StarTeaching Feature Writer

 

Rozina Jumani is a Development consultant associated with a number of Non governmenetal Organizations(NGO). Prior to this, she was with Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan for 10 years as a Professional Development Teacher and Counsellor. She has done her Masters in Islamic Studies and English from University of Karachi. She is a commonwealth scholar and completed her Masters in Education Planning, Economic and International Development from the institute of Education (IOE), University of London.

 

Past Articles from Rozina Jumani:

Enhancing Students' Participation Through Practical Classroom Activities
A Guarantee To Bring Improvement
Teacher As Change Agent

Integrated Reading Program For Primary Teachers

 

Defining Literacy
Multiplicity of Educational Systems in Pakistan: 
A Critical Review
Active Learning - A Key To Success

 

ENHANCING STUDENTS’ PARTICIPATION THROUGH PRACTICAL CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

By: ROZINA JUMANI

All teachers will surely agree on the reality of dealing with diverse learners ( who have different intelligence levels) in their day- to- day teaching: no doubt, it some times helps the facilitator to bring varieties in class to respond to various needs; on the other hand, it sometimes diverts the focus of the class as well.  

Educationists firmly believe when students don’t get interaction and an environment of learning with fun, they usually get depressed and begin ill-behavior. A conscious teacher always keeps in mind the effective use of teaching which could be done through different teaching methods including a variety of teaching strategies. However these approaches bring out the learning environment as C.R.Christian and D.A Garvin mentioned, “To teach is to engage students in learning.”  Although the active engagement of learners is possible through various ways, all the suggested strategies have meaningful effects that facilitate students to take part in such activities and enjoy learning.  

Morally, teachers are responsible to engage their pupils in the learning experience, particularly in relation to the quality of the instructions and activities. No doubt, the ultimate purpose of any activity is learning, which can be obtained through doing. Hence it may be either ‘Minds-on’ or ‘Hands-on’. Hands-on” learning by doing is a powerful idea, and we know that engaging students actively and thoughtfully in their studies pays off in better learning”. (Rutherford, 1993:5) Hand-on activities include arts & crafts, creative writing, role play, drama, problem solving.  “Minds-on” activities usually have students engaged in imagination, mind mapping, concept mapping, reflective thinking, brainstorming, higher order questioning, discussion, Think-Pair–Share, interviews, PMI, and analytical thinking. A qualified teacher may link these activities with proper lesson management and organization where learning takes place during the lesson to maintain pupil attention, interest and involvement. 

Having said that, the function of classroom activities is to maintain misbehavior at minimum level and sustain their interest. It also provides opportunities for children to explore & engage with the content in a creative and dynamic way. Furthermore, it encourages learners to express their thoughts, feelings, and responses. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) believed learning occurs by an active construction of meaning, rather than by receiving it passively. He states “when we, as learners, encounter an experience or situation that conflicts with our current way of thinking, a state of imbalance is created”. When a teacher allows learners to  construct their own knowledge, it automatically enhances their critical thinking which further leads him or her to take decisions  for their  self- development.  

No doubt this whole process makes learners motivated and active and takes them toward the constructivism where learners themselves partake in learning and make meaning.

This approach fosters in them the use of critical thinking; enabling students to learn through constructing their own understandings that make them active and motivated learners. 

Also, the constructivism theory suggests a simple and effective sequence called “the 5 E Model” where participants initiate their learning through personal Engagement, and Explore new knowledge through inquiry and experiences and connect their knowledge by Explanation. Moreover they practice and apply new context thorough Elaboration. Thus their understanding could be assessed through Evaluation even during the process or while getting the end result.

