Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Profiling a student is the first step in guiding student's learning

As we have seen earlier, learning can only happen, it cannot be forced. Therefore, you can nurture the 'conditions' to make them conducive for learning and hope the student's natural abilities take over and he/she learns.However, on the other hand, if you do not 'intercept' early enough, time is lost irreversibly. So when to intervene is a crucial question in sustaining the learning efforts of a student. If you intercept too early, you demotivate the student because you are unnecessarily helping. If you intercept too late, it may too late. Perhaps the right question is 'how to listen to the student's feedback and fine tune the process' of student's learning over his educational life.

Profiling a student is the best way to 'initiate and fine tune the process of planning student's learning' over his entire educational life.

Profiling a student is understanding his natural and developed abilities, use his background and interest to guide those abilities by making plans, measure his progress ( or lack of it), fine tune and correct the strengthening of his core and complementary abilities. The purpose of this entire planning process is to ensure that a student can utilise his abilities to the fullest in his life to help him achieve his desired objectives.

If the purpose of profiling is to enable student to guide him to identify and develop his abilities, then what data of a student we should include in a student's profile? We need to profile at least three different data points of a student :

1. Student's Cognitive abilities

Abilities are invisible to an untrained eye. A student is learning linguistic and logical abilities by studying subjects like Language, Physics or History.  We can therefore measure a student's progress in learning these abilities only by measuring his/her progress in these subjects. We will have to carefully co-relate  his progress in excelling in these subjects to his development of abilities. We also have to remember that both Left brain oriented subjects and right brain oriented subjects present different challenge.

On the other hand, more marks or less marks can both misguide, because marks only represent the student's ability to reproduce what is taught, not  what he applies in his life. We have seen earlier how the inability to get feedback on knowledge work makes it equally difficult to judge one's progress.Because abilities cannot be measured correctly by marks, we will also have to use other subjective methods of inputting this information.

As we have seen earlier, student's core and complementary abilities are equally important to be tracked because both are equally useful in enabling student to utilise his abilities fully.

2. Student's family and social background ( for conative traits) 

Family and social background present are dual edged swords: they add to the learning constraints as well as increase the opportunities in student's learning.

For instance, although the rich family background means that the family can spend money on student's learning, the rich background also prevents the student to shift the source of self motivation of learning from outside to within which blocks the student's learning efforts. In other words they affect conative traits. To know more about conative traits, read this.

Similarly, a student from a middle class educated background has the tendency to educate and use his abilities in knowledge work, although his cognitive work may be more suitable for entrepreneurial work for which his other interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities are required. Because development of intrapersonal and interpersonal abilities are primarily determined by parental interactions before adolescence, parents may have to play a more active role in learning before adolescence.

3. Student's character traits like self regulation 

Output of student's cognitive efforts, unlike the efforts of sportsman and musicians, are invisible and cannot be seen and measured easily. Student has to be 'helped' to report his progress honestly until his adolescent age. Otherwise, we may get misguided by the student's reporting.

On the other hand, learning is ultimately a voluntary and private activity that has to be guided by a student. His ability to self-regulate his behaviour and mind to guide his efforts predominantly determine the quality of his/her learning.

The student's ability to self regulate his learning can be measured by how he/she utilises his/her emotions and stress. Student's ability to measure and improve his attention span has also to be included in the profile. Self regulation of Mind is also important to help the student to hear his 'inner calling', especially when others around him are pulling him into attractive zones like software.

This Self regulation factor is even more important after adolescence  because the student gets into the adolescent age during his school years, somewhere between 7th and 8th class. Student's ability to negotiate this turbulent adolescent period not only depends on how he/she is prepared before adolescence, but also how his/her parents and teachers support during adolescence. Self regulation can therefore be guided powerfully by the profile data of the student.


Today's students learning efforts need to be guided because they have to learn to utilise their fullest abilities. Why should they use their fullest abilities?

They have to use their fullest abilities because of three reasons: One, competition in the labour market has increased to a very high level. Two, aspirations of students have increased due to TV and other media information. Three, global tools of internet and labour market have made it easier to utilise his abilities fully if the student knows how to utilise his abilities fully.

Are you ready to profile your child/student?