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OEP 101

Vincent I. Lema

OEP 101

Educational Psychology

Vincent I. Lema
Department of Psychology and Special Education
Assistant Lecturer
The Open University of Tanzania

The Open University of Tanzania

P.O. Box 23409,
Tel: 22 2668992/2668820
Fax: 22- 2668759
Email: vc@out.ac.tz, dvc-ac@out.ac.tz, dvcrm@out.ac.tz
Web: http://www.out.ac.tz

The Open University of Tanzania

Kawawa Road
P.O. Box 23409
Dar es Salaam

The Open University of Tanzania, 2013

ISBN 978 9987 00 223 8
First Edition, 2013

All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any
retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of The
Open University of Tanzania.


INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE........................................................................vii

LECTURE ONE.............................................................................................................1
INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY.......................................................................1
1.1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................1
1.2 DEFINITION OF PSYCHOLOGY.......................................................................1
1.3 MAIN AREAS OF PSYCHOLOGY.....................................................................2

OBJECTIVES OF PSYCHOLOGY.....................................................................3

1.5 HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY.............................................................................4

1.5.1 Structuralism........................................................................................................5
1.5.2 Functionalism........................................................................................................5
1.5.3 Psychodynamic.....................................................................................................5
1.5.4 Behaviourism.......................................................................................................6
1.5.5 Cognitive Perspective............................................................................................6
1.6 BRANCHES OF PSYCHOLOGY........................................................................7
1.6.1 Developmental Psychology..................................................................................7
1.6.2 Social Psychology................................................................................................8
1.6.3 Cognitive Psychology..........................................................................................8
1.6.4 School Psychology...............................................................................................8
1.6.5 Experimental Psychology.....................................................................................8
1.6.6 Counseling Psychology........................................................................................9
1.6.7 Clinical psychology...............................................................................................9
LECTURE TWO..........................................................................................................10
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY AND TEACHING:..............................................10
DEFINITION AND HISTORY....................................................................................10
2.1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................10
2.2 WHAT IS EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY?...................................................10
2.3.1 Subject matter knowledge.................................................................................13
2.3.2 Knowledge of students......................................................................................13
2.3.3 Learning process................................................................................................13
2.3.4 Instructional strategies.......................................................................................13


2.3.5 Motivational skills...............................................................................................14

2.3.6 Classroom management skills............................................................................14
2.3.7 Assessment strategies.........................................................................................14
2.3.8 Technological skills.............................................................................................14
2.4 HISTORY OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY..............................................15
2.5 CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHER FIELDS AND THEORIES.............................16
LECTURE THREE......................................................................................................18
RESEARCH IN EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY...................................................18
3.1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................18
3.2 WHAT IS A SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH?............................................................18
3.2.1 Conceptualizing the problem..............................................................................19
3.2.2 Data Collection....................................................................................................19
3.2.3 Conclusions.........................................................................................................19
3.3 MAJOR RESEARCH METHODS........................................................................20
3.3.1 Descriptive Study................................................................................................20
3.3.2 Single Case Study...............................................................................................21
3.3.3 Correlational study..............................................................................................21
3.3.4 Experimental Research........................................................................................22
3.3.5 Time span researches...........................................................................................22
3.3.6 Action Research..................................................................................................23
3.4 ETHICS IN RESEARCH......................................................................................24
LECTURE FOUR........................................................................................................26
DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHILD............................................................................26
4.1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................26
4.2 MAIN CONCEPTS...............................................................................................26

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT DURING CHILDHOOD...............................29

4.4.1 The sensorimotor stage........................................................................................31

4.4.2 Preoperational stage............................................................................................32
4.4.3 Concrete Operations stage..................................................................................33
4.4.4 Formal Operations Stage.....................................................................................34
4.5 IMPLICATIONS OF THE THEORY TO TEACHERS.........................................35
4.6 LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT...........................................................................36

4.7 PSYCHOSOCIAL (SOCIO-EMOTIONAL) DEVELOPMENT..........................39

4.7.1 Bronfenbrenners Ecological Theory..................................................................40
4.7.2 Eriksons stages of development.........................................................................41
4.8 PARENTING STYLES AND PEERS...................................................................44
4.9 DEVELOPMENT OF SELF................................................................................47
LECTURE FIVE..........................................................................................................52
LEARNING THEORIES AND TEACHING..............................................................52
5.1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................52
5.2 WHAT IS A THEORY?..........................................................................................52
5.3 BEHAVIORAL APPROACHES............................................................................53
5.3.1 Classical conditioning.........................................................................................55
5.3.2 Operant conditioning (Instrument conditioning)................................................59
5.3.3 Social learning theory.........................................................................................65
5.4 COGNITIVE THEORIES OF LEARNING.........................................................66
5.4.1 Gestalts psychologists.........................................................................................67
5.4.2 Cognitive constructivism....................................................................................67
5.4.3 Piagets theory of learning..................................................................................68
LECTURE SIX............................................................................................................71
MOTIVATION AND LEARNING..............................................................................71
6.1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................71
6.2 DEFINITION OF MOTIVATION.........................................................................71
6.3 CONCEPTUAL APPROACHES TO MOTIVATION.........................................72
6.4.1 Student Attributions to Success and Failure........................................................76
6.4.2 Expectancy..........................................................................................................78
6.4.3 Teacher expectations...........................................................................................79
6.4.4 Emotions.............................................................................................................79
6.4.5 Classroom atmosphere and motivation...............................................................81
6.4.6 Need for achievement.........................................................................................81
6.4.7 Self-efficacy........................................................................................................82
6.5.1 Classroom atmosphere........................................................................................83
6.5.2 Teacher expectations...........................................................................................84
6.5.3 Helping student develop motivation to learn......................................................85

LECTURE SEVEN......................................................................................................88
7.1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................88
7.2 MEMORY............................................................................................................88
7.3 RETRIEVAL.........................................................................................................92
7.4 IMPROVING MEMORY....................................................................................96
LECTURE EIGHT.....................................................................................................103
THINKING SKILLS AND PROBLEM SOLVING..................................................103
8.1 INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................103
8.2 THINKING AND REASONING.......................................................................103
8.2.1 Reasoning..........................................................................................................104
8.2.2 Critical thinking................................................................................................107
8.2.3 Developing students critical thinking...............................................................108
8.3 PROBLEM SOLVING.......................................................................................110
8.3.1 Stumbling blocks to solving problems..............................................................112


8.4.1 Definition/Concept of Creativity.......................................................................113

8.4.2 Creativity Theories............................................................................................114
8.4.32 Fostering students creativity...........................................................................114
LECTURE NINE.......................................................................................................117
INDIVIDUAL VARIATIONS AND NEEDS.............................................................117
9.1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................117
9.2 VARIATIONS IN INTELLIGENCE.................................................................117
9.2.1 Intelligence tests................................................................................................119
9.3 VARIATIONS IN LEARNING AND THINKING STYLES..............................121
9.4 VARIATIONS IN PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT..........................122
9.5 AT-RISK STUDENTS........................................................................................125

INDIVIDUALIZED INSTRUCTION..............................................................128

LECTURE TEN.........................................................................................................131
EXCEPTIONAL LEARNERS...................................................................................131
10.1 INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................131

DEFINITION OF EXCEPTIONAL STUDENTS..........................................131

10.2.1 Blindness and Visual Impairments..................................................................132


10.2.2 Deaf and Hearing Impairments.......................................................................133

10.2.3 Physical impairments......................................................................................133
10.2.4 Speech and/or Language Disorders...............................................................134
10.2.5 Behaviour disorders......................................................................................135
10.2.6 Mental retardation.........................................................................................137
10.2.7 Learning Disabilities.....................................................................................138
10.2.8 Gifted and talented children...........................................................................140

SPECIAL EDUCATION.................................................................................141

LECTURE ELEVEN.................................................................................................146
ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING...............................................................................146


11.2 EVALUATION.................................................................................................146
11.3 WHAT IS ASSESSMENT?..............................................................................147
11.4 INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES..................................................................149
11.5 TASK ANALYSIS.............................................................................................150
11.6 APPLICATION OF BLOOMS TAXONOMY................................................152
11.6.1 The Cognitive domain.....................................................................................152
11.6.2 The affective domain.......................................................................................154
16.6.3 The Psychomotor Domain...............................................................................155
11.7 TESTS................................................................................................................156
11.7.1 Validity............................................................................................................158
11.7.2 Reliability.......................................................................................................159
11.8 TEACHER DEVELOPED TESTS...................................................................161
11.9 TYPES OF TESTS...........................................................................................162
LECTURE TWELVE.................................................................................................167
MANAGING CLASSROOM PROCESSES.............................................................167
12.1 INTRODUCTION..............................................................................................167
12.2 ISSUES ON CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT..............................................167
12.3 CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT...............................................170
12.3.1 Instruction as part of classroom management.................................................173
12.3.2 Physical environment of the classroom...........................................................174
12.3.3 Setting classroom rules and procedures..........................................................175
12.4 MAINTAINING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT........................................177
12.4.1 Causes of misbehaviour in classrooms...........................................................179

12.4.2 Controlling classroom.....................................................................................180

12.4.3 Using punishment and rewards as means of controlling classroom...............183

MANAGING INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR...........................................184


This is one of significant courses for students aspiring to become professional
teachers. The Educational Psychology course of The Open University of Tanzania
aims at explaining the various aspects of students as individuals or as a group in
respect of their learning processes. These aspects include cognitive, physical and
psychosocial development of students, their differences, theories of learning and their
influences on different perspectives of learning and consequently classroom teaching

Course overview and expectations


Lecture One is an Introduction to Psychology. It gives the definition of psychology,

narrates history of psychology briefly and describes main components of the subject
matter. You are expected to read General Psychology textbooks and use the material
as a building block to embarking on using scientific approach in studying behaviour.
Lecture Two focuses on general overview of Educational Psychology subject matter
and its scope. Main actors in the establishment of Educational Psychology as an
independent specialization within Psychology are identified, the description of its
objectives is provided, and the key principles and theories that guide teaching are
described. In Lecture Three we will have a summary of how Research in Educational
Psychology is carried out, the main tools of collecting data, data analysis and the
means of interpreting research results.
Lecture Four looks at the influences of development of the child in terms of how their
behaviour and reasoning changes overtime and how these changes effect on students
learning and classroom teaching. In Lecture Five the focus is on Learning Theories
and Learning by demonstrating the basic principles of different psychological
perspectives of learning and knowledge construction. It further gives explanations of
how the perspectives can be used in the classroom. Lecture Six defines human
motivation, its basic components and identifies its role in learning.
Lecture Seven describes the cognitive processes in learning, specifically focusing on
memory formation and retrieval as basis for knowledge acquisition from the
environment and its significance on classroom learning. Knowledge gained in lecture
seven is used in Lecture Eight to explain human thinking skills and problem solving
strategies applied in addressing challenges related to classroom learning and
application of knowledge in students daily encounters.
Lecture Nine describes individual variation and needs in terms of students variations
in intelligence, learning skills and personality; and how these factors influence
students learning in school. In Lecture Ten we look at exceptional learners i.e.
students with disabilities and the gifted ones since they have special needs that need to
be addressed for them to learn effectively in our school system.


Lecture Eleven explains assessment of learning by describing characteristics of good

standardized and self-made teacher assessment techniques and tools. Lastly, Lecture
Twelve describes managing classroom processes by demonstrating strategies for
creating classroom atmosphere that is conducive for effective learning, and explains
how to effectively deal with misbehaviour in the classroom.

At the end of this course you should able to:


Recognize types of learning and in their applications;


Interpret and analyse research studies;

(iii) Identify the various characteristics of students in secondary

(iv) Give guidance to students on learning;

List and identify characteristics of a competent teacher;

(vi) Demonstrate skills of measuring and evaluating teaching/ learning


Learning Outcomes
After taking this course you will be able to:

Meet the prerequisite of OUT degrees in Education

Describe the meaning of Educational Psychology and its relationship with General
Psychology and other branches of psychology

Give constructive critiques on Educational Psychology studies and articles

Explain how students behaviors change in respect of their physical, cognitive and
psychosocial development

Define learning and describe the key principles in different theories that explain

Describe the cognitive process in relation to memory formation and retrieval,

thinking skills and problem solving

Define motivation and explain its role in learning

Identify differences among students and describe how to accommodate these

variations in our education system for effective student learning

Facilitate effective student learning through appropriate classroom management


Construct and administer learning assessment instruments

Give consultations to students on effective learning strategies

Give consultations to other teachers on effective teaching strategies.

