Strategies for Helping Underperforming Students

Every student is unique with different IQ levels. Some students are fast learners/top performers and can memorize for long, while others are slow learners/poor performers or have lesser comprehension capacity. And with both categories of students present in the same classroom in schools, teachers are expected to take care of everybody. This is a difficult task, as managing underperforming students requires extra time, energy, and resources.

Below are a few tips on how educators can manage underperforming students to ensure an environment of active learning and participation.

Identify the problem

Before you give up on underperforming students, first identify the problem behind their poor performance in school. It could be a health issue, psychological disorder, or any other issue beyond the child’s abilities. Identifying the problem will also help you know how best to manage them and improve their overall performance. 

Note: In case you are tutoring a child with special needs, proper education is important. Utilize courses like dyslexia management, speech-language therapy, etc. 

Involve parents or a higher authority

A student who suffers continuous underperformance needs all the help he or she can get from every angle because sometimes it goes beyond your expertise as a teacher. Parents should know the performance level of their children to enable them to help them improve when necessary. The school authority should also be aware of how to adjust the school’s curriculum or timetable, and create extra lesson hours for underperforming students. 

Be positive towards students

Scolding, using abusive words, and giving harsh punishment may discourage an underperforming child from improving. Instead, find the student’s strength and try to build on his or her strength. Use positive words and encourage such students. This will build their confidence and self-esteem, which also propel them to become better. 

Besides that, you can identify other things such students can do individually and help each one of them attain mastery. Do not neglect their subsequent abilities because you want to improve their academic performance. 

Introduce instructional scaffolding

This method simplifies learning and breaks it into smaller parts that follow a logical order and focuses on the same goal. Students who are slow learners because of the ambiguous nature of a topic can use this method to increase their learning speed. Teachers form a bridge between what students already know and what they cannot do on their own. These bridges, otherwise known as scaffolds, can include pictures, charts, objects, etc. Teachers also use this method to support students before asking them to work on their own.

Strategies for Helping Underperforming Students
Strategies for Helping Underperforming Students

Personalized learning

One-size-fits-all is no longer effective in the 21st-Century classroom. With an increasingly diverse learning population, students expect and deserve more student-centered lesson plans to meet individual needs and learning styles. Personalized learning environments empower both the teacher and the student by giving them more control and clarity on what is obtainable. 

Have a consistent feedback routine

One of the ways to help underperforming students is to allow them to follow up on their progress. Providing students with the ability to give instant and meaningful feedback about their learning can greatly increase motivation and improve performance. This feedback could be from self-assessment or peer-assessment. You can also utilize technology by using real-time feedback software that gives students the confidence they need to engage in a style that is familiar to them. You can as well track and assess student’s comprehension levels and adjust your lessons in real-time.

Provide real-time scenarios

It is a simple concept: if you make it more interesting, they will respond. A subject or topic becomes more meaningful when a student can apply it to real life. It is one thing to read about airplanes and something else entirely to visit a functional airline. You can also adopt Problem-based learning strategies that encourage students to apply their critical thinking skills to provide solutions to real-world problems. It makes students more responsible for their learning. It also encourages collaboration between students.

Know how students want to learn

Getting students’ input on how they want to learn can help educators be more specific on their teaching approach. It can give insights into what teaching methods are effective and areas that need adjustment. It also engages students in their learning process by giving them a voice and the opportunity to choose how they want to be taught to ensure they improve. 

Start from the first day

Understand the importance of the first day of class and use it well. The first day of class sets the tone for the entire session. As a teacher, the first day is your opportunity to stimulate interest in the subject and establish a framework for how the course will unfold. The first day is often the best time to reveal to underperforming students their progress level, so they can prepare their minds early for extra work to do better. 


A successful teacher is known for the progress of the students. Although it is sometimes impossible to have a complete A-class, ensure that every student is far from being a dullard. These tips are just a few out of numerous tips out there. Therefore, do not be limited by them. Understand your class and identify other strategies for improving their performance.


Strategies for Helping Underperforming Students

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