Learning Descriptions

Learning descriptions are an assessment tool used for identifying an individual student's strengths and needs in various content and developmental areas. These descriptions, which consist of listings of abilities and accomplishments that are developmentally appropriate, indicate where children begin in their learning and the stages through which they progress as they achieve proficiency. Using these descriptions, teachers can document students' patterns of growth over time in reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art, music, social and emotional development, and physical skills. Teachers also can use learning descriptions to communicate with parents and families.

By providing information on the full spectrum of development in any one area, learning descriptions provide teachers with valuable information for instructional planning Learning descriptions allow teachers to design instruction that meets the needs of individual students and to monitor their progress. By comparing children's development to these learning descriptions, teachers can ensure that children who are not progressing can be monitored and assisted, and older children remain challenged.

There are three components to the definition of Learning:

  • “Learning is a process, not a product.”

Exam scores and term papers are measures of learning, but they are not the process of learning itself.

  • “Learning is a change in knowledge, beliefs, behaviors or attitudes.”

This change requires time, particularly when one is dealing with changes to core beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. Don’t interpret a lack of sea change in your students’ beliefs or attitudes immediately following a lesson as a lack of learning on their part, but instead, consider that such a change will take time – perhaps a few weeks, perhaps until the end of the term, or even longer.

  • “Learning is not something done to students, but something that students themselves do.”

If you have ever carefully planned a lesson, only to find that your students just didn’t “get it,”
consider that your lesson should be designed not just to impart knowledge but also to lead students
through the process of their own learning.