No, this is not another lecture for students on how they should study harder. In fact this one is more for teachers. The full onus of achieving excellent marks doesn’t always fall on the student but must be shared equally with the teaching staff.
Making high-achieving students can best be done by putting the following components in place:
- Standards should be clearly set so both students and teachers know what is expected of them; this helps the student meet grade expectations and prepare for the next grade.
- A school that integrates effective learning methods, demanding coursework and high expectations will result in producing high-achieving students.
- This sets high goals for the student; challenging them so that they are excited about learning.
School should never be boring because a bored student will not produce. The intellectual quality of assignments must not be low because this produces dull listless minds. If the assignments and material is interesting and challenging then students will gain better results. One study in Chicago showed that students who received stimulating assignments gained marks 20% over the national average and where the assignments were intellectually low; students had marks 25% under the national average (Newmann, Bryk & Nagaoka, 201, January).
Teachers should be:
- Well-trained not only in their subject matter, but also as educators – they must know teaching methodologies.
- Studies show that a teacher’s expertise has a direct relationship to student achievement.
The effectiveness of a teacher is determined by how well they know their subject matter, how effective they are in engaging their students to be active participants in the classroom and how they challenge their students to accomplish more.
Teachers should use methods and provide an environment that includes the following:
- Authentic instruction – critical thinking and analysis, discussion, debates, praise for work well done, depth of knowledge and how the concepts/facts relate to the student’s life; the world around them.
- Teachers should employ several learning models as there are different kinds of learners and intelligences. For example some students learn better by hearing, others by seeing the visual and others by hands on experience.
- Students should be free to ask questions, to explore, to investigate so that the learning experience is meaningful. This king of learning experience will bring understanding not rote memorisation of facts that are soon forgotten as soon as the test is over.
So students, the full burden doesn’t rest fully on you. But you do have a part to play too. The expression goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” When you are in the classroom drink deep for there is a well of knowledge that will benefit you every day of your life.