Development is the process of changing and becoming larger, stronger, or more impressive, successful, or advanced (Encarta MSN, n.d.). Theories show that development in learning occurs through: - Cognitive development – a student’s cognitive development changes as they grow through their personal experiences, culture and environment, learning experience and maturation. Each student develops at different rates and stages in life. - Behaviourism – a view of observable behaviour and the way student’s behaviour is influenced by stimuli from the environment. - Cognitive learning theory – how student’s learning changes in mental structures and processes of acquiring, organising and using knowledge. - Social Cognitive theory – changes that occur in a learner’s development through the observation of others. Social interaction in the classroom is essential to a student’s learning experience. - Constructivism – a suggestion that learners create their own knowledge of the topics they study rather than receiving that knowledge as transmitted to them by some other source (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Social Constructivist, Vygotsky, suggests that learners construct knowledge in a social context and then internalise the knowledge individually.
Cognitive development refers to how a person perceives, thinks, and gains understanding of his or her world through the interaction of genetic and learned factors (Health of Children, n.d.) Piaget describes cognitive learning in four stages: Sensorimotor stage (0-2 years) Preoperational stage (2-7 years) Concrete operational (7-11 years) Formal operational (11 years-adult) A teacher needs to be aware of which stage each student is at with their development and choose appropriate learning materials and context to increase and improve students’ knowledge and skills. There needs to be a match between the demands of a learning task and the current cognitive capacity (ability) of the learners (Ace SchoolNet, n.d.) A teacher must also be aware of the importance social interaction has on development in the classroom. In today’s society, students come from a range of different cultures and backgrounds which influence the individual student’s learning development and experiences. By creating learning activities which involve interaction in groups and classroom discussions, students will help one another with learning new knowledge and skills. Vygotsky believes that knowledge is constructed through social interaction first and then internalised by individuals (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Teachers must always aim to teach at the student’s Zone of Proximal Development. That is between a student’s ability to perform a task under adult guidance or with peer collaboration and the student’s ability solving the problem independently. Learners need to be in their zone of proximal development to benefit from the teacher’s assistance. The use of scaffolding when teaching is also effective in assisting students to complete tasks that they are unable to complete independently by using types of scaffolding such as modelling, thinking-aloud, questions and prompts and cues.
Learning behaviourism is changes in behaviour that occur as a result of experience and is a measurement of observable behaviours produced by a learner’s response to stimuli. The main theories of behaviourism which a teacher of today can implement in their classroom are: - Classical conditioning - where a person learns involuntary emotional or psychological responses. If a teacher greets the students in a warm, friendly manner when they enter the classroom, it creates a positive experience for each student and they will comfortable and safe. This is an important goal, and one that can be reached with classical conditioning (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). - Operant Conditioning – is a consequence that changes observable responses. Where a teacher praises a student for giving a correct answer, this is a consequence, and the student is more likely to answer other questions. - Reinforcement can be positive and negative. A teacher can use positive reinforcement by offering rewards, such as stickers on the board that can lead to a prize/treat to students (a consequence) to increase the likelihood of the behaviour occurring and the teacher can use negative reinforcement in the classroom by instructing the class that if they do not do their work quietly they will not go out after lunch to play the game of basketball the teacher had organised for them to do. - Punishment - In some situations, teachers need to implement punishment to students. Effective forms of punishment teachers can use to discourage misbehaviour are signalling to the student to be quiet (detists), time outs, detentions and removal of reinforcers already given (response cost), - Antecedents – forms of antecedents are environmental conditions of the classroom such as lighting and prompts and cues which help the student produce the desirable behaviour. Teachers need to control behaviour in the classroom so that students of the 21st century perceive the classroom as a positive place for learning.
Cognitive learning theories are changes in the mental structure and processes involved in acquiring, organising and using knowledge (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Teachers need to know how learners acquire experiences used to construct knowledge, how learners combine prior knowledge with new experiences and where and in what form is the constructed knowledge stored in the students’ memory stores. Teachers of the 21st century also need to know the cognitive processes: - Attention – teachers need to make sure their lessons will grab and maintain the student’s attention. - Perception – ask student’s questions to get their perspective of the object or events. - Encoding – teachers must create ways to help student encode the information learnt into their long term memory using strategies such as, imagery, organisation, schema activation and elaboration. Social cognitive learning derives from changes in development after observing others. Teachers must constantly use activities in the classroom which involve social interaction through group work and class discussions. Vygotsky’s theory concludes that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development (Learning-Theories, n.d.). Students experience learning through observing other students, teachers and their parents. Modelling is the central concept of social cognitive theory (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) and refers to the changes that occur from observing models. Students learn through imitating others, imitating characters in books and movies and copying observed acts. Teachers need to apply modelling in their every day teaching to allow students to gain experience and development through observing the model shown to them. An effective way for a teacher to provide information/modelling to students which can be encoded in the students’ long term memory is by applying the information to the society of the 21st century learner.
Cognitive constructivists are of the view that students construct their own knowledge. Instead of teachers directing the classroom from the front of the classroom, schools are now moving towards teaching the key skills that equip pupils with the tools to become effective independent learners (Teachers TV, n.d.). The characteristics of Constructivist Learning Theory are: - Learners construct knowledge that makes sense to them. - New learning depends on current understanding - Social Interaction facilitates learning - The most meaningful learning occurs within real-world tasks. From a social constructivist perspective, creating learning environments in which learners exchange ideas and collaborate in solving problems is an essential teacher role (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Allowing the students to exchange ideas and tsee how the correct answer is found through another student’s perspective will allow for conceptual change which alters the students’ beliefs about a topic. Teaching for conceptual change requires the teacher to implement Piaget’s concepts of disequilibrium, accommodation and assimilation. First the student must be dissatisfied with their existing concept of the topic to cause disequilibrium, second the teacher must provide an alternative conception of the topic to the student which the student can accommodate in a way which makes sense to them and thirdly, the teacher must use the concept to show how it can be used in the real world so that equilibrium can be re-established and the student is able to assimilate new experiences into it (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).
What does it take to be an effective
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Understanding Development <ul><li>Cognitive development </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviourism </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Learning Theory </li></ul><ul><li>and Social Cognitive Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Constructivism </li></ul>
Cognitive Development <ul><li>Piaget’s Theory </li></ul><ul><li>- The Four Stages of Development </li></ul><ul><li>Vygotsky’s Theory </li></ul><ul><li>- A sociocultural view </li></ul><ul><li>- Zone of Proximal </li></ul><ul><li>Development </li></ul><ul><li> - Scaffolding </li></ul>