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How Learners Need to Be Supported During Teaching

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Reece and Walker state, "The desks need to have a flexible format so that they can easily be moved from the more formal situations" (Reece and Walker, 1997, pg40). The environments within which I teach (computer classrooms) have very little scope for change. Each student sits at a fixed desk, upon which there is a computer work -station (monitor, keyboard and computer). The logistics of computer classrooms mean students are isolated from each other and face away from the whiteboard. Most computer classrooms have a quite sophisticated air conditioning system installed to counteract the amount of heat generated by the computers. The temperatures that students find comfortable vary considerably and I am constantly either adjusting the thermostat controls or opening windows to satisfy the majority. Lighting needs little adjustment but window blinds are provided if necessary.

Reece and Walker state, "If students are to be asked to learn for themselves then you should assist them in this process" (Reece and Walker, 1997, pg41). A major part of "Key Skills" qualifications require to students to produce a portfolio of work ascertaining to the subject being undertaken. The building of the portfolios is often down to the student's personal choice and is done independently. To assist the students search, reformulate and assemble information for their portfolios I often have to suggest or demonstrate what sort of evidence is required. Although requirements of what the students are expected to produce are outlined at the beginning of the course, they sometimes need reminding of how to achieve this.

Reece and Walker state, "Motivation is a key factor in successful learning". They later suggest, "Use material familiar to the students" (Reece and Walker, 1997, pg96 & pg98). In the exercises I devised for the students I have tried to include subject matter familiar to the students. One exercise involved the sorting of a mobile phone spreadsheet, another the sorting of a properties database local to the area (See attachments). Instead of sorting meaningless data the students used subjects familiar to them and were able to see a Ð''real-world' use for spreadsheets and databases.

Outline the part that effective communication and equal opportunities play in the support process

One of the most important effective communicating skills in the support process is giving feedback to students. Guidelines for giving feedback are stated by Reece and Walker (adapted from Sue Habeshaw, Graham Gibbs and Trevor Habeshaw; 53 Interesting ways to assess your students 1993 Bristol: TES):

1. Keep the time short between the student writing and the feedback. Where possible make it instantaneous.

2. Substantiate a grade/mark with comments both in the text for specific aspects and with a summary at the end.

3. Balance negative comments with positive ones and ensure that negative ones are constructive.

4. Follow-up written comments with oral feedback and aim for dialogue.

5. Make the criteria clear to students when setting the work and give them written criteria where possible.

6. Make further suggestions (e.g. for further reading or for further developing ideas).

7. Give periodic oral feedback on rough drafts.

(Reece and Walker, 1997, p487).

Most of the reasoning for the above guidelines is partly due to the following:

1. Returning the students writing almost immediately with feedback ensures they can act upon it for future assignments.

2. Substantiating a mark/grade with either constructive comments or praise gives the student a feeling of inclusion.

3. A piece of work marked entirely negatively has nothing to build on for future assignments.

4. By giving oral feedback as well as written comments opens up the door for two-way communication, this may itself give the tutor feedback on how they can support the individual needs of the student.

5. If thee full criteria or specifications required for a piece of work is not given the students may embark along the wrong path and find the task difficult. This has the knock on effect of making the marking of the work more difficult and time consuming.

6. Further reading suggestions may be required to help students fill gaps that you feel they have in the subject, or stimulate other students to extend their knowledge on the subject.

7. Giving a hard copy summary of oral feedback will act as a reminder to the student and help with difficult concepts.

Reece and Walker also state: "Alternately you can ask students themselves what feedback they want. If it is what they have



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