Role of Remedial Teaching

In order to improve mathematics, effective remedial teaching is a must. Let us discuss.

Remedial teaching is not re-teaching. Any remedy however costly or sophisticated is useless unless it cures the disease.

A remedial teacher should have a mentality of a sympathetic doctor who has love and care for his/her patients (students).

A. Identification:

a) Through academic achievement:

i) Class interaction: An under-achiever will give wrong answers frequently to the questions asked. He will appear to be confused. He may probably not respond to the questions asked in the class at all.

ii) Home assignment: An under-achiever will not do the homework. If pressurised to complete the work, he may resort to copying, which may be easily detected.

i)                    Unit tests and term tests: He will show poor performance consistently in tests. He will either not attempt the question(s) at all or, will do cuttings and overwriting. He may even try to copy the solution to the problems from his peers.

b) Through behavioural aspect:

i) Attitude towards academic activities: He will be disinterested in such activities. He will try to refrain himself from such activities. He will try to avoid discussion about academics with his peers or teachers.

ii) Class escapism: He will try to bunk classes for one reason or another. He will give excuses for not attending classes.

ii)                   Fiddle with notebooks instead of studying: He will be found to fiddle with notebooks and books instead of studying.

Once the under-achiever has been identified, the next step is the diagnosis of deficiencies.

B. Diagnosis of deficiencies:

a) Learning of concepts: His concept(s) related to a particular topic or formula is not clear. For example, the difference between 2×2 and (2x)2 may not be clear to him.

b) Computational Skill: He may not be good at computations and thereby may gives erroneous results frequently while performing basic arithmetical operations and simplification.

c) Procedure of solving problem: He is not clear about the procedure of solving problems and so he/she often gets wrong answers.

d) Application of knowledge: He may not be able to apply the learned knowledge in different situations. For example, in word problems, he may fail to translate sentences into equations or identify the variables.

Once, the deficiency has been diagnosed, let us explore the possible causes for the same.

C. Causes:

a) Memory: Individual capacity of memorising facts and figures.

b) Understanding: Lack of comprehension-he does not follow what he reads.

c) Presentation: Finds difficulty in expressing views-vocabulary is not sufficient.

d) Knowledge Gap: Incomplete coverage units in the previous class-long absence.

e) Parental background: Socio-economic status; education

f) Parental attitude: Indifference of parents towards studies; over-expectation.

g) School Based: Lack of suitable equipment and environment in school-overcrowded class.

h) Medium of instruction: Language problem.

i) Physical factors: Poor eyesight; poor audibility; illness and other problems.

j) Individual factors: Good in oral tests but does not prepare notes and does not do home work regularly; not sincere in studies; very anxious but is unable to concentrate on studies; lacks self confidence; inferiority feeling; fear of failure; wants company of students who avoid classes; emotional instability.

k) Teacher based: Lack of confidence in teacher; lack of time at teacher’s disposal; faulty method of teaching; does not encourage student participation in class; inadequate home assignments and problems for practice; improper way of correction of homework and of guidance to students at appropriate time and stage.; knowledge of the subject is not thorough; unable to clarify difficult concept; lacks in expression; unable to provide secure and affectionate climate in classroom and lack of understanding and acceptance for each individual child.

The causes having known let us now discuss about the possible cures and remedies.

D. Cures and Remedies:

a) Category wise remedial-not more than 5 to 10 students in each class.

b) Personal and individual attention by teacher.

c) No humiliation.

d) Special carefully devised UAA (under achiever’s assignment) – Simpler-Simple-Complex.

e) Read-Re-read-Write-Re-Write-Reproduce-Drill.

f) Group studies; group learning.

g) Micro-notes.

h) Teaching selected portion of syllabus only.

I now propose an action plan to be undertaken by a remedial teacher.


Out of two approaches of evaluation in vogue today, i.e. the process approach focusing on the performance of the teacher and the product approach focusing on the performance of the students with regard to specific objectives-here to get high score in the examinations in terms of marks and subject average, the latter is preferred for sure for obvious reasons. This process is based on the principle that what ever the teacher might have done in the class room is irrelevant unless the objective (of obtaining a high score in the examinations in terms of marks and subject average) is achieved. This then is the primary criteria of evaluation of both the teacher and the taught at all levels.

Herein lies the importance of diagnostic and remedial teaching, which is therefore, the primary responsibility of the teacher. This type of teaching involves:

i)                    Diagnosis of the specific difficulty of the student by conducting a suitable diagnostic test.

ii)                   Providing suitable remedial measures

iii)                 Providing ways and means for preventing them from reoccurring in future.

If a teacher is able to do justice to his primary responsibility then it may safely be presumed that the teaching profession has a bright future in store for sure.

For the benefit of teachers in general, I am now suggesting an action plan on these lines:

a)      Be an innovative and imaginative teacher with an open mind.

b)      Apply suitable diagnostic test to identify the weakness of each child.

  1. For this split the topic into several subtopics. For example, a topic in class X Mathematics “Linear simultaneous equations in two variables” –solution of equations can be split as:

i)                    Adding the two equations directly to find the value of the variables.

ii)                   Changing the sign and adding the equations to find the value of one variable.

iii)                 Making coefficients equal and using i) or ii) above to find the value of the variables.

iv)                 Substituting the value of one variable in the equation to find the value of the other variable.

