How to clear the air
A workshop that helps teachers guide their students better
Internal evaluation: Teachers at the workshop organised by Educational Initiatives in Bangalore
Comprehension is a skill that varies from child to child. Hence, teachers say that many a times their students fail to understand the basic concepts and harbour misconceptions. Many teachers tend to miss out the misconception part among their students. They hardly have time to take a feedback and to know whether a student has understood what they have taught.
A two-day workshop organised for teachers of Bangalore schools recently by Ahmedabad-based Educational Initiatives, an organisation run by alumni of Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) and working towards bringing a qualitative improvement in Indian educational system, focused on the misconceptions among students in Mathematics, Science and English subjects. The content for this workshop was based on the research that EI has undertaken over the years.
At the workshop, resource persons from EI gave presentations on innovative teaching methods that can change a child’s thinking pattern. Through the video presentations, the teachers witnessed a variety of student responses from across the country and the different ways to teach to avoid misconceptions in these subjects.
Here are a couple of examples. A question “what does the term ‘desert’ refer to” was posed to Std.VI students and the options a) is very hot, b) is very dry, c) has no vegetation at all, d) has all the above features, were given.
The resource person said that out of 6,858 students tested, only 25 per cent gave the right answer. This question tests the basic understanding of deserts as dry land.
Student understanding of deserts seems to be based on the visuals in textbooks and movies that invariably tend to represent deserts as sand dunes, and fail to correlate the presence of cacti as vegetation. They also appear to confuse the extremity of desert climate with heat, not applying the fact that deserts can also get extremely cold. Asked to name the gas that is present in maximum quantity in the air we exhale among the options given a) nitrogen, b) oxygen, c) carbon dioxide, d) argon, only 30 per cent out of 6, 921 Std.VIII students gave the correct answer.
This question tests students’ ability to apply two facts they learn (air contains about 78 per cent nitrogen and nitrogen is an inert gas) in a real life situation.
Students are unable to observe and deduce that nitrogen thus forms the maximum part of the inhaled and exhaled air. But the most common wrong answer given by students (carbon dioxide) indicates that they could be relating the exhaled.
In another real life example, students of Std.VI were told to choose the word closest in sound to the word “colonel” and the options given to them were a) colonial, b) kurnool, c) kennel, d) kernel.
The correct answer is d, but only a few students gave the right answer.
“We have been looking at data on student performances in languages, specifically in English. What we have been finding is that students seem to do well in questions that relate to stated facts.
“However, when it comes to questions that require inferences to be made, the student performance is not so good. Students also do not seem to do well in vocabulary-based questions, especially when it comes to understanding words in context,” said the resource person.
Through this workshop, EI aimed to focus attention on improving various skills. “Language is definitely a key to education, but research has shown that language skills also predict success later in life.
“In this information age, we want all children to be able to read, understand and communicate well,” added the resource person.
Send this article to Friends by