Ability Grouping and Learning Outcomes

  • Teachmint
    Teachmint

As the field of education continues to evolve with novel teaching techniques emerging across the globe, educators should pay close attention to the teaching methodologies in use currently and be on the lookout for more productive ones. For instance, the rise of online teaching amidst the coronavirus pandemic has largely brought about a tectonic shift in field of education. As any educator will tell you, using a teaching app to teach online is an altogether different experience, both for the teacher and the students, than teaching in traditional offline classrooms. Another educational practice gaining popularity today is Ability Grouping. As the name implies, this practice involves grouping students according to their abilities, strengths and weaknesses and classroom performance within a classroom. The proponents of this teaching practice argue that it allows teachers to personalize the content and pace of their lessons to better suit the needs of students grouped together, thereby improving student learning outcomes. For instance, lower achieving students may receive more reinforcement and revision as required, whereas high achieving students may be provided with more advanced educational content and instruction from the teachers. In nutshell, ability grouping involves sorting the students according to their abilities. The dissenters on the other hand, argue that ability grouping segregates low achieving students into groups where they receive lower quality education and this eventually results in them forfeiting any chance to catch up with their high achieving peers in future. Having said that, every coin has two sides, and in my opinion, the benefits of ability grouping far outweigh its shortcomings. Without further ado, let us look at some of the many benefits that ability grouping provides and how it can help increase student achievement.

Ability Grouping Keeps High Achieving Students Occupied-

It is a common observation in a traditional classroom setting, when all the students are given the same task, some students finish the assigned task quickly than others who take a little more time and yet other students take a lot more time to complete the same task. This is where ability grouping can be useful by assigning different tasks to different groups of students based upon their abilities. In this manner, every student is kept busy and educators can get the most out of their students by effective utilization of students’ time. This also contributes towards a more disciplined classroom environment as all students are doing something meaningful at all times in the class.

More Personalized and Effective Teaching-

The benefits of personalized education are well documented. In a traditional classroom, the educator is focused towards structuring their lessons and instructions for a perceived average student. This teaching methodology fails to engage the students lying on lower end of learning ability curve as well as students that lie at the higher end of the learning ability curve. Ability grouping helps bridge this gap in student engagement and learning by helping teachers design customized educational content for different groups. Student achievement improves across the board when students receive personalized and engaging study material and instructions.

Provides Flexibility in Grouping Students-

If a student is good at Mathematics, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he must be good at Chemistry or Computer Science as well. Even in the same subject, different students may have different strong and weak areas. Ability grouping allows educators to put students in different groups in different subjects, topics or sub-topics according to their level of mastery over the concepts related to the topic at hand. In this way, ability grouping also encourages educators and students to adopt a growth mindset which is a very useful trait, especially in the competitive world around us today, which necessitates constant change and ability of an individual to grow in the face of new challenges for achieving success.

Ability Grouping Challenges Talented Students-

Quick leaners are often left idle and often get distracted with nothing left to do, in a traditional classroom setting. It leads to wastage of their time which could’ve been better spent in learning. Ability grouping helps eradicate this problem by providing additional and customized learning material for more gifted students in a particular subject.

Therefore, it is evident that ability grouping provides many benefits for students as well as it helps teachers to feel a sense of accomplishment and gives them a break from giving routine instructions at the same time increasing the student learning outcomes.