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Schools often experience issues that affect the learning outcomes of all of their students, and one must examine the possible causes that affect the students and their perception of the educational material. The case study chosen for this examination is Case 1, in which the school is located in a low social-economic are where children have a diverse cultural background, which affects the language learning process. The a diverse cultural background development level examined in this paper is the early years, from two to six years. This paper aims to explore the problem of language learning from the following three perspectives – cognitivist, behaviourist and humanist.
From the behaviourist perspective, the reason behind improper language development in this age group may be the previously learned behaviour. McInerney and McInerney (2002) state that the primary basis of this theory is the stimulus and response, which were first introduced by Pavlov. From this perspective, what affecting the learning situation in this school is the lack of proper motivation that would enable children to develop language skills.
The result of this influence is the lack of attention form children towards achieving more with their studies. Further development of this theory facilitated by Watson uncovered the possibility of “establishing conditioned reflexes through the substitution of one stimulus for the other” (McInerney & McInerney, 2002, p. 172). This means that the strategies for overcoming this learning problem should be based on substituting negative stimuli for a positive one.
Additionally, if children in this school experienced fear when learning the language, their perception of the subject might have been impaired. This is explained through the concept of reinforcement, which is another aspect of the behaviourist theory that implies that the stimuli is affected by the perception of an individual and can be strengthened if it leads to pleasure or weakened if it results in displeasure (Hoffnung et al., 2010; Bergin & Bergin, 2015). For instance, an overly demanding educator or unrealistic expectations from the learning process could have caused the issue.
Now, what is happening is that kids continue to pursue this behaviour and therefore the overall state of language knowledge does not improve. They avoid the negative stimuli that caused adverse emotions in the past. The particular socioeconomic environment in which the children live could have facilitated the development of anxieties connected to pressure from parents and educators to perform well. Overall, the children in this school do not have a proper stimulus and reinforcement for their efforts.
Cognitive theories are based on the hypothesis that a child can learn by applying internal processes and assessing information from the external environment. Factors such as previous experiences have an immense impact on the process of knowledge acquisition (Weatherby-Fell, 2015). Thus, the primary issue causing low language development and other educational problems is the environment that the children, which affected the skills they learned in the past and continues changing their present learning process.
This approach has varying viewpoints, each proposing a different explanation for the language issues in this school. Primarily, constructivism theory implies that a learner constructs a particular meaning of information he or she receives (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2016; Hoffung et al. 2010). Moreover, both mental and physical activities contribute to the acquisition of knowledge, and the learner is capable of self-regulating this component.
It can be argued that the reason behind the language issues in this school is either personal factors that obstruct students from obtaining the necessary language knowledge or the overall environment. Additionally, Hogan and Tudge argue that the socioeconomic circumstances including particular resources and support can affect the learning process (as cited in Duchesne & McMaugh, 2016). Therefore, because the school is located in a low socio-economic area, the learning materials both within the establishment and outside may be limited.
Thus, within this education setting, children are unable to self-regulate the learning process of languages due to lack of environmental support, including resources and communication with educators. The age group considered in this paper is 2-6 years old, and it is necessary to understand the implications of the age. According to Duchesne and McMaugh (2016), young children are capable of developing complex cognitive structures that contribute to their learning. Improper environment obstructs them from learning new information in the school.
From the humanist perspective, the issues with language development in this school can be connected to problems with self-actualisation. This model focuses on the various demands of a person, both psychological and biological at different stages of development (Bergin et al., 2018). The most significant one that requires additional attention, in this case, is physiological needs of an individual, and based on this information, one can conclude that children do not have the basic needs satisfied causing the inability to focus on language development.
Additionally, they have needs connected to their development stage that can obstruct the learning process. Bhomwik (2015) states that in the chosen age group of 2 to 6 years old children struggle with developing their self-esteem. Therefore, it can be concluded that insufficiency of psychological and psychological factors causes the issues in this establishment.
In early childhood, stage kids require love and safety as the primary needs. Maslow (1968a), states that the next stage of development involves the need to satisfy cognitive requirements such as acquire new knowledge and understand the world around them. Therefore, according to this theory, the environment that the children of this school are in does not provide the satisfaction of their basic needs, for instance, they may struggle with physiological needs, safety, belongingness or self-esteem.
Due to this issue, they are unable to come with frustration and anxiety, which leads to their inability to accepting information. One aspect that may be worsening the situation is the culturally diverse environment of the school and their living area, which may lead to issues with self-identification for these children. Due to the fact that they have different backgrounds one may hypothesise that English is not the first language for them, meaning that learning it requires additional effort that has to be enabled through the satisfaction of basic needs.
