MI Monday | Mixed Ability Grouping
Many institutions of learning now promote instructional methods involving ‘active’ learning that present opportunities for students to formulate their own questions, discuss issues, explain their viewpoints, and engage in cooperative learning by working in teams on problems and projects. ‘Peer learning’ is a form of cooperative learning that enhances the value of student-student interaction and results in various advantageous learning outcomes.
To realise the benefits of peer learning, teachers must provide ‘intellectual scaffolding’. Thus, teachers prime students by selecting discussion topics that all students are likely to have some relevant knowledge of; they also raise questions/issues that prompt students towards more sophisticated levels of thinking. In addition, collaborative processes are devised to get all group members to participate meaningfully.
Today’s micro-innovation describes an idea used by a teacher using peer learning to improve students performance.
Chitra was concerned that her higher-ability students were receiving a disproportionate amount of classroom time as she worked to cover the entire curriculum with them. Many lower ability children were falling further and further behind due to the relentless focus on completing the curriculum (something that is common in many Indian schools).
Chitra breaks down the students in her class into smaller mixed groups of high and low ability students, a form of group learning and makes it the responsibility of higher-ability students to help out their peers. The value of this micro-innovation is that it benefits all students – higher ability students learn by teaching and lower-ability students benefit from the additional support.
This micro-innovation recognises that students are a valuable resource for each other and that, often, students are able to explain concepts in a way that their peers will understand, as well as creating a supportive environment for learning. The innovation also recognises the central importance of helping students to become their own teachers as well as teach others.
Potential implementation challenges
To be most effective, students require training in providing peer support and the groups need to be very carefully matched. Teachers must be skilled managers of the groups and need to ensure that time spent supporting groups does not diminish the time they spend teaching.
Impact so far (according to teacher)
Students now learn from each other as well as from their teachers. With responsibility given to higher-ability students, Chitra has seen learning beyond academics, including self-confidence, and a deeper understanding of content through teaching others.
Download Implementation Guide here-STIR_Mixed Ability Grouping