Characteristics of an effective teacher

From the beginning it is wise to have the characteristics of an effective teacher so that
as you go through this study material you will be creating a profile of what is
expected of you as a teacher. Teaching involves shaping students behaviour while
learning and their future lives. So, you will have a direct great influence on the lives
of the children you will be teaching and the state of the whole nation. Your personality
as a whole is significant in the teaching profession.
There are so many components of personality that form an effective teacher. Below
are some of the traits of successful teacher as described by Beth Lewis (retrieved
2011, About.com Guide):
1. Successful teachers hold high expectations from their students and they dont
accept anything less.
2. They think creatively. The best teachers think outside the box, outside the
classroom, and outside the norm.
3. Top teachers are versatile and sensitive. The best teachers live outside of their
own needs and remain sensitive to the needs of others, including students, parents,
colleagues, and the community.
4. They are curious, confident, and evolving. The best teachers renew their energy
by learning new ideas from younger teachers, and they aren't threatened by new ways
of doing things in school.
5. They are imperfectly human. The most effective educators bring their entire
selves to the job. They celebrate student successes, show compassion for struggling
parents, tell stories from their own lives, laugh at their mistakes, share their unique
quirks, and aren't afraid to be imperfectly human in front of their students.


6. Successful teachers emphasize the fun in learning and in life. The teachers I
admire most create lighthearted fun out of serious learning. They aren't afraid to be
silly because they can snap the students back into attention at will - with just a stern
look or a change in tone of voice.

The assessment of the course is as required by the regulations of The Open University
of Tanzania.
This includes Main Timed Tests and Examinations.

Study skills
This study material is used as a tool of studying Educational Psychology through
distance learning mode. Its material in the field of Educational Psychology is very
limited in scope and depth, thus you are required to search for more information and
recommendation from different sources. To grasp the material, you also need to
implement the study skills as directed to you in form of symbols in each lecture. Bear
in mind that assessment will strongly be based on the knowledge that you have
comprehensively followed the study instructions in this manual.
In the study material you will encounter a number of symbols that guide you to means
of comprehending the material. Please do not ignore them.



Welcome to the world of psychology. This course is on Educational Psychology.
However, knowledge on General Psychology is a prerequisite of understanding the
specialized field of Educational Psychology. As you know general psychology is a
course of its own. This lecture is just going to give you a broad view of the field of
psychology so that you can embark on Educational Psychology more comfortably.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Define psychology;

(ii) Describe the main objectives of psychology;

(iii) Narrate a brief history of psychology;
(iv) Describe the main branches of psychology.
In short, the subject matter of psychology is behaviour and mental processes. But
there are other many fields including political science, religion, astrology, witchcraft,
fortune telling, literature, economics, law and sociology (just to mention a few) that
deal with human behaviours. Psychology is different from these other fields since it
uses scientific approaches in studying behaviour and mental processes. So,
psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes.
Scientific approach is based on empirical evidence that is obtained objectively and
can be verified. It also makes use of measurements. Psychology uses scientific
approach in understanding the nature behaviour and the functioning of mental
processes. Explanations of behaviour based on scientific approach are more credible
than those based on mere speculations. Some of the questions related to education
addressed by psychology include: How do children learn? Why do students differ in
performance? What are best approaches of controlling classroom? And How can we
reduce aggressive behaviours in our schools? Other disciplines like medicine,

business, health, industries and vocations have questions that are also addressed by

All human activities have some relations to the field of psychology.

The above questions imply that behaviour is a very broad concept. Some behaviours
are manifested externally and can be observed directly e.g. walking, singing, writing,
and climbing a tree. However, some of behaviors are internal and can only be inferred
e.g. thinking, being happy and hating an object. As you will soon see in the definition
of the concept study is also very broad as it includes describing, understanding, and
predicting behaviour.
Human behaviour is very broad with many components that are affected by many
variables. So, in order to be able to understand the content of psychology, we have
divided it broadly into four main areas: physical, cognitive, emotions and environment
The Physical aspect is the body of the individual i.e. muscles, skeleton, glands and
sensory systems. This implies that biological processes have influence on our
behaviour. For example, hunger makes us to look for food to eat (behaviour); females
can bear children while males cannot, and writing involves coordination of eyes and
muscles in the arm.
The cognitive aspect in psychology focuses on mental activities that include memory,
thinking, problem solving and language (You know that brain is part of the physical
body, thus there is a connection between body and cognitive processes). The cognitive
component is responsible for the understanding of ourselves and the environment,
which results in capabilities and behaviours that we use to manipulate the
environment for development.
Emotions are the feelings that we have as our reaction to an object or event. These
feelings can either be pleasant or unpleasant. Pleasant feelings include being happy,

falling in love, laughing; and unpleasant feelings include being angry, sad, fearful and
unhappy. Emotions make us human (different from machines and innate objects) and
colour our lives (happy in a ceremony and sad when we lose a loved one) and affect
our behaviour (in form of reacting and acting on our emotions). There is a direct
connection between emotions and the brain, and between emotions and the physical
The environment (physical environment) has effect on our behaviour - in that, it
provides us with the necessities to survive (air, food and water); it limits or enhances
our behaviours and potentials (think of learning environment). People around us
(social environment) have direct influence on us for they take care of the young ones
(who cannot look for food or fend off negative elements in the environment, babies
cannot survive without the support of the caregivers); on the language we acquire and
in shaping our behaviours through socialization processes.
These major areas of studying psychology are interrelated and do not act in isolation
of the other areas. For example, the environment affects us (emotionally, mentally,
physiologically, socially and behaviour-wise) and we also have some influence on the
environment - be it physical or social. When we see food we like we salivate, decide
to approach the vendor, buy the food, and then enjoy eating it. Such an act is simple
and yet complex as it affects the life of the vendor, food processing, production of
food and impact on the environment. These areas also indicate that psychology is also
related to other disciplines such as biology, sociology, economics, education,
environmental science, anthropology, medicine and geography. However, you must be
aware of the boundaries between psychology and the other fields.


This subtopic is an elaboration of the term study as regards the definition of

psychology. There are four objectives of studying psychology, namely: to describe
behaviour, understand behaviour, predict behaviour, and to control behaviour.

Describe: the first objective of psychology is to describe how behaviour occurs.

Understand: the second objective is to determine the causes of behaviour.

Predict: after describing and understand the causes of behavior we are able to
predict how one will behave under certain conditions.

Control: the forth objective of psychology is to influence the behaviour of


As a teacher you may like to know what Bahati is doing and how he/she is doing it
(describe); then you may like to know why is s/he acting like that (cause); you may
also like to know if s/he will do the same in the future (predict)?; and finally what can
be done to maintain/eliminate the behaviour (control).

Use the above sequence of psychology objectives to explain about a

behavior of a person you know.


Issues relating to human behaviour have been of concern to human beings since the
beginning of history. For a long time, people have tried to address the mindbody
problem, and yet they have not come up with a complete satisfactory answer. Matters
relating to behaviour have been a subject matter in theology and philosophy (refer to
the books of religion and writings of philosophers such as Plato and Socrates).
Psychology as an independent field started in 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt established
a laboratory (read scientific approach) at Leipzig to study the structure of the mind (a
subject matter of psychology). He wanted to find the basic elements of thinking,
consciousness and other mental functions. Before then most of these issues related to
behaviour had been based on speculation. So, psychology is acknowledged to have
been started in that year because of the use of scientific method to describe a
psychological phenomenon.
Now let us look at different theoretical perspectives that underpin the history of
psychology. These theoretical perspectives indicate the way psychologists have
explained the subject matter of psychology over the time. The perspectives have been
influenced by the way people explain their experiences based on the realities of that
period. So, each perspective has been influenced by the previous perspectives and

they in turn influenced the future perspectives. Each perspective has contributed in
psychology and consequently to better understanding of human development.
However, it is worth noting that no single perspective in psychology can explain all
aspects of human behaviour. In this lecture we shall only briefly mentioning some of
these perspectives. The impact of these perspectives on education will be discussed
later in more details in the relevant lectures.
1.5.1 Structuralism
The first school of thought in psychology is called structuralism. Wilhelm Wundt
(1932-1920) was trying to find the basic elements that form conscious sensations,
feelings and images. He was influenced by the advances in physical sciences of time
(the identification of atoms in physics and cells in biology). His main method of
obtaining these elements was called introspection i.e. self observation. He trained his
assistants to report verbally what they were sensing when presented with an object.
For example, an assistant will hold a banana and report what he experienced in term
of his sensation. The main limitation of introspection was lack of objectively in that
results could not be independently verified. The trained persons on introspection










misunderstandings among themselves.

1.5.2 Functionalism
This school of thought was formed in USA by William James who was influenced by
Charles Darwins concept of natural selection i.e. survival for the fittest. He believed
that psychology should investigate the functions or purposes of consciousness and not
the structure of consciousness as advocated by Wundt. The interest was on how
peoples behaviour function to adopt the demands of the real world around them.
Based on this perspective John Dewey developed the first school of psychology and
the best ways of meeting educational needs of children.
1.5.3 Psychodynamic
The major force under this perspective was a physician called Sigmund Freud (18561939). He was born in Vienna - Austria and later on moved to USA. His theory is
based on the observations he made when treating people with psychological disorders.
He relied on interpretations he made on the meanings of the dreams, fears and

thoughts of his clients. He postulated that there is interplay between mental processes
and behaviour, thus the concept psychodynamics. He asserted that most of our actions
are controlled by our minds as result of the way we unconsciously think, feel and
wish. Thus, the unconsciousness component of us has more influence on us than the
consciousness component. Sometimes there is a conflict between the motives of our
feelings, thoughts and wishes leading into a conflict within us. He believed that these
conflicts have no physical basis but have a strong impact on the way we live. The
main contribution of this perspective is the acknowledgment of the importance of
childhood experiences on the quality of life in later years and the role of psychology
in treating people with psychological problems through therapy.
Search the following psychoanalysis concepts in psychology textbooks:

id, super ego and ego.

1.5.4 Behaviourism
This school of thought originated in the USA and was a modification of
functionalism. The behaviourists believe that one cannot objectively observe and
verify processes that take place in the mind of a person. They rejected introspection
and other methods used in psychoanalysis as not being truly scientific. Instead they
proposed that psychology should only focus on observable behavior and the
environmental conditions that have influence on how human beings behave. The
methods of research in psychology should be the same as those used in other sciences.
B.F. Skinner (1904 1990) is the best known behaviourist who observed that behaviour
of an organism can be controlled by the manipulation of the environment.
Behaviorists insist that behaviour is controlled by its consequences. If behaviour is
followed by reinforcement then it will be repeated under the same conditions.
However, if it is followed by punishment the likelihood of it reoccurring under the
same conditions decreases. Behaviourism was the major force in psychology between
1950 and 1970 and was adapted in approaches of learning and teaching. The main
limitation of behaviorism was that it ignored mental processes which are also very
important in influencing behaviour.
1.5.5 Cognitive Perspective

Gestalt is a German word meaning whole or pattern. This perspective was

postulated by three Germans who had immigrated to USA. For them human behaviour
cannot solely be explained by behaviour alone or reduced into single elements as
explained by the behaviorists. They were also against the notion that humans are
passive to the environment. They believed that humans are rather active in gaining
experiences from the environment.

Gestalt psychologists put more emphasis on

mental processes i.e. how we organize sensory information into meaningful state
through perception, memory and thinking. Based on a number of experiments they
proposed that brain automatically organizes sensory information into meaningful
Gestalt perspective can be considered as one of the foundation of cognitive
perspective. Currently, more psychologists hold the cognitive perspective rather than
the behavioral perspective. Cognitive psychologists hold that psychology should also
include memory systems that have influence on how sensory information is received,
processed, stored and retrieved or forgotten. Also they believe that traits related to
mental functions such as emotions, memories, motivation and beliefs have effects on
our behaviours and learning. It is safe to say that this perspective has been influenced
by the development of computers.

