Today I asked my year 11s about their learning over the past two years. They’ve finished their GCSE religious studies exams so we’re now awaiting the results (which are issued towards the end of August).
I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing with them for two years and their perceptions of how this may have contributed to their learning. Apologies to the real researchers out there, this is what I call reflective research; no control groups, no scientific processes, no effect sizes, just a teacher trying stuff out and trying to find out if it works.(And a questionnaire I wrote in 5 minutes at break time!)
I have already blogged on the strategies I’ve been using .
My group actually asked if we could increase these towards the end of year 10. So one week we do the current topic’s words and the alternate week we do a random mix of some of the previous topics. They have had these throughout year 11.
The students could see the benefits of the tests very quickly and were reflective enough to ask for more. In the past students have told me they are boring but necessary, none have said this this time. They could also see how those that hadn’t done these quizzes were at a disadvantage. They could see that these quizzes supported their long term memory. One student said to me ‘ If you asked me these keywords in a year’s time I think I’d remember them all, that’s not true for all my subjects’.
I have and will continue to use the keyword quizzes.
In my rush I forgot to add questions about the specially designed revision lessons that I did with them. I have previously blogged on what the structure of these were here. My questions about revision were to find out what impact these may have had but because I didn’t specifically ask about the class sessions only a couple of them mentioned them.
Did you feel prepared for your exam? Why?
Yes because we practised a lot in class
Yes especially from all the revision in all our lessons before exams
Yes because we had looked at past papers
Yes I did because we had done so much revision
Yes because we did a lot of revision in class meaning I felt more prepared than I would if we didn’t
Yes because of the work over the 2 years and revision
Students have told me that the structured revision classes really helped. I saw this myself when students answered questions in their 2nd mock with confidence that previously I don’t think would have.
In the past I’ve been sceptical about ‘revision’ classes and totally disagree with holiday classes but I will definitely be using this system again. I think that this is part of the long term learning process and have since read some research that says whizzing through all topics at the end of the learning period is a benefit to learning.
Previously ( mainly due to circumstances) I only tested on the last topic that students had studied. For this class I changed to this model:
It meant much more marking but forced students to recall from previous topics. I didn’t ask students about this in the questionnaire ( another reason not to do it last minute!) but I feel it has benefited them. When their results come out I will analyse each unit and see how they do in each topic to see if there are any patterns. The students have told me they found it useful so I am continuing this, this year.
Revision is learning
I really want to train students to understand that revision isn’t something you leave to the end of a course but something that is done throughout to help embed their learning into long term memory.
I asked them “Did you feel that you progressed between year 10 and year 11? Why?”
Yes because I became better at doing questions and remembering things
Yes because my knowledge grew further
Yes as I felt confident with the topics
I think the strategies used are based on developing confidence. I admittedly teach to the test but as part of an overall strategy to embed good habits for learning. I hope my students will go on in their education and be able to use,not just the subject knowledge and skills, but the learning and revision strategies I’ve shown them.