1. Perform and Incorporate Needs Assessments
While academic performance is often viewed through the lens of averages and standardized testing, if we really want to improve student performance, we must first understand the needs and baselines of each individual student. This will allow us to formulate our teaching methods to meet the needs of every child, while still meeting the requirements of the curriculum.
Incorporating a needs assessment into the itinerary during the first week of school and then periodically throughout the school year can help to monitor where each child is performing successfully and identify areas which need additional attention. Data obtained from these assessments can be analyzed not only by instructors but by the student, parents and other educational staff, opening a dialogue regarding what is working, what is not, and what strategies will be taken to implement positive academic change.
2. Create a Culture of Achievement
If we want students to perform well, we must place our focus solely on their grades and standardized test scores, we must also create a culture that places achievement above all else. How do we create a culture of achievement? First, by setting high standards for our students and encouraging them to fully engage in their learning process. In other words, we must begin to treat our students like the scholars they are and not only help them to be excited about learning but also to solidify their confidence in their ability to succeed.
Second, we must create an environment where students feel not only safe to ask questions but encouraged to do so. Questions are fundamental in the learning process and students must understand that it is OK to seek answers for things they don't know, as it is the only way that they will grow.
Lastly, it is important that students are involved in their own, individual learning process. This means that not only are they doing assignments and receiving grades for said assignments, but they must also be involved in creating their academic goals and held responsible for meeting those goals throughout the year. Research indicates that encouraging students to invest in academic goal and then periodically assessing the progress made towards that goal helps to keep students engaged and focused on academics.
3. Provide Consistent, Effective Feedback
Feedback is incredibly important in helping students to understand not only where they are academically, but to help them formulate a plan for improvement. Feedback should help students to understand what their academic goals are and help them to invest in their academic success, while also providing information that is essential to their learning. When instructors provide feedback, it should prompt students to evaluate their progress internally and encourage them to start a conversation with their instructor if the feedback obtained conflicts with their internal measure of progression. Lastly, feedback should motivate students to want to do better. When focusing on areas that require improvement, feedback should remain focused and goal oriented, which not only motivates students to do better but also provides them with the confidence that they can do better.
4. Provide Quality Work Examples for Students to Evaluate and Learn From
Outside of teaching the material, it can also be helpful for students to have quality work samples to evaluate and learn from. Showing students high quality or exceptional assignments that exceed the mark in regards to performance not only gives students something to model their own work after, but it also gives a better understanding of what the expectations are, encourages them to create a goal for success beyond their baseline, and helps to create an understanding between the instructor and student that high quality is expected not simply because the assignment requires it, but because the instructor is confident in the students ability to meet high expectations.
5. Provide Options to Work Hands-On
While book learning and academic lectures work well for some students, this particular learning style does not work for everyone. Hands-on learning not only helps students with learning style variances, but it also changes up the monotony of the classroom environment, which helps to keep all students focused and feeling connected to the work they are doing. Studies indicate thatknowledge retainment is higher when students are engaged in activities or assignments in which they are active participants. Hands-on assignments also can help individuals encourage increased performance in those individuals with focused related behavioral problems as they prompt students to move about, speak, and otherwise engage in assignments in ways they otherwise would not.
5. Encourage Students to Focus on Reading and Writing Amounts Daily
Reading and writing are foundational elements of the learning experience and if students can do both well, their chances for success increase. Students should be encouraged to read at and slightly above their skill level and read things that they enjoy and pertain to them on a personal level, as they will be more likely to continue the habit of reading andretain the information they have read.. Students can also be given multiple opportunities to write by engaging in self-reflective journal entries, editing other students writings or engaging in creative writing. By focusing on reading and writing daily, students will have a means for self-expression, but a chance to practice their skills and improve on a day to day basis.
Every student has the capability to succeed. By treating students like scholars, encouraging them to be active participants in their education, focusing on the fundamentals or reading and writing and creating a culture where questions and feedback are welcomed, we give students the opportunity to not only meet their goals but exceed their own expectations.