Here the most important question arises: ‘Why do we need to do all such things in our classes?' The most suitable response is that our teaching should move around the holistic development of the child or learner who is the center of attraction and if in case, as teachers, we couldn’t attract these children towards learning, then surely we ruin their natural instinct to learn and discover life.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no single magical formula to motivate learners or students towards learning. Many external and internal actors affected student's motivation and they were willing to work and to learn (Bligh, 1971; Sass, 1989); their interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, their desire for greater achievement, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence. Moreover, not all students are motivated by the same values, needs, desires, or wants; some students will be motivated by trial and error, other influenced by case studies, etc.

Researchers have begun to identify those aspects of the teaching situation that enhance students' self-motivation (Lowman, 1984; Lucas, 1990; Weinert and Kluwe, 1987; Bligh, 1971). To encourage students to become self-motivated independent learners, instructors can do the following:

    • Give frequent, early, positive feedback that supports students' beliefs that they can do well.

    • Ensure opportunities for students' success by assigning tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult.

    • Help students find personal meaning and value in the material.

    • Create an atmosphere that is open and positive.

    • Help students feel that they are valued members of a learning community.

     Keeping in mind the milestones of every physical and cognitive age, it is also important how learners participate in learning within and outside classroom.  Also important are the types of tasks assigned to make their learning more meaningful. Vygotsky has discussed two types of student’s development in his thesis, "Zone of Proximal Development” as cited by Crowl, Kaminsky & Poldell (1997:71), “The level of actual development is the level at which an individual can function independently, whereas the level of potential development is the level at which the person can perform when working with a teacher or a group of students”

As a teacher and learner myself, it is my conviction and experience that when we perform teaching as a conscious act, we not only enjoy but also become satisfied. It all depends upon the teacher who could be motivated intrinsically and/or extrinsically and can MAKE A DIFFERENCE in students' lives and their own lives as well.  

 

A Guarantee To Bring Improvement

By: ROZINA JUMANI

Have we ever thought about the question, ‘What is the purpose of the classroom observation?"  If it is an informal visit to a classroom, or if we are guests and want to see the classes, or we are donors and want to investigate the infrastructure, etc., then certainly we would get in and out very quickly. But if we are teachers and are engaged in a process of learning, then our response would be entirely different.

If it is first agreed between observer and the observee then there are also other points to be determined.  For instance, whether the teacher initiated the process of observation by suggesting his/her name voluntarily, or it is enforced on him/her?  Does s/he willingly accept the visitor in the classroom? Then s/he must have thought about both positive and negative (improvement) areas to be highlighted by the visitor or observer. Thus all would be based upon the mature relations with each other, the purpose of the observation, and it would enable us to determine the outcome of the observation.

In my professional career as teacher and then teacher educator, I have had many opportunities to be observed and then observe others. Many times it was institutional policy, control and enforcement, but there were quite a few times when new teachers invited me to become their critical partners.  Furthermore it was to suggest to them how to be more effective in various aspects such as handling of content knowledge, pedagogical skills, time and resource management, classroom management, etc.

Furthermore, there are many other informal ways to provide feedback to teachers for instance:

·        Sharing opinions in an informal ways projecting oneself at his/her place using structure like, “If I was at your place, I would have…..’.

·         Invite him/her for observation of my own or another teacher’s class and discuss wanted and unwanted behavior and its impact on students learning

·        Audio or video recording of the taught lesson could be analyzed either individually (there s/he get more time to reflect) or together

·        Engage him/her in an open discussion on taught plan and its execution plan, etc.

·        Modeling and/or peer coaching could be another way to invite comments

Taking down observation notes is a skill that matures with time in the life of a teacher or teacher educator. In my career I have seen myself growing in that skill; initially I used to take down what is good or bad in the lesson, then gradually I noted down how the objective/s of the lesson are achieved. In the later years as teacher educator, I started observing a lesson with two major themes focusing on ‘What was the teaching saying?’ and ‘What were students saying?" Then I fine tuned my own observation by linking teachers’ instructions, explanation, and discussion points with students’ learning and outcome. I used to highlight my analysis (positive and areas to be improved) about each lesson.

