How ‘ability grouping’ influences academic success

Mr. Victor Ochieng', Writer and Author. Photo/Courtesy
Mr. Victor Ochieng', Writer and Author. Photo/Courtesy

Lou Holtz sagely said, “Ability is what you are capable of doing.

Motivation determines what you do; attitude determines how well you do it.”

Schools that want to access success in academic spheres focus on ability grouping.

The school’s management should bring on board practical strategies.

After the academic team has administered a serious exam, they can group candidates based on their performance.

A well-staffed school should even know teachers who can handle different ilk of students based on their abilities.

In some sense, a staff or a particular department is like a football team.

For the team to score and scoop victory, every team member should know their position on the field.

Michael Jordan observed, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win the championship.”

As one of the best academic practices, there are five approaches to ability grouping.

1. General Ability Group

In this model, the school constitutes and consolidates streams based on the general academic Ability of students in the candidate class. In a class of 150 students, the school can come up with three streams – top, middle, and bottom class. With the knowledge of Labeling Theory in Sociology of Education, the naming of the streams must be done carefully.

Again, Pygmalion Effect, also known as Rosenthal Effect (a psychological phenomenon in which high expectations lead to improved performance in a given area), should take center stage.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a psychological phenomenon in which high expectations lead to improved performance in a given area.

As a trained English and Literature teacher, I would focus on what I learned in Introduction to Psychology and Psychology of Education, more so on types of learning. This could be the best way to take care of individual differences in learners.

It can help the teachers to push or fatten the head as they cut or reduce the size of the tail.

Those with a cache of experience in teaching and the noble art of dispensing knowledge know that teaching people with mixed abilities or even people on extreme ends is a challenge.

That is why we must think about all their abilities.

As we also lift the rising stars from the ashen ashes of defeat and despair.

However, teachers should be keen when introducing ability grouping to students to avoid balkanizing (dividing them into smaller, mutually hostile states or groups) and antagonizing the class based on its academic potential.

If it is not well-thought-out, the bottom class may decide to engage in self-pity and weld themselves together as a caboodle of foolish candidates; who have been resigned to museums of failure.

Just like in a family setting, children are not wired the same. As the fingers of a human being are different, the children’s abilities differ, but they all belong to the same parent.

Therefore, a wise parent employs different parenting skills and styles.

You cannot raise the lastborn the way you brought up the firstborn.

Cognizant of the changing times, the sage said, “You cannot use old maps to trace new towns.”

Albert Einstein observed, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

2. Subject Ability Groups

In this approach, subject teachers group students according to their performance in their subjects.

They should go ahead and organize one-on-one incisive conferencing sessions with each group.

The end-in-mind should be that, at last, the bottom group can score above a C- (minus) in their subjects.

3. Academic Villages

Students are grouped based on their common targets or aspirations in this case.

This style can take care of repeaters, prefects, peer counselors, top students, et cetera. Teachers should be mandated to take care of every village and push the group to operate at their best.

Some schools have high achiever students who, in the real sense, can feature in the top 15 or 100 in the national ranking.

This caliber of candidates should be pushed and be made to stretch beyond elastic limits.

Or else, they can choose to become complacent, settle for less, and be prone to mediocrity: Being on top of the bottom. Or at the bottom of the top.

4. Parenting Groups

The school can come up with group discussions, which can act as family units.

All students are to be assigned teacher-parents to help them set targets.

Regular meetings should be held to provide direction and focus and keep them on the right track.

Candidates should never be left to operate on laissez-faire.

Teachers’ constant vigilance, surveillance, and monitoring are of supreme importance.

We should never forget the didactic dictum: Sometimes, students do not do what we expect, but they do what we inspect.

5. Students pairing

One of the breathtaking strategies we have been sharing with low-achieving candidates is that they should pair up with top achievers.

As the high fliers commit themselves to helping the struggling students through peer teaching, they attain marvelous mastery of content.

In the long run, this infusion and collation of abilities prop up average students’ poor performance.

The writer rolls out Performance-Enhancement Talks for the Candidate Class. He trains teachers on Best Academic Practices, and Effective Management of the Candidate Class. Contact: vochieng.90

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Prior preparation of candidates enhances peak performance

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Mr. Ochieng' is an editor, orator and author. His contact:


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