Ali Lennard taught English and drama for nine years, mostly in secondary schools, and volunteered as an EAL teacher in the Maldives for two years. She now specialises in English for CENTURY Tech.
Exam season has come and gone once again and for students, teachers and parents alike it was as stressful as ever. As a teacher, I know that we want our students to do well in all of their exams, but we subconsciously want them to prioritise revision in the subject we each teach. Parents want their children to succeed but are often not sure how to best support them in their revision. And students themselves are torn between their subjects, unsure how to prioritise or even begin to revise.
Most teachers know that many students struggle with revision. A quick internet search of ‘how to revise for your GCSEs’ can offer some helpful advice to learners about structuring your revision sessions and finding a quiet space to revise, but can also offer vague advice, such as using highlighters to highlight ‘key ideas’ from a text. Advice online can also be outdated; for example, articles still exist to support the existence of ‘learning styles’, when more recent research consistently demonstrates that there is little evidence behind this concept.
Teachers’ suggestions of rereading their notes from lessons, writing summaries and making and using flash cards will be practical for some students, but the overwhelming quantity of material to revise can cause some students even more stress. Online resources are invaluable, as they allow students to access information in a medium that they are familiar with, but how do students know they are prioritising the areas they need to, and how can teachers and parents support students with their revision?
Increasingly, technology can be used to help students to take control of their revision and allow parents and teachers to support students in making what is an already stressful time a little less stressful. Artificial intelligence (AI), already adopted in most other areas of industry, is finally being accepted in the education sector to support students and teachers in and out of the classroom.
Helping students to prioritise revision
AI technology can create a truly personalised pathway for each student, by learning about the learner in order to focus on the areas of weakness or topics they are less familiar with and address misconceptions in understanding.
One of the most effective ways to improve learning and information retention is by testing knowledge, which is referred to as ‘retrieval-based learning’. Also known as ‘the testing effect’, this notion is based on the idea that each time a student retrieves a piece of information from memory, the information is consolidated, making it easier to recall in future. In addition to aiding information retention, testing can also provide meaningful feedback, giving students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Combining this with the personalisation that AI provides allows learners to ensure that they receive analytical insights into their own learning and are able to secure knowledge that is most suited to their needs. This also gives them the opportunity to take control of their learning by improving their metacognitive skills, which includes being able to accurately assess their own understanding.
Giving teachers a meaningful insight into their students’ understanding
Meaningful live data can help teachers to track students revising at home and identify areas of weakness across their classes. The data can then be used by teachers to group revision classes, identify common misconceptions, and plan meaningful interventions in the build-up to exams.
AI can also aid teachers by cutting down the time required to mark their students’ work. This can provide a great deal of stress-relief in the lead up to exams especially, allowing them to focus their attention on actually teaching.
Providing parents with the tools to support their children
Exam time can be a stressful time for parents too. Giving parents a tool to support their children can help relieve some of this stress, through allowing them to monitor and support their children while also encouraging independent revision.
The right AI-powered edtech can ensure students are fully prepared for their exams, have covered all topics and are secure in their knowledge, ready to sit the exam stress-free. When used from the beginning of their GCSE course it can help to develop deep ingrained understanding of topics, lessening the stress of exams for students, teachers and parents.