The Social Psychology of the Classroom (Routledge Research in Education)

The Social Psychology of the Classroom
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Benjamin Bloom — spent over 50 years at the University of Chicago , where he worked in the department of education.

He developed taxonomy of educational objectives. The cognitive domain deals with how we think. Internationally, the taxonomy is used in every aspect of education from training of the teachers to the development of testing material. He thought that teachers should provide feedback to the students on their strengths and weaknesses. He found that they differ in understanding the basis of the problem and the ideas in the problem. He also found that students differ in process of problem solving in their approach and attitude toward the problem.

Nathaniel Gage is an important figure in educational psychology as his research focused on improving teaching and understanding the processes involved in teaching. Applied behavior analysis , a research-based science utilizing behavioral principles of operant conditioning , is effective in a range of educational settings. There is evidence that tangible rewards decrease intrinsic motivation in specific situations, such as when the student already has a high level of intrinsic motivation to perform the goal behavior.

Among current educational psychologists, the cognitive perspective is more widely held than the behavioral perspective, perhaps because it admits causally related mental constructs such as traits , beliefs , memories , motivations and emotions. Among the memory structures theorized by cognitive psychologists are separate but linked visual and verbal systems described by Allan Paivio 's dual coding theory. Educational psychologists have used dual coding theory and cognitive load theory to explain how people learn from multimedia presentations. The spaced learning effect, a cognitive phenomenon strongly supported by psychological research, has broad applicability within education.

Problem solving , according to prominent cognitive psychologists, is fundamental to learning. It resides as an important research topic in educational psychology. A student is thought to interpret a problem by assigning it to a schema retrieved from long-term memory.

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A problem students run into while reading is called "activation. This causes the student to read through the material without absorbing the information and being able to retain it. When working memory is absent from the reader's representations of the working memory they experience something called "deactivation. If deactivation occurs during the first reading, the reader does not need to undergo deactivation in the second reading. The reader will only need to reread to get a "gist" of the text to spark their memory. When the problem is assigned to the wrong schema, the student's attention is subsequently directed away from features of the problem that are inconsistent with the assigned schema.

Each person has an individual profile of characteristics, abilities and challenges that result from predisposition, learning and development. These manifest as individual differences in intelligence , creativity , cognitive style , motivation and the capacity to process information, communicate, and relate to others. The most prevalent disabilities found among school age children are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD , learning disability , dyslexia , and speech disorder. Less common disabilities include intellectual disability , hearing impairment , cerebral palsy , epilepsy , and blindness.

Although theories of intelligence have been discussed by philosophers since Plato , intelligence testing is an invention of educational psychology, and is coincident with the development of that discipline. Continuing debates about the nature of intelligence revolve on whether intelligence can be characterized by a single factor known as general intelligence , [32] multiple factors e. In practice, standardized instruments such as the Stanford-Binet IQ test and the WISC [34] are widely used in economically developed countries to identify children in need of individualized educational treatment.

Children classified as gifted are often provided with accelerated or enriched programs. Children with identified deficits may be provided with enhanced education in specific skills such as phonological awareness. In addition to basic abilities, the individual's personality traits are also important, with people higher in conscientiousness and hope attaining superior academic achievements, even after controlling for intelligence and past performance. Developmental psychology, and especially the psychology of cognitive development, opens a special perspective for educational psychology.

This is so because education and the psychology of cognitive development converge on a number of crucial assumptions. First, the psychology of cognitive development defines human cognitive competence at successive phases of development. Education aims to help students acquire knowledge and develop skills which are compatible with their understanding and problem-solving capabilities at different ages. Thus, knowing the students' level on a developmental sequence provides information on the kind and level of knowledge they can assimilate, which, in turn, can be used as a frame for organizing the subject matter to be taught at different school grades.

This is the reason why Piaget's theory of cognitive development was so influential for education, especially mathematics and science education. Second, the psychology of cognitive development involves understanding how cognitive change takes place and recognizing the factors and processes which enable cognitive competence to develop. Education also capitalizes on cognitive change, because the construction of knowledge presupposes effective teaching methods that would move the student from a lower to a higher level of understanding.

Finally, the psychology of cognitive development is concerned with individual differences in the organization of cognitive processes and abilities, in their rate of change, and in their mechanisms of change. The principles underlying intra- and inter-individual differences could be educationally useful, because knowing how students differ in regard to the various dimensions of cognitive development, such as processing and representational capacity, self-understanding and self-regulation, and the various domains of understanding, such as mathematical, scientific, or verbal abilities, would enable the teacher to cater for the needs of the different students so that no one is left behind.

Constructivism is a category of learning theory in which emphasis is placed on the agency and prior "knowing" and experience of the learner, and often on the social and cultural determinants of the learning process. Educational psychologists distinguish individual or psychological constructivism, identified with Piaget's theory of cognitive development , from social constructivism. The social constructivist paradigm views the context in which the learning occurs as central to the learning itself [41].

It regards learning as a process of enculturation. People learn by exposure to the culture of practitioners. They observe and practice the behavior of practitioners and 'pick up relevant jargon, imitate behavior, and gradually start to act in accordance with the norms of the practice' [42]. So, a student learns to become a mathematician through exposure to mathematician using tools to solve mathematical problems. So in order to master a particular domain of knowledge it is not enough for students to be learn the concepts of the domain.

