Education Psychology

Human Development Theories

From unending pressure to ensure that all students score highly on tests to empowering the talents of each learner, teachers also face the rigorous requirement of ensuring that no child is left behind within the course. Coupled with the demands of the education regulators and the diverse learning needs of the students in a regular instructional setting, having children with special learning needs can be challenging. In this case, the instructional environment comprises of 21 students with two English Learners, one gifted, and one child suffering from dyslexia. Ordinarily, children with learning challenges are more vulnerable to classroom long-term academic and social problems, which can affect them wholly as individuals in the future. Interestingly, and despite the challenges, by acquiring knowledge of human development theories, teachers can use them as a guide for handling students with learning difficulties in instructional settings. 

In an instructional setting, development theories are highly significant in understanding how children learn, grow, and the means by which to support their trajectories. Ostensibly, most theories argue that biology and experience are critical elements in shaping developmental outcomes. On the other hand, risk and protective factors are linked to children development and are often modified through various intervention efforts. By large, the response model emphasizes the need for support to foster healthy development. In this regard, theories of human development provide a framework for empowering human growth, development, and learning.  By understanding these methods, teachers can motivate children behavior, the formation of personalities, and trigger their thinking to provide insight into societal and individual influences on early development. 

Appropriateness of Behaviorism Theory

The theory of behaviorism is observable and measurable and accommodates both reflexive and operant behaviors. Reflexive actions refer to those that naturally occur, while operant behaviors rely on consequences or reaction outcome after a particular action. In this case, if a behavior is encouraged, the outcome is viewed as reinforcement. According to Kail & Cavanaugh (2016), support is usually enhanced through two methods, either negative or positive. In positive reinforcement, rewards are involved as a way of increasing the occurrence of a past behavior. On the other hand, negative reinforcement aims at taking away unpleasant behavior. For instance, a teacher may give a punishment to a child as a way of suppressing bad behavior. In schools, teachers apply this model to address challenging behaviors or prevent them from taking place. In regard to the instructional setting, the theory can be used in the process of teaching new skills through reinforcement. By breaking down the desired key issues into simple skills, and reinforcing each skill, the desired goal can eventually be achieved. For example, to improve the reading process of the child with dyslexia, rather than providing a written handout, the teacher may consider using a tape recorder as a way of translating instructions and directions. This way, the student can always listen to the verbal message as frequently as they wish without distracting the other learners in the classroom. For the English Language learners, the teacher can make it a habit of highlighting the essential information in textbooks especially those with technical jargons that can be confusing to the children. By highlighting the critical sections in the book, the learners can revisit the notes without being distracting by what is not relevant.

Appropriateness of Cognitive-development Theory

The cognitive-development theory believes that children learn by assimilating new information, which goes to change their previous understanding or knowledge about a particular issue. The theory, which was first proposed by Piaget, argues that children will always try to naturally make sense of their surrounding as one way of gaining knowledge (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016). In their efforts to comprehend the environment around them, children create theories about the physical and social world by weaving together their daily experiences, which leads to the development of their knowledge. Besides, Piaget also argued that children construct knowledge in various new ways at every critical point of development in their life and as time goes by, they revise these theories. Piaget’s theory has significantly influenced how developmentalists and practitioners perceive cognitive development. In the context of a fifth-grade instructional setting, the theory is applicable in helping children to understand and apply logical operations to classroom theories and quench their intuitive nature. Fifth-grade students have a massive interest in reasoning and inquisitive about the way things are, and it is at this stage that children realize that they have a vast amount of knowledge, but are mostly not aware of how they got it. When applying Piaget’s developmental theory, teachers assume an active role in mentoring students towards self-reliance. Instead of pushing information to them, instructors should encourage learners to participate in the learning process. Encourage ideas and suggestions and listen to their opinions. Aligning students in peer groups also allows them to listen thoughtfully and sensitively to their peers and respect a variety of viewpoints expressed during the discussion. Another thing about applying Piaget’s theory in the classroom is the ability of the teacher to allow students learn from their mistakes. Children are allowed to gain knowledge through trial and error as this helps them to gain experience by actively interacting with the environment around them, which can also be a source of more knowledge. In addition to the above, the theory allows teachers to respect individual interests, abilities, and limits. Instead of putting undue pressure on every child to adapt to a uniform learning style, teachers can focus on each child’s development state and customize the lessons accordingly.

Understanding Predicted and Unpredicted Behaviors Using Behaviorism Development Theory

When dealing with kids, one thing a teacher can be certain about is change. Children transition from one stage to another in all areas of development, especially in their behaviors. Understanding factors that may support or compromise behavior are key to unveiling supportive elements in predictable and unpredictable behaviors in children (Horner & Sugai, 2016). In this context, the most feasible and viable theory to understanding the relationship of behavior change is behaviorism development theory. The method relies on careful observation of behavior and assessment of its consequences and utilizes action technology to strengthen desired behaviors or weaken undesirable ones. To understand predictable and unpredictable actions using behaviorism theory, we must first understand positive behavior support (Armstrong, Ogg & Sundman-Wheat, 2013). In positive behavior support, the function of the behavior is first determined and appropriate redirection and replacement skills initiated. For example, when a child performs well in a classroom activity, the teacher may choose positive reinforcement through praise for desired behavior. This way the teacher reinforces the student participation in more group activity and their input can be predicted. Moreover, predictable behavior can also be seen from the reflexive nature of behaviorism theory, where actions are linked to a neutral stimulus. For instance, children will always respond to the sound of the bell as a sign of the next lesson or break time or time to leave. Understanding unpredictable behavior can be seen through negative behavior reinforcement. This kind of behavior support may include punishment to discourage a particular behavioral element. Unpredictable behavior may emanate from observation and failure of that in-charge to condemn such behavior or from their support of such kind of behavior. For instance, a child watching a wrestling match with parents cheering on is likely to display aggressive behavior towards their peers, a behavior acquired from observation and lack of behavior reinforcement. From since the time they were infants through childhood and adolescence, youngster is inquisitive about their world. Thus, as a way of constructing knowledge, children are more likely to do unpredictable things from observation, and it is upon the caregivers and teachers to act as a guide in shaping their behavior.  

References

Armstrong, K. H., Ogg, J. A., Sundman-Wheat, A. N., & Walsh, A. S. J. (2013). Evidence-based interventions for children with challenging behavior. New York: Springer.

Horner, R. H., & Sugai, G. M. (2016). Functional behavioral assessment: A special issue of exceptionality.[Place of Publication not identified]: Routledge.

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2016). Human development: A life-span view. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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