Education Psychology

Integrating Human Development Theories in the Curriculum

With the implementation of compulsory schooling, every child who is of school age is entitled to an education. Ordinarily, among the goals of education is provide all learners with an opportunity to participate in a learning environment that is less restrictive, regardless of the learning challenges. Aligning the curriculum to meet the special needs students in a normal instructional setting is a complex and time-consuming exercise that demands collaboration and cooperation of teachers and students. Unfortunately, synergies of this sort are often inhibited by various challenges. For instance, learners’ toolkits may be inconsistent, and no matter the plan, the capability of the teachers to steer and facilitate learning is hindered by distinct external factors in the instructional setting. In this capacity, the most feasible and viable solution is integrating human development theories into instructional settings; a strategy that is highly significant for teachers to instill the necessary knowledge to their learners per educational requirements.

Recommended adjustments to Curriculum Content

Human development theories allow for the assessment of age-related changes in behavior while considering the study of psychological processes to understand the sequence of various development elements (Salkind, 2004). In order to make meaningfully and favorable adjustments in the curriculum content within the instructional setting, this study recommends the adoption of behaviorism and cognitive development theory. The two methods will increase the awareness of the teacher on how students process, learn and remember information, which is significant in effective lesson plans and enhancing positive learning environments.

Cognitive Development Theory

The general principles of the cognitive theory deal with how intelligence is acquired, constructed and used. The theory by Piaget believes that students construct knowledge from the environment around them, experience discrepancies with what they already know, but make the necessary adjustments of their perceived ideas for intelligence retention (Blake & Pope, 2008). Besides, the cognitive development theory believes that individuals must first adapt to their environment, through assimilation and accommodation for them to be able to acquire the much-needed knowledge. 

Appropriateness of Development Theory to Effective Curriculum

In education settings, when teaching systems of knowledge, teachers sometimes overburden learners with meaningless facts that are irrelevant to their development. This applies in particular on the occasions where the school curricula fail to integrate intellectual techniques conducive for knowledge construction and social interaction. By introducing the cognitive development theory by Piaget in the classroom, both learners and instructors can benefit in various ways. The teacher develops a clearer understanding of the student’s thinking, which helps them align their strategies with the cognitive level of the learner. The ultimate goal in this is to help the learner construct knowledge. Ordinarily, as Blake & Pope (2008) note, the curriculum content applied in the instructional setting recognizes the need first to identify the needs and interests of the individual student. Through the cognitive development theory, instructors have the ability to know first what the needs and unique interests of each student are and customize the learning process in accordance with the requirements and skills of the student.

Appropriateness of Cognitive Development Theory to Learner Diversity

By applying the theory in a classroom, the teacher can help students understand how physical elements of an object can be changed while maintaining the state of some of the characteristics. For instance as Blake & Pope elaborate, giving children modeling clay to make different shapes shows that the form can change, but the essential elements of clay such as color remain the same. By applying this theory in an instructional setting, learners have the ability to expand their diversity. This is especially more significant in the instructional setting where the diversity of ethnicity is considerably high as it will help learners develop a positive behavior towards each other, which is necessary for creating an impact in the society.

Behaviorism Theory

Behaviorism theory assumes that learners are essentially passive and responds to environmental stimuli. The students’ behavior is shaped through positive or negative reinforcement with both reinforcements determining the probability of the behavior happening again (Armstrong, Ogg & Sundman-Wheat, 2013). As it is, negative reinforcement decreases the likelihood of the behavior happening again. Thus, learning is considered as a change of behavior in the learner, while positive reinforcement encourages the behavior to be repeated.

Aligning Behaviorism Theory to Effective Curriculum 

Behaviorism focuses on rewarding students by fostering a positive behavior before embarking on the next learning objective (Armstrong, Ogg & Sundman-Wheat, 2013). When used in an instructional setting, the knowledge of practice is progressively rewarded as each level of the training is mastered. Applying behaviorism in the current instructional environment will enable learners to practice by making inferences. For instance, the teacher may provide English language learners and the child with dyslexia with particular sentences that have been underlined in the textbook. The highlighted sentences will assist students in taking in only the important key points and enable them to make inferences. Thus, behaviorism, in this case, will allow special needs learners to acquire and develop the relevant knowledge in mastering complex reading skills. 

Appropriateness of Behaviorism to Learner Diversity

When behaviorism is appropriately adopted in the instructional settings, it helps students develop knowledge that they did not possess from the beginning. It also supports the development of knowledge by positive reinforcement. By applying this theory to the curriculum content, it will allow students to always do their best without fear of consequences and encourage improvement. Individuals are unique in their way; behaviorism allows acquisition of new knowledge and this way students get to learn about each other’s perspective and gain an appreciation for their diversity in the classroom.

Aligning Instructional strategies to Behavioral Theories of Development

Instructional strategies help teachers modify their style of teaching to include a comprehensive model that reaches out to all students within the instructional environment, their learning abilities notwithstanding (Bernhardt, 2016). By aligning instructional strategies to behavioral theories of development, the ultimate goal is to increase student learning outcomes as well as address learner diversity within the instructional setting. In this context, this study will consider aligning the cooperative learning and the inquiry-based learning curricula to the behaviorism and cognitive development theories for adequate instructions and expanding learner diversity. 

Appropriateness to Effective Instruction

Effective teachers understand the need for a learner-centered classroom with ongoing stakes to check levels of student knowledge and skills. They also continually adjust the instructional strategies to meet individual needs and interests. In this, students are directly involved in the discovery of their knowledge through collaboration with others as they engage in learning to create a holistic and challenging experience. During this period, students use previously acquired knowledge to develop new insights and skills and reflect on them through inquiry-based learning to recognize the most appropriate method for solving problems posed to them. By using the inquiry-based method, instructors engage students in thought-provoking activities such as finding solutions and examples, while applying these analogies as they present new ideas in alignment to the cognitive development theory (Jiang, 2012). In reality, by aligning the inquiry-based learning to cognitive development theory, learners are able to create and comprehend ideas regarding the environment around them by weaving together their daily experiences with critical thinking to develop further their knowledge. Cooperative learning involves aligning students in a way that they can participate in virtually all activities and realize their potential. Besides, as Jiang notes, the strategy also encourages self-reliance and individual accountability. By aligning this strategy with the cognitive development theory, the teacher enables the students to express their ideas and suggestions and listen to them attentively during classroom discussions.

Appropriateness to Learner Diversity

The instructional setting comprises of learners from various diversities. Such include ethnic diversity and distinctive learning needs. Addressing the needs of these students is of paramount importance to the teacher. Aligning the cooperative learning instructional strategy into the behavioral development theories makes it easier for the teacher to align students in distinctive groups, where they can fully participate to express their ideas, listen to their peers in a heterogeneous interaction (Jiang, 2012). On the other hand, the inquiry-based learning helps students to quench their inquisitive nature by engaging learners in critical thinking to apply logical operations to knowledge theories. The strategies not only encourage team building but also increase self-reliance and accountability of the student behavior, which are part of the objectives of the curriculum content.


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.

Bernhardt, V. L. (2016). Translating data into information to improve teaching and learning. New York: Routledge.

Blake, B., & Pope, T. (2008). Developmental Psychology: Incorporating Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Classrooms. Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education, 1(1), pp. 59 – 67.

Jiang, Y. (2012). Reflection, Change, and Reconstruction in the Context of Educational Reform and Innovation in China: Towards an Integrated Framework Centred on Reflective Teaching Practice for EFL Teachers’ Professional Development. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Pub.

Salkind, N. J. (2004). An introduction to theories of human development. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Pub.

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