Monday, 16 December 2019

Student Achievement: More Than A Grade

As blogged previously throughout the year, I have been completing comparisons of student results between 2018 and 2019 for my 2 of my Senior classes. This will be my last one until the exam results are released next year for my Health students. There are clearly many differences between classes - the kids themselves, the number of students, my own experiences, and the class dynamic, so I've needed to take the results with a grain of salt when comparing. It has however, been interesting to see the differences and start to draw some conclusions about why they may be different, and to determine what the next steps may be.

Even though there is an evident drop in the amount of students in my class who 'passed' the 1.4 societal influences paper, as below, this unit was substantially more enjoyable to teach this year. The students were more actively involved in lessons, as they appeared to be actually interested in the topic on the whole, whereas the previous cohort weren't as interested. I don't feel this is a true reflection of my own enthusiasm, as it is a topic I enjoy teaching and learning about (what impacts on our own understandings, biases and involvement in a variety of physical activities). I think the enjoyment is more a reflection of how the students took on the opportunities to be involved in different activities, and were inclusive and positive towards one another. This was evident from observing the students during lessons, as well as the individual reflections and evaluations students wrote. Reading through some of their comments, many of the students became more aware of the stereotypes that exist within physical activities and began to shift/challenge their own opinions - this was the real learning, what actually mattered to me. So even though there may be more orange on the graph this year, I feel confident more students took away greater learning experiences than the previous class. The next natural step, is to ensure more one on one time with students to support them with the jargon in the assessment, to support their ideas to form assessment answers (a common issue this year).

Our final unit this year was the anatomy, biomechanics and exercise physiology unit - the one with the most content and the most difficult for majority of students. I felt rushed last year to complete the unit and assessment by the end of Term 3. This year I made the suggestion to utilise the three weeks of Term 4, because last year this time was given towards practicals for another assessment we no longer do. This allowed flexibility to go off on more tangents, complete more activities for fun, go more in depth for the content I was teaching and more time for students to revise and review their learning (at their own pace). The results clearly show how positive this change was for student success. Not only is there a significant increase in student grades, there was a reduction in rote learning (evident from informal conversations with students), which I also consider to be a massive success. Due to the nature of the content such as muscles and bones, historically students memorise the names, but once tested forget them. I feel more confident about the retention of information moving forward for this group of students compared to last year, which I think is largely contributed to the extension of time for the unit. Next year I am going to have about 10 additional students, so regular checkpoints with individuals are going to be vital.

Overall, irrespective of the differences between cohorts, comparing the data has been useful for my own reflection. As aforementioned, I will finish the 2019 comparisons once the exam results have been released, and then for 2020 I am going to focus on my Year 13 PE class (as it will be my second year teaching in a row).

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