09 Jun 2011

Sample essay: Educational Psychology

1A. Cognitive and Social Development of children (ages 5 to 11)

Various scholars have tried to explain both the cognitive and social development that occurs during the human development. For instance, Erickson theory of social and cognitive development explains various stages of life that are experienced in the entire process of development. According to Weiten (2010) Erickson’s theory cites that conflict occurs at every developmental milestone of children thereby resulting into a favourable outcome. As such, one must therefore learn and resolve both the strengths and weaknesses that accompany every stage in the process of evolving self which is characterized by trust Vs mistrust (Weiten, 2010). Kaplan (2005) terms the child’s ability to cope with such stress and adversity as resilience.

Various virtues such as hope, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, love, caring, and wisdom particularly important in helping children to go through the various changes the occur in their social and cognitive self. Similarly, the success in the process of development will depend on the individual’s ability to resolve both his and her strengths and weaknesses (Haig & Rod, 2010). He stresses that the failure to solve this problems, i.e. the problem of mistrust, during the early stages of life may lead to its re-appearance in the later stages in life. The other social developmental milestones at the age of 5-11 that were identified by Erickson include self-motivation or intrinsic drive, identity versus confusion, generality versus absorption and integrity versus despair (Weiten, 2010).

Pre-occupational (2-7yrs) and concrete operational (7-12yrs) as cited by Piaget’s theory of cognitive development offers concrete developmental milestone in the life of children aged between 4 and 11 years (Weiten, 2010). This includes progress in symbolic thought and struggle with the principle of conservation as a result of flaws in preoperational thinking. The later is characterized by centration, irreversibility, and egocentrism (Weiten, 2010).  As a matter of fact, children within the age of 5 to 7 find it hard to undo something and also to comprehend that other views that are different from theirs do exist. For instance, these children would attach human qualities to other non-living things such as being curious of when an inanimate object such as an ocean would stop to rest (Weiten, 2010).

For instance, when a child watches the same volume of water that is being poured into two containers of different width, he/she would express his/her belief that the water in the two containers are not of the same volume (Weiten, 2010; Haig & Rod, 2010). This is because such child concentrates only on one aspect, the width. Such children merely act on the physical objects and can not perform various mental operations. Children at this stage are also prone to asking many questions about what happens around them based on their primitive reasoning and also concentrate on a few selected characteristics.

The next stage of concrete operational (7-11 yrs) is characterized by acquisition of internal transformations, manipulations, and reorganization of mental structures (Weiten, 2010). That is, the child begins to solve most of the mental problems experienced at the initial stage. The children also learn how to use their logics to explain the happenings around them appropriately. At this stage, the child can now concentrate on a number of characteristics, can distinguish different objects, and can also name the objects based on different aspects. Although children between the ages of 7 and 11 years have attained some level of mental operation, still they can only perform those mental activities that involve images of tangible objects and actual events. That is, the children at level of cognitive development can only solve problems that are related to the actual objects or events and not otherwise.

Two major critical components of cognitive developmental milestones are attained by children between the age of 7 and 11 years. This includes mastery of reversibility and decentration (Wieten, 2010; Haig & Rod, 2010). Decentration is the ability of the child to embrace more than one feature of an aspect or problem at ago thereby offering the child the ability to appreciate the varied means of looking at things (Kaplan, 2005). On the other hand, reversibility as cited by Piagent’s theory of cognitive development allows the children aged between 7 to 11 years to mentally undo an action.

The social development of children aged 5 to 11 years can be explained using Vygotsky theory of social development. It explores that the changes in socialization and social behaviour patterns of children as they develop in terms of their consciousness and cognition an aspect that is known as constructivism (Wieten, 2010; Haig & Rod, 2010). Most children learn as they socialize and interact with one another through plays. Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice that is on both the social level which comes first and then the individual level which comes later. The child’s first social development first occurs between the individuals (inter-psychological) and then learning through group experience. Consequently, the children at the age of 7 to 11 years tend to enjoy playing with one another from (group plays) where they internalize various social aspects (Haig & Rod, 2010). Most of children at the age of 5 to 11 years imitate what people do especially those that they consider to be their models. Similarly, they acquire satisfaction of certain innate biological needs as emphasized by Freud’s theory. Wieten, (2010) cited that in Erickson’s theory, he emphasizes the desire and quest to meet social needs one of the changes that occur in children aged between 7-11 years. This includes the need to acquire new friends and treat opposite sex differently.

