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Contextual Factors Essay

Environmental context

Racine, Wisconsin is a city that occupies an area of 18.7 square miles. Of the total area of the land the city comprises about 15.5 square miles. Water occupies about 16.76 percent of the area. As of the 2010 census report, it was established that Racine had about 78,860 people.

This figure comprised 33,887 households. The city has a balanced racial mix. For example, according to the same census report, the white population was 60.91 percent, the African American population took about 20.32 percent, the Native Americans took 0.61 percent, and Asia took 0.05 as the Pacific Islander comprised about 0.05 percent of the total population of the area.

The Racine Unified School District is a diverse community. With a student population of about 21,000 students the district comes out as one that takes education with a lot of interest. The students come from diverse backgrounds. Students come from urban, rural and even suburban regions. All in all, the students come from a catchment area that is within 100 square miles.

The urban district of Racine is situated within a small urban community on the shores of Lake Michigan in south western Wisconsin. In the district, there are 21 elementary schools with 3 magnet schools. There are 7 middle schools with one magnet middle school together with one charter high school.

The SC. Johnson Elementary school is located on the south western part of Racine. The school occupies about 13.5 acres with 33 rooms. Majorly, the school has a kindergarten and first grades based in one wing while the other wing houses second through to fifth grades are housed in another wing. The school is replete with an outdoor learning center.

Contextual Classroom Factors

Every student comes to class with distinct learning abilities based on experience and personality. It is important for teachers to design the learning environment in the classroom to be accustomed to every learner.

At SC. Johnson Elementary school a classroom’s physical features are information posted on the classroom walls and notice boards. This includes; parts of academic subjects’ content in short form descriptions of school’s vision, statement and mission and school rules.

Such information if well arranged on the classroom walls acts as a reminder to the students of their purpose in the classroom. Students’ artworks and pictures especially the most outstanding also form part of classroom wall hangings.

At the SC. Johnson Elementary school, technology equipment and resources such as desk top computers and laptops serve as important teaching aids in class. These equipments and resources are used for demonstration and research learning. Most learners are fascinated by the presence of Computers in class.

Presence of such facilities in class enhances their participation in the learning process. Therefore, proper rules and regulation should be put in place to ensure students don’t spent most of the time on computers at the expense of other subject areas.

Parental involvement in students’ learning process should be highly encouraged. Research indicates that parental involvement in their children’s education improves performance and quality of education. Concerned parents would for example ensure that their children attend school regular basis. They will also be involved in the evaluation and progress of their children both socially and academically.

School rules and regulations provide a guideline on students conduct within the school. The rules aim to maintain discipline and order among the student community. The rules and regulation of the school will normally define the rules and the penalty that an offender can face incase of breaching. The SC Johnson school’s rules and regulations book has guidelines on students dress code, grooming and conduct in school.

The school routine spells out the normal daily activities undertaken by students at various times. The routine schedule at SC Johnson School lists students’ names and activities assigned to them at various times. Students are guided by the routine to carry out manual work, such as; cleaning the compound, washing classes and maintaining the lawn.

Impact of Students’ Contextual Factors on Design of Instruction and Assessment

The gender issue has received a lot of focus in the design of instruction material fora. Numerous complaints of gender discrimination emerge in various instruction materials and evaluation modes. It is important that when designing instruction materials and methods gender sensitivity should be accorded utmost priority.

There is often the problem of male attitude where male teachers perceive female students as weak in particular areas and go ahead to make them feel they are weak. Teachers should take a leading role to encourage both female and male students to have an equal perception of the learning content.

Special needs students come to class with learning challenges that require special attention by teachers to effectively guide them in the learning process. For example, the design of instructional material for a deaf student should be of a similar standard as to balance his/her needs with other classmates without special needs.

This will be critical as it will make special needs student’s feel comfortable, adaptable, and have a fair access of the curriculum. Also, the Include strategy should be used when designing instructional material for special needs students.

On this, a student performance in school is based on the interaction with the instructional environment, thus, what happens in the classroom can either magnify or minimize the impact of special needs student on his/her learning, compelling adaptation.

Culture describes “a peoples’ way of life”, it affects the way people learn and perceive different aspects of life. Culture contributes largely to ones’ personality and experience. The aspect of cultural differences should be properly addressed in the process of designing instructional materials to ensure dominant and minority cultural aspects are captured.

Language which is one of the aspects of culture is a key component of learning and teaching process. Students’ consciousness of the differences in language can either promote or inhibit learning. Learning resources in schools library should reflect the culture of different cultural practices for inclusivity. The learning process in class should be directed in a manner that values the diversity of language as well as cultural practices.

Skills level equally plays a big role in the design and evaluation of a learning process. Both instructional materials and assessment must reflect the level of the students’ comprehension. Higher order content beyond the students’ comprehension discourages them from participating in the learning process.

The design of the instructional materials should check/analyze student strength, in other words, what a student can do successfully. Success promotes a student motivation and self image. The instructional materials should be able to address the social-emotional and academic areas. This will help in identifying a student’s skills and strengths and thus designing effective instructional materials.

Influence of Prior Learning on Design of Learning Goals, Assessment and Instruction

Students’ prior learning experience comprises of the skills and knowledge a student brings to class that is relevant to the content prepared for instruction. Teachers need to build on this experience to formulate instruction content that progress from known to unknown content.

This section looks at the influence of students’ prior knowledge on formulation of learning goals, instruction and assessment. Learning goals point to what a learning process aims to achieve. It should be understood that what the students knows about the subject content can either be constructive or destructive to learning.

Students’ prior knowledge should be taken in consideration in the instruction process. It helps a teacher build learning content in a systematic and hierarchical manner. Quality learning can be achieved if content is developed from known and basic concepts of the subject to more complex ones. The instruction process should develop continuous links between what the students know, to what they do not know.

The main aim of an assessment is to establish the level of student comprehension of a given content area. Any meaningful assessment should have specific goals and objectives. The SC elementary school teaching program is organized in a manner that teachers are provided an opportunity to carry out an initial testing on the students at the beginning of the term.

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"Contextual Factors." IvyPanda, 16 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/contextual-factors-essay/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Contextual Factors'. 16 May.

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