Classroom observation and feedback process becomes demoralizing when the element of force directs the process, when the mutual coordination and trust building seems impossible due to misunderstanding. This culture creates a bossy attitude among the observers which cause humiliation and lack of trust, and eventually fosters hatred, jealousy, and unwillingness to work. To avoid such a condition where colleagues would play ruler and subordinate role, it is necessary to understand and practice a diversity of perspectives; to respect other ideas and avoid unnecessary impositions on a fresh teacher; rather it is suggested to inspire them by modeling one’s role appropriately when unconsciously s/he learns and adapt where necessary.

Teaching leads to inspiring other young people and adults.  It is a voluntary process and no one can dumb his/her ideas on others’ heads; thus it is suggested to keep this (classroom observation  and giving feedback) process lively when both the partners show willingness to share and create new knowledge.

Further it is suggested to create a friendly bond between observer and observee by co-planning and peer coaching.  As one cannot be perfect in knowledge, it is therefore important to remind all those who are TEACHER EDUCATORS to become nurturing and not be perfectionists;  And above all, avoid creating model of imposition and enforcement.

 

Teacher As Change Agent

By: ROZINA JUMANI

How many of us want to glorify the image of teacher as Moral practitioner, who could bring such a huge difference in the lives of learner?. Few people are really born teachers and have an urge to enlighten others.  To become a change agent, they must possess five basic fundamentals: personal vision building, inquiry, collaboration, mastery, and management.

1. Personal vision building

This is a teacher’s own conceptual and perception level about teaching which can be observed through gestures, body language and through other communication tools. It can be seen and observed by children very easily as well.

2. Inquiry

Inquiry is the second component of teaching.  It assists the whole process of teaching and learning and also polishes personal vision; it inculcates the questioning and reasoning and fosters achieving holistic image building.

3. Mastery

Without having mastery or command, one cannot be confident.  Mastery is a huge umbrella and it covers not only conceptual understanding but also proper implementation strategies - i.e. pedagogical skills.

4. Collaboration

John Billing says Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”  It is necessary that a teacher should be open minded and work in collaboration with others as in learning organizations or communities.  The phenomenon of the ‘one man army’ cannot be possible. Learning is a process which requires socialization, as people learn from each other.

5. Management

One cannot achieve the desired result if the whole process is not well planned and implemented.  Therefore the teacher being a leader and change agent would create an impact, but if s/he is a good manager, s/he would plan well, implement well. and achieve well.

Indeed teachers are the nurturers, and if these nurturers can envision where they would lead these children, then they would definitely help support change and become agent of the change.

 

 

Integrated Reading Program
For Primary Teachers

By Rozina Jumani

In the words of Joesph Addison, “Reading is to mind what exercise is to the body”, In fact reading plays an important role in the learning process its vital role in acquisition of knowledge, which leads to independent learning. 

Reading is vital to all learning; it plays an important role in the child’s learning process, as it is one of the key ways of learning. It is an essential skill to be acquired by children and also a basic skill that influences other skills like writing, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation etc. unless they are able to read, they will not understand and comprehend the text. Although, reading and understanding go together as it makes the learning process more effective and meaningful but there comes the role of teachers along with those instructional strategies through which all children eventually comprehend the text, no matter how difficult the text would be. The selections of appropriate activities that can play a key role in facilitating students understand the meaning of the text.  

During schooling, I did not understand the purpose of reading, it was activity for me like other instructional activities when teachers asked us in the classroom to read and then follow questions/exercises at the end of the text, and I used to take reading activity as fun. Richards, J.C (1997) shared the reasons for reading, he mentioned, “there are three major reasons for preparing students to read: (1) to establish a purpose for reading a given text, (2) to activate existing knowledge about the topic and thus get more out of reading the text, and (3) to establish realistic expectations about what is in the text and thus read more effectively (pp.64) 

As a language teacher, the study helped me to revisit my teaching experience; I went through my previous experiences. I reflected on the phase I of my teaching career there I continued what I learned as students and then phase II of my professional when for the first time I enrolled for a language course, I reviewed my teaching practices and took appropriate actions to teach language in a better way. I also requested my Coordinator to provide reflection and feedback about my lesson plans and classroom practices, as I was novice in the teaching profession. 

