It is the teaching approach rather than the

Letters to the Editor

It is the teaching approach rather than the

Monday, June 24, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The Primary Exit Profile (PEP) results are now out and are getting mixed reactions. Some parents, students, and teachers are pleased, while some aren't.

While mixed reactions are not unusual when people get information on such issues, a careful and objective look must be taken at the reasons some people are not pleased, so that corrective actions may be taken on whatever side PEP is found wanting.

It is being said that doing well at the PEP, unlike the forerunning Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), requires more understanding of the subject matter, and better thinking and reasoning skills by students, rather than students being able to recall or guess. These fundamental attributes that are necessary to do well at the PEP are the same attributes that are required for Jamaican students to do well at Caribbean Examinations Council papers, be it either at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate or Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations level, or other standard exams in which Jamaicans have not been doing well for many years compared to other Caribbean nationals. As such, what seems necessary is not for the exam writers to be fired, or the exams changed, or the testing standard be lowered, or the old ways to be continued as some people have been suggesting, but for a teaching approach to be adopted that will adequately reconcile with the three domains of learning, unlike what seems to be happening at present. In other words, and as trained teachers would know, effective teaching must be focused on three learning domains which are: the cognitive, the psychomotor, and the affective.

Just being able to recall suggests learning at the cognitive level, which is the lowest level. Psychomotor has to do with developing skills related to knowledge or what can be recalled, while affective has to do with attitudes developed relating to knowledge and skills. This is a simple explanation of the domains which further research may extensively elucidate for those interested.

Learning is not complete until all three levels are brought into play, and so improved performance in the PEP will require that, in the teaching exercise, the required focus is given to these domains of learning. Therefore, the Ministry of Education probably needs to continue to provide additional training to teachers so that the emphasis in teaching is properly distributed where these domains of learning are concerned, and to continue to provide the necessary guidance so that this approach is reflected in lesson planning. It would also be constructive if the textbooks and workbooks used in schools reconcile with this approach. This should begin without delay, because, undoubtedly, it could result in significant improvements in the academic performance of students at the primary level in a short time.

Winston Foster

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