In this article, I will try to explain different types of students depending upon my 33 years of experience in teaching. Each student is unique and requires one-on-one teaching but in this particular scenario it is impossible to have such a thing. Therefore there will be a general method of teaching, adopted everywhere but some students require individual attention and tailor made method of teaching. Here, I’ll be discussing how teachers should be able to modify teaching methodology to suit each type of student.
Note: Even though many examples considered here are about schools, it is equally applicable to higher education also. All images are from pixabay.com, free images.
- Normal student.
There are many such students were normal they can absorb normal type of education, can grasp easily and retain whatever they have learnt and reproduce in the test or exam in a good way. Majority of the students are of this type therefore mass education system works successfully.
Syllabus, teaching methodology and many other things are framed with a normal student in mind therefore it is applicable to majority of the students but the other types of students which I am going to explain, this particular method is not fully suitable.
- Normal capacity but different orientation
These kind of students are having same capacity as the normal student. They can also retain and reproduce whatever they have learnt but the main problem is their direction of interest is different. These students do not want to learn in a conventional way or conventional things. Mainly they want to learn arts and such other things. As an example, a student who is interested in learning music will not be fully interested in learning conventional subjects in school. He wants to concentrate on his efforts in learning music and present it in the best way.
Here there are two possibilities for a teacher. One set of students will be such that no teacher can change the orientation of the student. In such cases , he should be encouraged and allowed to do and learn the subject of his interest rather than forcing him for learning conventional subjects in a conventional way.
The second type of students and those for whom the teachers can change their orientation. Actually they will not be having any other goal or talent but they will be simply having a feeling that they can perform better in some other field. The teacher should convince those students and re-orient him to the conventional method of teaching and learning.
3.Large capacity but rate of absorption is very less
These students are having very large capacity and potential of learning and retaining it for a long time and reproduce it successfully in the test or exam. But the problem is there rate of absorption of knowledge is very slow. The teacher should adopt a suitable slow method of teaching for such students. This will help them a lot. These students cannot simply adjust for mass type of conventional teaching methodology. If they are trained and taught in a way that is suitable for them, then they will become extraordinary people.
4.Good capacity but not open to absorb knowledge.
The students are very few and their property is not to learn anything easily. It is their mindset that will make them feel that they should not actually learn anything in the conventional manner. Most of them will think that they are having the basic knowledge which is sufficient for them and therefore they will not try to learn anything more. Teacher can sit and discuss with them and gradually turn them to good students. But this process may take a very long time, depending upon the type of student and his capacity to re-orient himself. It also depends upon the capacity of the teacher in doing so.
5.Good absorption and good sharing.
Such students can absorb knowledge in a better way and much faster, compare to normal students. They can even share their knowledge to other students whenever required in a suitable way. Such students will have the urge not only for learning, but also teaching it to other students. These kind of students will normally become teachers.
- No memory retention
These kind of students will put a lot of effort in learning. They will learn and in short duration , they can reproduce very well but after a long time they will tend to forget everything. They will be having short-term memory and not having long-term memory. I am pictorially representing it in the above figure as bottomless vessel. Long term memory is required for writing test and exam and therefore it is difficult for them to remember anything during test or exam. The teacher should find suitable method for them to make them remember important things, either by writing it several times or by any suitable method. They can be trained in memory improvement programmes.
- Bad performance in test and examination
There will be two types of students under this particular category .
One particular type of students are overconfident students and others are having lack of confidence
The overconfident students will learn during teaching in classroom but they will not do any kind of revision which is required for exam. They will think that they can simply go and write in the test and exam without any preparation. Due to this, they will thoroughly fail in test or exam, even though they learn during class hours. So, it is not just the class hours but also the homework and other works which are very much essential for a good performance and test or exam. The teachers should find a suitable method to motivate them, depending upon the mindset of students, for doing homework and practice writing answers .
The other types of students can answer very well to the question paper after they come out of the exam and at home, but during the exam and test they will have very less confidence and therefore they cannot perform well. For such students , the aim of the teacher is to build confidence in them by conducting additional class tests which are not just for marks but for boosting their confidence.
- Selective absorption
Some students will absorb only some portion of the subject.As an example, if a subject consists of theory as well as mathematical part, these students will be interested only in theory part and dislike mathematical part. This is because of their selective interest in them. But for them to achieve success in exams, they have to concentrate on both theory and mathematical parts. The teacher should make them understand even the mathematical part and motivate them to concentrate on that part also.
If it is not possible, then there must be a flexibility to give an alternative subject to them, according to their interests. In many universities, such deviations are easily done but in most of the places, rigid restrictions are there and hence the students cannot choose the subjects and the type of things that they want to learn.
- Only memorizing and not trying to understand
Many of the students think that exam is just a memory test therefore they will mainly concentrate on remembering what they have to write in the exam and how they have to write in the exam. They will actually perform good in the exam but their understanding of the subject we be poor.This will result in poor application of their subject knowledge when they go for a job. Exam is not the end part of the career, as the knowledge is to be applied in place where they actually work.
Unfortunate part of it is that the teacher may not be knowing the performance of a student when he passes out and goes for working , since his performance is good in the exam and test. Most of the teachers will think that he is a successful student but in the application port, his knowledge in his workplace will be poor.
This can be avoided by changing the test question pattern. It should include questions which tests the application ability of students. It can also be easily adopted in laboratory experiments, where the students are allowed to do variations in experiments by applying their knowledge. The subjects are also to be reframed in such a way that understanding and application and such type of questions are there in the chapter end exercises and model papers.This will generally indicate their understanding capacity and makes the teacher to know whether they can apply their knowledge in real situation or not.
- Late performers.
In some developed countries, an experiment has been done and I will give a bird’s eye view of it here.
In learning process, co-operation is to be from both teachers and students!
Normally, schools used to start at 9 AM and was running up to 3 PM. It was noticed that some 5% of the students were consistently coming little late to the school and were getting some punishment for that. Their performances were very poor. Some teachers started to find the reason for this. Upon interacting with the students in a friendly way, they came to know that those students were finding it difficult to getup early in the morning.
In some such schools, the teachers conducted a meeting and offered a special time for only such students!
The starting time was 12 noon and the students have to stay up to 6PM. Some teachers took extra pain to stay upto 6PM and it seems that the management allowed them to come at 11.30 AM.
Those students started showing good results. In fact, some of them outshined best students who were attending regular classes in normal timings!
So, their only problem was that they were unable to getup early in the morning. They had all the capacity required for the best student.
- A simple analysis of the above situation shows us that school or college should not be rigid for every student.
- The main aim of any educational institution is to transfer the knowledge in the best possible way, even for the worst student!
- We know that many famous scientists were high school dropouts. This was probably because, the education system were very rigid and the hidden talent in them were not identified.
- Every teacher need not be interested or capable of teaching students who require special attention. A few teachers who are interested and are capable are to be identified for doing it.
- Syllabus, regular teaching and so on are for normal students. There should be flexibility to accommodate below normal and above normal students using little different syllabus and methodology of teaching.
- Teaching is an art and flexibility should be given for every teacher to teach in their own way. There should not be too much constraints to make every teacher to teach in monotonous way like a machine!