Gestalt portends that: The whole is different from the sum of parts.

Cognitive perspective
This perspective has evolved from structuralism and believes that most of human
behaviour is rooted in the mind. They focus on peoples understanding of the world
i.e. how they think, understand and think about the world around them.
As the psychology has being growing it has created many areas of specialization
within the field. There are several branches of psychology. However in this lecture we
are only going to focus on a few that are closely related to education.
1.6.1 Developmental Psychology

Developmental Psychology studies the changes that occur as humans grow and
develop. It describes how human body changes and how we adapt in these changes.
For example, at which level of development do children recognize or become aware
of themselves? What is the sequence involved in walking and what do adolescence do
in response to the physiological changes (puberty) occurring at this stage? Also
developmental psychology describes cognitive and psychosocial changes of
individual. It looks on aspects in the environment that have effect on the individual as
she/he grows. Do children become aggressive or westernized because of watching
1.6.2 Social Psychology
Social Psychology looks at the interaction of the individual and the society i.e. how
individuals behaviour is affected by social factors. Topics under this area include
socialization process, prejudice, peer pressure, mob justice and the way people view
themselves and how they view others.
1.6.3 Cognitive Psychology
Cognition stems from the Latin word meaning "to know". Cognitive psychology
investigates aspects of human cognition i.e. all our mental abilities and processes
including perceiving, learning, remembering, thinking, reasoning, and understanding.
It studies how people acquire and apply knowledge or information. It is closely
related to other cognitive sciences and it is influenced by artificial intelligence,
computer science, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, biology, physics, and
1.6.4 School Psychology
School Psychology is a branch of psychology that applies principles of psychology to
the diagnosis and treatment of children's and adolescents' behavioural and learning
problems. School psychologists carry out psychological and psycho educational
assessment; counseling; and consultation; and also in the ethical, legal and
administrative codes in the teaching profession.
1.6.5 Experimental Psychology

Experimental Psychology is interested in using controlled experiments to study

psychological processes. It looks at the human mental processes and behaviour using
scientific method, research, experimentation and statistics.
1.6.6 Counseling Psychology
Counseling Psychology focuses on providing psychological therapy to individuals
experiencing normal emotional, social, vocational, educational and developmental
problems. Counseling psychologists are trained to have a variety of counseling skills.
1.6.7 Clinical psychology
Clinical psychology is devoted to understanding and finding treatment to people
experiencing serious emotional, mental and behaviour disorders such as depression,
anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders. Clinical psychologists specialize in a few
areas of the disorders and work in clinical setting.

In this lecture we have defined psychology and identified the main

objectives of studying psychology. We also looked briefly at the history
of psychology by focusing on different perspective since psychology
became an independent discipline in 1879 when scientific approach was
used on try to understand a psychological issue. The last part was on
some of branches in psychology related to the field of education.

1. Make a list of the above branches, then observe students in a school

and relate your observations to each of these branches.
2. Based on several books make a list of the primary topics in
psychology and then relate each to specific component of
learning/teaching process.
3. In your words elaborate the summary then go through the lecture to
verify your accuracy.

Any textbook of General Psychology



In the previous lecture we gave a brief overview of the subject matter of psychology
and different branches of psychology. One branch which was not purposively
mentioned was Educational Psychology. This whole course is on this branch and I
know you are ready and looking forward to engaging yourself in this area of
specialization - not only for the sake of passing your exams (which is very nice), but
also for developing skills that you will apply as an effective teacher. One can teach
without taking Educational Psychology. However, to be an effective teacher - and to
enjoy teaching, you must take this course very seriously.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Define Educational Psychology

(ii) Narrate a brief history of Educational Psychology

(iii) State the main objectives of Educational Psychology
In Lecture One we learnt that psychology is a scientific study of behaviour and mental
processes and that psychology has several branches.
Educational psychology is the branch that focuses on development of effective
teaching techniques and in assessing learners aptitudes and progress in learning
process. It uses psychological knowledge to understand learning and teaching in
educational settings. It incorporates and applies knowledge gained from other areas of
psychology e.g.

Theories of human development are used by educational psychology to know how

students develop and learn; and to understand the characteristics of learners at
various stages;

Cognitive psychology when referring to reasoning and problem solving; school

psychology in determining students abilities and the best ways and conditions
necessary for individuals to realize their full potential.

Knowledge from disciplines outside psychology contributes to educational

psychology e.g. findings in neurosciences help us to understand how the brain
works in relation to learning.

Also research findings in educational psychology contribute to wide field of

psychology and education in general e.g. in creating educational policies and
developing curriculum based on characteristics of the learners.
Through this course you will find that the main factors on human learning settings are
among the topics of educational psychology. These aspects include instructional
design and application, curriculum development, special education, classroom
management, use of technology in teaching and assessment of learners and their

Go through the school curriculum and make a list of items that are
directly related to Educational Psychology.


In the previous lecture the first two objectives of psychology are to describe and
understand behaviour. So, in educational psychology we want to describe and
understand the nature and principles of learning: Educational psychology aims at
answering the following questions by research: What is involved in the learning
process? How do we learning at different stages of development? Which are the
factors that enhance/hinder learning?


Based on the knowledge gained from above questions, Educational Psychology aims
at designing strategies for guiding learners in learning. Students possess learning
abilities and skills. Educational psychology guides students to use their existing skills
more effectively and/or develop new skills.
Among the major responsibilities of a teacher is teaching. Some people have a notion
that teaching is easy. The opposite is true; teaching is a very complex exercise. As
expected, educational psychology provides teachers with methods and specific skills
of teaching. These methods and skills are based on the outcomes of research findings
and facilitate learning. Students do, and can learn alone. However, in order to meet
the state educational goals, learners need teachers with effective teaching skills.
Every learner in the classroom is unique. So, there are individual variations among
learner in one single classroom, including learners being in different developmental
stages (cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally), with different abilities,
temperaments and learning skills. To master these variations educational psychology
provides the teacher with the skills to identify individual learner processes and traits.
An effective teacher creates a learning environment in the classroom that caters for
the individual variation so that each learner is motivated to realize his/her full
The environment has great effect on learning process. Teachers can use the
environment to enhance learning. Educational psychology trains teachers to identify
and control these external factors. The external factors include the immediate
environment and conditions, teaching materials available, research findings and new
teaching skills and technological advances.
You might be interested to become an Educational Psychologist. To be an educational
psychologist, you need to have a graduate degree in educational psychology (it has
many courses). Educational psychologist work as consultants, teach at universities
and conduct research on cognitive, social processes of human development, learning
and education. So, this course alone will not make you an educational psychologist
but it will motivate you to strive to become one.


I believe that if you meet the requirements of Educational Psychology, develop the
teaching skills and apply them in learning settings you will be motivated to be an
effective teacher able to tackle teaching challenges with confidence and with great
satisfaction. And who is an effective teacher? Several books on educational
psychology (Elliot et al., 2000; Santrock, 2004) point out that for one to be an
effective teacher s/he must master the following concepts and perceptions (all
included in this course):
2.3.1 Subject matter knowledge
This refers to having a conceptual understanding of the subject you teach. You must
work hard not only to acquire the knowledge of your subject, but also to be able to
organize this knowledge and be in position to include knowledge from other related
disciplines. Just knowing the facts is not enough. Too little knowledge leads to
teachers lack of confidence in the classroom. Remember that you dont have to teach
all what you know since you may cause harm to the class! Material presented in the
class should relate to the students abilities and to the syllabus.
2.3.2 Knowledge of students
As a teacher you must know your students. Its very difficult to deal with students
whom you dont know. As you spend time with them learn about them as a group, and
as well as each student as a unique being. They bring different backgrounds to the
class. Know about their physical, cognitive and psychosocial development. You will
come into contact with exceptional students who may need special attention and
approach in teaching.
2.3.3 Learning process
This is specifically a significant component in the field of educational psychology.
Knowing your students includes having knowledge on how they learn i.e. skills and
strategies students use to get new knowledge. Knowledge of this component will be
an asset in designing your teaching strategies since they have to be compatible with
learning processes of the respective students.
2.3.4 Instructional strategies


Instructional strategies are more than just imparting knowledge to students on the
false assumption that they are passive in the classroom. Most effective instructional
strategies lead students to develop reflective skills, thinking critically and in exploring
their environment. Therefore, they make each student learn efficiently. You have to
set appropriate goals for teaching your students and organize a plan for them to
achieve such.
2.3.5 Motivational skills
Even with the best instructional strategies in place, some of the times students may
face obstacles in their learning processes. Learning is a natural phenomenon but in
school it can be discouraged or undermined by several elements (both within and/or
external to the student). To be an effective teacher you must deploy conditions that
will lead to students developing self motivation i.e. eager to learn and staying on the
task for personal satisfaction rather than as a way of pleasing others.

There is no point of having a compulsory education policy or of forcing

students to attend school if a student is not interested in learning.

2.3.6 Classroom management skills

A classroom environment is composed of many individuals and factors that have a
bearing on the teaching/learning process. So, One of the most important
responsibilities of a teacher is to create and maintain an environment in the classroom
that is conducive to learning i.e. keeping students engaged on the intended task. You
will need to have strategies of organizing your students for effective learning and have
in place a mechanism of preventing problems. Chaos or lack of organisation is
detrimental to optimal learning.
2.3.7 Assessment strategies
A teacher needs to know if his/her students are successful or not in their learning. This
can be realized if the teacher is able to develop or obtain appropriate instruments,
make accurate assessments and interpretations of the measurements. Assessment
enables one to determine the performance and needs of the students leading to making
correct decisions and actions that will improve the performance of each student.


2.3.8 Technological skills

This is an era of information technology and for one to function effectively s/he needs
to be competent in technological skills. These skills will assist you to access
knowledge and integrate technology in your teaching strategies. Also you will be in a
position to make students use technology in their learning.

List the above concepts, then observe teachers in one the schools
teaching and from the observations identify components that relate to
each of the concepts.
Lecture One gave us a brief history of psychology. In this part we shall look
specifically at the history of Educational Psychology.
In 1885 H. Ebbinghaus, a German, became the first person to do a scientific study on
memory which is related to learning process. However, educational psychology as an
independent field started just before the beginning of 20 th century in America. In this
section we are going to have an overview of important actors in the development of
the field and later on in this course we shall discuss their approaches more deeply.
William James (1842-1910) published a book and gave lectures on the application of
psychology in educating children. For research, he emphasized the use of direct
observation in the real classroom learning/teaching conditions rather than in
John Dewey (1859-1952) was a major figure on practical application of psychology.
He shaped the field of psychology by establishing the first educational psychology
laboratory in USA. His major contribution was the view that a child is an active
learner rather than the then held belief that children are passive learners. Also he
emphasized that the role of the teacher should be to train students on how to think and
adapt to the conditions outside the classroom. He was influential in making all
children get competent education regardless of their gender, socio-economic
background or ethnicity.


Edward L. Thorndike (1874-1949) emphasized the use of scientific approach in

educational psychology. He initiated the use of assessment and measurements in
learning. B.F. Skinner built on the ideas of Thorndike. However, he insisted that the
subject matter of psychology should not include mental processes but should only
focus on the observable behaviours. This is termed as behavioral perspective.
Skinners approach determined the best conditions for learning to take place. The
teacher uses a rewarding system that improves student behaviour or performance. He
developed the concept of programmed learning in which a learner is reinforced in
each step that leads to the intended goal.
Benjamin Bloom (1956) created the taxonomy of cognitive skills that indicated the
goals of educators on learners. The cognitive skills he identified are and in the
following order starting from the lowest level to the highest: remembering,
comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
In the 1980s the educational psychologists focused on the cognitive aspects of human
learning advocated by Dewey and James but ignored by Skinner and fellow
behaviorists. They researched on and applied the concepts of cognitive psychology
including memory, thinking, reasoning and perception on the premise that they are
significant on how information is received and processed. Currently educational
psychology includes out of school aspects that have influence on learners e.g. the role
of culture in education. It is also focusing on theories of self-regulating learning and
metacognition i.e. cognition about cognition or knowing about knowing.
When discussing about general psychology we noted a number of contributions from
other disciplines to the field. Likewise, developments in other branches of psychology
have influence on Educational Psychology and vice versa. A good example is that
developments in Educational Psychology are being used in the area of Special
Education. Findings in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) are
shedding knowledge on how human brains process information. Also advancements in
ICT are being incorporated in conducting studies in Educational Psychology and as a
tool in learning/teaching processes in our classrooms.



