The traditional teaching tools have proven to be challenging especially when students are being equipped with the required knowledge and skill in their specialized area of study. Students who undertake practical lessons find it more challenging to learn in theory than those who study social sciences, history, and linguistics. Different subjects require different strategies of giving instructions. Maths and Chemistry, in my case, requires a more technical approach to it than just theory. Unfortunately, standardized approaches to learning have been applied in the past, to ensure that the required content is covered in time, hence marking the end of a certain module without a thorough consideration of the type of instruction applied. It is crucial that teachers understand that students have different abilities, and therefore, the typing strategy applied should take into consideration the needs of all the students.
Tutors and lecturers have reported numerous challenges they encounter in the learning environment while giving instructions. These challenges have highly contributed to lower scores, lack of cognitive skills, lack of critical thinking skills and also lack problem solving skills among the graduates. A majority of organizations have reported low levels of skill among a majority of graduates from college. This is attributed to the fact that, the traditional learning methods that are still highly applicable in the learning institutions. In this paper, we shall discuss three learning challenges in the learning environment.
Learning Challenges Within the Classroom Environment
The most common learning challenges within the traditional classroom environment include, the fact that students cannot apply knowledge to solve problems involved in the separating technique methods, a majority of learning activities in the classroom is teacher-directed rather than student-led, the teacher focus more on lecturing which does not allow for direct demonstration of the capabilities but it rather than provides a foundation for learning; the traditional teaching methods do not grant students enough motivation to concentrate on academic studies and also the fact that instructional methods are focused more on brighter students than the slower ones.
It is challenging for students to apply knowledge and solve problems in a traditional classroom setting. Teachers can teach the entire textbook, but if students can not apply knowledge to solve problems, it is meaningless. In a traditional classroom setting teachers to spend more time on covering the entire scope of knowledge, rather than focusing on real mastery. As the saying goes, learning that is mile wide, inch deep is not very useful. If a students understanding of a topic is deep enough to solve problems, they can always go back and fill in the different topics. Research has shown that the main cause of students failing examination is their lack of knowledge of how to interpret and answer application questions. Application of knowledge is more important than acquiring additional superficial knowledge-which is easy in todays day and age with technology. For example, in teaching the separating techniques method of filtration, it would be more effective if the students were brought in the lab to use the material first hand rather than just hearing the teachers dictate to them in class.
A traditional classroom it is more teacher-centered than student centered. This is evident in even the way in which the chairs and desk are positioned in the traditional classroom setting with the teachers at the front and center while the students' desk follows suit behind. In the old model (traditional classroom setting), learning often focuses on listening to the teacher lecture and then applying knowledge to specific situations. We might want to consider reversing the order of traditional learning: presenting a problem first and then letting students learn how to solve it. This type of reversed learning scenario allows opportunities for growth through trial and error. For example, students brought in to the lab to learn the filtration method of separating techniques would be able to use some trial and error to figure out how to use the filter funnel and filter paper rather than just learning how to use each method in their traditional classroom settings by a teacher.
The teacher focuses more on lecturing rather than building the right foundation for learning and doesnt allow direct demonstration of the capabilities. Teachers tend to spend most of their time finishing the syllabi promptly whether the students understand. As a student, I have had first-hand experience with teachers hurrying to finish a syllabus whether I am finished or not. Thus, students do not have the adequate time to demonstrate their capabilities. For example, picture a traditional classroom with a teacher trying to complete the syllabi in a certain time. Now on the other hand picture a classroom where the teacher is not worried about time but ensuring that students have the right foundation for learning by bringing them into the to show off their capabilities by performing the different separating technique method.
The traditional teaching methods give less motivation to students, and this is evident by the fact that students are more focused on passing exams than acquiring skills and knowledge. Learning is more than just memorizing, as in the case of many institutions around the world including the United States. The instructional methods that are applied by teachers do not offer room for creativity among the students, and neither do they inspire students to look forward to class. The lack of motivation in learning is attributed by long and boring lecture sessions, studying materials mainly in theory and lack of student adequate student engagements in the classroom. During a chemistry lesson, when learning about separation techniques, the teacher has a role to play in engaging the students more in class. This creates curiosity and motivation among the learners. Curiosity and motivation can be created through the asking of random questions, asking students to volunteer in activities, performing tasks as a group and not merely depending on teachers demonstrations and encouraging students to try different strategies based on the examples that are provided in their books. Chemistry classes can be very technical and complex for a majority of the student. Therefore, it is the role of the teacher to inspire the students by motivating them to learn new techniques and skills that are crucial for the mastery of the subject and also its application.
The current teaching methods and tools are more centered to bright students than the slow ones. Teachers and the entire educational body must recognize that students have different capabilities and that the current training methods are becoming less applicable in solving the problems that the world is facing today. The current methods assume that all students have equal learning capacities, and that is the reason why they are subjected to the same learning instructions and assessments. It should be acknowledged that devising a learning technique for every student is difficult, but at the same time, it is crucial to identify different categories of students, with special needs. Some students may be good at math, while others are not. It is unfortunate that the current teaching methods assume that all students can learn at equal speeds. Low performance has constantly been attributed to the fact that, a majority of students may end a chapter or a lesson without understanding a thing. Also, the brighter students are more likely to be the ones determining how the course would flow. The slower students are disadvantaged because they have difficulty in understanding them because they might not be as smart as the brighter students. During the chemistry class, in the separation lesson, the teacher always relies on brighter students to answer questions and to guide the flow of the experiment. In most occasions, the slower students are left behind, hence lowering their morale for learning as well as their self-esteem. The instructors have to ensure that there is a balance, by ensuring that students with different learning outcomes are mixed in a group to boost the slower students.
In conclusion, learning challenges in the classroom will continue to be a constant threat towards objective learning unless changes are made especially on methods of delivering instructions to the students. A majority of students feel that academic learning is more theory based, with lack of practical skills that are crucial in the work environment. Low quality work performances in companies have been attributed to lack of practical skills among workers especially those working in industries that require technical expertise. It is a high time that the educational sector and other stakeholders revise the traditional methods of instruction delivery and adopt more sophisticated methods that value creativity, innovation, cognitive and critical thinking as well as problem-solving skill enhancement among the students.
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