From Vygotsky’s view children at the age of 7 to 11 acquire the ability to do or perform certain tasks on their own. He refers to this as zone of proximal development (ZPD) which he describes as the ability of the student to perform a task independently as compared to his ability under the guidance of others. Children at the age of 7 to 11 years also attain resilient or stress resistant status, and defy expectations. That is, the children acquire ability to adapt to any environment even one that is composed of stressors (Kaplan, 2005).

The Relevance of the Theories

At the age of 5 years, the child is expected to join kindergarten school. The child therefore begins to learn from the wider school community and thus the parent-child bond is weakened. As such, the child begins to internalise various aspects of life that begins to influence his/her understanding of the surrounding world. At the age of 6 most children, in kindergarten, have adjusted to fit into the school community where they develop new friendship networks with the fellow children as well as relation with the teachers. The child also begins to have a better understanding of how the world around her works and somehow begins to be independent.

B.  Adolescent and Adult Developmental Characteristics:

Erick Erickson theory posits that all the stages that precede the adolescent stage, human development majorly depend upon what is done to an individual. However, it is evident that when an individual reaches adolescent stage he/she begins to be independent. This is because adolescent is a stage at which an individual is neither a child nor an adult. At this stage in life the adolescent’s major concern is to find their own identity in life. The individual therefore have to struggle with both the social interactions and the moral issues. Similarly, the adolescents also face the challenge to separate themselves from the larger society. Various developmental milestones characterize this stage.

Role Confusion: Erickson’s theory of development cites that at this stage the individuals seem to withdraw from their responsibilities and any failure to solve this problem may lead to role confusion (Kotre, 1984). This is the stage at which one develops his/her individual philosophy in life. As such, adolescents tend to embrace the ideals that are conflict free rather than the reality. Despite the fact that this age group have no much experience, they constantly find it easy to replace the ideal with experience. Adolescent’s brain seeks immediate reward more often than the younger children seek and has not developed the ability of self control demonstrated by maturity as in the case of the adults (Temple University, 2011).

Most adolescents readily engage in risky behaviours. This is probably because their brains are wired biologically to engage in such behaviours. Those who are still at teenage stage are more sensitive to rewards and highly influenced by such things as opposed to children and adults. Some of the risky behaviours that the teens involve themselves into include binge drinking, smoking and careless driving. The Adolescents on the other hand are addicted to various behaviours because of the activity that takes place at the mesolimbic dopamine in their system (Temple University, 2011).

Adult hood stage: Erickson separates this stage to young, middle, and late adulthood (Haig & Rod, 2010). During the young adulthood the individual experiences either intimacy Vs solidarity. Any failure in this may lead to isolation. In addition the basic strength of the adults is founded in the level of affiliation and love. As such, the adults constantly seek one or more companions and love which may later lead them to marriage (Weiten, 2010). Erickson’s theory explains that any adult who fails to establish meaningful relationship often resort into isolation as a way of defence. However, those who succeed in their relationship look at themselves as being superior to others (Haig & Rod, 2010).

The middle adulthood: this is period occurs between the age of 35 to 65 years and may extend to above the 65 years in some individuals. This is a stage where the outcome of the ego development is expressed as either Generativity Vs self absorption or stagnation in case of failure (Weiten, 2010). These changes were postulated by Erick Erickson. Most individual at middle adulthood obtain and utilize their strength in serving the society in various productive areas. They also receive the necessary care and they want to be in charge of their families. On the other hand, the individuals have role of ensuring that culture is transferred to the family (Weiten, 2010). At a later stage, middle adults can be faced with the middle age crisis resulting from the need to redefine their roles especially as their children leave their homes to establish their families.

At late Adulthood: an individual either experiences integrity or despair based on his/her failures or achievements. This is the time when an individual looks back to see the way he/she has lived his/her life. This measure is basically meant to help the person to determine whether he/she has been able to achieve the anticipated goals o life or not. Such people find fulfilment and integrity whenever they realize that they have been able to achieve certain state. However, feelings of failure and despair develop one is not able to ascertain any fulfilment or success in life (Weiten, 2010).

