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Traditional classroom based SAT/ACT test prep uses what is known as a Didactic Teaching Method. This translates into what folks from Baby Boomers to Millennials probably remember from school:
• Lecture > Homework > Homework Review > Next Lecture, etc.
The problem is that the didactic method is boring and homogenized. What this means is that underperforming students and high achieving students are marginalized because the content is either too easy or too difficult which, in turn, leads to a drop off in student engagement.
What we do know is that the more engaged students tend to pay attention and make grade improvements at a comparatively accelerated rate. Moreover, studies have shown that autonomous learning is a critical component to attention span and this is where a pedagogy known as “constructivism” comes in.
Constructivism views the teacher as “facilitator” rather than as lecturer and it employs scaffolding among other tools to help create meaning for each student. This helps keep the learner engaged, creates a sense of empowerment, and also generates learner autonomy.
It also flips the traditional dynamic to be more on par with today’s more autonomous classroom. Students have access to material, tutorials, and explanations in advance of class sessions and instructors work more on reviewing homework and explaining concepts in the context of a lesson the student has already become familiar with.
The idea of empowering the instructor to become a facilitator rather than a lecturer is one way to improve test prep programming. The other pieces include having a sequenced curriculum, plenty of practice sets, diagnostic tests, and item analysis feedback reporting.
There are some great open-source items on the web and plenty of others can be obtained at a reasonable cost. We bundle all these items into our TPAPT at School Programs as well.