As a Teacher Educator, I continued working with all teachers whether they were experienced or novice. In our regular monthly meetings we discussed issues related to  classroom teaching syllabus issues, challenges which students faced etc. there we discovered that teachers have to prepare their own reading activities, as they are not provided in the textbooks, I chose this study to review only reading activities in the text books. 

What is reading? 

The ability to read is the remarkable type of expertise most humans develop among themselves. In TESOL journal, reading is defined as follows:

“Reading is acquiring information from a written or printed text and relating it to what already know to construct a meaning for the text as a whole” (pp..6). 

According to Grabe and Stroller (2002), Reading is an ability to draw meaning from the printed page and interpret this information appropriately.

Even Gough, Hoover and Peterson (1996), view that skilled reading requires decoding and comprehension. That student who cannot read it means they cannot decode and comprehend either. For sufficient reading s/he must know both decoding and comprehension.  
 

Models of Reading 

As for as the models of reading are concerned Eskey (2002) is of the opinion, scholars have developed various models of reading process. Model based on the idea that reading is just taking meaning from the text are called bottom-up model. Models based on the idea that reading is directed by the brain and that the brain makes predictions about the meaning of the text and confirm these predications are called top down model. Models based on the idea that reading is best thought of combining information from the text with knowledge supplied by brain are called interactive model.  

Pre, While and Post Reading Activities 

Bernhardt (1991) says, reading as an interactive process; recommend authentic texts of interest to Students therefore, reading materials in terms of a three-phase approach: pre-reading, while reading and post reading activities. 

Interactive models of reading suggest that readers reconstruct the text information, based on the text, and on the prior knowledge available to them most researchers including Carrell (1998) and Barnett (1989) have emphasized the need for schema activation before reading. Moreover, if students lack the appropriate schemata, they should be given them. Thee are fact, the two main functions of pre-reading activities, which ask for students’ involvement, interest, and motivation basically, they are a means of incorporating the student’s knowledge of the world, their ideas and opinions, before checking them against the text and at the same time, they generate vocabulary on the related topics, this further assist in their vocabulary development. 

Pre-reading activities provide opportunities for students to activate their background knowledge; it helps students to establish the purpose for reading. Little (1988) mentioned; an authentic text is one created to fulfill some social purpose in the language community in which it was produced’ (pp.27). Pre-reading activities also encourage the linking of prior knowledge with text. It also allows students to predict about the content and discuss reasons for individual predictions 

Whereas, the main goal of the while reading activities to help students to understand the writer’s purpose, and some time the text structure and content, several techniques help to achieve the goals. While reading activities comprises direct reference questions, which mainly practice language, rather then comprehension, since sometimes they can be answered without understanding the text; indirect reference questions, usually employed to recognize text cohesion where the reader has to identify the text the words or pronoun refers to; and inference questions which require an understanding of vocabulary, and make the reader think about eh text; comprehension can be checked and developed eventually. 

While-reading activities help students locate answers, it provides opportunities for students to anticipate ideas, it also encourages students to organize new information and integrate it with old information. Students can summarize the text in their own words.

The post reading activities helps students to merge what they have read and, at the same time, related the text to the students’ experience, knowledge, and opinions etc. Barnett (1989) have proposed different activities, which contribute to the integration of reading with the other language skills, and which are similar to ‘real’ activities performed by readers, such as listening facts, summarizing, describing or providing information, as well as discussion, and writing compositions, new versions, or endings etc.  

The aim of the post-reading activities are to provide a greater amount of activities that help reflect on the texts; as well as a greater variety of creative tasks that help students to relate their experience, views, and knowledge to the texts. The variety of activities can be integrated with other skills in integration of reading with writing so students relate their creativity and imagination to the texts. 

