Transforming learning is a two-way partnership | Ms Ralda Deoki, Dean of Pedagogy and Learning Innovation
As part of the Terrace learning philosophy launched at the beginning of the year, we articulated a vision for a learning alliance between educators and students. We believe that this alliance, based on teachers and students working together to meet learning goals, is the foundation on which excellence and success can be built. It recognises that learning is not a passive activity. While teachers bring skills and expertise to the learning environment, students also have an active role to play if their learning is to be successful. As we approach the end of term exams, this partnership becomes crucial.
As part of their learning alliance, teachers follow the Terrace pedagogical approach to optimise the learning environment. The pedagogical approach identifies three elements of learning: enable, grow and transform. Transform is particularly significant when nearing assessment and exams. To transform learning, teachers provide opportunities and activities in class that allow the application of knowledge and skills already learnt to unfamiliar contexts. Teachers are teaching for transfer by providing unfamiliar contexts, ensuring that students are prepared for exams and the potential unexpected questions that can sometimes throw them off. As well as activities for transfer, the transform element sees teachers sign post metacognitive processes for students. This means that students are made aware of the processes they are going through as they are thinking and learning. This awareness becomes a powerful tool when students begin their exam revision.
The Terrace Learning Framework outlines the student’s responsibilities in the learning alliance. As with teachers, students have the elements of enable, grow and transform that they are responsible for. For transform, students should independently apply what they have learned in class to revision following specific study techniques. The Studies Principles were identified as the most effective strategies for revision following research conducted by Terrace in partnership with the University of Queensland Science of Learning Research Centre. Utilising these strategies for exam revision allows students to optimise the learning they have done in class. The Studies Principles include:
Active revision – Students actively revise when they write responses, make flashcards, answer practice questions, draw diagrams to represent information, draw flow charts, create mind maps, elaborate on their understanding, explain in their own words and create their own questions.
Spaced practice – Several times throughout the week, students work on certain subjects to remember rules and facts and understand how things work. They leave breaks between the time they spend on a subject.
Interleaving – Subjects or different topics within a subject are mixed when revising or retrieving information. For example, in Maths, a student could answer practice questions on algebra, area, graphing, and geometry. This forces the brain to distinguish between these topics and boosts recall.
Retrieval practice - Students write down major points they can remember from the previous class. They note everything they can remember, then look up what they have forgotten.
Self-regulate/evaluate – Students set goals for their exams with specific actions about achieving those goals. They should be aware of the strategies they are employing. To self-direct their learning, they should review and reflect on previous results and judge whether they know the work by self-testing and about what to work on and for how long each night.
If students use these Studies Principles strategies, they can build on the groundwork that teachers have laid and actively participate in the learning alliance. By working together in partnership, learning can be transformed into achievement.