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How Effectively Do Theoretical Approaches To Psychology Affect Actual Classroom Learning?

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Introduction

How Effectively Do Theoretical Approaches To Psychology Affect Actual Classroom Learning? In this essay I will be looking at the Cognitive Theories that can be applied to effective learning and how they can be practically linked to the classroom to give maximum learning outcomes. Cognitive developmental Psychology is able to teach us how to achieve effective learning by studying and investigating how children are able to think, remember and understand, thus in turn enabling us to develop and learn. Cognition is the term used when referring to mental processes and is the acquiring and processing of information to form knowledge. Jarvis (2005) states 'Learning and Cognitive development are active processes in which we explore the world and construct a mental representation of reality, based on what we discover in our experiences'. Cognitive psychologists have been at the forefront of education for many years, with Jean Piaget (1896-1980) being regarded as the leader for understanding cognitive development in children. Piaget's constructivist approach looks at children's behaviour in terms of how they adapt to their environment (McIlveen & Gross 1997) and construct new information. Piaget focused on how intelligence changes in stages as a child grows. According to Piaget children are 'lone scientists' constructing knowledge by being actively involved in their environment, discovering for themselves, however being limited to their age and stage of development. This is where teaching should be appropriate to the child's stage of maturational readiness. Susan Bentham (2011). Piaget believed that when a child has learned something they reach a state of equilibrium suggesting that this is achieved through two processes of assimilation and accommodation. ...read more.

Middle

However that said Piagets theory is still highly regarded and linked to education today with teachers making sure that the content they deliver to a classroom is appropriate to that of the child's 'stage' of cognitive development. And to make sure that the child is actively engaged in learning to achieve. Piaget has also been very influential to other theorists. Most of Piaget's contemporary psychologists were 'behaviourists' and Piaget was at the cutting edge of a constructivist approach to looking at cognitive development. Jerome Bruner like Piaget looked at cognitive development from a constructivist point of view stating that children should be active learners, constructing knowledge for themselves. Bruner came up with a theory that children develop in a sequence of three modes of learning that represent the cognitive structure of how a child stores and retrieves information or schema. Some people have likened this to Piaget's stage theory; however a major difference can be noted where, Bruner states that a child is able to move between the modes until all three have been reached. He also states that a child can understand things on their own level and not that determined by a 'stage'. Bruner's modes of learning are: Enactive, where a child explores its world through physical actions, developing their motor skills. Iconic, where organising and representing objects can be done visually or through its senses and finally Symbolic, where the child is able to adapt symbols of language to represent different objects such as mathematic codes and understand in depth meanings such as philosophy. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, in a class of year 2 pupils learning ICT the teacher recalls information they were taught in year 1, such as identifying where the 'field' is on the screen and being able to use the mouse to enter the 'field', then how to type their name, called 'user name' into this field. The teacher demonstrates how they did this in year 1, then progresses to build on that learning by giving new instructions on how to move to the next stage. As a classroom assistant I am actively involved in 'Scaffolding' in the ZPD by supporting the children to identify keys on the keyboard and support them with their learning, repeating the instruction and expected learning outcome. It is also important to note here the importance to look at the delivery of the instruction (QI) from the teacher and be aware of how this in turn can affect the learning outcome. From my research into the Cognitive Theories that can be applied to effective learning and from looking at the different models of analysis. I can reflect on my experiences as a classroom assistant and see the importance of how these theories and models have affected the national curriculum. For example the influence of Bruner's spiral curriculum, and how a teacher will in turn use their knowledge of these theories and models to adapt their pedagogical craft and be aware of their psychological effects while preparing for a lesson, taking into account things such as Piaget's age specific categorisation and to make the most out of classroom assistants such as myself to provide scaffolding while a child develops through the ZPD to achieve maximum learning outcomes. ...read more.

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