Post-reading activities provide opportunities for students to summarize text in their own words, it encourages them to seek additional information from outside sources. It also develops the link among pre reading and while reading activities and also encourage students to evaluate their predications, purposes and questions, etc. identify main gist of the text, and also provides extension to hands-on-activates that involves students actively in creative endeavors. 

To summarize, individual reading lessons consist of three stages pre, while and post reading activities, that should be connected. Individual reading lessons include activities that prepare students for passage, guide them during their reading and follow up after the reading. 

 

Defining Literacy

The definition of literacy is context specific. The parameters of literacy may vary from one geographical region to another and from one era to another. It can be as simple as just recognition of the alphabets, or signing of one’s own name, or may be broader in order to include the handling of equipment by studying manuals. Literacy has multiple meanings ranging from the simple ability to read and write, to interpreting and implementing ideas, knowledge and skills that a person may have required.

Some definitions of literacy focus on perception and decoding. For example, Spache (1964: 2) described literacy as “a series of word perceptions i.e. reading only”. Kaestle (1985: 34), described literacy as “the ability to decode and comprehend language at a rudimentary level, that is the ability to look at written words corresponding to ordinary oral discourse, to say them, and to understand them.”

These two definitions emphasize the aspect of skills to read the printed symbols and to map these symbols into the understanding of oral language.

It is observed that initially, the definition of literacy was confined to the acquisition of the basic skills of the 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic). Over a period of time, basic literacy was upgraded to functional literacy, expanding further into knowing to do things by using insight.  This transformation of literacy is, in fact, associated with its importance for the society as a whole, and to enable a person to effectively participate in the life

Though defining literacy is a very complex notion, it is important to deliberate upon it since the definition has far-reaching implications.  Some experts have emphasized cognitive processes in describing literacy, some more generally and others more specifically. For example, Goodman (1976: 51) suggested that “reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game”.  Venezky (1991:22) states, it is “a cognitive skill.” Calfee and Nelson-Barber (1991:13) describe it as “the capacity to employ language as a tool for oral communication.”

These definitions are consistent with teaching reading and writing as a cognitive process that involves the processing of information through such strategies as activating background knowledge, encouraging readers to make predictions, or writers to organize their ideas into categories.  

The below cited definitions from different countries indicate that despite the broadening of the description of literacy in literature, the working definition of literacy, as adopted by different countries has remained fairly simple at the skill level.

S#

Country

Definition

1.

Bangladesh

Ability to read and write in any language

2.

Canada

In Canada 9th grade pass is considered as literate and according to this definition illiterates are only 1 % in that country.

3

India

Literate is defined as the one who can read with accuracy at a speed of approximately 40 words per minute and write or copy at a speed of 10 words per minute and take dictation at the speed of not less than 7 words per minute in any language.

4

Indonesia

A person is considered as literate who can recognize alphabets, read simple words, signs his / her name (eligibility for voting) able to read and understand a letter, or able to read certain part of certain magazine or of a certain newspaper.

5

Nepal

Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write in any language, a short statement on every day life of 06 years and above persons

6

Vietnam

The definition of literacy consists of three components viz-a viz.

1.      Reading and writing the printed materials without spelling each word.

2.      Writing 80 words in 45 minutes without making too many mistakes.

3.      Reading four digit numbers and write legibly the first ten numbers.

According to UNRSCO (2002), It is currently estimated that about twenty percent of world's population aged fifteen and above is illiterate and that about 115.4 million school-age children are not in school.

 

Multiplicity of Educational Systems in Pakistan: 
A Critical Review

 

It is said that ‘one mind is better but two are best’ because it provides an opportunity for sharing and interaction among people of different socio-economic and educational backgrounds, diversifying learning would enable them to view from different aspects; hence this diversity brings a richness of ideas and thoughts which is indeed crucial in refining the final thought. This notion could be dangerous if the same analogy would be replicate in other context, where a pluralistic approach is not advisable hence seen as a threatening phenomenon to others.

