Often, the focus is placed on the answer to a problem, question, or experiment. But the answer, at the end of the day, should actually be irrelevant. The steps that the student took to reach the answer (regardless of whether the answer is correct or incorrect) is where our focus should be. One of the best ways to ensure that confidence is being boosted and that the concepts are being properly grasped, is to allow the student to take ownership. There is a level of excitement when they walk adults through their thought process, partially because it is important to the students to prove how well they worked through the challenge. When a student explains their process, it can help them identify if there was a step in the process they could have done better. Also, when the emphasis is placed on the process, that is the adult’s way of showing that we care more about how the student got there as opposed to whether it was right or wrong.
This is one of the things that hands on learning strives to do, particularly in a STEM type environment. When students are allowed to be self advocates and are encouraged to use their hands and minds to present multiple strategies, the result is often a positive outcome. Hands on learning is also an excellent way of allowing the adult to take a step back and simply observe. We can gain greater insight into what potential comprehension problems are occurring based on how they are able to work through a challenging project or problem. Are they willing or able to express when they need some help with their brainstorming process? Can they provide detailed explanations as to why they come up with a particular hypothesis or answer to a math equation?
Not enough schools push a visual learning based curriculum, which is why it is so vital that work is done at home or through tutoring programs to ensure the student has the most well rounded experience possible. Check out our daily science experiment tips this month on our Facebook page, come and join us for our Hux Family Farm Festival, and do all you can to take advantage of STEM based activities as we wind down fall and start the countdown to winter!