Learning and Student Development Theories and Factors

Understanding Learning

Teaching professionals play an important role in educating and fighting illiteracy among societal members. When performing their duties, teachers are faced with numerous challenges ranging from students’ developmental issues to external environmental influences. The solution to the challenges depends on nature, degree, and magnitude of the challenge; education psychologists have developed different theories to offer solutions to teaching challenges, however, the effectiveness of a particular theory depends on the situation at hand (Wininger and Antony 19-37). This paper discusses challenges encountered by teachers when undertaking their duties; it will also demonstrate how education/learning theories can be used to offer solutions to teachers’ challenges.

Challenges facing teachers when undertaking their duties

The society has become keen on the role played by teachers in the community; being professionals, teachers are expected to adhere to high professional code of ethics. Although professionalism is a virtue, the expectations that policymakers and stakeholders have on teachers is sometimes beyond their reach; Paul Eggen and Don Kauchak in their book called, “Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms,” page 4 note “Policymakers are raising standards for teachers and are asking teachers to become more professionals and can do more” (Eggen and Kauchak 4).

The above statement is an indication of the raised professionalism bar that teachers have to contend with within society. Despite being knowledgeable and having a deep understanding of their area of study, teachers are required to make complex decisions that address their reflective practice. For example in a class of thirty, there might be an informed student who challenges teachers on a particular issue; the teachers are expected to handle such a student with much professionalism especially if the issue the student raised is new to the teacher. On the other hand, students might be fed with some information by the external world that can affect learning adversely, for instance, a parent may talk ill of a teacher.

In such incidences, teachers should conduct themselves with much professionalism. Adolescences and teenage students have to be handled with extra care; teachers have the role of ensuring they have been contained in the class environment and any effects from their biological changes managed. When Daniel, Brad reflects on professionalism issues among teachers in his article “Learn From My Mistakes,” states “These mistakes are usually somewhat inappropriate for the setting or the season and generally fall into one or more of several categories, including group position, delivery, content, pace, and professionalism.” The above statement shows how professionalism affects the delivery of teachers.

The second challenge that teachers face is how to handle differences in development, intellectualism, and exposure. When teaching, teachers need to understand the different intellectual power and cognitive ability of his or her class. For example in a class of forty, a teacher might find two students whose understanding rate is slow. Noting that the specific students’ understanding rate is slow is a challenge by itself and it follows the challenge of devising the mechanism of accommodating such students without destructing learning by fast-learners.

Another challenge affecting teaching professionals is how to contain differences in students’/pupils’ experiences and observations. When on holidays, breaks, playing, or at home, students are likely to be fed with some information about a particular teacher that shapes their attitude, belief, and perception. Within the school environment or even when at home, students face different situations that are likely to affect how they see, perceive and the attitude they have on a particular area of study. For example, there are some students that believe Math’s is difficult while other students find it easy.

The perception may be formed by the experience that the child has had or what he heard other people commenting or saying on the topic. Another example is when parents talk negatively of a particular teacher to a child; when the child gets to school, he or she is likely to see the teacher in the angle of what was discussed. This hampers teaching. Teachers have the role of ensuring they understand their class environment and how they can manage the class for better. But the challenge is the number of students in the class who might have had different experiences and expectations; the teacher is required to have an understanding of how the external environment has affected the child.

Theories of learning/teaching and how they can be used to solve teaching problems

Different scholars have developed theories of learning depending on their area of specialization and experiences; the theories seek to explain the best approach that a teacher can adopt for effective teaching. Cognitive development theory offers rich background to understand different stages of development; when Eggen and Kauchak discuss the theory, they state “It also helps us understand why students who have had a rich array of experiences think differently than those the same age whose experiences are limited” (Eggen and Kauchak 30). The theory offers a solution to professional and class differences challenges that teachers face; when the strongholds of the theory are adopted, teachers can well understand their classes for quality delivery (David 154-211)

The next challenge that teachers face is concerned with changes in behavior among children of different age gaps/age groups. The behaviorism theory of development well elaborates on the changes that humankind goes through from childhood to adulthood. According to the theory, different stages in life have some expectations of-course determined by the socialization that someone has gone through. Behaviorism theory challenges teachers to be well conversant with the observable behavior among their students and how the behaviors are affected or influenced by stimuli from the environment.

When discussing behaviorism theory and their relationship to understanding David, Leonard. states “One of the three types of instructional method for brain-based learning, active processing takes place when the learner analyzes and becomes aware of the form, meaning, and motivation behind knowledge acquisition” (David 3). The writers are putting emphasis on the need to understand the behavior and motivator that students should have to promote learning. The theory emphasis that learning is a relatively enduring change of observable behavior thus teachers should be keen on the changes they can get from their students to gauge whether their delivery strategy or style is quality and yielding results as expected.

With the theory of behaviorism, there come other related theories that tend to explain the reason behind a particular behavior among people; they include classical condition and operant conditioning. Teachers can use the strengths of the theory to come up with the right approach to teaching; they should be conversant with behavior change of a particular group or age-mate and make such efforts to have the right strategies to get their attention. When a certain lesson has been taught, teachers should expect to get some responses from the students; it is from the responses that they can be certain that their model was effective.

When using behaviorism theory, teachers are advised to learn the stimuli that can stimulate learning and ones that can improve attention and motivation among students. Other than stimulating learning stimuli, teachers should have the right approach to reinforce and ensure that the taught lessons stick in the minds of the students. In so doing, students will be learning on a continuous process and the challenge of understanding cognitive and behavior change will have been addressed accordingly (Morrissey 353).

Jean Piaget (1896-1980), theory seeks to explain the changes in behavior and cognitive development of humankind at different stages of life. With the theory, teachers can borrow some tips on how to handle students/pupils at their different stages of development. According to the theory, teachers should understand the drive for the attainment of equilibrium (equilibrium according to the theory is the cognitive state in which learning can take place), at this point someone is relaxed and his mind ready to take a challenge/learn. With the approach brought about by Piaget’s theory, teachers are advised to first ensure they have organized their classrooms to attain equilibrium of learning. When the class is at this state then teaching should follow. The theory advises teachers to take time and prepare their class for learning; with well-prepared class developmental and experience differences challenges will be addressed (Daniel 27-30).

Conclusion

Teaching as a profession has received increasing attention among education policyholders; the roles played by teachers have continued to be appreciated in modern society. However, when undertaking their roles, teachers are faced with challenges ranging from behavioral and cognitive developments among students to other external factors affecting learning. Although every situation is unique in its own way, education gurus have developed learning and development theories that offer a solution to challenges facing teachers.

Works Cited

Daniel, Brad. “Learn From My Mistakes.” Green Teacher 9.1 (2010): 27-30. Print.

David, Leonard. Learning theories, A to Z. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.

Eggen, Paul, and Don Kauchak. Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print

Morrissey, Anne-Marie. “Maternal Scaffolding Of Analogy And Metacognition In The Early Pretence Of Gifted Children.” Exceptional Children 77.3 (2011): 351-366. Print.

Wininger, Steven R., and Antony D. Norman. “Teacher Candidates’ Exposure To Formative Assessment In Educational Psychology Textbooks: A Content Analysis.” Educational Assessment 10.1 (2005): 19-37. Print.