Monday, July 29, 2013

'Did you understand?'

Teacher explains a subject for several minutes
At the end of the explanation
Teacher: Did you understand?
Students: Yes sir/madam
Teacher: Goood!!
Teacher goes on to explain the next topic
Teacher: Did you understand?
Students: Yes sir/madam
Teacher: Very goood!
Bell rings
Teacher: Thats all for today
Students: Thank you sir

This is what happens in a typical Bhutanese classroom. This question 'Did you understand?', it ails the teaching-learning process. If you go to any Bhutanese classroom, you will not be surprised to find many teachers frequently punctuating their lecture by 'Did you understand?' question or 'Understood?' the shorter version of it. The question is used to assess students learning. But do these questions make up a good assessment? Going by definition assessment means to collect relevant information that may be relied on for making a decision. But these question elicits just 'yes' 'no' response from students and it does not help teachers fetch enough information to reach to a decision on whether students have learnt effectively or not. Thus, it is a blunt way of doing assessment. The entire assessment process gets substituted by this single question.

What is even more surprising is to find even the so called experienced and seasoned teachers using these questions. The prevalence of 'Did you understand?' and 'Understood?' among teachers indicates that despite of the emergence of many assessment techniques our teachers have still not thought out of the box and not come of age. 

Assessment is an integral process in teaching-learning process. It help us give a clear picture of whether learning objectives have been fulfilled and the state of students progress and learning. It help us identify gaps and lapses based on which we can plan remedies. Its a "process" and any process has to be well planned. We cant afford the whole process to be merely substituted by 'Did you understand?' or 'Understood'.There are myriads of assessment method and tools. The kind of assessment method and tools to be used depends on the learning objectives, nature of the subject, the nature of the learning situation, and the nature of learners. It is my wish that our teachers replace 'Did you understand?' or 'Understood' by proper assessment methods and tools and discard the trend of using 'Did you understand?' and 'Understood?'.