptive self-learning programme, based on the theory that students learn best when they control their pace of learning. The interactive software system discourages passive learning. Students, besides viewing and listening, have to interact with the software through activities and would be provided feedback to assist in progressing to the next level. 


   "The software has been developed keeping in mind the different pace of learning abilities of every child - on the theoretical basis that there is no 'ideal' learning pace for a given age group. Effective learning takes place when the material presents a challenge that is just above the cognitive level of the student. By implementing this, Mindspark ensures that every child learns during the interaction with the software," says Suchismita Srinivas, vice president, Digital Adaptive Learning. 


   She adds: "In addition to the innovative use of visuals and animations to motivate students and foster learning, the programme makes use of other child-friendly techniques to encourage students." The programme is available in 12 maths modules, which covers most of the maths content for classes III-VII. The software is available online. Four schools in Ahmedabad and two in Mumbai besides Tagore International School in Delhi have tried the software. 


   Though most teachers are sensitised towards the fact that every child learns at his/her own pace, it can get difficult for them to address every child's needs owing to several constraints. The teacher-student ratio is one of the key constraints, feels Reena Babbar, counsellor, New Era Public School. "There is not enough focussed attention as in many classrooms, teachers have to handle almost 40 students. So it is difficult to focus on each child's pace of learning." Finishing the syllabi on time is another constraint, she adds. 


   Therefore, Babbar says, the school has various tutorial programmes and remedial classes to help children who lag behind. "We emphasise on counselling parents and teach them ways to make concepts simpler for their children. We also encourage educated non-working mothers to volunteer as counsellors to help children." 


   Similarly, Sonia Khanna, principal, Aster Public School, says: "A teacher should consider all children as equal rather than calling them bright or weak." She adds: "No child is dumb, as every child has his/her own pace of learning. The teacher should ensure that she identifies and encourages the positive things in a child rather than constantly discouraging him/her." 


   Talking about some good practices that need to be followed, Veena Dhyani, counsellor, Cambridge School, Noida, says: "Teachers should give less instructions, repeat often and write on the blackboard. Moreover, they should break the topic into smaller units and associate it with real-life situations."



Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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