2 a. Comparison and Contrast between the Behaviourists and Constructivists Stand on Child Thinking and Learning

Behaviourism and cognitive theorists are similar based on the fact that they are all focusing on explaining human behaviour (Roeckelein, 2006). The difference however is that whereas behaviourism explains human learning in terms of the overt processes, constructivists use the covert mental processes to account for the learning process. A child therefore acquires a new behaviour by linking the information in the environment to the cues that she/he already has in the mind according to cognitive theory of learning. The behavioural theorists however argue that children learn plainly through the modification of their environment by the people around them.

Learning takes place through association of environmental stimuli and certain behaviour according to behaviourists.  Roeckelein (2006) cited that a child who is punished for certain behaviour therefore begins to associate the behaviour with an aversive stimulus (punishment) and stops the behaviour according to behaviourists. The cognitive school of thought however argues that this thinking and learning takes place in the covert process in a child’s mind. The child has to relate the cues of the punishment and link it to the response that invited it. The learning process is only successful when the child is successful in connecting the behaviour with the punishment through a cognitive process (Roeckelein, 2006).

Behavioural theorists believe that learning involves alterations in the environment within which observed or desired behaviour is occurring. Therefore a child’s learning process is influenced by the consequences that a particular response brings. Positive reinforcement of a particular behaviour in a child enhances learning of the behaviour. While negative reinforcement discourages certain behaviour. According to behaviourists therefore, learning takes place through positive and negative reinforcement. However, the cognitive theorists maintain that a child is actively involved in the learning process is not passively a victim of environmental manipulation. For a child to learn a particular behaviour or response, the child must link the information that was formerly learned with the current information.

Cognitive theorists stress that a child has a mental ability to organize the learned information in the mind and reproduce it (Roeckelein, 2006). This is the function of the memory. From the already learned concepts, a child learns new concepts by relating them to initial information. A teacher could therefore use the already familiar concept of addition to help students find answers to another related simple problem. Behaviourists however, emphasize that positive reinforcement could be used to shape the way the child learns the material through shaping technique. A teacher could for example give a student a candy for the new learned exercise.

2B. Major Behavioural and Cognitive Theorists and their Major ideas

The most conspicuous figures in behaviourism include John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, B.F Skinner, and Edward Thorndike among others. Pavlov is a significant figure in behaviourism because of his famous classical conditioning experiment. In this approach, Pavlov posited that learning is a reflexive process in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to produce a response that was evoked by another stimulus. Pavlov’s experiment gave him the title as the founder of behavioural psychology (Roeckelein, 2006).

John B. Watson was the first psychologists to come up with the name ‘behaviourism’ (Roeckelein, 2006). Watson whose psychology developed from Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiments posited that behaviour is observable and has a relationship with other observable events in the environment of an organism. Watson’s theory of behaviourism was thus focused on the effects of environmental stimuli on behaviour.

B.F Skinner is remembered for his famous ‘Skinner Box’ experiment that contributed in the development of operant conditioning as a behavioural theory. In operant conditioning, behaviour is considered caused by the consequences that it invites (Roeckelein, 2006). Aversive stimulus reduces behaviour while a pleasant stimulus promotes a response according to Skinner.

Edward Thorndike was another behaviourist who is remembered for his ‘law of effect’ illustration of operation conditioning. Roeckelein (2006) cited that he argued like Skinner that behaviour is dictated by the consequences that it evokes. A behaviour that is reinforced is thus likely to reoccur while a behaviour that is punished disappears.

Cognitive theory is associated with constructivists such as Albert Bandura and Jean Piaget. Cognitive theorists are concerned with the development of a person’s thought process. Albert Bandura is significant for his popular social cognitive theory of human behaviour. His theory that is commonly known as the social learning theory, maintains that behaviour is learnt through observation of the events in one’s social environment (Roeckelein, 2006).

Jean Piaget is popular for his theory of cognitive theory.  His theory has been widely used in explaining the stages in the development of children. This theory has been greatly influential in educational and learning approaches. He maintained that children’s thinking is not entirely smooth but rather is phased with points when the child acquires new skills and capabilities.

2C: Applications/Implications of Behavioural and Cognitive Theorist for Instruction of Young Children

Both behavioural and cognitive theories have been applied in the instruction of young children.  Piaget’s cognitive development theory has been largely applied in education of young children. Roeckelein (2006) cited that when children manifest the thinking that Piaget called concrete operational, they develop a concept of numbers. This has been used in the elementary education by elementary teachers to teach young children basic calculations. Teaching of elementary grade children is thus greatly informed by the Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.

Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory of learning has been used by teachers to train young children new behaviours. The child learns certain behaviour by observing what other people are doing. In a class a child will learn, by observing other children that it is time to sit and follow the instructor’s directive. Either the child learns how to write by watching the teacher write a letter on the reading board. When an instructor punishes a child for misconduct, the other children will avoid the same behaviour as since they witnessed the instructor punish it. Social learning has thus been applied in instruction of young children (Roeckelein, 2006).

Behaviourism has been applied mostly through conditioning of the behaviours of children. This is done mostly through the use of punishments, negative and positive reinforcements. Instructors negatively reinforce a behaviour that is not desired by subjecting the child to an aversive stimulus like being denied a candy for misconduct while others are given (Roeckelein, 2006). A child who progresses well in elementary calculations is reinforced /motivated with a candy. When children learn to associate certain learning responses with reinforcement they will repeat them. This promotes learning of new concepts. When children associate certain behaviour with punishment from the instructor, they will tend to avoid it. Therefore behaviourism and Thorndike’s law of effect are greatly applied in the instruction of young children.

3. A. Description of a Student with Motivation Issues in my Class

In this question I will give a case study of an 8 year old child; Mary who was born to black immigrant parents staying near the city of California. Mary was in her second grade in Kinsley School. She was a big bodied girl who at her age weighed 25 kilograms. From the first observation, one could easily realise that there was something unusual with the pupil.

Contrary to other pupils in her class and her peers, Mary was always in isolation and even avoided going for games. She suffered from withdrawal problems because of being stigmatised by other pupils who constantly teased her because of her weight. I learnt that contrary to her then poor performance, Mary was a very bright pupil during her kindergarten and her grade one levels. It is thus this body image that affected her performance and battered her self-image.

For one week I tried to establish observe her daily behaviour and to establish a closer relationship with her. I used this relationship to understand what Mary’s problem really was. Mary had many negative perspectives about her size. All the stories she narrated to me pointed out how at such a younger stage, Mary had known several stories of the ladies with similar body sizes who never achieved in life. According to her belief such ladies were always not well groomed and not accepted in the society.

Mary’s condition was made worse by the stereotypes about the fat ladies in her school. The problem had a great negative effect on her self esteem and determination to achieve in life. She thus needs motivation to build her self-esteem and change her perspective and attitude towards life.  This will restore her self-confidence enable her to overcome the teasing of the peers and the maltreatment from the parents. Restoration of her self-esteem and confidence will improve even her performance.

3B. Analysis of Mary based on Self Determination and Self-Efficacy Theory

Self Determination theory is based on the principle that an individual has the right, autonomy and internal locus of control over his/her own life (Brown, 2007). Mary thus needs to be motivated and encouraged to take control of her life and avoid being vulnerable to her environment. The fact that many girls with her body size have always failed should not make her seal her fate as a failure. Self determination is achieved only through support from the institutions in one’s environment (Brown, 2007). This implies that Mary has become vulnerable and isolates herself because of she lacks psychosocial support. The key people in her environment such as teachers, peers and parents should provide Mary with a supportive context for self determination. She also needs to take control over her own attitudes, regulate herself and overcome the teasing and the stereotypes. She can increase her choice, define her own self-image and enhance her self direction.

Self Efficacy Theory stresses the capability of an individual to organize and execute the actions relevant for management of prospective situations (Urdan & Pajares, 2006).  It is an individual’s belief in his ability to succeed in a certain situation. This theory is supported by Bandura’s Social cognitive theory of development where people interpretation of their experiences, there own believes and cognition enable them to evaluate themselves and adjust their behaviours accordingly. Self efficacy thus provides the basis for individual motivation and personal accomplishments in the long term (Urdan & Pajares, 2006).

Mary can therefore overcome her situation of being teased and stigmatised by boosting her image and esteem. She can succeed in life just like the other girls with medium sized bodies succeed. She should therefore overcome the challenges of being isolated and feel free to interact with other children knowing that she functional as they are. With this approach, Mary can even challenge the parents’ attitude and work hard, improve her academic performance and succeed in life. The stereotypes of failure can thus be broken when Mary pursues her goals efficaciously. Her body size is thus not a hindrance since there are others with the same sizes that are achievers because they believed in themselves.

