Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Looking at education beyond just grades

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM

All of us would possibly remember our CXC grades, but would we remember the questions that were asked in the exam?

Maybe not. Let's go deeper: Do you even remember the last thing you were taught before the exam? Maybe high school is too far back; it certainly is for some of us. Do you remember even one question on your final college exam papers?

If you were to sit in a math class with 7th-grade students would you be able to teach them based on the memory of what you were taught?

The answer is most likely no - not for lack of skill, but for lack of knowledge. But many of us - all of us, in fact - have sat in interviews and presented our grades as representatives of our ability to retain and use knowledge that we forgot the moment we walked out that exam room.

Since then, schooling has only got more complex; students are always eager to know "if it 'counts'?" to determine the level of work they should apply to a particular subject area or test. We drill into them that the best schools want the students with the best grades, whose transcripts show they took the most rigorous course of study available to them as an indicator of academic prowess, but did they learn anything?

So how do we motivate students to learn?


Cumulative Tests


The idea behind the cumulative tests is that students will not only study what they believe or are told will appear on an exam.

For example, after they have been tested on chapter one they no longer find information in chapter one useful, but a cumulative test would consist of material from past subject areas, allowing the student to gain full understanding of the subject.

This would ease the pressures students face in cramming a year's worth of information in one week or maybe the night before an exam.


Make it Social


We are social creatures, millennials even more so. Allowing students to form learning groups inside and outside of class will help in their ability to share and divide learning tasks. If these are matched correctly, then they will be able to supplement and assist with each other's learning challenges.


Make it Count


We are most open to learning when our tasks match our level of skill - not so easy they're unchallenging and not so hard they utterly frustrate us, but just enough to keep us engaged. In other words, make them harder but in a way that consistently challenges students to exceed their last best, keeping them working at the brink of their capabilities.

Ask your children or students this: If you didn't have to show up to school, do any tests or exams, and still get all A's would you still go just to learn? Would your children still go or would they happily go back under the covers? Create a hunger for learning among our children and we will starve the fear of failure, for "knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice"

- Article courtesy of the American International School of Kingston (AISK). Send feedback to