Monthly Archives: September 2014

Good Grades versus Good Learning

I’d have to admit that I may be one of the thousands of parents who have always wanted to have her child consistently get good grades in school. The reason behind it is quite simple. I always had the impression that good grades always translate to a smart kid. Little did I imagine that even if my child gets all the high marks in school, if she fails to apply the knowledge and skills that were carefully thought out, planned, implemented and reviewed conscientiously by an able institution, then everything done was just for compliance’ sake. It was not for ‘good learning’.

As I now understand that good learners:

a) are always curious. They will often wonder about things that they do not know about and get thrilled over the discovery of new things. These discoveries satisfy them as their curiosity grows.
b) pursue understanding diligently. This means that good learners are willing to put in the time and effort to discover everything about something that stirs their curiosity. They may find reading, analyzing, evaluating and other works tedious but do it anyway because they never stop thinking about what they want to learn. They are persistent, and giving up is never an option for them.
c) recognize that a lot of learning isn’t fun. Despite that, their love for learning never stops. The journey may be bumpy at times but once they start to understand and put the pieces together, then they find genuine satisfaction and happiness and would most likely go through everything again even if what’s waiting for them is the same string of difficulties and challenges before the actual prize of learning is achieved.
d) are scared of failures but see the benefits of it. They may stumble and fall and experience numerous failures but what makes them move forward is the confidence that they will eventually figure things out and that those failures are all part of the process of learning. Besides, who says that one cannot learn from a failure or a misstep.
e) are responsible for making knowledge their own. Good learners make room for new learnings and are open to changing their knowledge structure once they have determined that something does not make sense. In the process, they make a bigger and better knowledge structure that connects in meaningful ways with what  they already know.
f) are always full of questions. Good learners are always hungry to know more about anything and they live for new discoveries and answers. Even if at times those answers do not give them the bigger picture. Lastly,
g) are generous with what they’ve learned. Knowledge lacks the ability to spread unless it’s passed on, that’s why good learners are committed to sharing with others what they’ve learned in ways that make sense to others. They can communicate their ideas and find meaningful ways on how they can leave what they’ve learned with others.

I have become more open to the idea that good grades should not just be about the numbers, instead, it should be about what the student has gained, demonstrated, accomplished, valued and shared. It should be all about the kind of learner that the student has become.

P.S. The thoughts mentioned above are paraphrased by yours truly from a material that I’ve read.

Reference: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/seven-characteristics-good-learners/#sthash.JPgDIcp5.dpuf

Out with the old and In with the new

For the sake of traditional learning, will you push on keeping the old way or will you be brave enough to usher something new?

Case in point, most students, young and old, find it difficult to understand several words used in Araling Panlipunan (and Filipino) books like koreo, pagsosona, mapagkandili, and tumangan to name a few, and yet, these words have still been used in narrating events in history.

If we have accepted the changes and adjustments made to our language and agree that language does evolve, why then can we not make the adjustments or changes apply to this particular subject? Does it make us less of a Filipino if we use words that are less outdated? Has this subject not undergone the scrutiny of experts or don’t these experts find any need to revise materials in a way that make them more timely and easier to understand?

Now these questions came to mind in the eve of my daughter’s second mid-quarter exam and while I was taking notes on assessment, its purpose and benefits. Part of what I learned while browsing through some references is that assessment is systematically gathering, analyzing and interpreting evidence to determine how well programs and practices are working at meeting their expected outcomes and using results to understand and improve institutional effectiveness (See: virg.vanderbilt.edu). If this is the case, then institutions should have already been made aware of the difficulties that many students, in the primary and even in the secondary level, are faced with when studying Aralin Panlipunan (AP). As in the case of the subject, Filipino, the reference materials are written in Tagalog or Filipino, and not the conversational type. Some references would even go as far as using words that have not been heard of by students of this generation.