This has been a brief description of Educational Psychology and its

history as an independent profession in the field of Psychology. Most
importantly, the lecture identified the list of the main concepts in
Educational Psychology that you have to develop to become a
competent teacher.

1. Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through
the lecture to verify your accurateness.
2. Take a piece of paper and list down what you expect to gain from
this course of Educational Psychology. Put the paper in safekeeping
and revisit it at the end of this course.


Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. &

Travers, John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective
Teaching, Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education,
New York, USA.
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA




We saw in Lectures One and Two that psychology is a field based on scientific
approaches. So, it is expected that before we go into further into the sphere of
Educational Psychology we shall look at methods used to determine its content and
thereafter, into application in the learning/teaching processes.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Explain the importance of research

(ii) Define descriptive research

(iii) Describe and identify single-case study
(iv) Describe correlation study
(v) Describe and identify the components of laboratory experiments
(vi) Describe and identify randomized field experiments
(vii) Describe action research.
Scientific research is based not on the phenomenon being investigated but on the way
the investigation is carried out. Scientific approach is objective, systematic and
verifiable. It is objective since it is based on the observable and/or on measurable
aspects. Educational psychologists do not accept resolutions that might be biased,
based on personal beliefs, opinions, speculation or experience alone. Verifiability is
founded on the premise that someone else can crosscheck the findings by repeating
the same research. Thus, scientific approach is based on empirical evidence.


Scientific approach is systematic since it has laid down procedures of carrying out an
investigation. The following are the main stages of conducting a research in
Educational Psychology:
3.2.1 Conceptualizing the problem
The first stage is to identify a problem that is researchable, i.e. research problem. A
problem is any issue that can be answered by doing a research. Some of the things we
may like to study cannot be explained through scientific approach. Scientific methods
cannot be applied in finding the existence of God, or Gods relationship with students
academic performance. Research problem can be a result of personal experiences in
ones professional field (e.g. teaching/learning experiences in school settings) or
developed from the findings of other researches (normally research findings raise new
questions that need to be answered through scientific methods). An example of a
research problem may be to find out why most students from area A are dropping out
of school and why the performance of most of those remaining in school is low. When
formulating the research problem one has to draw from theories and other materials
related to phenomenon under investigation. This knowledge gained shows what is
going on the area of research and also is used to formulate the hypothesis. Hypothesis
is a statement indicating the relationship of the variables of the research and indicating
the expected results of the study. Hypothesis of the above research problem may be
Students of parents with secondary education in area A are more likely to
complete schools than students whose parents have only primary school education.
Variables are the elements in the hypothesis. In the above hypothesis the variables are
parents with secondary education, parents with primary school education and
completing school. So, the main activity in this first stage is to identify and clarify
the research problem.
3.2.2 Data Collection
This stage involves determining instruments and mechanisms of obtaining
information needed in solving the research problem. In this step, information gathered
is used to test the hypothesis. The hypothesis is not determined as correct or incorrect,
but if it is rejected or accepted on the data obtained. There are several ways of
collecting data that are to be discussed in the following section.


3.2.3 Conclusions
The raw data collected is processed through statistical procedures so that results can
be analyzed and interpretations made. Statistical analysis determines if the results
happened by chance or are the results of conditions created or that observed by the
researcher. The results are used to make conclusions that indicate the application of
findings in respective situations.

Identify five issues in the field of education that you can use to develop
a research problem.


In this part we look at the major basic methods used to collect data. As mentioned
above the information gained here is used to test the hypothesis. The method used in a
study is determined by the nature of research i.e. the problem being investigated.
There are two major types of research methodology in Educational Psychology,
namely: quantitative methods and qualitative methods. In quantitative approaches
measurements and test scores are used. Variables in the research are quantified and
statistical methods are applied for the interpretation of the data.
In educational settings qualitative approaches are used to study theoretical variables
that can only be inferred and are difficult to quantify. This method can be used to
describe events, processes, motivation, attitudes and personal experiences. For
example, a participant might be directed to narrate his feelings under specific
conditions and then his/her explanation is recorded and analyzed.
Below is a description of some methods used to collect research data:
3.3.1 Descriptive Study
This type of qualitative study determines the current status of the behavior in the
research problem. The main aim is to understand and describe the way things are. So,
the researcher collects data to test hypothesis. Descriptive study is used to get the
attitudes, opinions, and the occurrences of behaviour among students.


One means of collecting data in descriptive study is through observation. Natural

observation is systematic observation and recording data (thus scientific) in a natural
setting while the researcher is detached from the activities of the group under study.
This can either be observing students and teachers in a classroom, cafeteria or in a
playing field. In Participant observation the researcher (observer) is actively engaged
in the activities of the group of the study. So the observer is both part of the group and
is also involved in recording the data.
Another method in descriptive is survey research which involves selecting a number
of people (sample) to collect data that represents the views, opinions, attitudes and/or
beliefs of a population. Data can be collected by asking questions through
questionnaires and/or conducting interviews. Due to technological advancements
these instruments can be administered either by face-to-face or through e-mail and/or
3.3.2 Single Case Study
This study is based on investigating one single individual or specific event. It is used
when an opportunity avails itself for a study that could not otherwise be done due to
ethical or practical reasons. We cannot inject students with addictive drugs to study
their levels of aggressions against others. However we can observe the levels of
aggression of students who are discovered to be drug addicts. The findings of case
study can help us to come up with some understanding of a phenomenon. However,
since the results cannot be analyzed statistically, their interpretations cannot be
generalized to other people.
3.3.3 Correlational study
This study determines the relationship between two or more variables that are
associated. It indicates whether there is relationship or not. Statistical approach is used
to determine the strength of the relationship and if it is either positive or negative. The
score of relationship lies between the coefficient of -1 (negative) and +1 (positive). A
score close to 0 means there is no relationship between the variables. There is no
relationship between the height of student and his/her test score. A score close to -1
implies a negative relationship i.e. if one variable increases the other one decreases
and vice versa. A good example is the relationship between test score and number of

wrong answers. If the number of wrong answers increases the test score decrease,
when the number of wrong answers decreases the test score increase. A score close to
+1 means a positive relationship i.e. if one variable increases the other variable also
increases. When the number of correct answers increase also the test score increases.
The strength of the relationship can be used to make predictions. However, finding
that there is a relationship between the variables does not mean there is cause-effect
relationship i.e. one cannot say either of the variables is the cause of the relationship.
The number of correct or incorrect test answers is not the cause of academic
performance of a student but rather due to other factors such as mental ability, study
skills or level of difficulty of the test.
3.3.4 Experimental Research
Educational psychologists use experimental research to determine cause-effect
relationship between variables i.e. to find out if a certain variable is the cause of
behaviour or condition. Experimental research is conducted in a laboratory or
controlled environment whereby conditions or factors thought to cause/influence the
respective behaviour are carefully manipulated. The factor that is manipulated is
called the independent variable while the behavior being observed or measured is
called the dependent variable. So independent variable is the factor considered to be
influential, cause or has effect on the dependent variable. If the dependent variable
changes due to manipulation of the independent variable then we say there might be
cause-effect relationship between the two variables i.e. independent variable has an
influence on the dependent variable.
In many experimental researches two groups of individuals are used i.e. experimental
group and control group. At the beginning of the research both groups are equal in all
aspects. Random sampling is used to form these groups. This technique gives each
individual of the study an equal chance to be selected in either group and eliminates
the biases that the researcher may have. Experimental group is the one manipulated
while the control group is treated the same way as the experimental group with the
exception of the manipulated factor. The factor manipulated in the experimental group
is the independent variable while the behavioural outcomes of the two groups are the
dependent variable.
3.3.5 Time span researches

These are researches based on charges related to period of time. We might be

interested to know the characteristics of students at different stages of development.
There are two main approaches used in time span researches: cross-sectional and
longitudinal research.
In cross-sectional research groups of children based on their age are selected and
then the research focuses on the problem area of interest. The aim is to compare
the characteristics of the respective age groups.

In longitudinal research the same group of individuals is investigated over a

period of time that is normally over a year, some last many years e.g. from birth
to death. One observes the changes that take place among the group members
during the duration of the study.

3.3.6 Action Research

This is a research carried by a teacher or several teachers, rather than psychologist or
research experts, with the aim of solving a specific problem in a classroom or school.
The findings are used to remedy and improve teaching/learning processes.
In Action Research a teacher uses research procedures to gain skills that help them to
deal with problems or situation that hinder effective learning in their classrooms. So,
the teacher has to know how to formulate question that accurately reflects the
problem/situation, to define the terms in the question, collect data and use analysis
processes that yield findings that are valid and reliable. From the findings the teacher
makes strategies for instructional improvement or for addressing the adverse situation.
The implications are that as an effective teacher you are not only going to teach but
also be a researcher in the classroom all the time. In action research you may follow
the same procedures used in the other types of researches to avoid personal biases but
have reliable results that lead to effective line of action.
As an example, a teacher may observe that a certain student in the class is always
causing commotion and that s/he is supported by some other students despite being
warned several times. Firstly, the teacher formulates a question What makes Bahati
to make commotion? The teacher needs to define commotion. Next, the teacher


engages in data collection. The teacher records when and how many times s/he makes
commotion and through interview deduce why s/he makes commotions. Also s/he
may record when and how many times the other students support him/her. Then next
follows the data analysis. The findings from the analysis may reveal that Bahati and
his/her colleagues are not motivated learn the teachers subject. Based on the findings
the teachers makes an action plan on how to make students motivated to learn his/her

Each method of collecting data has its advantages and limitations.


For each of the methods of collecting data mentioned above identify its
advantages and limitations.
When conducting a research study- inclusive action research, there are several ethical
issues you have to bear in mind. If these are ignored the processes and the findings of
the research might cause harm to participants, be rejected, and/or can lead to legal
actions against the researcher.

The first precaution is to maintain the wellbeing of the participants. Make sure the
research does not harm any of the participants physically, mentally or emotionally.

Just gain consent from the participants and permission from responsible
authorities before embarking on collecting data. If the participants are too young
to make decisions then you are required to seek consent from their parents or

In case animals are used in the study make sure they are treated humanely.



In this lecture we described objectives of research in the field of

educational psychology. Also we looked at the main components of a
research and methods you used to collect data. You were required to
identify strengths and limitations of each method of collecting data.
Please do the activity as it may prove handy one day!

1. Find out about regulations of conducting research in your institution

and country.
2. Read a number of educational research reports identify if it is either
a qualitative or quantitative study. Also identify the methods of
collecting data of the respective research.
3. Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness.


Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology (2nd Edition). McGrawHill Higher Education, New York, USA. Chapter 1





In this lecture we look at students as they grow and develop in relation to learning.
Remember that you need to have knowledge of your students so as to be an effective
teacher because you cannot teach students whom you dont know. Child development
knowledge equips you with an understanding of your students who are at different
stages of development so that you can appropriately teach them. Also, you may stay
with the same students for a long period of time in which some developmental
changes will definitely be occurring. You need to notice these changes and respond to
them accordingly.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Identify hereditary and environmental factors which underlie

learning ability;


Distinguish between continuous and discontinuous theories of


(iii) Describe the physical, cognitive and psychosocial development of

(iv) Identify the diversity in the classroom.
Lets start by describing the concepts grow and development as used in
psychology. Both concepts are based on the fact that during life span individuals are
progressing from one stage to a higher stage. This process and stages are characterized
by changes. Grow is used when the changes are quantitative, i.e. an increase or
decrease in numbers. A good example is height and weight of students. In normal
circumstances childrens height and weight increases (read grow) as they progress in
years. We expect two years old to be shorter and lighter at this age relative to when
they will be in primary school.
Development is used for qualitative changes. These are not directly observable but
infer some changes within the individual have taken place. A good example is
language development. At birth children cannot talk however around two years they
begin to speak. Language spoken at the age of two is qualitatively inferior relative to
the language used at four or at ten. The changes manifested in language dont mean


that the brain has changed but rather some reorganization has taken place that account
for the differences between the stages.
In this lecture we look at the development of the students in three main areas i.e.
physical, cognitive and psychosocial. These areas develop simultaneously and are, as
mentioned before, interrelated. As you have noticed on the development of students
there is quite a variation in rate of development. In a group of students of the same
age and in the same class and all still growing you find some of them are taller while
others are shorter for their age, some heavy and others not so heavy, some have
language that is well advanced for their age while for others their language is below
that of the normal age group. Also, there are developmental variations within the
individual himself/herself. Some may grow fast in terms of weight but more slowly in
height. The implication is that students of the same age are similar in some aspects
and different in others.
The periods of child development are classified by psychologists into four periods.
Notice that, as mentioned above, there is variation on the onset and end of the periods.
These periods are:

Infancy: starts from birth to 18 to 24 months. It is characterized by total

dependence on the caregivers at the beginning. During this period a child begins
to develop sensorimotor coordination, walking, language, thinking and learning.

