Understand How Students Learn

Demonstrate a knowledge of and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how they affect learning.

As teachers we need to be aware of the developmental stages of our students, both cognitive social, physical and emotional and realise that everybody is slightly different, therefore, it is likely to have students at different stages of learning to their peers who will learn at a different pace and require different levels of support.

In order to analyse how to approach the social development of my students, I apply the theories of psychology and development that resonate with my teaching philosophy.

One such theorist is Erik Erikson - known as the founder of the theory of psychosocial development. He believed that as humans go through their natural lifespan, they experience different stages of development which can be which can be considered as either crisis or turning points in each individual’s life.

Applying Erik Erikson’s theories on stages of development ‘initiative Vs Guilt’ - A child begins primary school at the third stage of their development (4 to 6 yrs)

According to Erikson’s theories, at this point, a child starts to take control of their environment. They feel a sense of purpose when successful and a sense of guilt if they are disapproved. The child is beginning to make decisions and carry them out, mainly through play activities.

A child is able to imagine something in their mind and use this to pursue it. Applying his theories to this age group, there needs to be an emphasis on play-based learning, stories and songs that stimulate the imagination and working on real-life activities such as cooking, a school garden project as well as setting up activity stations where the child is able to choose the activity they would like to pursue is also appropriate.

‘Industry versus Inferiority’ - The fourth stage is the stage that the child will be at for the duration of most of their primary education years, as it spans from ( 6 to 12 years). At this point, children are learning to form strong social relationships. Their success leads to a feeling of competence and their failure to a feeling of inferiority.

With these ideas in mind, in the classroom, it is important to focus praise and effort over achievement as individual students will have different capabilities and learn at different speeds. A focus on improving on their own personal best, showing initiative and effort are the qualities I encourage in my students.

It is also important for me as a teacher to be dependable, encouraging and have faith in their ability to improve on their own personal learning goals.

According to Piaget, children between the ages of seven and twelve ( the majority of their primary schooling years ) are capable of logical thought about objects or events. Towards the end of primary school, they gain the ability to think abstractly and hypothetically.

With this knowledge in mind as a teacher, it is important to not just push information onto students which they receive passively but instead, share the learning experience and encourage them to be active and engaged. It is also important to encourage peer collaboration in learning through group work and to recognise that students attention span will increase according to their development.

A third-grade student has an increased attention span and is able to concentrate on something they enjoy for 30 minutes or more. That said I have found that short and well-planned lesson sequences with transitions that involve physical movement are most effective for achieving good concentration and education outcomes with my class. Here is an example of transition sequence from one activity to the next with my third-grade class.

Incorporating Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Classrooms - (PDF)