3C. Strategies that can be Employed to help Mary using Self Determination and Self-Efficacy Theories

Self-efficacy theory strategies

Self-efficacy theory could apply the verbal persuasion strategy in dealing with Mary’s motivational needs. In this strategy, Mary can be motivated using positive verbal feedbacks especially from her teachers, peers and parents. This involves encouraging Mary that she can accomplish her goals in life. Convincing Mary that she can achieve her academic dreams and accept her body size not as a barrier to success but as ‘normal’ is good self-efficacy strategy (Urdan & Pajares, 2006).

The modelling strategy can also be used under the self-efficacy theory. In this approach, Mary can be exposed to other people who had big body sizes and still achieved their dreams in life. Exposure especially to her age mates with big bodies that are free to interact with their peers, studious and registering better grades can particularly challenge Mary to work hard and also excel in the work that she does. Exposure to peer models can particularly help Mary to increase her esteem, motivation and self-efficacy (Urdan & Pajares, 2006).

Self-determination theory strategies

The autonomy strategy can be used to boost Mary’s self image and determination in life. This means that the people around her such as the peers, teachers and even the parents should be able to build her self image and esteem (Brown, 2007).This is possible especially when her locus of control is built. The teachers and peers should encourage Mary that even with her condition; she can still perform well as other children. Either, the autonomy strategy involves encouraging Mary not to allow the peers stereotype and tease her. When Mary learns that her destiny is absolutely in her hands and not dependent on social evaluation, she will learn to be aggressive and succeed despite her size and the social labels she is already struggling with.

Intrinsic motivation strategy is based on the belief that if a person has an internal sense of personal drive the external barriers become insignificant (Brown, 2007). If Mary can change her attitude towards her body size and attitudes towards her social environment she will be able improve even her currently declined academic performance. Intrinsic motivation will push Mary to continue interacting and associating with her peers even if she does not get much extrinsic motivation from the parents, teachers and even her parents.

4. A. Nature and Importance of Developmentally Appropriate Practice for Preschool and Elementary School Child

Developmentally appropriate learning is a system that focuses on the child as a developing human being and lifelong active participant in the learning process. The child constructs meaning and knowledge through her interaction with others and the materials and items in the learning environment (Mayesky, 2009). The environment should thus be structured in such a way that both the learners and the teacher learns from one another. In this setting, the classroom should be created in such a way that the interests of the children are taken into account.

In this approach the teacher is also expected to create a learning environment where the learners can easily develop their skills, pursue their interest and practice to be independent (Nutbrown, 2011). In this system of learning, children are allowed to choose the various activities in which they would want to engage themselves. The learners should also be allowed to determine the duration for which such activities should last. The space in the learning process should also be large enough to allow for free movement of children between 5-11 years (Nutbrown, 2011).

The parents can apply the developmentally appropriate practice in enhancing optimal development of their children (Mayesky, 2009).  The parents can select child play activities that are developmentally appropriate to the growth and development of their children. Child play and learning activities should include creative exercises such as art activities. The parents should thus allow children to use arts to illustrate what is going on in their minds, express themselves in relation to their environment and interact with each other (Mayesky, 2009).

Further, the parents can be encouraged by a teacher to adopt the ‘show and tell’ approach of learning to help their children. This can serve to help children to develop communication, listening and problem solving skills. Through this parents can be able to learn what the children feel, think and capability of the children in solving their own problems. Such forums may be appropriate in enabling children to develop new ideas and concepts about life and their interactive environment.

4. B. Two Instructional Activities that is developmentally appropriate to Language-Age 8-11.

Scaffolding activities: Scaffolding for children aged between 8 and 11years involves a teacher/instructor providing contextual supports to children to find meaning. The teacher thus supports the learning process of a child through various activities such as simplified language, teacher modelling, visuals, and graphics and hands-on-learning (Nutbrown, 2011).

The teacher’s role is to facilitate learning through simplifying the language. The teacher can achieve this by shortening selections, mostly using present tense and avoiding the use of idioms. In a language class, a teacher can implement scaffolding by asking children for completion answers and not generation ones (Nutbrown, 2011). For example using a method where children are given a list of answers to choose from. Use of visual aids is particularly common in scaffolding especially for language learning. Children can also use a think aloud strategy where for example the children are encouraged by the instructor to read sentences aloud.

