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New profiling tool gives insight to how children learn

News Release
For immediate release
August 30, 2011

New profiling tool gives insight to how children learn best

Assisting teachers tailor lesson delivery to help every pupil achieve their potential, ePace (www.epaceonline.co.nz) is a new online profiling tool that evaluates a child’s strengths and weaknesses in 11 critical areas of learning.

Unlike traditional learner profiling or assessment tools which focus solely on a single aspect of learning such as cognitive ability, ePace helps to empower children by highlighting their strengths, understanding their weaknesses, unlocking hidden talent and demonstrating how they learn best. These insights can play a key role in parental engagement, uniting parents, teachers and pupils in a common understanding of the child’s ability.

Developed in conjunction with cognitive psychologist Professor Rod Nicolson at the University of Sheffield in the UK, ePace delves deep into how a child processes, retains and recalls information. Providing a complete toolkit to support teachers in a mixed learning environment, ePace incorporates a reporting suite, practical resources and strategies to enable more informed engagement with parents and carers. In development for five years before launching in the UK earlier this year, ePace became available to schools in New Zealand this month. A free trial of 35 tests per school is being offered until October 31.

According to Janet Ainsworth, a Resource Teacher of Learning & Behaviour at Papanui High School in Christchurch who has been trialling ePace, it is a valuable tool for teachers who are serious about personalised learning. “ePace is a fantastic aid in making the paradigm shift from ‘how teachers teach’ to ‘how children learn’”, says Janet.

The 45 minute test goes further than the traditional kinaesthetic, auditory and visual learner assessment criteria, to the root of a learner’s cognitive make-up and mental efficiency. The best of current attainment, cognitive and diagnostic testing are brought together to assess a broad range of skills essential for learning, from a child’s knowledge through to the child’s memory processes and fundamental cognitive skills, and the speed and coordination of processing skills. Reporting on 11 different elements of learning; auditory memory, visual memory, listening skills, emotional control, decision making, focus, hand/eye coordination, mental speed, timing, literacy and impulsivity, ePace facilitates an understanding of the complete learning performance of every child.

Test results provide teachers with a clear profile of how each child learns, giving them a real opportunity to practice personalised learning in the classroom and reach every pupil. Understanding the learning profile of the whole class, with the facility to organise groups with similar skills accordingly, greatly enhances opportunities to teach effectively. For example, if a high percentage of students in a class have poor auditory memory, the teacher can adapt their teaching style appropriately.

Created to release talent in every learner, ePace does not solely highlight students that are struggling. Mary Blake, a former teacher and co-ordinator of ePace’s development, comments: “Using ePace, teachers can pinpoint issues in the highest achieving students which, if left unacknowledged, could restrict them from fulfilling their potential. For example, a student could possess fantastic visual, auditory skills and focus, but display poor decision-making skills and impulsiveness. In a real test environment, these traits could lead to a student making rushed decisions and could inevitably see them underachieve. By using ePace, teachers can intervene early and implement a strategy for the student to work on.”

Once students have completed the easy and fun-to-do test, teachers can instantly convert the answers into a class report which highlights the students’ strengths and weaknesses in a simple traffic light format. Using a child’s individual report the teacher can share the results and talk through the test with students and parents in order to discuss the support they require.

According to Mary Blake “ePace equips teachers with the fundamental knowledge and strategies to adapt their teaching style to ensure every child in the class is achieving their potential. If teachers also share that knowledge with children very early in their school career, then their chances of learning effectively are greatly improved.”

ENDS

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