An Educational and developmental issue that I have identified for my assignment is ‘multiplicity of educational systems in Pakistan ’ in relation with the higher education system of the country. In this paper, I would discuss the ‘multiple education systems’ and its impact on students’ lives in particular and on the country in general.

Being an Educational Counselor, I have had several opportunities to interact with students’ from ages 15-20 from various regions of Pakistan , in order to discuss with them their career preferences and further to guide them on how to prepare their portfolios. Hence, the issues of multiplicity of educational systems stem out from there that further invoke in me for additional deliberations.

According to Isani and Virk (2005), ‘the nation is divided because we are running three parallel systems of education’. However, these three systems are:

¨         Public Education System: 

State provides a system where education is offered in students’ mother tongue, besides Urdu as a national language, and English as a foreign language taught. In public schools, the teaching of the English Language begins in Grade 6. Minimum school fees are very low as not all people can afford them;  hence only those with little money send their children to public schools.

¨         Private Education System:

Few entrepreneurs who wish to bring reforms in the education sector have opened their own schools and colleges. These entrepreneurs consist of educationists, political affluent leaders, reformists, activist, and conscience members of civil society and others. These private schools are English Medium schools, where students pay a high amount as a school fee that could range between Rs. 150/=- 4,000/=. It is therefore evident that some private schools are identical to public schools and offer average education whereas there are others who charge heavy fees to maintain the standard and frequently invite parents and other monitoring bodies to evaluate their performances.

¨         Cambridge Education System:

Cambridge Education System existed in South Asia before independence; hence with the advent of the new state, i.e. Pakistan , because at that time state did not have an alternate to it, Cambridge education system continued its proceedings in Pakistan .  At present, there is a huge network of schools registered with it.     

With the colossal differences in the above educational systems, one should think about the many kinds of students it breeds. For instance, the Public Education System caters to common masses which produces clerks who serve the Public office and bureaucracy. On the other hand, the Cambridge Education System reaches to rich, established people and thus produces elites who either become entrepreneurs or travel to developed countries for higher education and ultimately do settle there. Students who opt for Private Education systems aspire for the excellence. Despite the indefinite struggle, they do not succeed entirely but keep switching their roles to prove themselves.

Despite the fact that the process of education cultivates manners, behavior, bearing and mind, and prepares for complete living, the multiplicity of educational systems inculcates ranks and levels among students that not only cause harm to students holistically but also damage the nation at large. However, according to Isani and Virk (2005), ‘higher education is recognized as a Capital Investment’.

They further say, “Higher education is viewed as a source of great potential for socio-economic and cultural development of the country and it is our conviction that through quality higher education the nation can be transformed into a developed nation within the lifetime of a single generation.”

Keeping the whole debate in mind, the question arises about the implications on students’ lives in particular and on the country in general.  In this regard, few suggestions are as follows that could be implemented gradually:

¨         It is indeed very important to bring reforms in education, which eliminates differences and class system and inculcates self-understanding and analysis, it invites discussion and debates that help student become confident, it allows students to present their point of view and enable them to view the world with their perspective.

¨         To bring synergy among all three parallel systems is possible with the agreement of educationists and the ministry of education as we have many good things to replicate. For this reason, conscious deliberations are required to study all three systems thoroughly and then team would suggest the practicality to replicate most or some of it. 

¨         It is imperative that teachers and educators would make an effort to revamp the curriculum, by devising the common benchmarks for each grade. In this way, the colossal difference among students from different systems would minimize. Nevertheless the uniformity is not required but it helps bridge that enormous gap exist among three systems of education.