Early childhood: starts at the end of infancy and extends to 5 or 6 years.

Sometimes this is called preschool period. The child is more self-sufficient and
has developed some skills related to improved sensorimotor coordination.

Middle to late childhood: extends from 6 to 11 years. Most of children in this

stage are in primary schools (elementary schools). They have developed selfcontrol and acquire primary skills of learning i.e. reading, writing and math.

Adolescence: begins around 11 years and extends to between 18. This is a

transitional period from childhood to adulthood that is characterized by rapid body
changes that includes the development of sexual organs functions. Also
individuals in this stage seek self independence. Most complete primary school at
this stage, and most of secondary school students are in this period.



In development, there is a constant interaction between nature and environment or
nurture. The nature component involves the biological processes that start at
conception i.e. genetic inheritance formed by the combination of genes of the sperm
and those in the ova. The conception processes has a major role in determining the
rate of growth of the body in terms of weight and height; and the development of
brain, motor skills and body changes caused by hormones. Also, there are some
human potential that are genetically programmed, including the learning processes,
language development, and motor coordination.
The environment includes physical and social surroundings. Physical environment is
essential for the survival the individual, his/her development in general and learning
process. Some studies have indicated that children who had severe kwashiorkor
experienced learning difficulties later in schools (Galler et al., 1987), and those
exposed to lead later on in life experience physiological problems (Patrick, 2006). In
physically stimulating environments children were found to be more developed
language wise than those in less stimulating environment (UNESCO, 1987). Social
environment in form of childs relationship with other people has great influence on
the socio-emotional processes of the child i.e. emotional and personality changes of
the child. So, we see that some of the potentials are determined by heredity; and the
influence of environment on heredity either enhances or deters students learning

As a teacher, you are part of the environment and your aim is to enhance
learning and the full development of the students abilities, and you need

to avoid being source of deterring learning potential of the students.


We all know that the brain is the major organ of cognitive processes. The brain is
divided into different parts that are involved in different aspects of cognition and
learning. Here we only identify some of the major parts. Before that, bear in mind that


we dont fully understand how the brain functions and there are debates going on
about the biological bases of learning.
The brain has two halves, called cerebral hemispheres, which are connected by corpus
callosum. The two spheres appear to be identical but there are some differences in
their functions. Cerebral lateralization is the specialization of the functions of each
sphere of the brain. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body while the
left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. So if you are right handed you are
left lateralized, if left handed you are right lateralized. For most people, speech is
localized in the left hemisphere. Nonverbal processes such as spatial perception,
visual activities, and emotions are predominantly localized in the right hemisphere.
However, studies show that the brain is more complicated than that since both
atmospheres to some degree are involved in all activities. Complex functions such as
logic and creativity involve both spheres of the brain.
The brain has four lobes. Frontal lobe has functions for motor activities and thinking;
temporal lobe has functions for hearing; parietal lobe has functions for body
sensations; and occipital has functions for vision.
The development of the brain is not fully understood. Neurons, (nerve cells) grow by
increasing in size and in number. A process known as myelination, whereby the
neurons are covered by an insulating material, increases the size of the brain and the
speed at which messages travel through the nervous system (Santrock, 2004).
Myelination in the areas related to focus and attention is not complete until the end of
late childhood, explaining why students below this stage have problem remaining
focused on one task for a long time.
In describing cognitive development we will use the theory proposed by Jean Piaget
(1896-1980), a Swiss psychologist. Originally he was trained in the field of biology
and philosophy. While working with the results of IQ tests of children he noticed that
young childrens answers were qualitatively different from those given by older
children. He believed that children are actively constructing their world as they
respond to what they see, touch, or test. For him the way we human respond to the


environment is not learned but an inherit method of intellectual functioning i.e. a

function that is there since birth.
Piagets theory of cognitive development has four major stages. They are major since
in each stage there are sub-stages. However, before looking at them let us define
some key concepts of the theory:

Schema is a concept or an organized pattern of thoughts or behaviour that form

one organized unit. Riding a bicycle is a scheme (behaviour); picture of a dog or a
dog is a scheme; and teaching is a scheme (a complex one). Schemes help us to
organize and make sense of our world.

Adaptation is a psychological mechanism used by children to use and adapt

schemas in a new experience. This mechanism has two processes, namely
assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when a child incorporates
new knowledge into existing knowledge i.e. taking in new objects, events, and
concepts into the existing schemas. Accommodation occurs when we are changed
by what enters into our mental structures. So, through assimilation we transform
the environment to fit into preexisting cognitive structures while accommodation
changes our cognitive structures in order to accept something new from the

Equilibration. Encountering a situation that does fit into our mental structure
creates disequilibrium i.e. a conflict in trying to understand the new situation. The
process of resolving the conflict through assimilation and accommodation is
known as equilibration.

Organization refers to the bringing together of isolated behaviours or ideas into a

single more complex behaviour or concept. This leads to having a smooth
functioning cognitive system.

The above processes are fundamental as regards how children understand their world
and adapt it in their mental structures. With this knowledge we now look closely at the
four stages of cognitive development. These stages are in a specific sequence, each
indicating children as having a distinct way of thinking. The differences between the
stages are qualitative in nature rather than being quantitative i.e. differences are not
based on what or number of ideas a child has but on how a child thinks. So, in the


sequence of cognitive development in the following stage the thinking process is more
complex and accurate than in the previous stage. These stages are called sensorimotor,
preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. Let us look at these stages
one after the other.

All children follow the same sequence but at a different rate.

4.4.1 The sensorimotor stage

This extends from birth to 2 years. The term sensorimotor imply that during this stage
the child explores his world by use of sensory experiences such as seeing, hearing and
touching. It is by coordinating these experiences that the child develops the first
schemas and it is the basis of the beginning of cognitive development.
At the beginning of this stage the childs responses are through reflex actions i.e.
unlearned, innate reflexes such as sucking anything that touches the mouth or
grasping any object that touches the palm of the hand. Through these reflex actions
the child becomes aware of sensations caused by these actions and uses them to adapt
to the world. At this sub-stage, known as primary circular reaction, most of the
deliberately repeated actions involve only the body e.g. sucking (sucking involves
fingers and mouth).

Later on, the reactions involve object outside the child

himself/herself (secondary circular reaction) e.g. holding an object (use of hand and
the object). Then they coordinate several actions to achieve something. Between 12
and 18 months a child starts to experiment with things e.g. deliberately dropping
things to see what will happen (Tertiary circular reaction).
So, it is during this stage that the child forms the first schemas through assimilation
and accommodation in adapting to his/her world. It is the beginning of the
organization process. Development of language (associating sounds with objects or
events) is another important aspect in this stage. Also, they develop the sense of
object permanence i.e. objects continue to exist even when out of sight. Before then
children do not look for objects that are removed or obstructed out of visual field,
cannot be seen, heard or touched. The sense of object permanence is very significant

since the childs world becomes organized and predictable. Furthermore, in this stage
the child becomes aware that s/he can be the cause of an action. Also, due to
development of mobility the child is able to explore objects that are far and
consequently new mental abilities.
In this stage they learn to walk, meaning they gain the ability to access the
environment around them. Before walking they had to depend on others to bring items
to them, now they can move around to the object and explore their surroundings. So in
sensorimotor stage children learn through use of senses, actively exploring their

Touch the palm of child less than 12 months old and observe his/her

4.4.2 Preoperational stage

The stage extends from 2 to 7 years. According to Piaget operations are actions that
we perform mentally including knowing an object, thinking and manipulating ideas. A
good example is when we compare things mentally to discover their similarities and
differences. So, in preoperational stage the child is not yet able to manipulate things
mentally although s/he has started to use language. In this stage a childs mental
functioning is mainly characterized with the use of symbols.
The child gains the mental ability to represent an object that is absent, a demonstration
of thinking. The use of language expands rapidly; they engage in pretending plays
whereby an object (lets say a piece of wood) may represent a house, car or person. In
the play they assume that the innate objects are alive and conscious, referred to as
Another characteristic of this stage is egocentrism. This is inability to know and
recognize that other people see objects from their point of view and instead they think
that the other person is seeing the object as s/he is seeing it from his/her position. A
child sitting in front of the room looking at object in the middle of the room thinks
that a person looking at the same object from the back of the room has the same view


of the object as himself/herself (the childs view). Ever heard of a child saying that the
moon is following him/her? Because of this characteristic child at this age may need
company of other children but normally each engage in his/her own play and

Do not waste your energy forcing a child in this age to see things from
your point of view.

Centration refers to childs tendency of concentrating and focusing on only one aspect
of an object and disregarding the other aspects although they are important features of
the object. Give a child in this stage a collection of similar objects but with different
colours and shapes and tell her/him to put them in groups. Most likely s/he will form
groups by focusing only on the colours of objects and ignore their shapes. Children in
preoperational stage also lack conservation i.e. the ability to realize that properties of
an object remain the same although its shape might change. For adults a volume of
liquid remains the same even when put into a container of different shape or size. Due
to lack of conservation a child thinks that water poured into a narrow container is
more than when it was in broad container. This is caused by irreversibility i.e. the
child being unable to reverse mentally the procedures or his/her thinking.
So we have seen that in preoperational stage children learn by experiencing real
objects in their surroundings. They use symbols and images in constructing
knowledge about their world. Children are egocentric and cannot understand other
peoples point of view.
4.4.3 Concrete Operations stage
This stage extends from 7 to 11 years. In this stage children overcome the limitations
of the preoperational stage by using reasoning that involves concrete operations i.e.
they can deal with real concrete situations but are unable to deal with abstract
situations. The child now has established conservation since s/he can reverse mental
actions and take into account several aspects of the object or event instead of focusing
only on one aspect. Egocentric thinking diminishes too. A child in this stage makes
addition by counting real things, mostly fingers. The problem comes when the sum is


more than ten and they are wearing shoes! I think you have seen children of this age
carrying small sticks, or bottle tops in a string to school for making calculations.
One of the characteristics of this stage is classification i.e. to sort out things from a
big group and put them in sets or categories based on their similarities. Also, they
have the ability to know that an object can be classified into different groups, e.g. one
woman at the same time can be a daughter, mother, sister, wife and grandmother.
In this stage a child can arrange things according to their relative sizes e.g. from
shortest to the tallest or from the smallest to the largest or vice versa. Given ten sticks
of different heights they are now able to arrange from the shortest to the tallest. This is
seriation, an ability lacking in the preoperational stage where children cannot
compare more than two objects at the same time. Due to seriation they can reason
about relationships and come up with logical conclusions (transitivity). They can
conclude that object C is taller than object A upon realization that B is taller
than A, and C is taller than B.

Spend some time in lower classrooms in a primary school i.e.

standard one and two. Make observations of the characteristics of
children in preoperational stage.
4.4.4 Formal Operations Stage
This is the fourth and last stage in Piagets cognitive theory. It starts at about 11 and
12 years (during adolescence). In the previous stage a child is only able to conduct
concrete operations by using real objects. However, in this stage the adolescent
demonstrates the ability to think in abstract, idealistic and logical ways. They solve
problems presented to them verbally and they can express themselves without relying
on concrete objects.
One of their characteristics is that they can differentiate the real from the possible, and
can think about the future. They have developed hypothetical-deductive reasoning
whereby they think abstractly in a systematic manner that involves developing
hypothesis and means of testing them. In their plans they gather all possible
information and study possible combinations of solving the problem.