  1. II. . Set at least 20 questions on each subtopic (They should preferably be      knowledge based)
    1. Take a test of each child. One subtopic to be tested at a time.
    2. As far as possible uniformity is to be maintained while evaluating the test.
    3. A student scoring less than 35% marks in this test is surely having difficulty in the subtopic.

c)      Explore the causes of weakness which may be:

i)                    Lack of understanding/misconceptions.

ii)                   Faulty teaching method.

iii)                 Fear of the subject

iv)                 Bad work study habits.

v)                  Physical and emotional factors like poor health, some mental shock etc.

vi)                 Teacher’s attitude.

d)      The cause(s) having been identified, suitable remedial measure (depending upon the cause) should be suggested which may be:

i)                    Re-teaching of the subtopic—should be resorted to only if the student has completely failed to understand the subtopic due to one reason or the other.

ii)                   Computer Aided Teaching—should be resorted to if the student has a vague idea about the subtopic and therefore finds it difficult to answer questions relating to it.

iii)                 Drilling of Problems—Should normally be prescribed to the weak child during examination times. For this the teacher should be able to design an effective study material containing objective questions, knowledge based problems; the practice/drilling of which will cure the weakness.

iv)                 Other Measures:

The work of the teacher does not end here. He/She must ensure that the student continuously practices upon them to ensure that the weakness does not reoccur in future.

To conclude, it may be said that this is indeed a gigantic task with immediate rewards a remote possibility; therefore requires zeal, enthusiasm and a sense of commitment on the part of the teacher to undertake this project.

Last but not the least; the institution has to play a pivotal role to achieve the ultimate objective. The difference between supervised study (study under the supervision of a teacher) and remedial teaching be clearly understood. The supervised study time table be framed in such a way that a teacher should be assigned at least two periods a week in Maths, Science, English and Social Studies (the subjects where maximum weakness is found). The teacher on his part should not just while away his/her time but should perform these activities as suggested above in letter and spirit and then and only then the ultimate objective can be achieved. He/She must remember that if a student fails then: the teacher has failed; the examination system has failed; the evaluation system has failed and by and large the education system as a whole has failed.

All seems well as regards the theoretical aspect of it is concerned. But when we come to its practical aspect we get confused as to what actually we are expected to do during remediation to achieve the desired quantitative result (Quality comes thereafter!). Therefore, until and unless we are clear about it, we cannot expect improvement in the results whatever strategies/action plans we may make/adopt to do so.

I have therefore decided to deal with it in the following pages taking Mathematics as the subject.

Based on my experience, I have noticed that the teachers of mathematics are unable to detect the basic weaknesses of children right from class VI onwards leave aside removing them and continue to teach year after year the topics to them based on the syllabi in-order to complete the same (for obvious reasons).

I have noticed that most of the students suffer from some basic weaknesses which are:

  1. Weakness in basic operations. Its removal will enable the students to negotiate with BODMAS rule thereby making simplifications easy. Algebra should also be easy for him/her as Algebra may be defined as “Arithmetic of unknown quantities”. Given that the student masters basic operations, the Arithmetic/Algebra/Statistics Portion of Mathematics should be easy to deal with.
  2. Weakness in identifying (understanding) shapes: Its removal will lead to an interest of student in Geometry. This will initiate the student to explore the properties of the shape (closed figures) formed by them leading to understanding of Geometry.
  3. Inability to distinguish between area and perimeter: Its removal will enable the student to solve most of the problems in mensuration.

The teachers can device certain worksheets which may be given to the students repeatedly to over-come their specific weaknesses once they are properly and correctly diagnosed on the basis of factors above.

Some tips for using these worksheets:

  1. The work-sheets should be attempted by HB pencil which is easy to erase later on.
  2. Each worksheet is to be attempted in 5 minutes except the last one which should take 15 minutes for completion.
  3. These worksheets are to be given once a week to each student.
  4. The teacher may use these worksheets during the first two months of the session (April and May) to create an interest for mathematics among the students before starting formal teaching.
  5. After the start of the formal teaching, the teacher should diagnose the weakness of the students (topic wise)-by preparing horizontal mark-sheet in unit tests.
  6. Once the teacher is able to diagnose the weakness of the child in a particular topic worksheets may be provided to the child on that topic during remedial periods to bring the child up to the desired level of competency in the topic. Minimum two work-sheets should be provided to each child and the performance in them is to be judged to ensure that the child has attained the desired level of competency in the topic.
  7. Now where and how to obtain these work-sheets?

I give below some guidelines for the teachers on this issue:


  1. Every teacher should create an email account (popularly called E-Mail ID).
  2. The teacher should logon to either: www. or


  1. He/ She will be asked to register.
  2. On clicking on this hyperlink he/ she will be asked to fill up a form.
  3. Finally he/ she will be asked to submit the same.
  4. On clicking the submit button, the registration will be confirmed and the logon information will be supplied on his/ her E-Mail ID.
  5. Thereafter the teacher may use the username and password provided by him/ her at the time of filling up the form for logon in future.
  6. It is an absolutely free account!
  7. Once the logon is successful, you should opt for automatic work-sheet generator and lo! You are provided with the variety of topics on which work-sheets may be generated.

8.  Click on the desired topic and obtain hundreds of worksheets.

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