Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Timetables that Support Learning

(Estimated Reading Time: 1.5 minutes)

I have been in two schools that have changed the structure of their timetables. Both instances showed me that timetables can, and do, impact student learning and behaviour. I was in a school that restructured 250 minutes of instructional time. 

In the first year senior school subjects were allocated a single and two doubles. The following year this was changed to three singles and one double. This resulted in finishing my year 12 Physics course TWO WEEKS EARLIER. Thinking it may have just been me, I queried several other teachers. Similar results - they also finished earlier, one two weeks, the other 1.5 weeks.

Timetables that increase the frequency at which lessons occur increases the rate of learning.

Impact on Learning 

Shorter instructional blocks meant that the students’ attention spans were less stretched. The number of times I saw the students a week provided a greater opportunity to recap previously learned material, and the interval between learning exposures was less. Due to the higher levels of engagement in the shorter lessons I could move more quickly through the content. The research is clear - the more often you are exposed to learning, the more likely that information will be retained.

Other benefits include that if a student was absent for a day they would miss as much class time - loss in instructional time was spread over more subjects. Students that are challenged for attendance and attention, the second configuration is a no-brainer. 

You can only imagine how an extra two weeks (500 minutes) of instructional time at the end of the year impacted my students. Five hundred minutes for revision, practice exams, etc. I felt my students were more prepared and confident going into the final exams.

In summary, shorter, more frequent exposures increased the speed at which learning can occur. What are your thoughts on timetables? Can they impact learning, behaviour or motivation?

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