Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
Kashfia Latafat

I believe that children learn most by their own experiences and by reflecting on them. Reflection helps in improving the learners’ understanding. According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), learning is a developmental cognitive process. Learners create knowledge rather than receive knowledge from an expert around them, including the teacher. Piaget recognized that learners construct knowledge based on their experiences and how do they do so is conditioned to their biological, physical, and mental stages of development.  The Russian scientist Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) extended Piaget’s developmental theory of constructivism. He emphasized the role that culture and language play in developing learners’ thinking and how teachers and peers assist learners in developing new ideas and skills. Vygotsky proposed the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which is the level where learning takes place but the learner reaches that point by the guidance of the teacher or in collaboration with peers. His work led to the deliberate use of cooperative learning in the classroom.

 These theories emphasize children as active learners who can set goals, plan and revise. The theory of constructivism changes the paradigm of teaching and learning. It transforms the conventional classroom into an active classroom. Learners become active learners and a teacher plays the role of facilitator or coach and helps them to construct the knowledge rather than to reproduce the facts. Active learning is learning where learners are actively engaged in learning, approach it reflectively and thoughtfully rather than simply being the passive recipients of information that is given to them. 

Learners construct new knowledge with the help of teachers and the previous knowledge will serve as a raw material for the new knowledge they create. Questioning is an effective tool to involve learners in active learning, they get engaged and try to find out the answers which develops critical thinking in learners. Learning is best developed through thinking skills, this means offering challenge through questioning and gives them time for thinking. I often use the Six Thinking Hats approach of Edward de Bono (1992) for developing thinking skills, through this I made my learners scientifically involved in the thinking process. To help my learners focus on the solution of the problem, I encourage them to wear the white hat to recall their knowledge, and green to come up with a creative solution of their own. Cooperative learning strategy involves learners in active learning, where learners work in groups to share diverse ideas and points of view. Cooperative learning strategies such as think-pair-share, round-robin, discussions, and dialogue provide learners the opportunities to think critically, reflecting on their learning, and constructing new knowledge through interaction with their peers.

Discussion is another strategy that motivates learners, as a math teacher I use this strategy more often where I allow individual thinking time, discussion with the partner, and then group or class discussion for solving word problems, which motivates learners and give them chance to share their understandings with their peers.  Using visual tools is another method of teaching and learning; learners enjoy describing pictures and respond well to visual aids. The strategy of problem-solving assignment is also very effective which can be used by giving guidelines to learners where they define word problem, brainstorm for sources of help, research and analyses the problem, come up with the best solution, and test that solution, all these steps indicating the learner-centered learning where teachers role is to facilitate them where it’s needed.

 Assessment is really at the heart of teaching and learning point where teachers assess their learners’ performance and take feedback to improve their teaching and learning. There are mainly two types of assessments which are formative and summative. Summative assessment or assessment of learning tells that how learners learn by the end of the topic. Formative assessment or assessment for learning (AFL) plays a pivotal role in the learning cycle. It’s an ongoing learning process that informs about the understanding of learners during the learning process. The purpose of formative assessment is to assess the learning of learners, it works with any activity for creating motivation, provide learning opportunities, and giving feedback to both learners and teachers. Feedback help teachers to reflect and improves their future practices assessment without feedback is nothing.

At the beginning of the lesson sharing objectives and success, criteria is an assessment for learning strategy which should be embedded in the lesson plan which makes learners responsible for their learning. It can be facilitated by peer and self-assessment and by giving corrective feedback on their responses. AFL strategies can also be used at the end of a lesson to evaluate whether the learning objectives are achieved. I believe that formative assessments greatly improve the achievement of learners and helps identify the areas where the teachers and learners need improvement.

By Kashfia Latafat

A researcher who loves to involve in collecting, organizing, and analyzing opinions and data to solve problems, explore issues, and predict trends.

2 thoughts on “How Children Learn”

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