Shyamsunder Panchavati

Shyamsunder Panchavati
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

How to lead the student from the wrong answer to the correct one? 05-11

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If a student gives a wrong answer?

How to lead the student from the wrong answer to the correct one?

Let us first analyze how a wrong answer comes from the student?

The reasons could be:

1. The student knows a part of the answer which may not be the first part. So the student in his over enthusiasm to show case his knowledge, concocts the first part.

As the first part of the answer is wrong, he is discouraged from continuing further and coming out with the part of the answer that he knows. The solution to this problem would be to allow the student to continue and complete the answer, compliment him for the correct part of the answer and give an opportunity to some other student to correct the wrong part of the answer. As the student has to only correct the incorrect part of the answer, learning process becomes that much easy and interesting.

2. The student knows the answer but not able to recollect it.

It usually happens with some students. They know the answer but are not able to recollect. The teacher should lead such students by providing helpful clues rather than passing the opportunity to the next student. Sometimes a small clue can get a complete correct answer from the student. The ability to give a correct answer often times is morale booster and increases the student interest and thus improves the learning process.

3. The student knows the answer, but he is inhibited and diffident to come out with the answer.

The reasons could be lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem. The reasons could be traced to child’s psyche or mind set due to conditions and environment at home on account of financial social or could be even traced to parenting problems. While the teacher cannot certainly resolve this problem, the teacher can certainly help make the classroom environment inspiring for the student to be more forthcoming.

4. The student writes the answer correctly, but fumbles when asked to orally answer the question.

If the student is able to write the answer correctly it means that he knows the answer. The problem of expressiveness can be solved by asking the student to write the answer and read out the written answer. This will prevent the fumble and the loss of self-esteem caused due to  the possible ridicule by the fellow students and the teacher on account of it.

Sticking with the student helps.......

One way of sticking with a student, is restating the question and giving additional think time before asking the student to try again.

When you observe and start paying attention to the body language of students,when you don't stick with them, you begin to realize the damaging effects of moving along. Conversely, when a teacher sticks with a student, the student receives a positive message: "I believe in you. I will not give up on you. I have high expectations for you."

Changing the Classroom Energy

There were also steps that a teacher  could take preemptively to help  students avoid these wrong-answer moments entirely. Providing wait time before calling on anyone is one effective strategy, particularly for the students who were English-language learners. To ensure enough wait time was provided, teachers can count  up to ten in their head, and  observe how many hands go up.

It sometimes helps to allow students to take a moment to do a "turn and talk" with a partner before calling anyone. It gives them time to process the question and practice their responses. A turn-and-talk session also gives  an opportunity to listen in on the responses of multiple children, as opposed to just the one child.  Giving students individual whiteboards to hold up also takes the pressure off of them to produce verbal responses.

Do you still think the student answers are all about knowledge and ignorance aspect????

Please read further to understand my take on it and then please contribute your perspective too through comments.

Let us now delve deeper into the knowledge & Ignorance domains.

For this it is essential to have a clear understanding about the Knowledge & Ignorance
Knowledge is not absolute Ignorance can be absolute for all in some domain or other.
Ignorance is all pervading…..

Knowledge is the degree of reduction in ‘Ignorance absoluteness’

The difference between a knowledgeable individual and an exalted ignorant is the degree of Ignorance. They are inversely proportionate. An individual having high level of knowledge in one domain will have equal degree of ignorance in other domains. By this analogy every individual is both knowledgeable and ignorant.

Can an ignorant person accuse someone else of ignorance?

The journey, a student has to be led, is not a journey from Ignorance to Knowledge, but the one that is from knowledge to the expression of knowledge

The lack of expression of knowledge is sometimes termed as ignorance by the teacher resulting in lackadaisical evaluation on the part teacher.

The same student may express himself better, in a more palpable & palatable condition. A student cannot be blamed for the teacher’s inability to create such conditions.


