Curriculum and Instructional Strategies

Challenges facing student motivation

Student motivation plays a key role in helping the students to achieve outstanding academic performance and literacy levels through participation in activities that enhance their ability to read and write (Martin, 2006). It is imperative for teachers to emphasize on tasks that help students to acquire competence since it gives them the motivation for continuous engagement. A student can derive motivation from oneself (self-motivation) and from the learning environment. Teachers are an integral element in influencing motivation among students and should, therefore, ensure that the course structure and assignments are designed in a manner that does not derail motivational levels. Motivation takes up two forms which are intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic motivation is influenced by an individual’s interest to do something while extrinsic motivation is driven by the expected outcome of carrying out a task (Ryan & Deci, 2000). 

 A standard based curriculum poses challenges for both forms of motivation. While assigning grades during evaluation may act as a motivational factor, it may not apply to all students and mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that those who perform poorly perceive it as a challenge to focus their efforts to achieve better grades (Martin, 2006). For instance, awarding grades to individual practices that are voluntary may affect the students’ willingness and desire to participate in subsequent activities. The mathematics lesson plan indicates that the individual practice which is preceded by one that is guided by the teacher shall be evaluated and form a basis for overall assessment. Though the evaluation helps the instructor to assess the students’ level of understanding of the concepts learned regarding probability & statistics, it does not clearly depict the competence levels. This is premised on the notion that students may lack both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation while undertaking the individual practice. In order to enhance such motivation levels in students, the lesson plan should provide the students with an opportunity to carry out a single individual practice that is not evaluated and a second one which can be assessed since they would have mastered the concepts and willing to undertake an evaluation test.

 In order to ensure that students are motivated to carry out individual tasks that help in assessing their learning capability, a lesson plan should provide an opportunity for students to practice in cooperative learning groups which help to build student confidence levels and enhance their desire to continue engaging . This helps to improve intrinsic motivation among the students.  Additionally, lack of student-teacher interaction leads to a decline in motivational levels.  A course structure that does not offer an adequate opportunity for students to freely engage with the teacher and among themselves poses challenges to student motivation since the teachers are more focused on giving instructions that ensure that the standards are achieved rather than engaging personally with the students to identify their individual levels of weaknesses. Students are likely to lack the motivation to learn due to the perception that the curriculum is not student centered (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Teachers should, therefore, be cognizant of the importance of student motivation in achieving learning goals while designing their lesson plans so as to incorporate strategies that enhance motivation levels of students.

Challenges facing student achievement

Student achievement is an evaluation measure that determines the academic content that students learn within a specific timeline and is based on the instructional standards that the curriculum should meet (Hill et al, 2005). Students who have exemplary performance perceive evaluation and grading as proof of their academic success and the vice versa also holds. Poorly performing students who view assessment as an affirmation of their failure tend to get academically frustrated and associate themselves with defeat. This poses a challenge to the students’ achievement since it results in a lack of initiative and desire to improve their performance. 

Student achievement that is based only on grading does not reflect wholly the capabilities a student has. This is because, assessments especially those carried out at the end of a term are favorable to students who have a great deal of memory. Other students who have the capability and are able to learn but have trouble remembering often constitute the larger number of those with poor performance. The effects of grading on student achievement have a culminating impact on the overall behavior and beliefs of the students (Hill et al, 2005). For instance, poorly performing students often develop the fear of evaluation and may try to avoid assessment tests. It is important for teachers to be cognizant of these effects when designing and executing their instructional plans.  Though it is difficult and almost impossible to have every student scoring high grades, teachers should adopt strategies that help them in their efforts to improve the performance of all students. A student’s achievement has a direct effect on their self-esteem which highly affects their ability to progress to the next grade (Shim & Ryan, 2005). For example, a student who is successful and achieves good results in a certain grade would have no worry moving to the next grade. The lesson plan on probability and statistics provides an all-inclusive assessment plan which allows students to undertake an evaluation of their individual practice and an assessment test. Evaluating student’s individual practice ensures that those with short memory are not disadvantaged and provides them with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with concepts that they may not have grasped before undertaking the evaluation test.

