Stop Chasing Outcomes and Create A Process-Based Classroom

Have you ever heard the saying from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "It's not the destination, it's the journey."? This quote is used to remind us that we should not be so focused on the outcome but what gets us their. The same is true for learning.

When students are presented with a new unit, their first thought is that they have to master these new skills so they get a good grade. The grade is always the end of the journey, and we have indoctrinated students to be so focused on the outcome of all of their work that they lose sight of all the learning they should be doing along the way. As teachers, we need to shift our focus from the outcome of every assignment, test, essay, and anything else that is done in the classroom to focusing on the processes that students go through to get to their grade.

A process-based classroom encourages a series of habits that lead each student to do their best. It is about embracing, trying, failing, and trying again. To reduce outcome-based thinking, create an environment that focuses on the process: the small controllables that students experience in class each day. Shifting your classroom from an outcome-based approach to a process-based approach requires intentional changes in your teaching strategies and classroom environment. Here are some practical steps you can take to make this shift:

1. Communicate the Value of Process-Based Learning:
Help students understand the benefits of focusing on the learning journey rather than just the final grades or outcomes. Explain to them how learning is a process and there are many steps that get them to the end goal. These steps take time and mastery won't come right away, and focusing on the process will help them in the long run.

2. Set Clear Learning Goals and Objectives:
Establish clear learning goals and objectives that focus on both the process and the outcome. Clearly communicate these goals to your students, ensuring they understand what is expected of them throughout the learning process. How much practice will they be doing? How will each class day look different as students work through different parts of the learning process? What should they be focused on instead of their grade?

3. Foster a Growth Mindset:
Promote a growth mindset among your students by emphasizing that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort, effective strategies, and resilience. Encourage students to embrace challenges, view mistakes as opportunities for learning, and persist in the face of obstacles. Before moving onto a different topic, ask students to approach it from a different perspective for further understanding. 

4. Encourage Reflection:
Incorporate regular opportunities for reflection in your classroom. Encourage students to reflect on their learning experiences, evaluate their progress, and identify areas for improvement. At the very end of the unit have students go back and reflect on places they struggled and thrived and compare it to now. 

5. Provide Timely and Constructive Feedback:
Offer timely and constructive feedback to guide students' learning journey. Focus on providing feedback that highlights the process, effort, and growth demonstrated by the students rather than solely focusing on the final product. Give students time to rework their assignments based on your feedback and then go back and assess learning. Allowing students to fix their mistakes shows them that learning is the overall goal.

6. Implement Process-Based Assessment:
Revise your assessment strategies to align with process-based learning. Instead of relying solely on exams or final products, incorporate ongoing formative assessments that focus on the learning process. Provide opportunities for students to showcase their understanding through presentations, portfolios, reflective essays, or self-assessments. Assess and provide feedback on their progress and growth throughout the learning journey.

7. Continuous Self-Reflection and Improvement:
Process-based learning should also be beneficial for you as the teacher as well. Regularly reflect on your teaching practices and make adjustments as needed. Seek feedback from your students about their learning experiences and incorporate their perspectives into your instructional strategies.

Remember, shifting from an outcome-based approach to a process-based approach takes time and consistent effort. By implementing these strategies and others from Hacking Student Learning Habitsyou can create a classroom environment that cultivates deep understanding, critical thinking, and a love for learning among your students.

Main post image by Public Co via Pixabay

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