Front Loaded Support: This is used during the introduction of new information with front loaded support. Here the teacher offers the support to the student until he is able to perform the task independently. This process begins with the teacher performing the activity in question while the student watches, in the second step, the teacher still performs the task but with the help of the learner. In the third step the teacher now leaves the student to perform the task with his assistance (Nutbrown, 2011). In the last step of support the learner now performs the task while the teacher watches. This helps the learner to relate the new information to the older one and learn progressively. The teacher also provides security to the children. Here the teacher seeks the improvement of the understanding of the children (Nutbrown, 2011).

5. High/Scope Educational Approach for Children Aged between 3 and 8 years

There are various approaches in educating young children between this age group. One of these approaches is commonly referred to as the High/Scope as the most appropriate approach for children aged between 3 to 8 years. This approach views children as active learners and contributors to their own learning process (Munsch & Levine, 2010).  They learn best from activities they plan, execute and reflect upon. The role of the adult in this approach is therefore to plan learning activities on the basis of children’s interests, facilitate learning through encouragement and engage in adult-child interaction strategies that are positive (Munsch & Levine, 2010).

This approach is referred to as an active learning approach since it enables children to learn from personal interaction with ideas, more direct experience with physical objects, and by applying logical thinking to the learning activities and experiences (Munsch & Levine, 2010).  Adults and children are therefore partners in the learning process. In this approach, either the adults or the child can initiate the learning process.

Elements of the High/Scope Curricula

A set of teaching practices for the interaction between the adult and the children. Such practices may include adult child interaction where teachers and children are all active partners in the interaction and can also be referred to as intentional teaching (Jackman, 2012).  The learning process thus involves striking a balance between the adult instructor and the child learner (Brophy, 2010). The adult-children interaction seeks to encourage learning in specific content and to help the children resolve any kind of conflict.

Classroom arrangement, material and equipments; in this approach there is careful arrangement of both the available space and the various learning materials. The approach thus promotes active learning. This may be done through dividing the centre into several areas which are of interest to the children. Such areas may include specific areas for house, book, small toy, house, art, water and sand.

Daily routine: in this approach the children are made able to anticipate what happens next and thus have a sense of control. This is achieved through a consistent daily routine plan. Some of the key elements of this routine include time for groups, greetings, outside time and time for the review of the plans of the day.

Curriculum content: in this approach the curriculum is built for the activities initiated by both the teacher and the children. The curricula main areas of focus include the various approaches used in the learning process, the social, emotional and physical development, arts and sciences, literacy health issues and the children well-being. From these areas, 58 key indicators of development are derived from within these key areas (Merch, 2011).

Assessment: in this approach the various instruments are developed for accessing both the progress of the children and the quality of the program. The children progress is evaluated based on the Child Observation Record (COR). Another tool, program Quality Assessment is used to evaluate the quality of the program in various areas (Jackman, 2012). These include the management of the program, the qualification and the development of the staff, the involvement of the parents and the services provided for by the family, planning and assessment of the curriculum, the daily routine and the learning environment (Brophy, 2010).

The strengths of the approach: This approach therefore has defined teaching practices that enables the creation of relevant programs. In the approach, there are also tools for assessment of the learning process. It is therefore easy to measure how well the teachers involved teach and the extent to which the children learn. The approach also, through the encouragement of group times in its daily routine, allows the learners to benefit from the diverse individual experiences from one another (Brophy, 2010).

The group time here provides a good opportunity for the teacher to introduce new learning materials, concepts and activities. The approach also meets the high standard for the progress of the child and program quality. The assessment approaches that are used here cover all the aspects of areas of child development and reflect the widely accepted practices in the field. The approach can therefore be employed in a various states and among the professionals (Brophy, 2010).

There are other principles used in the Reggio Emilia approach to children learning that are also applicable to this approach. These are outlined as follows;

Community support and parental involvement: In Reggio Emilia’s Approach, it is a tradition that the larger community supports the families with young children. The children’s welfare is viewed as state’s collective responsibility. Both the infant and the pre-primary program in this approach are financially supported by the community. In Italy it is witnessed that some citizens have even registered as members in various school committees. This gives the citizen an opportunity to participate in the formulation of various educational policies (Himmelman, 1999).