We have to acknowledge Piagets contribution to developmental psychology,

especially on cognitive development. His theory demonstrates that pupils are
actively involved in their learning. This is proven so by the concept adaptation,
organization, assimilation, accommodation and equilibration among others.

Piagets theory implies that children are mentally qualitatively different from
adults and among themselves, depending on their cognitive stage of development.
They are always adapting to their world, and the environment is also affecting
their mental structures. The role of the teacher is to understand the mental
functioning of students and create an environment that facilitates assimilation and

We need to recognize and understand that childrens answers are not wrong or
weird but statements indicating the state of their mental functions. Just imaging
your reactions to students answers before being introduced to Piagets theory!

Much of Piagets theory is based on observation he made on his own three

children. We can observe the mental functions of our own children and students by
knowing the important things to look for. Childrens drawings, symbolic plays and
answers should tell you something about cognitive level of development and the
appropriate tasks to be given to respective ages. Dont take the childrens
responses casually but rather have critical analysis on them.

The curriculum and learning tasks for the children should be based on the
cognitive developmental stages of the students. Teaching should make the students
move on to the next stage gradually. According to Huitt (1997) in teaching
preoperational pupils, teachers have to use concrete properties, and visual aids to
illustrate lessons; instructions should be short of using combination of words and
actions; give them physical practice with facts and skills and encouraging them to
manipulate objects that can change in shape while maintaining a constant mass.
For those in concrete operations the above suggestions should be continued, but
for children at a higher levels teachers, should include activities requiring students


to deal with more than two variables at once, and also giving them opportunities to
classify and group objects and ideas on increasingly complex level; and present
them with problems which require logic, analytical thinking to solve. For those
beginning to use formal operations give them an opportunity to explore many
hypothetical questions and always encouraging them to explain how they solve
Language is significant in the learning process. It is used in storing information in the
memory; communicating between learners and teacher and among learners; and also
in demonstrating that learning has taken place in form of writing, reading and
speaking. In short, language is paramount in teaching and learning processes.
Language changes in an individuals development have to be taken into account when
dealing with students. Development of language makes it possible for a child to
interact with the people around him/her.
Just what is language? Language is more than verbal communication. All languages
have three main properties, namely semantic, displacement, and productivity.
Semantic means the words represent an object or event, displacement means the
words represent objects that are not present in space and time; productivity implies
that language has limited vocabulary but can make an infinite combination of words
to present ideas.
In developing language one also needs to eventually adhere to the following rules:

Phonology is the system of using sounds to make words. It determines the way
sounds are combined in a sequence that has a specific meaning.

Syntax refers the way words are combined to make meaningful phrases. In the
statement the lion ate the zebra you know who ate who or who was eaten by
whom. Rearrangement of these words makes the statement to have a different
meaning or sometimes meaningless. Have you ever heard of a zebra that ate a


Pragmatics involves the use of language in a socially correct way i.e. knowing
how to participate in conversation using proper language that takes into
consideration the social context prevailing.

Language development stages

Language development involves acquiring the ability to listen and speak. Before we
look on the stages lets discuss a little about environment and language development.
Noam Chomsky (1957) stated that humans are biologically programmed to learn
language since all children in all parts of the world, and although living in different
environments, develop in more or less in the same rate and the sequence or steps
involved are the same. He believes language is very complex that children do not just
copy from their parents. It is difficult or impossible to teach children to speak; they
start to speak at a given stage of development. Does this mean that environment has
no role on childs language development? The answer is definitely no. Firstly, the
language one develops is that of the care givers (internalizing speech they hear). The
quality of language spoken reflects that of people around the child. The vocabulary of
children at the age of three who have been living in poverty stricken conditions is
much lower than that of middle income families (Farkas, 2001).

So, language

development is a result of inheritance; and environment has a great influence on the

variation of the quality of childrens language.
Piaget believed that language development is based on the existing cognitive structure
of the child and differs qualitatively in each of the four cognitive stages of
development. In the previous section we saw that language starts to develop in the
later part of sensorimotor stage, indicating the ability to connect sounds and objects;
and representation of world in language form. In the preoperational stage children use
egocentric speech i.e. communication is from their point of view, they can have a
monologue and speak to anyone. In the concrete operations stage it is the beginning of
the verbal understanding related to concrete conditions. In the formal operations level
the adolescents language is free from concrete situations and has an ability to express
abstract issues.


Newborn babies use crying and fussing as means of communication i.e. conveying the
message that s/has a need that needs to be attended. Between 3 months and 6 months
babbling develops when the child makes sounds that resemble speech. By age of 12
months they produce sound patterns that indicate the child has started to associate
certain sounds and objects. Between 12 and 18 months first words are spoken
referring to specific objects or event. Normally the first words are nouns that may
refer to many objects and actions related, for example the word mama in one
situation means presence of mother, in another mother come, and while in another
setting it means where is mother?
By the end of two years the childs vocabulary increase to more than 200 words and
uses two-word combinations, a sign of acquiring morphology rules. In the beginning
of third year they use plural, past tense and some prepositions. The use of rules is not
yet perfect since they apply some rules incorrectly, e.g. by overgeneralization when
they say mama instead of lady. Also in the third year they can talk about things
that are not around in terms of time and space (displacement). Now they can talk
about things that happened before or that are expected in the near future.
Language develops rapidly between 3 years and 11 years. By the age of 6 a child has a
vocabulary of more than 10,000 words. In this period they develop ability to ask
questions beginning with yes/no questions.
Loh (2010) has suggested some of the simple ways and methods that help to facilitate
language development in children:

Reading nursery rhymes helps the child to listen and later understand the flow of

Sing simple songs while using body as a tool of conversation.

Name different objects and patterns and describe their colours, size, format and

Create an environment that has activities which promote communication and

language skills. Ask open ended questions. Use plays to learn series of language
skills, both verbal and nonverbal. Children should be given opportunity to talk

about their day activities/special occasions and describe the actions there are

How many languages can a child learn at the same time? Why do
Swahili speak Kiswahili and the English speak English?


We have looked at the cognitive and language development of students. Now we turn
our focus to psychosocial development. Students learning in school is under the
influence of people around and his/her own emotions. Also, students behaviour is to
some degree guided by moral aspects.
The process of internalizing societal values and behaviour acceptable in the
individuals societal setting is called socialization. The main agents of the
socialization process are parents, siblings, peers, teachers and the media. To explain
the relationship between the student and the agents we will use Urie Bronfenbrenners
theory; and for describing social development we use Ericksons psychosocial theory.


Illustration of Bronfenbrenners Ecological Theory

4.7.1 Bronfenbrenners Ecological Theory
Urie Bronfenbrenners (1917-2005) ecological theory is based on the social forces
that have influence on the childrens life development. Bronfenbrenner acknowledges
the existence of five environmental systems that explain the childs interrelation with
close people and that with the wide social environment. This theory is used to study
human beings and their environments. We could ask ourselves a question maybe
Why do students in a certain location perform so badly in the National Examinations.
The systems he proposed are as follows:
(i) Microsystems include the immediate environments and the social settings that the
child spends most of his/her time. For most children these settings are their families,
neighborhood, schools and childcare centres. It is in this system the child has many
social interactions. In the family the student is influenced by parents and siblings; in
school s/he is influenced by teachers and other students and in the neighborhood
influenced by peers. (Parenting styles and peer influence to be discussed in later part
of this lecture). The child is not only influenced by the settings but s/he is also an

active force in constructing these settings. Recently this theory has been called BioEcological Systems Theory because ones biology is considered part of the
(ii) Mesosystem refers to the linkage between the Microsystems. The students make
connections between their experiences at home and the experiences in school; and this
- to some degree, have influence on learning. If the school gives value and success to
hard work and the family has the same expectations then we can expect a student to
perform quite well; but if the teachers and the family do not value education then we
expect the student not to perform well. A child can take church or mosque experiences
to school/home or vice versa.
(iii) Exosystem is based on experience of settings that the student is not directly
involved with but has some influence on him/her. There is no direct link between the
student and parents work. However, the parents work may have effect on the
experiences of the student, e.g. salary used for fees and other school materials. For
example there is no direct connection between teachers salaries and students
academic performance. In Tanzania there was a time when councils did not pay
teachers on time. Some of the teachers were demoralized or spent days chasing their
salaries and this had influence on the learning process of students. If someone donates
textbooks to a school this may lead to acquisition of more learning materials and
hence better students performance. In both cases the students is not directly involved
but s/he may be affected by the decisions and actions of others.
(iv) Macrosystem refers to the broad culture of the society. Culture includes gender
roles, socioeconomic structure, teachers and students lives, attitudes, ideologies,
sports, ethnicity, values and customs. Some societies do not value sending girls to
schools while others deliberately encourage and expect girls to excel in school.
Children from poor families, who are not sure of the next meal, may be affected by
this condition and we will not be surprised if they cannot concentrate on their
(v) Chronosystem is the existing social and historical conditions of the student. Do
you know that many students today in Tanzania have access to computers while15
years ago there were very few computers in the country? The same can be said of


television. In addition many secondary school students do not have to walk for many
kilometers to school every day nowa days. Before 1980 nobody had ever heard of
HIV /AIDS. All these developments have a bearing on students learning experiences.
Based on Chronosystem describe the conditions of students in

International secondary schools and those in Ward secondary schools in


Bronfenbrenners ecological theory has shown us that social settings have major
influence on the development of the students. It tells us that we should look on
different social settings when determining or want to improve students performance.
For example, when considering students performance we have not only to rely on
classroom or school conditions but rather we have to think about and involve the
significant others. Whats the point of a teacher giving homework when the parents do
not value it; or at home parents will not give the student a chance to do homework?
4.7.2 Eriksons stages of development
Erik H. Eriksons (1902-1994) psychosocial development theory articulates eight
stages that human passes in forming ones personality (Erikson, 1950). The theory
describes the role of social environment on the emotional development. In each stage
an individual faces challenges and conflicts that need to be resolved. If these inner and
external conflicts are resolved positively a healthy personality emerges. However, if
these conflicts are not successfully resolved they create crisis that may lead to
maladjustment behaviours in the future. This theory helps to acknowledge that crises
manifested in life may have their roots in the earlier stages of development. Also, it
can be applied to guide teachers on the best practices of rearing students for a healthy
emotional and cognitive wellbeing.
The stages of psychosocial development
There are eight stages; however we are only focusing on the first four stages which
correspond to the ages of students in most schools.
(i) Trust versus Mistrust (Infants, birth to one year)


