Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 6: Learning Styles, Alternative Assessment and Rubrics

Dear all,

This week discussion on learning styles and alternative assessment was very fruitful and the topic seems to be a little problemetic for teachers. The idea of multiple inteligences and learning styles is not new to me. I've learned and studied them when I did my M.ED back on 2003. However the new classification of Gardner is more specific and new to me.

It is important to know our students' learning styles. I try to learn about my students' learning styles at the beginning of each semester through a questionnaire, but what happens is that sometimes a student can't figure out his/her preferences. In such a situation a questionnaire is not enough, I observe my students for the first 2-3 weeks to determine how do they learn best and then try to cater for their needs. However, I think this doesn't work in large classes and teachers just have to use different techniques that suits a range of liearng styles.

Alternative assessment is important to monitor our students' progress. Because alternative assessment is performance based, it helps teachers emphasize that language learning is communication for meaningful purposes , and it gives our students the opportunity to reflect on their learning processes. We use different techniques for alternative assessment and technology provides us with a range of possibilities to make our jobes easier. I learned some new ideas from the reading I did this week and also from our colleagues discussion on Nicenet, and I will try them in my classes.

Aeesment becomes more accurate when using rubrics for specific tasks. Rubrics can improve student's end products and when they are discussed with the students beforehand, students understand how they are being evaluated and can prepare accordingly. I found the the website RubiStar very helpful and created my rubric there, it saves a lot of time and energy.

I did not try to implement the technological change in my class this week as we have 2 weeks only till the end of the semester and at such a time students are not wiling to try anything new. Therefore, I'm going to try it next semester at the beginning of the year and I believe I will get a more valid result when I try it for a full semester.

Yours,

Maha

5 comments:

  1. Dear Maha
    I enjoyed reading your reflection. What I like most is your comment on how identifying learning strategies is difficult. It is once of the challenges that I have been facing. I think we can pair or group students on the basis of their common learning strategies which we can explore through questionnaire.

    Working in a group or pair with the friends having similar learning strategy, student enjoy and learn from each other. This process also develops the spirit of collaboration and co-operation. What do you think about this?

    Cheers
    Prem

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  2. Dear Maha,

    I agree with you that knowing our students' learning style is helpful as we know how to address them and make them learn and understand. I use the same technique as yours, at the beginning of every new school year, for every new class or student, and it's really helpful for me. I even include this information in my lesson planning.

    I wish you all the best,
    Nadina

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  3. Dear Maha,

    Thanks for your nice reflections. It's interesting that you combine both the quantitative and qualitative approaches (questionnaire and observation) to identify the learning styles of your students. I think this blending would enable you to have a good picture about how your students learn, unlike when you use one approach. I must try it out next semester!

    Yours,

    Mohamed

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