Here the problem may be more with the interactivity of the student than inactivity. It is certainly not inaction; the student actually is ‘in action’. The action is of listening, comprehending, and if the student can reproduce the same in the written form, the student needs to be evaluated on par with the students with better oral interaction skills and the other way round. Hence this certainly is not the reason for the student to be looked down upon. This has more to do with behavior skills than the metacognitive skills.  Lack of expressiveness has its roots to the family environment, economic condition, social positioning in the community. The student needs to be coaxed encouraged and motivated to converse in the language of Instruction. The transition from conservatism to conversation is slow and the teacher needs to be patient and forbearing.
Imparting can never be one size fits all and one method suits all philosophy. It doesn't work.  

Imparting is and should be a constant ‘Paradigm Shift’ process and customization is more of a necessity than an option.

Yes, I agree that it is not possible to evolve a method that reaches all in a class of students with different metacognition level. However you can spread a spectrum that gives a comfort zone to the lowest level and spread to the average level. This would bring an attitude shift in the students at the lowest level, which results in better application and better application results in better metacognition levels. This tremendously increases the cognition levels of the so called weak students and brings them on par with the average students. This is when the wavelength beam can be shifted to start from the average and cover above average students. This may take time, but with effort you can achieve this.

 The resultant reduction in disparity in understanding and comprehension levels can considerably increase the average achievement level of the class. An age of 8 years is the right stage to start the process, and by the age of 12, A student will achieve increased metacognition levels. The student will be able to comprehend reproduce the tough Course Curriculum (CC). 

However before starting the process it is important and imperative to understand the difference between the Intelligence and metacognition. Low metacognition levels do not mean low intelligence levels. No, both are as distinct and different as day and night. They are not related but can influence each other.  Basically it is a question of investment of intelligence and not existence of intelligence.

What is Intelligence?

Intelligence is an asset that every individual has. The individual involuntarily invests it like an intelligent businessperson in the areas where he can get maximum returns (I e soul satisfaction). If the class curriculum & imparting is not a soul satisfying commodity, the investment is relatively less. There are different domains competing in a student with better metacognition levels for the investment and they manage to get more investment.

For example a student is able to analyse a sports match (Cricket, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, others) and player performance like an expert. Because this domain has managed to attract an investment proportionate to its evolved metacognition levels. It is not a distraction, as we would like to believe, it is an attraction. It is knowledge, it is also an education. Mind continuously educates & upgrades itself. Education is multi-dimensional and all-pervading and Class Curriculum (CC) is just a small but important part. While other domains create a natural environment for maximum absorption and reproduction, CC is force fed to students. Just as no human being can be forced or bullied in to make an investment against his/her will, similarly mind also cannot be bullied into investing into CC against its will.

How can the imparters create a situation where the mind would feel happy to invest its intelligence for CC ?

Iteration by heart Vs Iteration by mind.        
Iteration is good method no doubt. It is the iterating mind that can help improve comprehension, not the verbal or physical one.

Reading by heart should be replaced by reading by mind.

There are very clear and definite methods of doing it. However it is more about a very committed intent than the content. The vastness and intensity of the subject requires a separate article. I am working on it and the article will come out as soon as it is ready.

Before concluding, I would like to have a word of appreciation for the efforts being put in by the governments and the academic experts in various countries in creating meaningful Curriculum frameworks. Special mention should be made of Salman Khan who has created a revolution in imparting technology with his unique methods thorough his YouTube videos. Bill Gates and Google are also investing heavily for creating processes leading to evolved teaching and learning methodology.

"School in the cloud" concept is also slowly evolving and spreading. More and more entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs are coming forward to invest heavily to evolve new strategies and paradigms.

Future holds a great promise for the coming generations.  

It is perfectly in order to dream and envisage a great future for education.

You can never have a last word on such a sensitive topic. I would like my friends in education research and imparting to contribute their thoughts. In the interest of students, we need discussions, deliberations, and concrete action.

I hope you agree,

Best wishes,


Please also read Shyam's most read article on teaching and learning.... 

How to Put Metacognition in Process for Teachers