Over the years, I thought about this, and as I teach maths classes to students of different level.
I think about what they need to produce results in this subject, over time I have developed an answer that I’m satisfied with.
Almost everywhere, the emphasis is in ability. Learn and practice, practice and learn.
Students spend an innumerable amount of time on this, and yet improvement seems to be such an uphill task.
And among the difficulties students face in improving, it was remembering what was learnt that’s so hard.
I teach something today, and next week it’s almost completely forgotten.
When it comes to remembering what was learnt, students want to rely on one thing – their memory.
For secondary students who study seven to nine subjects, how is it possible that you remember everything?
So then, what was learnt was lost, and then picked up again with great difficulty, and then lost again. The cycle repeats.
This is why I put a lot of emphasis in getting students to maintain their personal set of notes in a systematic manner.
To document every little detail that you learnt, every little mistake you made, why you made it and what should you look out for the next time – it’s tedious work!
But if and when it is done properly, you will find that the learning curve will shorten tremendously, as the amount of effort trying to pick up what was learnt (and forgotten) would be significantly reduced.
3) Beliefs And Attitude
There are students with all sorts of issues with poor attitudes and wrong beliefs that prevents them from being more effective learners and from better performance in tests and exams.
One example is, I often get students who do not like to use mathematical jargon – coefficients, numerators, denominators… you get the idea.
If you don’t remember the name, you don’t remember the concept.
If you don’t remember the concept, you can’t do the questions, or you make mistakes easily!
Such poor attitudes do not come alone.
They usually come with others such as a reluctance to do more practices, or wishful thinking that difficult questions/topics would not appear in the exams etc.
This is the hardest to tackle, because no one changes for anyone else, by default.
- If a maths student were to be open to addressing these three areas, they will be able to learn much more than just the technical knowledge about mathematics.
- When attitudes change, a student becomes a better learner – no matter what subject.
- When a student learns to self-manage his or her notes, he or she becomes more effective in his learning.
- And then the efforts of the student will produce better results.