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I was recently reflecting on what is essential for classroom learning experiences. My thinking has been influenced by educational articles I have read, including the recently released Gonski 2 report.

Not surprisingly, I believe the starting point is the learner’s approach. Ideally, the learner is someone who loves learning so much that their passion is obvious and infectious. This will draw in others and help bring about the second aspect, which is that learning is relational. This relationship has key ingredients, and we all know that one of them must be feedback. High quality, regular and timely feedback drives learning.

The individual brings their own perspective, which both learner and teacher should be aware of. However, in the light of much talk about learning styles, I was interested to read that learning styles, themselves, are learned. They are not innate, so we can see them as more preferences than style.

This then brought me to how learning progresses. To see this progress, I would expect that a student is reflecting upon the following four questions, no matter what the content of learning or skill being developed.

These questions are:

  1. Do I know where I am at? (This is the level of my current knowledge or skill development.)
  2. Do I know where I need to go next? (This is essential for progress, otherwise the student’s learning is effectively aimless. To answer is to discover the target.)
  3. Do I know how to get there? (This describes the map required to help move the student from the current level to the next.)
  4. What did I do with the feedback I received? (Actually, this question can be asked at any stage. It helps the student reflect on the relational aspect of learning, reminding them learning is a partnership. It also keeps the student focused on the target as well as the map.)

You will notice that these questions are not focused on content, per se, like “What is the next topic?” or more abstract queries, like “How do I get an A?”although such questions still have their place.

I believe all of us can use these four questions to help reflect upon our learning.

Sam Cheesman
Acting Director of Learning and Teaching Excellence