How do we know that students are achieving “personalised performance learning”?

Student studying online
Mickey Revenaugh

Pearson Online Academy UK Global has been founded on Pearson’s 20-plus years’ expertise in designing a full online learning experience. We know that our approach works well, but how do our teachers and mentors know that children are truly understanding what they are learning? How exactly do we increase student engagement, encourage critical thinking and give students control of their learning? We ask Mickey Revenaugh, Vice President, Business Development - Pearson Global Online Learning, to share her views.  

Q. How do you assess progress and knowledge retention?  

A. We do this in a number of ways, through LiveLessons, data monitoring and assessment and via one-to-one sessions with teachers and Success Coaches. 

Our flipped classroom approach sees students work through interactive self-study materials which allows them to develop an understanding of subject content, which is then followed by a LiveLesson session in a virtual classroom, where our expert teachers are able to explore the students’ understanding of the self-study material and encourage them to apply and extend their knowledge.  

Quizzes and checks for understanding are particularly useful in assessing comprehension in online learning. Our students receive such assessments regularly, in both their self-study materials and LiveLessons. For example, during live sessions, teachers might use a ‘3-2-1’ style assessment, which involves asking students three questions, such as:  

  • What three things did you learn from the lesson? 

  • What two things do you want to learn more about? 

  • What question(s) do you have about the lesson? 

In addition, during or after a self-study lesson, students do a self-assessment check to help gauge their level of understanding, interest and effort.  

Regular one-on-one meetings with their teacher and Success Coach help our students set learning aims and reflect on their progress towards these goals. This continuous engagement with teachers is central to the success of online learning.  

Q. How do you encourage engagement, and monitor non-verbal cues and interactions in the absence of a physical classroom? 

A. In a face-to-face classroom environment, good teachers can ‘read’ the class and react to cues such as body language, facial expressions and non-verbal behaviours, then adapt the lesson accordingly. We can still do this during online learning but in a more personalised way.  

Our LiveLessons and dedicated one-to-one sessions allow teachers to ‘read the virtual classroom’. With much smaller groups of students, it can be easier to pick up on non-verbal cues as children compete less for the teacher’s attention, compared to those in a traditional 30-strong classroom.  

During these sessions, our teachers work with small class sizes in real-time, offering targeted instruction, based on insights generated throughout students’ self-study. Teachers explore students’ understanding of the material, stretch and challenge their knowledge, and use a range of interactive tools including polls, questions, and feedback to promote engagement. 

 The interactive self-study materials give students greater opportunities to reflect on and think deeper about their studies. It also frees up our teacher’s time for regular individual and group support, where students can interact and participate in discussion, making it easier for them to engage with the learning process.