¨         Another implication of curriculum revamping would lead to practical activities, research activities and presentation of ideas, etc. and relating it with students where s/he extracts the information and interprets as s/he understand and  develop the confidence to question idea, text etc, as nothing is sacred so the students will find themselves as life long learners.

¨         Revisiting our examination system will be critical and with summative exams, it is suggested to follow formative assessment that will enable teachers to develop individual relationships with each student and help him/her develop smoothly. Providing constructive feedback can also make learners concentrate in their work efficiently and would improve further.

¨         Training of teachers, faculty and caregivers is essential as well, because they are catalyst to bring any transformation, as it is said ‘Teachers are Leaders’ therefore teachers training regarding instructional pedagogy and awareness about student’s psychology is important for them.

¨         School administrators are responsible to create enabling environment for learning once the conducive learning environment is provided , they initiate new ideas, to make it happen it is indeed required to arrange for the proper infra structure that ensures positive and effective learning.

Above-mentioned steps are a few indications of required change.

Reference:

Isani U.A.G. and Virk Mohammad L. (2005) Higher Education in Pakistan : A historical and futuristic perspective. Roohani Art Press Islambad

Bibliography:

George Paul S., McEWIN C. Kenneth and Jenkins John M. (2000) The Exemplary High School. Harcourt College Publishers

Jenkins John M. (1996) Transforming High Schools: A Constructive Agenda. Technomic Publishing Co. Inc.

Taneja V R. (1990) Educational Thought and Practice. Sterling Publishers Private Ltd.

Active Learning - A Key To Success

In the words of Christensen, Garvin & Sweet, “To teach is to engage students in Learning.” However the engagement of students is possible in various ways.

My school teachers use a traditional way of teaching as they think the course content can not be finished otherwise.  On the other hand, there are quite a few teachers who believe that using innovative approaches and presenting concepts in the form of activities helps students to develop the taught concepts gradually and also seeks confidence in participating and communicating their ideas with their colleagues in a better way. Thus, they advocate that through employing such methods, students' learning can be improved and teaching remains stimulating work.

My own association with the teaching profession is for more than a decade; I began my journey as an average teacher who had basic teaching skills. Other than that, I had nothing to offer until I received professional training and certificate programs that enabled me to think about teaching and learning, and with this my role expanded as ‘Teacher Educator”.

As Senge (1990) says, ‘Through learning we recreate ourselves’. This paradigm shift in my thinking and teaching brought many changes in me and I embarked on a whole new arena where as a researcher I investigated how children learn. Though I was sure that merely listening to the lectures and copying from the board won’t bring any learning and excitement among students, I started employing innovative activities, and that engagement brought a significant change in my students .

In the words of ‘Felder & Brent (1999); Hannula (2003); McConnell, Steer & Owens (2003) “Active learning incorporates strategies that require students to participate directly in their learning- to apply newly acquired knowledge to solve problems, to question and test theories, brainstorm, solve problems, hypothesize, summarize, or to critically think and interact with colleagues”.

As the term ‘Activity based learning’ encompasses a wide range of aspects - thus it is considered a relative term where every reader infers the meaning as per his/her own experience. In order to avoid the ambiguity, the understanding of the term is required to be shared.

The term ‘activity based learning and teaching’ means students and teachers both are considered ‘Learner’ and all play an equal role in constructing a new idea/concept about things. Hence both are active and mutually support each other in the process of learning. The motivation of initiatives brings confidence among learners and they construct their own meaning about the concept/idea.

According to Roth (1990)

Learning is enhanced when it is built on student’s prior knowledge and experiences allowing learners to link what they already know to new information to be learned

Activity based learning can be viewed as following:

1.        Active Learning is defined as any strategy "that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing".

2.        Constructivism” it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing

  1. “Hands-on and learning by experience are powerful ideas, and we know that engaging students actively and thoughtfully in their studies pays off in better learning”. (Rutherford, 1993, p. 5).

Thus it is more important to enable students to think for themselves then to merely fill their heads with the right answer .

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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