WHAT methods of learning are the most successful in the classroom? Trinity College Foundation Studies students Iris Lyu, Olivia Pu and Terry Kung investigate.
Every student learns differently and at a different pace. Some might enjoy simply listening and taking notes in class, while others would prefer a more proactive approach by collaborating with classmates.
For the international students of Trinity College Foundation Studies, their learning methods are no different to any other classroom in Australia. That goes double for their frustrations with certain methods of teaching.
Speaking to students at the college, we identified that receiving handouts, doing group projects (which include group presentations and essays) and participating in group discussions in class were among the top three modes of learning.
Receiving handouts in class proved useful for students who wanted to revise and wanted to scribble notes during class for better knowledge retention.
Group projects demanded cooperation from students, thus instilling new skills in teamwork and encouraging students to learn how they can better function in team environment. One teacher at Trinity College added that “group work can encourage students to think deeper and develop critical thinking skills”. It would also give students a chance to make new friends in the process.
Group discussion proved contentious however, despite being among the most popular forms of learning, as some students felt they carried the conversation among their group. Others meanwhile felt they couldn’t participate, given their lack of English proficiency. Though students are encouraged to discuss and reflect on ideas and subjects taught in class, productive discourse might not always occur.
As for tests and exams, students expressed disapproval, citing this method of learning as being least helpful and hardest to cope with. Unsurprisingly, many students believed studying for these tests would lead to stress and anxiety. Others however found it motivating; one student felt it gave them an opportunity to assess their understanding of what was taught in class.
Meanwhile, independent learning in the form of research-based essay writing was found to be generally useful as it offered students an avenue to apply their learning in a practical and less-stressful manner. The same applied to students in disciplines that required comparative examples to better understand what was being taught. One Indonesian psychology student felt their “psychology experiments [was] not only a good way to understand the context but [was] also fun.
Finally, excursions were welcomed by students as a fun getaway from the classroom but assessments based on what they learnt from their time outside was generally not useful to students’ learning. One Malaysian student said “excursions are fun and are good opportunities to relax but normally had no significant aid on learning”.
Different teaching methods will undoubtedly play a different role in the process of learning and every class will prove challenging for teachers and students alike. After our investigation, it was clear that there really is no one solution to learning.
For teachers, this just means being able to identify what works for each individual in class so that they can feel engaged by the material taught in class.
For students, understanding what works for them is most important but seeking help and communicating with teachers when difficulties arise is something that should not be overlooked.
As long as students and teachers are able to identify what works best for them, everyone will have an equal chance to learn and grow in the classroom.
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.