In Part 1, we mentioned that for a child to display academic performance, they need to be equipped with 5 major categories of underlying abilities for learning.
Using the 2 example questions below, we are going to analyse the learning processes that each child goes through in order to get to the correct answer:
A puppy weighs twice as much as a cat. The mass of a monkey is five times that of the puppy. If the total mass of the puppy and the cat is 12kg, find the mass of the monkey.
The weight of a brick is twice that of a stone. A slab of granite is 4 times as heavy as a piece of brick. If the total weight of a brick and a stone is 6kg, how heavy is a slab of granite?
• Step 1: Comprehension (words highlighted in RED)
Understand the inter-relations between the items in the questions (i.e Puppy is heavier than Cat but lighter than Monkey OR Brick is heavier than Stone but lighter than Granite)
• Step 2: Memory
After reading the question, the child needs to be able to store the details that he/she has read so that they can go back into their mind and retrieve meaningful and relevant information to justify their understanding in Step 1 (If the child has poor memory abilities, they may actually forget what the question was about by the time they come to the last word)
• Step 3 and 4: Problem-Solving and Evaluation
To apply the concepts of ‘twice as much’(Question 1), ‘4 times as heavy as’ (Question 2) and decide the right sequence of steps to be taken in order to arrive at the final answer:
(i) FIRST: determine the weight of the puppy in relation to the cat
(ii) SECOND: using that information, determine the weight of the monkey in relation to the puppy
(iii) THIRD: Using the clue from ‘the total mass … is 12kg’ to determine the value of 1 unit
(iv) FOURTH: Using the answer in the previous step to determine the weight of the monkey
Monkey – 10 units = 4kg x 10 = 40kg
(If the child is not able to decide the correct sequence of steps to take, they will face difficulty solving the question completely. I.e. Some children can determine the final answer for the monkey but are not able to express it in the correct steps)
• Step 5:Creativity
Essentially, both the questions require the application of the same concepts. But, some children have difficulty ‘seeing’ the similarity of the question; and therefore expend unnecessary time and effort trying to comprehend the question (as if they have never seen such a question before)
From the analysis, we can understand that a question that seems simple enough may actually require the child to have a complex set of learning skills and processes before they can arrive at the correct answer.
In the same way an athlete works on improving his fundamental skills to stay on top of his game, a child also needs targeted training in order to improve his/her learning skills set to perform and excel academically.