On the other hand, those who perform dismally might find it difficult to move to the next grade since they are afraid of failure and may require the help of teachers and other stakeholders to talk them into moving forward on a positive note. This factor clearly illustrates the relationship between student motivation and achievement and how one impacts the other. Every teacher is pleased when students achieve success during assessments at the end of the semester or academic year. It is therefore important for them to develop coping mechanisms and adopt strategies that are geared towards improving overall student achievement.

Challenges facing individual learning styles

Students may derive their individual learning styles from their beliefs in the ability to achieve various goals. Teachers often find it difficult and challenging to embrace various learning styles applied by different students.  Individual learning styles have an impact on the way students analyze and understand information for use in problem-solving (Schmeck, 2013). While some students conceptualize easily by using a combination of many learning styles others are comfortable applying a single style. 

The use of multiple learning styles accounts for a student’s ability to perform differently in various subjects. Students perform better when allowed to utilize their individual learning styles as compared to those whose learning styles are imposed on them (Schmeck, 2013). There are various components that make up learning styles and in turn pose challenges to executing an instructional plan. For instance, a student may be a morning or night person. This implies that students have different preferences which greatly influence their learning styles.

Individual learning styles prove to be beneficial to the students and are not favorable to the educators.

 In order to ensure that the instruction plan is executed and curriculum standards are achieved, teachers ought to establish a teaching format that conforms to various learning styles which allow all students to demystify and conceptualize the course content. This, however, does not completely prevent students from using their learning styles since they can easily utilize them during their personal study time. For instance, if a mathematics class takes place during the morning hours which is perceived as most conducive and a student who is a night person is not comfortable with that, it is upon him/herself to ensure that they revisit the course content covered during the lesson at their most preferred time in order to ensure they do not lag behind and perform dismally as a result of their preferences. The mathematics lesson plan allows students to utilize their individual learning styles to master concepts by providing them with an opportunity to carry out both guided and individual practice.

How does the lesson plan address challenges relating to student motivation?

The lesson plan on probability and statistics adopts various mechanisms and strategies that help in promoting and improving motivation levels among students.  The structure and outlined mode of execution indicate a level of cognizance of the importance of student motivation to performance. For instance, the instructional plan allows students to interact and engage their creative thinking and problem-solving skills while determining the probability of certain occurrences. The teacher gives instructions and illustrates how to toss coins, roll a dice and record the results for use in calculating future probabilities (Retrieved from org/lesson-plan/roll-the-dice-probability-statistics“>http://www.teacher.org/lesson-plan/roll-the-dice-probability-statistics). The lesson plan addresses the students’ intrinsic motivation by allowing them to be active in the class by tossing the coins and establishing probabilities on their own.  This is based on the premise that active participation of the students helps to create an interest to learn and continuously engage in class activities that enhance their attentiveness in class. Additionally, the plan indicates that the independent practice activity shall be used to assess whether they have clearly understood the concept of probability.  Student evaluation helps in enhancing their extrinsic motivation since it is expected of them to have a good performance.  The need for students to achieve exemplary grades after assessment allows them to gain interest in learning since they are focused on achieving a predetermined outcome. The interaction between the teacher and students also builds up motivation since it gives the learners a sense of belongingness.

How does the lesson plan address challenges relating to student achievement?

 In a standard based curriculum, student achievement is based on the assessment carried out during the course. As indicated earlier, assessment and grading can have a negative or positive impact on the students’ achievement depending on the results. In order to address the challenges facing students’ achievement, the lesson plan ensures that students are provided with appropriate instructions and course content that is to be under review. This ensures that the students have actually learned before they undergo any form of evaluation. The course design allows the use of collaborative learning groups which help students who are perceived as poor performers to interact and learn from their fellow students who have good grades (Retrieved from http://www.teacher.org/lesson-plan/roll-the-dice-probability-statistics). This helps to address the issue of academic frustration and eradicate fear among those who may have failed in previous assessments.

How does the lesson plan address challenges relating to individual learning style?

Individual learning styles are an integral component of the students’ academic success. It is not possible for a teacher to present the course content in a manner that conforms to the learning styles of all students especially in a class setting with a large number of students (Schmeck, 2013). The lesson plan on probability and statistics, therefore, allows the teacher to use different strategies and methodologies when teaching thus ensuring that all students are able to understand the concepts from their own perspective. Additionally, collaborative learning groups are of great help since they can be structured based on the learning styles of students thus helping them to easily grasp the course content without having to strain to demystify the methodology used by the teacher.

