A scientific approach to understanding learning

Centre for Science of Learning hopes to improve the quality of education offered at Chennai Corporation schools

December 04, 2014 02:10 am | Updated April 07, 2016 02:35 am IST

The centre is a partnership between the Corporation, Teachers College Columbia University, and service provider Quest Explore Discover — File Photo

The centre is a partnership between the Corporation, Teachers College Columbia University, and service provider Quest Explore Discover — File Photo

Of the class XII Chennai Corporation school students who had opted for the science stream, about 35 per cent were eligible to get into the top 100 engineering colleges in the State, ranked on the basis of cut-off marks.

This is part of a slew of data that the Centre for Science of Learning (CSL), started a half year ago, has unearthed. A partnership between the Chennai Corporation, Teachers College Columbia University, and service provider Quest Explore Discover (QED), the centre hopes to improve the quality of education offered at the schools, as well as measure student engagement, all the while actively harnessing technology in the process.

According to Krishna Srinivasan, founder and chairman, Everest Edusys and Solutions Pvt. Ltd — the firm behind QED — CSL has a three-pronged approach: to study student engagement in the classroom, to collect data that can aid intervention, and to harness teaching skills effectively through peer learning and learn labs.

“There was no data analytics earlier on the schools and without interpretation of data, intervention can prove impossible. For instance, of the 35 per cent that was capable of going to top engineering colleges, only 15 per cent actually went on to join them. We now have the data to understand why exactly this happened and are formulating ways to intervene,” Mr. Srinivasan said.

Typically, lack of awareness regarding course options is a challenge addressed by the Corporation through counselling camps and outreach programmes. “Many students could not afford the hostel fees, so now efforts were being made to raise money through companies’ CSR activities,” Mr. Srinivasan said.

Similarly, dropout rates were predicted, too. What this allowed Corporation to do was figure out alternative avenues for the students. “We had a student who did not clear class X exams, but we figured out he has very good artistic skills. He is now working for a famous bakery chain icing cakes for Rs. 15,000 per month,” Mr. Srinivasan said, adding that the ICICI vocational skill academy is training students to become employable, as well.

“Tracking every student’s behaviour and performance and collecting socio-economic data will help us retain students in school and identify each student’s talent,” a senior Corporation official said, adding that a unique ID will be given to each student, so even if they shift to private schools, keeping track of their academic performance is possible.

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