This is the first stage and focuses on how the basic needs are met by parents. In the
first year of life all basic needs (food, water and security) are met with the help of
parents, and without this help none will survive. In this stage attachment is established
i.e. the emotional bond between child and parents (especially mother). Children are
actively reacting to the social environment by a process called reciprocal interactions
whereby they react in a particular manner. When you smile at them they normally
respond by smiling back and if you are angry to them they respond accordingly. If
parents create a regularly warm, caring and secure environment the child will develop
sense of security and also trust his/her world. If the parents are neglectful or abusive
when meeting the childs needs or ignore them, the child will learn to mistrust the
world believing that it is undependable, unreliable, and unpredictable; and a
dangerous place (Wikipedia, retrieved 2010).
(ii) Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt (Toddlers, 2 to 3years)
In this stage children gain muscular coordination and mobility leading to ability to
physically explore their surroundings. Also, in many cultures children are required to
gain self control through toilet training. If the parents encourage and create safe
environment for exploring the environment, and encourage self-sufficient behaviours
in such things as dressing, eating and washing themselves, the child develops sense of
autonomy and confidence that s/he can deal with many things by himself/herself. On
the other hand if parents are very restrictive (excessive control) or ridicule a child
when trying to exercise self-control s/he develops feeling of being shameful and
doubting his/her abilities to control himself/herself and in solving problems. In this
stage the main conflict to the child is whether s/he can do things for him/herself or
s/he must always rely on others.
(iii) Initiative versus Guilt (Preschool, 4 to 6 years)
In this stage the child learns a lot about the world. They are more curious, have
mastered some principles about the world, can count and language skills have
advanced a great deal. They try doing new things and sometimes engage in dangerous
behaviour. So, they want to plan, initiate and engage in purposive actions that if
carried out end in childs satisfaction. If the child is encouraged to initiate doing
things it develops sense of initiative. If the child is frustrated and fails to reach the
expected goal s/he feels guilty which may lead to the development of unacceptable

behaviours. The main focus is trying to find out if they are good or bad in regard to
the outcome of their actions. The answer to this conflict brings positive or negative
emotions to the child
(iv) Industry versus Inferiority (Childhood, 7 to 12 years)
Most of children in this stage are in primary/elementary schools. They gain a lot of
new experiences in the new school environment e.g. in interacting with many more
children and teachers with different experiences. According to Allen and Marotz
(2003) children in this stage have a logical understanding of the concepts of time and
space, they gain better understanding of cause and effect relationship, are eager to
learn and accomplish complex skills such as mastering knowledge and engaging in
intellectual skills. Due to spending more time in school, the school environment and
activities are used to prove ones competence. If they are successful they feel being
industrious, but if they fail constantly they develop a sense of being inferior. In this
stage a child wants to find out if s/he is successful or worthless.
(v) Identity and Role confusion (Adolescence, 13 to 19 years)
Many of the secondary students are in this stage. They also develop sexual identity
and are much more concerned on how they appear before others. This is a transition
period of moving from childhood into adulthood. A student wants to identify his/her
roles in the future as an adult in relation to the many roles and chances available,
which initially may lead to confusion. In this stage they are figuring out who they are
(identity) and where they are going in respect to their future (pondering roles). If they
resolve this conflict they develop self identity. If they dont then they may remain
confused about themselves and their future roles as adults.
Based on some aspects of your personality do you agree or disagree with

Eriksons psychosocial development theory? Explain your point of view.

Based on Erikssons theory Santrock (2004) proposes the following teaching



Encouraging initiative in young children. Educational programmes should foster a

great deal of freedom to students to explore their world and in choosing some of
the activities they engage in.

Promote industry in primary school children. The teacher should capture the
students abilities and eagerness to learn by creating a climate that promotes self
learning based on intrinsic motivation. The students should have a feeling that
they can accomplish tasks.

Stimulate identity exploration in adolescence. Teachers should recognize that

adolescents are faced with multidimensional related challenges. Students in this
stage should be encouraged to think independently and should be given freedom
to explore different alternatives available to them. The teacher should also be
informed on the availability of counseling services that can guide students in
choosing their careers.


Bronfenbrenners Ecological Theory and Eriksons psychosocial development theory
highlight the significance of parents and significant others influence on the
development of individuals personality. Remember parents, siblings and peers are
part of the Microsystems.
Children spend most of their early years with families i.e. parents and siblings. Live
experiences in families vary widely. Causes of variation include parenting styles, four
of them are described below (Baumrind, 1971). Parenting style is a psychological
term referring to strategies that parents use in child rearing. Rearing children include
amount of time and effort invested on the child. Styles used evolve over time
influencing childs personality development.
(i) Authoritarian parenting
In this style parents tell their children exactly what to do. Parents have high
expectations of conformity and compliance to rules they establish, but are less
responsive to their childrens needs. They are restrictive and use punishment (without
reasoning the problem with the child) to enforce children in the household to follow
regulations and directions. Children from such families tend to have less social


competence since they have not been given chance to make their own choices (ERIC
Digests, Retrieved 2010).
(ii) Authoritative parenting
This refers to parents who allow their children to operate independently but within
some limits on their actions. They provide the rules and guidance without overbearing
the children. The parents are supportive and verbal communication is used to reason
out in making decisions, even when using punishment (Santrock, 2007). Children
reared in such an environment tend to have high self esteem, are self reliant, socially
competent, happy and successful (Van Wagner, 2010).
(iii) Neglectful parenting
These are parents who neglect their children by not getting involved in their childrens
lives. They do not care where their children are or what they are doing. They
disregard the children, only focusing on their personal interests. Children raised by
such parents tend to exhibit same behaviors as that of their neglectful parents, lack
self-control and motivation to achieve, and are less competent than their peers (Van
Wagner, 2010).
(iv) Indulgent parenting
These are parents who are highly involved in the lives of their children by giving them
too much freedom i.e. very few restrictions if any. They allow children to do whatever
they wish, including responding to all the needs and wishes of the children. In short,
the parents want to please their children at all times. Children from such families grow
up developing less self control on their behaviours since they have not learnt to
control their behaviours (Santrock, 2007).
Identify a number of families in your community and determine

parenting style in each of the family. How about starting with your own

Children want to be in a group of other children. Peers are children of the same age
who interact in same area. Even in the playground children of the same age play
together. They play a major role on the psychosocial development of the child. They
interact in the neighborhood and school through play and classroom activities and


consequently share their attitudes and interests. Although most of their conditions are
similar, each has different characteristics and backgrounds which influence their
relationships and interactions. Peers are source of information and a yard stick of
making comparisons among themselves.
Peer relationship can lead to a positive or negative development. A child is under
pressure to conform to the norms of the peer group so as to be accepted, and is always
in fear of being rejected by his/her mates. Positive peer pressure may energize a child
to engage in healthy behaviours while negative peer pressure may lead to engaging in
risky behaviours. Some students are introduced to using drugs (Jenkins, 1996) or
participating in unacceptable behaviours such as bullying weak peers or younger
children. On the other hands peer pressure can contribute to individuals learning in
school (Johnson, 2000) through study groups and/or encouragement when facing
challenges. I think you know peers who help mates from exacerbating bad situation,
and others who make bad situation even worse.
In any human group each member has a status accorded to him/her by other members.
The way a child is held among peers indicates his/her status. There are four types of
peer status:

Popular children are mostly liked by their peers and normally get nominated as

Neglected children are liked by their peers but are unlikely to be nominated as

Rejected children are disliked by peers and are unlikely to be nominated as


Controversial children are likely to be both seen as a best friend but also as being
Make a reflection on peer groups you have belonged to when you were

young. In each group which status were you accorded? Please be


Santrock (2004) suggests that teachers use the following strategies to improve
childrens social skills:

Help rejected students learn to listen to peers and hear what they say instead of
trying to dominate them.

Help neglected children attract attention from others in positive ways and hold
their attention.

Provide children low in social skills with knowledge about how to improve these

Read books on appropriate peer relations, make discussions with your

fellow students and also device supporting activities and games.

Unnamed source (Retrieved 2010) also suggests that parents (I think this applies to
the teachers too) can encourage healthy and positive relationships among peers and
showing support by:

Having a positive relationship with your childrens/students and their peers.

Being genuinely interested in your childrens/students peer activities. This will

allow the teacher to know your children/students and misbehaviour when it

Encouraging independent thought and expressions among peers.


Self is the knowledge one has about himself/herself. Close your eyes and see the
picture of yourself in your imagination. Thats part of yourself concept. W. Purkey
(1988, retrieved 2010) stated that self-concept refers to the totality of a complex,
organized, and dynamic systems of learned beliefs, attitudes and opinions that each
person holds to be true about his/her personal existence. So to begin with, selfconcept is a cognitive construct that is related to what one thinks about himself/herself
and the perceptions formed. This knowledge is acquired through the use of the five
Self-concept is multi-dimensional as it includes a number of things such as perception
of ones physical appearance, academic capabilities, skills, gender identity and roles,
ethnic and religious identify. Physical perception aspects refer to ones looks, height,


sex and kind of clothes worn. Academic self-concepts refer to the level of ones
performance in school and ability to learn. One can at the same time have a positive
self-concept in some aspect of personality and negative on others e.g. feeling that one
is good in academics but poor in athletics.
Self-concept is dynamic. It is not innate but rather learned; at birth we do not know
about ourselves or have a picture of ourselves. As the child develops cognitively it
learns about itself as a separate entity in the environment and in this process develops
self-concept. Self-concept is shaped through personal reflections on perceived
experiences, especially with significant others (Purkey, 1988). Children acquire sense
of self at around 18 months. As they develop cognitively they understand themselves
better and by the age of six years they include abstract ideas when describing about
themselves, e.g. being happy or angry.
Self-concept is relatively permanent i.e. long period of time held perceptions that are
resistant to change. This aspect gives consistency to individuals personality;
otherwise s/he will lack consistency. Although self-concept is resistant to change, one
can learn and modify his/her self-concept over a period of time (Franken, 1994). The
changes are a result of self-reflection based on his/her interaction with the
An individual can have ideas on his/her future self-concepts, termed possible selves.
A student in secondary school can see himself/herself in the future as being a tall
handsome/beautiful married person holding a high position in an institution and
having all the best gadgets of the day. Also the possible selves can be of what one is
afraid of being in the future e.g. being drug addict or failing in life. These possible
selves have effect on the current and future behaviour of the individual. Franken
(1994) believes that the self concept is the basis for motivated behaviour that leads to
rise of possible behaviours that in turn create motivation for behaviour.
The evaluative and emotional aspect of self-concept is self-esteem. It is how a person
views himself/herself.

A person with high self-esteem regards himself/herself

positively and has confidence. The one with low self-esteem rates himself/herself very
low, looks down upon himself/herself. Periods of low esteem come and go, and their

duration varies. However, if the period persists for a long time it may lead to low
achievement, depression and delinquency (Harter, 1999). There is a relationship
between self-concept and school achievement (Marsh, 1992; Hamachek, 1994).
However it is not yet clear if self-concept produces school achievement or it is the
school achievement that produces aspects of self-concept.

Contact some adolescents individually and enquire the perception

they have on possible selves. Dont forget to ponder about your
possible self!

Based on research findings Santrock (2004) gave the following suggestions to

teachers on helping students improve their self-esteem:

Identifying the causes of low esteem and the areas of competence important to the

Provide emotional support and social approval.

Help students to achieve.

Develop students coping skills.

Springs (2008) suggested the following on improving student self-concept through

student achievement:

Stimulating motivation by recognizing student accomplishments daily. Show

interest in their academic progress.

Teacher should involve parents to participate in cultivating student motivation.

Parents should know the importance of instilling positive belief on their children.

Help students set high goals that relate to motivation and help them to move from
dependency to independence and self-sufficiency. At the beginning of the year
help them to set academic goals and steps necessary to achieve them.

In this

lecture we looked at different aspects that have influence on child

development namely role of inheritance, environment, parenting styles,

and peer relationships. Also, mentioned are different areas of


development including cognitive, language, physical and psychosocial.

Lastly there are activities that will help you to conceptualize the content

1. Observe some children of the different ages in your neighborhood

and relate their development to the components of development in
relation to the theories used in describing child development.
2. Elaborate this summary in your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness.








Developmental Psychology Monographs, 4(1, pt 2) 1-103.

ERIC DIGEST. The Role of parents in the Development of peer group




3/parents.htm. Retrieved 2010

Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
Franken, R. (1994). Human Motivation (3rd Ed.). Pacific Grove, CA:
Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.
Hamachek, D. (1994). Self-concept and school achievement: Interaction
dynamics and a tool for assessing the self-concept component.
Journal of Counseling and Development, 73(4), 419-425.
Harter, S. (1999). The Construction of Self. New York: Guilford.
Hunt, E. (1995). The Role of Intelligence in Modern Society. The
American Scientist.
Johnson, Kirk A. (2000). The Peer Effect on Academic Achievement
among Public Elementary School Students.

Center for Data

Analysis Report No. 00-06

Loh, A. (2010). The importance of Learning Language Skills: Part II.
Brainy-Child.com, A Division of Lion Heart Consulting.

Marsh, H. (1992). The Content Specificity of Relations between

Academic self-concept and Achievement: An Extension of the
Marsch/Shavelson Model. ERIC NO ED349315
Ormrod, J. E. (1999). Human learning (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Purkey, W. (1988). An overview of self-concept theory for counselors.
ERIC Clearing House on Counseling and Personnel Services, Ann
Arbor, Michigan (An ERIC/CAPS Digest: ED304630)
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA
Santrock, John W. (2007). A Topical Approach to life-span Development
(3rdd Edition). McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA
Van Wagner, Kendra (2010). Parenting Styles: the Four Styles of
Parenting. About.com Guide. Retrieved in 2010.



