In 2016, a parent of a 9th-grade student requested me to tutor his son for that grade and continue until his 12th grade. So, I decided to evaluate the student’s knowledge in lower grades. This was the first time I did a pre-evaluation since I took up teaching. I prepared a simple quiz in maths that he should be able to do without any preparation at his level. But I found out that he was very weak even in basic Math. I informed his father about the shortcomings to which he expressed shock and disbelief (later I found many parents to be in the same state). The student’s father wanted me to rectify his shortcomings and it took about two months to do the same. I repeated this process manually for many students over the years, fine-tuning the quizzes, identifying the learning gaps, and solving them.
I have made some observations over the years doing this process. Identification of the learning gaps is the most critical step in the process, which no one does in the current market. Parents, most of the time, are oblivious to learning gaps. Students carry their learning gaps even to their higher education. On the contrary, if the Learning Gaps are identified and solved, I have seen the performance of the students improve drastically. I've seen students going from below average performance to excellent performance.
We insist hard work to all students. But it is equally important for them to know where to put the hard work on. Without understanding the fundamental topics of any subject, any amount of hard work on advanced topics would only go in vain. Teachers and schools need to recognize this. Normally, their focus is completely on finishing the current grade's portions and prepare the students for exams. Not blaming them - it is their duty to do so and that’s what they are being paid for. But they need to understand that just focusing on current subjects alone may not bring the best results. They need to understand how the students stand in terms of fundamentals before going to any advanced topics.
I believe the problem of Learning Gap is being misunderstood as students' lack of ability to fully grasp topics. I'm working towards debunking this myth. Student's Learning Gap could be because of multiple factors like missing of classes, poor teaching of basics, lack of attentiveness etc. These problems can be overcome by revisiting the basics at any point of time. Spending few hours on the basics will help the teacher to save multiple hours on advanced topics and make the class room environment more interactive and involved as the students are no more stuck in the past.
On the role of parents, it is important to understand that all children are not equal and situations play a major role in the learning process. We cannot expect a teenager going through all the physical and mental changes of that age will be squarely focussed on the class. In fact, we should expect that every student will have some kind of gap in learning. It is where and how much of gap is there is what makes decides the impact on future learning. That is why in our product, we focus on measuring the gap of each student first using a grade-level subject-wise quiz. Based on the quiz score and where exactly the gap is, we focus on those topics alone.
This approach has been tested on numerous students and have resulted in highly positive results every single time. We are on a mission to spread the message and usage of this model to schools. We are starting off with schools in Chennai and hope to spread to other locations as well. Please reach out to us (Email) if you are trying to solve this problem for your kids / schools.