Sunday, December 23, 2012

5 Teacher behaviours for a Positive Classroom Environment


It is a well known fact that learning is more effective when the learning environment permits it. A hostile and undisciplined environment does not promote learning.
Offering a environment conducive to learning relies to some extent on the administration but largely on the teacher. Teachers influence classroom environment by the way they set their classroom, the way they prepare their lesson and the way they behave – both verbally and non-verbally.

Below are few ways in which a teacher can influence positively the classroom environment:

1.      Teachers spend more of their teaching time speaking. Irrespective of the teaching strategy adopted, a teacher has always to speak. It can be for lecturing, for giving instructions or for maintaining discipline. Obviously, the way the teacher is very important. It is expected that a teacher speaks calmly and clearly. The teacher is also expected to use a language that suits all abilities of learners. Talking hastily or using a language not understandable to all learners will rather disconnect the teacher from the learners. Nagging too much will create a rather hostile environment.

2.      Learners generally respect teachers who are firm in maintaining discipline. Usually, learners make a fool of and they do not respect those teachers who bend the rules for discipline too much. It is recommended for teachers to have clear classroom rules known to pupils and reinforce. A great idea would be to post the rules in the classroom.

3.     Teachers are expected to know their pupils just as doctors are expected to know their patients. It is very important for teachers to learn about their pupils and their respective background. It is even more important for teachers to know what their pupils are actually doing in class. This can be achieved by observing, questioning and listening to the pupils. These allow the teachers to identify who the disruptive pupils are, who are the pupils with learning disabilities and what are such learning disabilities. These will also allow the teacher to identify high-flyers. All these will eventually help the teacher plan and conduct lessons that are suitable for all learners.

4.      Teachers who keep on surprising their pupils by using different and interesting strategies and making their lessons fun are those who are loved and respected the most. Though a teacher is not expected to play the clown the whole lesson, some humour from time to time to ease the tensions that may have arisen. Using different teaching strategies like role play, cooperative learning, story-telling and games among others helps students explore things from different perspectives. It also helps relieve monotony of a teacher-centered classroom. Same applies for using different teaching aids like posters, videos, slideshows, audios and internet among others.

5.      Teachers are human beings and so are our pupils. We are of different race, colour, sex, culture, background. We have different manners and attitudes. Given the diversity of pupils, it might be that a teacher would like some more than others or even dislike one or a few. However, teachers are expected to respect all pupils alike. Teachers are entrusted children so that they educate them, irrespective of who they are. Teachers have the responsibility to take care of each and every pupils in the class and to treat each one fairly. This includes being consistent in applying rules, giving opportunities to everyone to talk and participate in class, listening to each pupil among many others.

As human beings, teachers err. Teachers may not be at their best every day. There may be a day when a lesson is poorly prepared, a day when it is hard to maintain discipline, a day when the teacher has not been able to listen to a pupil’s problem. However, these days are exceptions and pupils ignore such days when the teacher generally is one who provides a positive classroom environment to them.
Reference:
B. Rogers(1990). You know the fair rule: Strategies for making the hard job of discipline in school easier. Pitman.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Criterion referencing and norm referencing

Criterion referencing
According to Airasian, P.,2007, criterion referencing refers to a grading system that compares a pupil’s achievement to predefined performance standards. That is, the learner is compared to himself in contrast to a norm referencing system that compares the learner to other learners. This system does more justice to learners as they are graded with respect to how they performed irrespective of others performance
Table 1: Example of a grading system using criterion referencing
Grade
Result
Distribution
Out of 100 marks
A
Pass with distinction
80 to 100 marks
B
Pass
55 to 79 marks
C
Pass
40 to 54 marks
F
Fail
0 to 39 marks

Norm referencing
In contrast, under norm referencing, the grade that a pupil gets depends on how other pupils have worked. This is because this system is designed in such a way that there is a grade distribution across the various grading categories. The percentage number of pupils who would score a particular grade is already determined, irrespective of the score of each and every pupil. This may result in over grading or under grading of a learner as compared to a system of criterion referencing.
Table 2: Example of a grading system using norm referencing
Grade
Result
Distribution
A
Pass with distinction
First 20 percent of pupils
B
Pass
Next 30 percent of pupils
C
Pass
Next 30 percent of pupils
F
Fail
Last 20 percent of pupils

Comparison of grades under criterion referencing and norm referencing:
Situation 1:
Table 3: Example of grades scored by a group of 10 pupils for a particular assessment based on both criterion referencing (column A) and norm referencing (column B)
Column A
Column B
Column C
Column D
Column E
Grade as per
Criterion Referencing
Marks
Out of 100
Pupil
Rank
Grade as per
Norm Referencing
B
58
Amar
9th
F
B
65
Barney
4th
B
C
50
Cassim
10th
F
B
59
Deesha
8th
C
B
72
Eric
2nd
A
B
68
Hanna
3rd
B
B
76
Indira
1st
A
B
64
Jilani
5th
B
B
62
Karen
6th
C
B
60
Lam
7th
C

Table 3 shows marks scored (column B) by a group of 10 pupils (column C) at an assessment. They are ranked (column D) according to their respective score. The pupil with the highest score is ranked 1st.
Grades are shown both according to a criterion referencing system (column A) and a norm referencing system (column E) based on grades distribution as per table 1 and table 2 above respectively.
Note the difference in the grades for 7 out of ten pupils. For example, despite scoring 58%, Amar scores an F and is unfairly failing under the norm referencing system but passes with a B under the criterion referencing system.
Situation 2:
Table 4: Example of grades scored by a group of 10 pupils for a particular assessment based on both criterion referencing (column A) and norm referencing (column B)
Column A
Column B
Column C
Column D
Column E
Grade as per
Criterion Referencing
Marks
Out of 100
Pupil
Rank
Grade as per
Norm Referencing
F
36
Faez
7th
C
A
92
Gerard
1st
A
B
74
Mona
2nd
A
F
31
Nina
10th
F
C
52
Owen
6th
C
F
34
Praveen
9th
F
B
73
Rita
3rd
B
C
54
Suzy
5th
B
F
35
Tom
8th
C
B
61
Yasmine
4th
B

Table 4 is similar to table 3 except that the assessment is done a year later with another group of 10 pupils. Assuming both assessments were comparable, it can be seen that pupils Faez and Tom, 36% and 35% of marks respectively, have failed in a system using criterion referencing passed with a C under a norm referencing system.

Conclusion
As seen in the above examples, by measuring pupils with others (norm referencing), they are very often penalised because others have performed better. At other times, norm referencing can cause pupils to be over-graded simply because most pupils in the cohort performed badly. By so doing, norm referencing infers that pupils performance is much influenced by the level of difficulty of the assessment. This need not be the case. Other factors like the work of the tutor, facilities provided by the school, time devoted by the pupils themselves to revision among others also affect pupils performance.
Criterion referencing, on the other hand gives a more objective grading to the pupils rather than a relative one. Pupils are assessed according to their strengths and weaknesses. Criterion referencing also provide an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of a school curriculum and assess changes in performance due to the curriculum (Tucker, P. and Stronge, J.,2005).

References:
Airasian, P. & Russel, M., 2007. Classroom Assessment. New York: McGraw Hill Publishers
Tucker, P. and Stronge, J., 2005. Linking teacher evaluation and student learning. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.