Holistic Assessment and Education
Holistic assessment is the process of using multiple sources to gather information and provide feedback to support and guide learning. It focuses on achieving quality and balance in the assessment system to support decision-making and increase student motivation and success in learning.
Holistic assessment can be used in multiple areas such as in education or in healthcare around the time of your diagnosis or the start of your treatment, towards the end of your treatment when all procedures have taken place and are completed and at any time you ask for one.
The holistic education concept considers educating the whole person beyond core academics and curriculum to support and develop a compassionate understanding of the world. Teachers play the central role in how holistic assessments and learning together with other teaching strategies, can shape students’ futures. It is a comprehensive approach where educators seek to address learners’ social, ethical and academic needs in a somewhat integrated learning format. Students are taught to reflect on their actions and how they may impact the global and local community. Critical thinking skills and projects that solve real-world issues are the basis of a holistic learning curriculum.
The ultimate goal of holistic education is to serve and develop a learner’s physical, emotional, moral, psychological and spiritual attributes. Lessons are conducted in a safe and supportive learning environment allowing students to utilise their individual strengths. Teachers may employ a number of methods and strategies to create a holistic learning culture by using education models such as:
- Experiential learning: providing hands-on experiences for learners. For instance, getting them to work in different groups and explore their learning styles to determine what works best for them. Holistic techniques include problem-solving exercises to address problems around you or create innovative products.
- Self-guided learning: teachers allow students to continue learning at their own pace in the style that works best for them. This culture allows for personalisation to adjust curriculum content and its pace.
- Community learning is best to connect with residents, community members and organisations to provide integrated support and learning opportunities.
- Interdisciplinary coursework: addressing multiple subjects in holistic education improves students’ cognitive growth. Some schools are creating integrated programs where teachers from different disciplines come together to teach thematic courses that address issues from multiple perspectives. Coursework might also include independent research, travel, fieldwork, and internships.
Teaching strategies for holistic learning
- Student-teacher relationship - A strong learner and teacher bond positively impacts performance and engagement. Students have a higher chance of success when they feel safe and nurtured. This relationship can improve when students’ strengths and needs are addressed and responded to by acting in a sensible and sensitive manner. Allowing students to help develop classroom rules and take leadership roles to encourage trust and communication while enhancing their motivation to succeed.
- Encouraging self-confidence - Teachers can help build self-confidence by providing multiple opportunities for students to absorb structured information and communicate what they understand in various ways. Read about communication on our blog. Teachers shall recognise students’ uniqueness in their strengths and treat everyone equally. Student motivation can be enhanced by ensuring lessons are relevant to students’ lives and focusing on realistic issues.
- Emotional reflection - As part of their training, teachers can look beyond the curriculum requirements and academic performance to nurture the emotional well-being of a child. Still, it's never easy to do so. This transition comes naturally with experience. To encourage emotional reflection, teachers might provide moments for students to reflect. Lessons should focus on effective listening and techniques of observation that present varying perspectives on social issues.
When reviewing approaches to holistic education, it becomes clear that there is not just one method of implementing its principles. Holistic education is less concerned with designing specific practices and more concerned with changing assumptions about how to approach the education process. It allows educators to frame the skills that students learn within a real-world context, and those skills can be transferred and used in multiple circumstances. It is a learning philosophy that brings a number of benefits, such as improved academic achievement, enhanced mental and emotional well-being, increased problem-solving ability and reduced impact of inequities to students, teachers, the school and the community. Hence, students feel empowered to improve their educational outcomes and gain the life skills necessary for a successful professional career.
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