Given this, many of them struggle to perform well in AP since majority of the subjects in school have English as their mode of instruction, not to mention that with this generation, the use of English or Taglish is preferred not just in day to day conversations but in their choice of books, television, newspaper, magazines etc. (See: http://www.academia.edu/183864/A_Survey_on_Language_Use_Attitudes_and_Identity_in_Relation_to_Philippine_English_among_Young_Generation_Filipinos_An_Initial_Sample_from_a_Private_University).

Now, is this not reason enough for experts and authors of these materials to take a second look and assess whether it’s time to make those changes with the objective of making Araling Panlipunan, a subject that students like having because of the manner by which stories or history is told– with the use of words that have been heard and understood by today’s generation? Besides, isn’t improvement of a program or curriculum one of the purposes why assessment is part and parcel of teaching?

With everything that has been said, my wish is quite simple. That is, for experts to finally see the need to evaluate whether it’s time to use simpler words that both students and parents alike use in their everyday conversation, as I am sure that with these simple words, conversations and storytelling will be found more meaningful and will be better understood and appreciated.

Looking Back

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Today, I started reading the materials that were very kindly provided for by my teacher regarding assessments, evaluation, item bias, aptitude tests and a whole bunch of other terminologies that I would need to familiarize myself with. I wrote things down, as I normally would when reviewing, and when my hands and fingers got tired, I thought that I should take a break and look up my old write-ups and reread them. It was a good thing that I did, because while reading a few old entries, I came across something that I wrote on intelligence. I mentioned that, “test scores are not to be taken as the ONLY basis for an individual to be branded as intelligent”. This idea was once again reiterated by the numerous references that I chanced upon reading while looking up some of the terms. I believe that no single type of test can be the ultimate measure of one’s intelligence. I say this because based on past learnings, each individual can manifest several different types of intelligences ( as per Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences) and to say that one is intelligent purely on the basis of his cognitive abilities is unfair to those who may perhaps be better skilled in interpersonal relations or those who are gifted with the appreciation of the arts. This may explain why experts have come up with all sorts of assessments and tests. Take for instance, an aptitude test. It is designed to assess a student’s capability and competency to perform a certain task, whereas, diagnostic tests are intended to locate learning difficulties of students with the objective of targeting those patterns of errors for corrections.

There are tests that are aimed to assess one’s potential for specific learning like the Dynamic assessment and tests that assess students ability to apply the knowledge and understanding gained in one part of the program to other parts of the program or across the program as a whole.

Note too, that tests no matter how ” standard” they are may be subject to change or revisions especially when Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO) are not met. And, as each individual is unique in his learning abilities, it is possible to say that these tests, assessments and evaluations of the individual’s measure of intelligence may vary in its validity.

To summarize, although I for one believe in the value of giving out different tests as means to measure one’s capability or competency, I would say that the sincerest way to measure one’s intelligence should not be limited to just getting good grades in exams, reports, theses etc. since not everything can be measured in a direct way– like ones’s perceptions, feelings and attitudes towards various situations or tasks. Besides, the goal of grading is to evaluate an individual’s performance but it may not always be the most reliable measure nor is it the only measure of one’s learning. (See: http://www.cmu.assessment/basics/grading).

Finally, the wait is over!

I guess the title of this entry best summarizes what I feel now that classes are back. If I were to be perfectly honest, I’d say that I feel all sorts of emotions. I am excited, for sure, but besides that, I also feel anxious (again) as I am about to begin another journey with all of you. The excitement is quite easy to explain, as it stems from the fact that along with the new learnings, come the challenges as well. And for me, these challenges will once again help me prove to myself that learning should never ever take a back seat to other duties or obligations I have as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and my many other roles.

At the same time, I feel anxious because like many of you, my hope is that I am able to give my absolute best in this endeavor despite all my roles. And, it is for this reason, that I am grateful to have a new set of classmates, who I know will surely make this journey all the more fun, interactive and easy. I am also looking forward to teacher Lou’s creative and inspiring ways of teaching and hope that she may never ever run out of patience and understanding as I am sure that we will need certain doses of those from time to time.

Cheers to another term of learning!