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What helps me to learn?

Being interested in the lesson/subject, and seeing its relevance, featured strongly in the answers to this question:

  • "If I'm interested and enjoy what I'm doing I tend to make a bigger effort, and try hard to do it well."
  • "[I learn] if what I am learning interests and enlightens me."
  • "If I can clearly see how the ideas expressed are relevant to my life/my world."
  • "[If I] experience new and different things."

Receiving support – and not only from teachers – rated highly. "Being treated like I am smart enough to learn, but being helped if I cannot understand things," responded one student. Some other answers were: "Feel supported by the teacher," and "Support – including people to push you." Several students mentioned getting support from their family, and several rated support and advice from friends important. One student commented: "Getting help from others besides teachers, for example, mentors, and people who have experience with my situation." "Having a tutor," said another. "Getting help outside class time," said another.

Group work and discussions also rated highly, as these comments show:

  • "I think the classroom lacks the 'voice' of students. Ideas are often given to us, and we don't get to discuss complications or talk about issues."
  • "Participate in group discussions and problem solving."
  • "Discuss rather than write all the time."
  • "[When] group work is encouraged."
  • "I like a classroom which encourages whole-group and small-group discussions."
  • "When ideas are shared."
  • "Social interaction and discussion."
  • "Work in pairs/groups."

How information is presented was also seen as important. Comments relating to this included:

  • "I want the information presented in a clear and fun way."
  • "[I learn] when the teacher doesn't jump from one subject to another."
  • "[I learn] if sufficient information is given during class and in handouts."
  • "[If I] ask questions and get full explanations."
  • "Fresh, new information."
  • "Clear text books (with lots to learn)."
  • "Methodical methods and steps."
  • "Explanations about how things work."
  • "Visual (diagrams, drawing pictures)."
  • "Has pictures, diagrams."
  • "Information up around the room, so easily accessible to all students."

Motivation featured significantly. These responses came from years 11–13 girls:

  • "Seeing a future I want for myself, and knowing that the only way for me to succeed in this is to learn."
  • "Looking at my friends who have dropped out, and successful people, and choosing which I would rather be."

Others responses included:

  • "A variety of different styles – practical tasks, visual, verbal, written."
  • "[Being] constantly challenged."
  • "Hands-on work."
  • "A quick pace of learning."
  • "Watching television – documentaries."
  • "Subjects that relate to our generation now."
  • "Independent learning."
  • "Creative learning."

Two students wanted more learning out of the classroom, as in fieldtrips; another wanted the freedom to move within the classroom. Two factors identified as not helping learning were "Not being able to have a smoke," and "Boys and girls being separated within a co-ed school."

Published on: 20 Sep 2007