Last month’s post was focused on Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATL) with the focus being on the teaching side of things – makes sense doesn’t it? – It applies to us teachers.

However, this month I thought I’d throw that logic out of the window and focus on the other side of things – the learning.

So how do your students learn? Do you their ‘learning habits’ fit in with the IB’s approaches to learning? And do you facilitate the students learning to reflect the ‘Approaches to Learning’?


By Jean Marc Cote (if 1901) or Villemard (if 1910) Available here.

First and foremost, what does the IB say the students need to do?!

The official ‘Approaches to Learning’ are:

  1. Thinking Skills
    The IB breaks down thinking skills into acquisition of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and metacognition (thinking about thinking). Do your students do this? It’s not going to be realistic for them to do this for everything, but do you help facilitate this?For example, do you give them a fact eg, let’s say working out the molar mass (from molar mass = mass / moles) and then introduce the ideal gas equation and see if the student can substitute and rearrange to find out the molar mass of an ideal gas (this would be an example of ‘application’ by the way).
  2. Communication Skills:
    These can be categorised as listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, presenting, non verbal and seeking feedback.I think that we do some of this well (OK, I’m being self reflective here) but how about the non verbal communication – what would this include in Chemistry?
  3. Social Skills:
    The IB has listed social skills as comprising of acting responsibly, respecting others, cooperating, resolving conflict, group decision making and engaging different points of view.I think we can do most of this really well in lab work and the group 4 project. I like acting responsibility – don’t put that potassium dichromate solution down the drain!
  4. Self Management Skills:
    This skill area deals with organisation, time management, safety, lifestyle, behaviour, informed choices, seeking support if needed.Can this be taught in chemistry? We can certainly give advice and help the students plan homework activities or IA but don’t you think the tutor has a big role to play here?
  5. Research Skills:
    Perhaps one of the most important skills for chemistry. The IB lists this skill as dealing with formulating questions, observing, planning, organizing data, interpreting data, presenting findings. Not to many worries here.

These ideas are my take on things – but perhaps more importantly, what about you? What’s your take on the approaches to learning? I’d love to read about them so please feel free to leave a reply below.