Supporting children at school

| November 24, 2021

How a child learns is as individual as the child themselves. Yet with the pressures of large class sizes, decreases in school funding and, most recently, home-schooling, many teachers are struggling to keep track of their students’ performance.

Now new technology from the University of South Australia is prioritising student learning to ensure all children are better monitored and supported throughout their school education.

Using current student data, the team is creating individual student learning profiles – real-time assessments of each student’s learning against curriculum requirements, as well as social and emotional wellbeing, extracurricular activities, and study behaviours – all presented in an easy-to-access online ‘dashboard’.

The new learner profiles and dashboard are hoped to provide teachers with an easy-to-use, quick reference tool to ensure all students – especially disadvantaged students – are appropriately supported and positioned for success

It’s a timely study, especially given declining rates of literacy and numeracy in Australian schools across the past two decades.

Lead researchers, Dr Rebecca Marrone and Dr Vitomir Kovanović, with UniSA’s Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L), say the learner profiles have the potential to significantly improve the quality of teaching and learning in Australia.

“Strategies to improve teaching quality are paramount in Australia, particularly given the overall decline in reading and mathematics,” Dr Kovanović says.

“Yet, as many parents will attest, student success does not only rely upon academic achievement – it also embraces student interests, goals, and social and emotional wellbeing.

“For teachers, the challenge is often time and resources – while they strive to deliver the best teaching, one-on-one support is near impossible; this research makes it one step closer.

“By looking beyond static, traditional grade-based methods, and by using real-time student data across a range of measures, we’re able to create individual profiles for each student.

“These profiles will show how a student is learning at any point in time, and when they’re plotted onto our dashboard, will help teachers quickly identify which children need additional support or interventions, and precisely when they need them.

“In this way, teachers can respond to children’s needs in a timely and appropriate manner based on their individual profile. “

The team is currently working with several Australian schools to develop prototype learner profiles. Dr Marrone says the goal is to help teachers and students without adding extra work.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on so many aspects of our lives, and for a lot of schools, the response has been a quick shift to blended and online learning,” Dr Marrone says.

“So, we now have far more data, collected in real time. But how many schools are leveraging this data?

“This project draws on all possible data sources to create single place for collated student information.

“This could seriously change the way teachers support students. And the added beauty of the tool is that it aims to alleviate teachers’ workloads, not add to them.”

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