From prep through to grade 6, on any given day you are likely to find problem based learning activities being presented to students in Australian classrooms. It is believed that grouping students together to solve open ended problems improves engagement and promotes deep knowledge and understanding. For many students this dynamic presentation of content can be exciting and will improve their ability to retain and recall information.
However – for some students, this style of learning results in them feeling disengaged. At Sprout Tutoring we see student disengagement as a HUGE red flag! If your child seems uninterested in what they are learning at school – dont simply shrug it off as boredom. Often it can be because your child is not quite ready to handle this type of learning.
As a classroom teacher I observed many student struggling to engage with open ended, problem based learning experiences. There could be a number of reasons that a child struggles in this way.
Your child may not be participating effectively because they are not yet mature enough to work collaboratively with others. This does not mean they are anti social. This may mean that they are easily distracted or are more interested in distracting other students then completing the task at hand.
Open ended problems often present significant challenges to students who rely on prompting or redirection to stay on track to find a ‘solution’. If students are unfamiliar with this way of thinking, working and operating they may be overwhelmed and simply disengage because they don’t know where to begin – or what working effectively in this way actually consists of.
Many students rely heavily on having strong background knowledge built and established for them. Often, open ended problems require new or abstract thinking to find an appropriate solution. Students that have not developed confidence in thinking laterally may struggle with this.
If your child is struggling to work collaboratively in group work in class, particularly during problem based activities – they may need more support individually. Best preparing students who are hesitant to work in this way may involve providing relevant guiding questions and perhaps providing stimulating resources as they work to develop independence in approaching open ended problems.
To have your child best supported contact Sprout Tutoring to discuss their current needs and learning style today.