Why Learning Gaps Are A Problem and How to Fix Them

Students often experience gaps in their learning when a particular concept or subject taught in school was not fully understood. Here’s why learning gaps are a problem – and how to fix them!

When talking about learning gaps, it’s important to understand how they form. Learning is based on educational building blocks (in the sense that new knowledge “builds” upon previous concepts that have been taught). Teachers have to cover a lot of content each year, and sometimes the class needs to move on to the next chapter. If a student didn’t really “get it” – there’s a good chance that any future concepts that rely on understanding this knowledge are going to be even more difficult to grasp. This is how learning gaps begin to form.

Learning gaps have always been common in education, but the last year has been especially difficult for students. The transition to online learning has been a lot tougher on some students than others, and unfortunately this has led to an increase in learning gaps. The issue is compounded for students who were let out from school early last year, with some experiencing over 6 months of “down time” before starting virtual classes in the fall. To learn more about the “COVID slide” that many students are just starting to recuperate from, check out our blog on the topic here.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to addressing learning gaps is that students themselves are not always aware of why they are struggling. As a result, identifying learning gaps should be the first step any tutor or academic coach takes in order to create an individualized plan for the student moving forward.

In general, the best way to address learning gaps is simple – go back and revisit the areas that need extra work. Although this seems like an obvious answer, remember that learning gaps form because students are often forced to “move on” with their class’s pace, regardless of whether or not they have gained a firm understanding of the concept being taught. Tutors have the unique ability to go back and revisit previous topics and subjects that weren’t clear, working one on one at the student’s pace. As the student gains clarity into concepts that were not understood previously, the gaps in their learning will gradually begin to close.

In summary, we’d recommend taking a three step approach when dealing with learning gaps:

  1. Understand why learning gaps form.
  2. Identify specific gaps in the student’s learning.
  3. Work with a teacher, tutor, or academic coach and revisit previous material.

Once learning gaps begin to close, students often see huge improvements in both their grades as well as their overall attitude towards academics. Learning is constantly about moving forward and building upon previous knowledge, so it’s incredibly important for students to have a firm academic foundation in all subjects.

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