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Bringing joy to the learning process

26 Jul 2016


The changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) mark the beginning of a new chapter in our students’ education journey. Wider scoring bands, known as Achievement Levels (ALs), will relieve students of the pressure of chasing after every last mark, and help them focus on holistic learning.

While it will take time for a societal mindset shift on what defines success, schools are taking steps to refine teaching methods, moving away from focusing on academic results and continuously creating new opportunities for students to learn and discover.

New feedback methods for students

At Chongzheng Primary School, teachers have been using new methods to provide feedback to students on how they can improve, and it is not all about the numeric score. These learning methods have been used at Chongzheng Primary for about six years.

For example, teachers give feedback for mathematics assignments instead of grades, which help to steer the students away from comparing their results. “The pupils also found written comments for their problem sum answers helpful as they could see the areas for improvement,” explains Chongzheng Primary’s principal Ms Audrey Wong.

Show-and-tell sessions during English lessons have also provided students with the opportunity to learn language fluency, as they observe rules on grammar and sentence structure in daily conversations. They apply their learning without having academic results coming into the picture.

As students assess their peers’ presentations, they take on a more participatory role in class. The focus of the classroom shifts from what is being taught to what is being learnt instead.

Learning beyond the textbook

The changes in how lessons are delivered also mean that students get to learn crucial soft skills. The show-and-tell sessions at Chongzheng Primary help students to be confident and articulate when speaking to others. Also, when they assess their peers’ presentations, it helps them to gain critical thinking skills.

As schools utilise new teaching methods, students may spend less time putting pen to paper, but they are picking up just as much knowledge, or even more.

For instance, students at Damai Primary School visit the Science Centre as part of their Science lessons. This has enabled them to learn scientific concepts beyond those that are in their textbooks, and see how these concepts are applicable in their daily lives. They also attend workshops at the Science Centre and gets hands on experiments on concepts such as reflection and refraction of light in everyday objects, such as mirrors.

Though the changes to the PSLE scoring will only be implemented in five years’ time, schools have already started to take steps towards holistic education instead of emphasising on academic results.  Through these new methods, teachers are seeking to encourage children’s natural curiosity and inspire joy in learning. Change will not happen overnight, but schools are taking steps forward, and in time, society will too.