Professional Learning: Evidence of changes in teaching, learning and assessment practices
From the discussions that took place between the Basic Skills team, it is clear that teaching, learning and assessment practices have been changed for the better.
In one class, following the GCSE English exams, the emphasis on exam-style questions was replaced by a learner-led, research debate-focused sessions which the learners appeared to enjoy. The effects of this inquiry approach can be seen in the learners’ workbooks – all previous exam-style questions are replaced with learners’ research carried out independently or in pairs and there is significantly less rote writing, as it has now been replaced with debates.
Teaching questions were addressed to learners which required a more detailed response. In discussions, tutors focused on the question “why”, prompting the response “because” from the learners, which opened up opportunities for them to give reasons in their verbal communication (and, hopefully in time, in their written work). Tutors have commented how the learners are very aware of this added emphasis on explaining their reasoning and are becoming more familiar with explaining with and without prompts from the tutor. In class, tutors comment that the difference is also noticeable in overall contributions to the session.
Learners who were previously very shy have become increasingly more confident in their abilities to contribute their opinions and take part in the lessons. Tutors are putting additional focus on the ability to justify word choices, phrases and other features of English. It was evident that the quality of the writing improved for tasks which required research and learners used facts and statistics more frequently in their own written work in order to be more persuasive.
Andrea noticed it can be easier to begin a lesson when learners are encouraged to set their own aims and objectives. Since setting their own targets, the adult probation English class have been able to achieve their aims more comprehensively with no evident negative effects to their learning. The tutor noted increased motivation reinforced by prior success when learners took ownership of their own progression. Andrea’s class chose their own aims, decided which work to attempt and marked each other’s work according to specific criteria to improve their own understanding of the subject.
It was occasionally quite difficult to prepare a lesson for such a potentially large number of varying aims, but it was worth the initial effort. Learners who could make choices displayed much more enthusiasm. It was noticeable that when learners were not given a choice, the reluctance to attempt the work was more apparent. However, in a following lesson, the same work could be among a number of tasks from which the learner would choose. When making their own selection, the learners became committed.