Hello, and welcome back to a new school year. I hope you are all charged up.
Learning deficit is the term used to describe the loss of academic skills and knowledge that students experience during long periods of time away from school. The summer break is a perfect set up that can cause a fair bit of learning deficit. As children get rid of the last year’s text books, it seems like they are also ridding themselves of parts of everything they learned in the past year.
For a subject like Maths, which builds on concepts learnt from earlier years, such a learning deficit can have far-reaching consequences. It not only affects academic achievement, but their overall confidence in the subject. It can also widen the achievement gap between different groups of students and make it harder for teachers to cover the curriculum effectively.
Therefore, it is important for school teachers to identify and measure learning deficit in their students when they come back to school after summer break, and to implement strategies to fill these learning gaps as soon as possible
Identifying Learning Deficits
One way to identify learning deficit in children is to use diagnostic assessments at the beginning of the school year. Diagnostic assessments are tests or tasks that measure students' prior knowledge and skills in a specific subject. They can help teachers determine what students remember and what they have forgotten over the summer break.
Diagnostic assessments can be formal or informal, standardized or teacher-made, paper-based or digital. Some examples of diagnostic assessments are:
Quizzes: These are short tests that are given to check students' understanding and progress.
Surveys: These are questions that ask students about their interests, preferences, attitudes, and feelings related to a subject or topic.
Observations: These are records of students' behaviors, actions, interactions, and products that provide evidence of their learning processes and outcomes.
These are informal, and give the teacher a general “feel” of the class. However, they do not yield much data and the teacher has to rely on anecdotal evidence.
Formal Methods to Measure Learning Deficit
A formal way to measure learning deficit in children is to use standardized tests that compare students' performance at the end of the previous school year with their performance at the beginning of the current school year.
Standardized tests are tests that are administered and scored in a consistent and uniform manner across different schools, districts, or states. They can provide teachers with reliable and valid data on students' achievement levels and growth rates.
These tests can be summative or formative. Using formative tests, can produce rich data, that not only helps teachers to identify learning deficits, but also help them plan personalized remedial measures and recommend learning plans to children to prepare them for the new academic year.
Once teachers have identified and measured learning deficit in their students, they can use various tips and ideas to fill these learning gaps effectively. Some of these tips and ideas are:
Using standardized tests also helps teachers benchmark the data against that of other classes, schools or regions.
Differentiate instruction: This means tailoring instruction to meet the diverse needs, interests, abilities, and readiness levels of individual students or groups of students. Teachers can differentiate instruction by modifying the content, process, product, or environment of learning according to students' characteristics.
Scaffold learning:This means providing temporary support or guidance to help students perform tasks that they cannot do independently. Teachers can scaffold learning by using strategies such as modeling, prompting, questioning, feedback, hints, clues, etc.
Review and reinforce: This means revisiting and consolidating previous learning before introducing new concepts or skills.
Activate prior knowledge:This means connecting new learning to what students already know or have experienced. Teachers can activate prior knowledge by using strategies such as brainstorming, mind mapping, KWL charts (what I Know, what I Want to know, what I Learned), etc.
Collaborate with others:This means working with other teachers, parents, or community members to support students' learning. Teachers can collaborate with others by using strategies such as co-teaching, team teaching, peer tutoring, mentoring, coaching, etc. The Sahodaya system in India, if used effectively and beyond just a “networking” event, can be a powerful platform to make this happen.
The Role of Technology
Technology can play a key role in several aspects of identifying and helping students overcome learning deficits:
Formative assessments can be easily delivered using online assessment platforms. This makes it easy for the teachers to administer these assessments without going through the hassle of creating question papers and correcting them right at the start of the new school year.
Learning Interventionscan be provided using tech platforms that deliver personalized learning to the students. This 1-to-1 learning can even be provided as an after-school (or just before school) program, enabling teachers to move forward with regular topics of the new academic year quickly.
In fact, this blending of technology can be taken to the next level, by starting every new Maths concept or chapter with a diagnostic “pre-assessment”, that can assess the child on her readiness for learning the new concept. Should gaps be identified, the same tool can be used to provide remedial learning intervention and prepare the student for the new topic more effectively
Learning deficit is a common phenomenon that affects many students after long periods of time away from school. It can have negative impacts on students' academic performance and well-being. Therefore, it is essential for schoolteachers to identify and measure learning deficit in their students when they come back to school after long breaks and to use effective strategies to fill these learning gaps as soon as possible. By doing so, teachers can help their students recover their lost skills and knowledge and achieve their full potential.
The Shameless Marketing Plug:
Countingwell is designed on the tenets of using formative assessments and personalized learning to deliver effective learning outcomes in Maths.
dentifying learning deficits, even from earlier years, is intrinsic to the design of the Countingwell platform. So, it is positioned perfectly to help schools, teachers and children prepare themselves for a new academic year by not just identifying learning deficits using formative assessments, but also helping to fill the gaps through personalized learning plans.
I hope you have a great time, bringing all the chatter, noise and energy back to school, along with the sing-song “Good Morninnnnng Ma’am/Sir”.