Curriculum design strategies

A curriculum design addresses four major components which include the objective, content, learning experiences and evaluation and is based on learning, knowledge, social and political theories (Zeece, 2010). The strategies used in designing the curriculum include subject, learner and problem centered.  Subject centered strategies have a great role in emphasizing standards and accountability of the curriculum and providing students with the knowledge they require. They are easy to implement because the course material such as text books are readily available and can be purchased from stores that retail them. 

Strategies that are centered on the learner focus on ensuring that the curriculum seeks to address the needs of all students (Zeece, 2010). This strategy allows teachers to develop instructional plans that allow students to grow and value the learning process by providing an environment that is conducive for education purposes. It also allows students to use their learning styles through interactive participation and observation while recognizing mistakes as part of learning. The strategy is of great help in improving quality since it requires the curriculum to be executed by teachers who are highly competent and possess great skills that are used when dealing with individuals. Problem centered strategies as the name suggests are focused on addressing real life problems arising from the society and individuals.

Instructional strategies

Instructional strategies are utilized by teachers to ensure that students acquire strategic and independent learning skills (Lamon, 2012). They give students ability to build focus and provide information in a manner that is easy to understand for the students and also remember when the need arises. The strategies used in the lesson plan include cooperative learning and independent study. Cooperative learning allows students to participate in small groups to determine probability by tossing coins and rolling dice. As required in the structure and design of such groups, the lesson plan indicates that every student should participate in tossing and recording the information regarding the results. Based on these results, students are required to easily use statistical procedures to solve real life probability questions. Additionally, the lesson plan is developed in a manner that allows students to utilize their personal time to carry out individual study sessions. This strategy helps the teacher to easily work towards achieving curriculum standards since students are able to demystify concepts easily by use of individual learning styles.

Strategies accountability for challenges

The use of three curriculum design strategies in the lesson plan plays a great role in addressing both predicted and unpredicted challenges that may occur during its execution. For instance, the teacher may face challenges arising from students’ different learning styles. The learner centered strategy ensures that the curriculum allows the educator to use varying methodologies in order to ensure that the needs of all students’ are met. Additionally, the use of a problem centered strategy provides the teacher with the ability to address challenges emanating from the society with regard to the curriculum. The instructional strategies used in this context help in ensuring that challenges that may result in failure to achieve the curriculum standards are handled in the best way possible. Aside from the instructions outlined in the lesson plan the strategies provide additional mechanisms that can be used to comply with the standards.

The use of independent study sessions for students as an instructional strategy helps to resolve challenges that mainly arise from individual learning styles and those that pose a threat to students’ motivation. Individual study enhances both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in students in that, it gives them the desire to learn and also influences them to study since they are working towards attaining a predetermined goal. The use of strategies that enhance student motivation, achievement and individual learning styles in executing a curriculum goes a long way in addressing both predictable and unpredictable challenges. Additionally, cooperative learning provides students with an opportunity to actively engage in learning groups that help to enhance their ability to understand basic concepts from their own point of view.

References

Hill, H. C., Rowan, B., & Ball, D. L. (2005). Effects of teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching on student achievement. American educational research journal42(2), 371-406.

Lamon, S. J. (2012). Teaching fractions and ratios for understanding: Essential content knowledge and instructional strategies for teachers. Routledge.

Martin, A. J. (2006). The relationship between teachers’ perceptions of student motivation and engagement and teachers’ enjoyment of and confidence in teaching. AsiaPacific Journal of Teacher Education34(1), 73-93.

Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67. Doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1020

Schmeck, R. R. (Ed.). (2013). Learning strategies and learning styles. Springer Science & Business Media.

Shim, S., & Ryan, A. (2005). Changes in self-efficacy, challenge avoidance, and intrinsic value in response to grades: The role of achievement grades. The Journal of Experimental Education, 73(4), 333-349.

Zeece, P. D. (2010). Curriculum design strategies in emergent literacy: The role of developmentally appropriate literature selections. Early Childhood Education Journal37(5), 345-350.

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