This gives parents an opportunity to discuss various child development concerns and to plan curriculum. In the approach, the parents are also involved in the evaluation of the learning process. Noting that in the High/Scope approach both the learner and the adult are viewed as equal partners in the learning process, the approach therefore takes into account the contribution from the members of the larger community.

The second principle that applies to both the approaches is Concept of viewing the teacher as a learner. Both the approaches are based on the understanding that the teachers should continuously seek to enhance their understanding of the learners. The teachers in both cases play the role of an observer and seek to understand each child’s uniqueness. The teacher basically provides a favourable environment for the learning process (Kilpatrick, Barrett & Jones, 2003).

Both the two approaches also embrace the role of the environment in the education process. In the Reggio Emilia’s approach, the way in which the learning environment is organised is of much interest and is significant in enhancing the learning process.  Reggio Emilia’s approach, as with the high/scope approach maintain that the child’s learning environment facilitates the learning process of the preschoolers (Kilpatrick et al, 2003). In the approach the learning environment is referred to as the “third teacher”. The spaces therefore we planned. In all the approaches the environment is arranged in such a way that it engages anybody viewing it. The environment in both the approaches has well designated spaces for the activities which are done in groups (Brophy, 2010).

The environment in both cases is also designed in such a way that it leaves enough space for the interaction of the learners. The environment in the high/scope approach also involves proper display of the equipments and materials that facilitate the learning process. As a learner interacts with the environment, learning process becomes more practical and real to the child (Brophy, 2010).

6. Ways in which my Masters Degree Program has influenced my present Position

This Masters Degree program has been relevant and useful in many ways. The course has elevated me to a position where I now qualify as an educational psychologist having completed my training in education psychology. After completing coursework and practical training in this course, I have sharpened my skills and capabilities. This will increase my chances of securing a better employment position with the education and social development sector. I am empowered to seek employment with various research institutions including universities. I have built my ability to research in areas like learning and education, cognitive and social processes of human development psycho-educational studies.

The course has also equipped me with skills necessary to participate in various undertakings aimed towards the improvement of the education sector. Such undertakings may include the development of the curricula and the formulation and revision of existing education policies to take into account the needs of various age groups and needs by the learners; the disabled children. My understanding of the role of educational psychologists in curriculum development and management has significantly been shaped by this course.

In the learning process and training in this course, I have been well equipped with knowledge necessary in the designing of a proper learning classroom for any given age group especially the children. My understanding of the classroom management has also improved as the course has enlightened me on the various components of a learning environment. Besides, through this course I have leant the role of designing the learning environment to suite the learning needs and the stage of development of the learners.

The course has also enhanced my capacity to solve the various problems that are a hindrance to the learning process. These are such problems as low learning motivation by individuals. Designing of developmentally appropriate learning programs has been enhanced in me through the training. As such I am able to help in education program development and for learners in different stages of development. With the understanding that every individual different and every group is unique, I stand a better chance of assisting in problem solving based on proper understanding of the context of the presenting problem and challenge.

The skills and knowledge on both the learning process and cognition that I have acquired through this course put me at a better chance of integrating relevant information concerning the learning and cognition process. This can greatly enhance my ability in training parents, teachers and other key persons working with children to be effective in their approaches. I can now evaluate various assumptions in the formal education. Such assumption includes the proposition that students are always able to retain both the skills and knowledge they obtain from school. They are only passive receivers of new information in the learning process and not necessarily participative in learning environment.

The course exposed me to theories of development including the cognitive theories, behaviourism, and the social theories. The knowledge of such theories has thus enabled me to understand the difference in the behaviours exhibited by different personalities. Educational Psychology has enhanced my knowledge and skills in the leadership. This is because my understanding of the individual behaviour and behaviour modification has been enhanced.

This course has enhanced my ability to interpret research findings. The course has also equipped me for better facilitation of the teaching and learning processes. I can thus practice best teaching practices in both a class set up and at the community college level. I can also take up an advanced job related study in masters. This is because the course work has also left me better place to pursue my ambitions of further studies in human learning.

References

Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. 2nd Ed.  Alexandria: Association.

Brophy, J. E. (2010). Motivating students to learn. New York: Routledge.

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The social life of information. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press..

Brown, L. V. (2007). Psychology of motivation. New York: Nova Science Publ.

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