Firstly, the teachers need to create proper conditioning that would enable the language learning process. As was described earlier the cause of the problem could be a negative experience connected to the learning process. While it would be difficult to identify the specific reasons that caused this experience, it is possible to reverse the negative impact of it by introducing a different model action. Therefore, the teachers should focus on reinforcement by engaging children in exciting activities that would enable the alteration in their behaviour (O’Donnell et al., 2016; Woolfolk & Margetts, 2016).
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The idea here is to teach the children while providing them with a reward that would signal that their efforts are being appreciated and ensure that that would continue to engage in learning activities. This can impact not only language learning but other subjects as well if students develop new behaviour. McInerney and McInerney (2002) advised using music during assignments to create a pleasurable atmosphere in the classroom. With time, this approach should help reduce the anxiety that children have and enhance the learning process.
In addition, there are different strategies for rewarding children that can be applied in cases of successful completion of tasks connected to learning. According to McInerney and McInerney (2002), there are several approaches to this method, for instance, the award can be given immediately after a particular task is completed, after a specific number of repetitions, or after some time passes from the completion.
Moreover, the author recommends to create an environment in which would enable particular behaviour; thus the classroom can be decorated with prompts and posters with educational material connected to language development. The room can include other supplies and resources that would engage students in using and improving their language skills and encourage them to study.
Considering the constructivist view on the knowledge development facilitated through complex cognitive structures, it is necessary to clearly understand the language knowledge level that the students of this school have. This assessment will provide an understanding of the particular educational approaches that need to be taken to use the existing knowledge for the development of better language skills. Secondly, because “learning is supported by social interactions with peers and adults” strategies that engage older students with better language skills should be considered (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 140). In this way, children will be able to participate in communication and collect new knowledge through social interactions.
Additionally, the school should focus on its environment and specific factors that may obstruct students from mastering languages. McDevitt and Ormrod (2010) state that a sociocultural approach can be applied to explain the particular issues affecting children in this school and plans to mitigate them. The teachers should be aware of their impact on the learning process and can be engaged in activities that help students understand the material better.
Firstly, “children learn by being engaged in authentic adult tasks” (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 176). Therefore, the teaching curricular should include tasks that students may encounter in real life, more specifically those involving communication and social interactions, which should help improve their language capabilities. Bergin and Bergin (2015) and Weatherby-Fell (2015) state that the theory in question offers certain stages of child development, each of which has specific characteristics. The chosen group corresponds to the preoperational stage, which suggests that the primary limitation that children have is a lack of logical thinking or understand different perspectives. Based on this, it can be concluded that the curriculum for language lessons should be adapted to suit these needs.
The humanist perspective requires a close examination of the needs that children in this school have, which means that the proposed strategies are not limited to a single classroom. Firstly, it is crucial to ensure that this school can help ensure the satisfaction of physiological needs, more specifically provide food and drinks for students. The next level of needs, which corresponds to the chosen age group is self-esteem. The school can create a program that would enable the development of it and help support the children through their learning process (Maslow, 1968b). This component may require the participation of a psychology expert familiar with the diverse cultural population and their needs.
Additionally, to support the children in the process of learning the school should examine its students’ backgrounds to choose appropriate plans. Tomlinson (2015) argues that “the nature of 21st-century student populations suggests that schools will have to become more responsive to the broadening array of cultures, languages, experiences, economics, and interests represented in most contemporary classrooms” (p. 203).
Teachers should be prepared to adjust their strategies and curriculums to this environment (Bhowmik, 2015). This should help enable the next stage of development according to Maslow’s theory. Therefore, teachers should be aware of the learning styles that their students have and help them develop their knowledge using this method. In addition, Maslow (1968a) also empathises the need to accept people the way they are in the teaching process.
This is substantiated by Rogers, who advises a person-centred approach to education as the most effective (as cited in Berning et al., 2018). This should improve the motivation o students to acquire knowledge, and the previously describes a strategy that targets physiological needs will ensure that children are not distracted or frustrated due to these issues.
Overall, the three perspectives examined in this paper are cognitive, behaviourist, and constructivist. According to the behaviourist’s theory, previous experience that children had with education caused them frustration and reinforcement can be applied to overcome the issue. The humanist concept is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and implies that the school should ensure the satisfaction of physiological requirements. The cognitive theory emphases the complexity of components that contribute to the learning process and the resolution can be facilitated through the assessment of the children’s knowledge and creation of an appropriate environment through enhanced communication with peers and adults.
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