They should be exposed to the use of the concepts in authentic activities by the practitioners of the domain. A dominant influence on the social constructivist paradigm is Lev Vygotsky 's work on sociocultural learning, describing how interactions with adults, more capable peers, and cognitive tools are internalized to form mental constructs.

He believed the task individuals can do on their own do not give a complete understanding of their mental development. Two children in school who originally can solve problems at an eight-year-old developmental level that is, typical for children who were age 8 , might be at different developmental levels.

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If each child received assistance from an adult, one was able to perform at a nine-year-old level and one was able to perform at a twelve-year-old level. Vygotsky viewed the ZPD as a better way to explain the relation between children's learning and cognitive development. Prior to the ZPD, the relation between learning and development could be boiled down to the following three major positions: 1 Development always precedes learning e. Vygotsky rejected these three major theories because he believed that learning should always precede development in the ZPD.

According to Vygotsky, through the assistance of a more knowledgeable other, a child is able to learn skills or aspects of a skill that go beyond the child's actual developmental or maturational level. The lower limit of ZPD is the level of skill reached by the child working independently also referred to as the child's developmental level. The upper limit is the level of potential skill that the child is able to reach with the assistance of a more capable instructor. In this sense, the ZPD provides a prospective view of cognitive development, as opposed to a retrospective view that characterizes development in terms of a child's independent capabilities.

The advancement through and attainment of the upper limit of the ZPD is limited by the instructional and scaffolding related capabilities of the more knowledgeable other MKO.

The MKO is typically assumed to be an older, more experienced teacher or parent, but often can be a learner's peer or someone their junior. Elaborating on Vygotsky's theory, Jerome Bruner and other educational psychologists developed the important concept of instructional scaffolding , in which the social or information environment offers supports for learning that are gradually withdrawn as they become internalized. Jean Piaget was interested in how an organism adapts to its environment. Piaget hypothesized that infants are born with a schema operating at birth that he called "reflexes".

Piaget identified four stages in cognitive development. The four stages are sensorimotor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage and formal operational stage. To understand the characteristics of learners in childhood , adolescence , adulthood , and old age , educational psychology develops and applies theories of human development. For example, educational psychologists have conducted research on the instructional applicability of Jean Piaget's theory of development , according to which children mature through four stages of cognitive capability.

Piaget hypothesized that children are not capable of abstract logical thought until they are older than about 11 years, and therefore younger children need to be taught using concrete objects and examples. Researchers have found that transitions, such as from concrete to abstract logical thought, do not occur at the same time in all domains.

A child may be able to think abstractly about mathematics, but remain limited to concrete thought when reasoning about human relationships. Perhaps Piaget's most enduring contribution is his insight that people actively construct their understanding through a self-regulatory process.

Book Review: Self and Social Identity in Educational Contexts

Piaget's views of moral development were elaborated by Kohlberg into a stage theory of moral development. There is evidence that the moral reasoning described in stage theories is not sufficient to account for moral behavior. For example, other factors such as modeling as described by the social cognitive theory of morality are required to explain bullying. Rudolf Steiner 's model of child development interrelates physical, emotional, cognitive, and moral development [48] in developmental stages similar to those later described by Piaget. Developmental theories are sometimes presented not as shifts between qualitatively different stages, but as gradual increments on separate dimensions.

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Development of epistemological beliefs beliefs about knowledge have been described in terms of gradual changes in people's belief in: certainty and permanence of knowledge, fixedness of ability, and credibility of authorities such as teachers and experts. People develop more sophisticated beliefs about knowledge as they gain in education and maturity. Motivation is an internal state that activates, guides and sustains behavior.

Motivation can have several impacting effects on how students learn and how they behave towards subject matter: [51]. Educational psychology research on motivation is concerned with the volition or will that students bring to a task, their level of interest and intrinsic motivation , the personally held goals that guide their behavior, and their belief about the causes of their success or failure.

As intrinsic motivation deals with activities that act as their own rewards, extrinsic motivation deals with motivations that are brought on by consequences or punishments. A form of attribution theory developed by Bernard Weiner [52] describes how students' beliefs about the causes of academic success or failure affect their emotions and motivations. For example, when students attribute failure to lack of ability, and ability is perceived as uncontrollable, they experience the emotions of shame and embarrassment and consequently decrease effort and show poorer performance.

In contrast, when students attribute failure to lack of effort, and effort is perceived as controllable, they experience the emotion of guilt and consequently increase effort and show improved performance. SDT focuses on the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in driving human behavior and posits inherent growth and development tendencies.

It emphasizes the degree to which an individual's behavior is self-motivated and self-determined. When applied to the realm of education, the self-determination theory is concerned primarily with promoting in students an interest in learning, a value of education, and a confidence in their own capacities and attributes.

Motivational theories also explain how learners' goals affect the way they engage with academic tasks.

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Those who have performance approach goals strive for high grades and seek opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. Those who have performance avoidance goals are driven by fear of failure and avoid situations where their abilities are exposed. Research has found that mastery goals are associated with many positive outcomes such as persistence in the face of failure, preference for challenging tasks, creativity and intrinsic motivation.