Up to now we have not yet defined learning. All of us have been involved in
learning since we were very young. So, although we have some experience on
learning, yet it is a difficult concept to define because the process is not visible.
Normally you see (suspect is the right word) a student learning not the learning
process itself. Even within ourselves we do not sense or feel the process of learning
taking place. It is not like swallowing or sensing the outside temperature! Several


psychologists have given different theories/ perspectives on learning and consequently

their implications on instructional design strategies. These theories provide us with
framework to describe learning and suggestions on how to approach teaching
(Wikipedia, retrieved Feb. 2010).

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:

(i) Describe Behavioral Theories of Learning
(ii) Explain the Piagets theory
(iii) Describe the Vygotsky
(iv) Compare and contrast the different theories of intelligence.
According to Dorin, Demmin and Gabel (1990) theories provide general observations
on a phenomenon made over time but the existing information has not yet being
proved beyond doubt. They are propositions based on logical reasoning describing a
construct or process that is not easily measurable. For a theory to be recognized, lies a
collective assumptions of the existence of a phenomenon; and that it (the theory) has
the best explanations of this phenomenon and the respective people are working on it
to eventually prove that it is true or not. Having different theories in one construct
imply that different people have different perspectives on the respective construct.
In the field of psychology, Education Psychology included, some theories dominate
and impact the field and related fields for a certain period of time and then they lose
their dominance to other theories seen as more plausible. So, as more information is
obtained on these learning theories they will be modified and in rare cases thrown out.
In this lecture we will only focus on a few theories.

Do not blame me if you find other theories or perspectives describing the

learning process. Also, do not be surprised that by the time you read this
lecture some of theories mentioned here may have lost their dominance
as a result of new theories. Please be conversant in all of them and apply
each appropriately.



Several psychologists are associated with the behavioral approaches; among them are
Edward Thorndike, Ivan Pavlov, John Watson, Tolman and B. F. Skinner. The main
focus of behaviourism is that behaviour is learnt through conditioning. Behaviorists
believe that learning is expressed by change in overt behavior; the environment
changes behavior; and that the formation of a bond of things or events depends on the
time interval between them.

Conditioning simply means learning demonstrated by observable

Behavioral approaches are two types of the simplest forms of associative learning i.e.
learning that occurs as result of an organism linking two or more items. Our
experiences tell us that there are things or events that occur in a certain succession.
Examples include salivating when we see or get smell of food we like or studying
hard leads to a high score in a test, setting of the sun means time for bed is
approaching. These associations of events or objects make our world predicable as
well as describing who/what/how/when aspects of behaviours. I think without these
associations our world will be in a chaotic mess.
Behaviorism defines learning as permanent changes of behaviour as a result of
experience. The definition implies there must be a change in observable behaviour to
definitely prove that learning has taken place. Lack of change in behaviour implies
learning has not occurred. You know when you spell a word correctly then you have
learned the spelling of that word. On the other hand if you fail to spell that word
correctly it means that learning has not taken place. Also the definition indicates that
in learning the changes in behaviour are a result of interacting with the environment
i.e. behaviour changes are based by forming association of items. Behaviour changes
resulting from fatigue, physical development (maturation) or sickness cannot be
related to learning. So, not all behavioural changes are caused by learning.
Forms of associative learning to be discussed here are classical conditioning and
instrumental conditioning.

However it is important to have a glance at Edward


Thorndike (1874-1949) who proposed a theory termed response association theory,

also expressed as SR i.e. the connection between stimulus and response. The theory
states that when an organism detects a certain stimulus it gives a specific response
based on previous encounters.
This approach of learning has three laws:

Law of exercise. It states that the connection between a stimulus and response is
strengthened depending on how frequently they (stimulus and response) are used
together. It implies that if one is continually exercising (read practicing or
repeating) the chances of response following the stimulus are high; however lack
of exercise decreases the chance of responding when a stimulus appears.

Law of effect. This one states that the strengthening or weakening of the
connection between stimulus and response are the results of the consequences of
the response. A response that is followed by a reward or positive satisfaction
increases the connection between the stimulus and response, on the other hand if
the response is followed by punishment or something aversive the connection
between stimulus and response is undermined. Normally we respond to conditions
that bring satisfaction and ignore those conditions that bring pain.

Law of readiness. It states that the basis of individuals response depends on the
extent of his/her preparedness to act. When someone is ready to perform an acts to
do so is satisfying. When someone is ready to perform an act, not to do so is
annoying. When someone is not ready to perform an act and s/he is forced to do
so, it is annoying. Interference with goal directed behavior causes frustration.
Also, causing someone to do something s/he does not want to do is also
frustrating. If a student wants to learn and s/he gets the chance to learn s/he will
get some satisfaction in the act of learning. Preventing him/her from learning will
lead to frustration. If a student does not want to learn and the teacher does not
appear in the class it is satisfying, and if on the contrary the teacher appears and
the student is forced to engage in learning s/he will get annoyed.

Based on your own experiences identify responses that you give as


examples of the above laws.

5.3.1 Classical conditioning
Classical learning is also known as Pavlovian conditioning. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936),
a Russian psychologist, was the first person to describe this type of learning based on
a number of experimental studies he conducted on dogs. In these experiments he
paired a sound of metronome (bell) with presentation of food powder. The sound was
presented just before supplying or providing food powder to the dogs tongue. After
repeating this sequence a number of times he observed that the dog salivated when the
sound of metronome presented alone in the absence of food powder. The dog had
established an association between sound of metronome and food provision. That is,
learning (conditioned) to salivate on just hearing the sound of metronome. In this case
learning had taken place. The dogs did not salivate on hearing the metronome before
the experiment.

This theory is called Classical conditioning because of its significance

in psychology.

Pavlov developed terminologies specific to the components of these observations,


Unconditioned stimulus (US)

A stimulus in the environment that biologically makes an organism to give a specific

response. In the above experiments the sight of food naturally leads an organism
(including us humans) to salivate. US is a natural stimulus that is not a result of

Conditional stimulus (CS)

This is a neutral stimulus that naturally does not produce a response but after being
paired several times with the US produces a response. The metronome was a neutral
stimulus at the beginning that did not make the dogs to salivate upon hearing it.
However the sound eventually, after being paired with food powder several times,
could alone make the dog to salivate. So, CS is a neutral stimulus that after

conditioning (learning) makes an organism to make a response. Some of us can just

salivate when someone mentions (CS) food we learned to like.

Unconditional response (UCR)

This is an unlearned response produced by UCS. The dog naturally salivated when
food powder was placed on the tongue. We normally salivate when we taste
something delicious. UCR can be counted as reflex action.

Conditional response (CR)

This is a response that is elicited by CS alone. Before pairing CS and UCS there was
no response, but after pairing an organism makes a response on CS in the absence of
UCS. So, UCR and CR are same responses (in the Pavlovs experiment salivating),
the difference is that UCR is produced by UCS while CR is produced by CS.
Based on your own experiences, identify 5 UCS; 5 CS and 5 CR/UCR

that you know. Remember unconditional implies natural/unlearned and

conditional implies learned/acquired.

Characteristics of classical conditioning

For conditioning to occur during the pairing the CS must be several times applied just
before the UCS. It is very difficult (next to impossible) for conditioning to occur if the
CS is applied before UCS. Also if the interval between the CS and UCS is long the
organism cannot make the connection between CS and UCR.
Sequencing classical conditioning based on Pavlovs experiment:
1. UCS

Food Powder
2. NS (Neutral )


3. NS + UCS

No Response
Not Salivating


Metronome+ Food Powder Salivating this has to be repeated several times.

4. CS





Based on real life examples of classical conditioning, use the above

steps to illustrate the sequence that led to conditioning.

Based on the experiments Pavlov also made the following observations on classical

Extinction: if one stops pairing the CS and UCS, the CR will cease in response to
CS. The dogs stopped to salivate if the bell was presented alone several times in
absence of placing food powder on the dogs tongue.

Stimulus generalization. CR can occur in presence of stimuli that are similar to

the UCS. The dogs salivated when they had sounds similar to the metronome.

Stimulus discrimination: an organism can learn to discriminate between the CS

and other stimuli similar to the CS i.e. give CR only to one specific CS. This
occurs after recognizing that only one specific neutral stimulus is accompanied
with reward. The dogs learned to respond only to the metronome and not to other
similar sounds.

Spontaneous recovery (relearning): the extinguished CR can reappear latter if CS

is again paired with the UCS. The time taken to establish the connection during
spontaneous recovery is much shorter than the initial one to establish the
conditioning. Also after spontaneous recovery it takes a shorter time to extinguish
CR if the CS is presented alone in absence of UCS.

Higher-Order conditioning: once an organism has learned to associate CS and

UCS, another neutral stimulus can be presented at the same with the CS.
Eventually the new stimulus becomes CS that can elicit CR response in absence of
the original CS. Pavlov paired the sound of metronome and a flash of light. Later
on, he observed that the dog salivated at the flash of light in the absence of the
sound of metronome and food powder.

Although Pavlov did the observations on dogs it also true that classical conditioning
explains some of human behaviours. There are several things that we are conditioned

to approach or avoid based on appearing of certain CS (Domjan, 2003). Some of

commercials (especially those of foods and perfumes) make us to produce responses
that are pleasant. In one of the most infamous classical conditioning experiments
Watson and Raynor (1920) conditioned a child named Albert to fear white rats. Before
the experiment little Albert was not afraid of the rat. In the experiment a white rat was
paired with a loud sound (threatening to Albert). After several pairing Albert was
afraid of the white rat, he cried on the sight of it. Even 30 days after stopping the
experiment Albert cried whenever he saw a rat and the fear had been generalized to
things covered with fur.

Experiments like the one on poor Albert have adverse effects on the
individual. Thus, they are unacceptable and unethical.
The above experiment implies that students in school can acquire fear/liking to neutral
things or events in the classroom or school. The way we teachers respond to students
answers or react to their actions can unintentionally induce fear that can negatively
affect learning processes and consequently academic performance. If the teacher is
frequently too harsh to students answers, that student may be conditioned to fear the
teacher and/or his/her subject. Also conditioning can account for test anxiety (fear of
tests and examination) among students. I think you may know students who miss
some classes due to their fear of a teacher or skip school all together because of fear
of failing exams.
Just as students learn to fear neutral things they can also learn not fear the same things
through extinction process. Remember extinction is stopping giving a response to CS.
One can learn not to fear teachers or other objects in school. If the teacher stops being
harsh to students responses and alternatively have positive approach the students will
learn anew to have sense of security when with the teacher or learning the subject.
Also it is important to remember that spontaneous recovery will take place if the
teacher resort to his/her previous reactions to students.

Classical conditioning is mostly associated with responses related to

reflex actions and is best for explaining emotions associated neutral

objects or events.

5.3.2 Operant conditioning (Instrument conditioning)

The approach of operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner (1904 -1990).
He postulated that psychology should deal with observable behaviour that can be
measured (Good and Brophy, 1990) and ignore the processes taking place in the mind
i.e. mental processes. In Pavlovs experiment the dog had to wait for someone to
introduce the UCS or CS for it to give a response. In operant conditioning (sometimes
called Instrumental conditioning) the organism operates on the environment based
on the consequences of its actions i.e. deliberately initiating and operating in a process
of responses. The individual and the consequences are instrumental in his/her
Skinner used a special box (called Skinner Box) to study the behaviours of some
animals (mostly rats) to demonstrate his theory. (Please read about these experiments
in other sources). Based in these experiments Skinner established the following basic
aspects of operant conditioning:
The sequence of operant conditioning can be illustrated in the following chart:


(Teacher asking a question)


student raising hand student being selected to answer

A stimulus indicates when to give a response. In the above illustration students raise
hands after the teacher has asked a question. They raise hands as a response expecting
to be selected to answer. Reinforcement is being selected to answer. Bus approaching
is stimulus for us to wave hand (response) and the bus stops and we board
(reinforcement). A stimulus indicates where/when/how to give a response that will be
reinforced. So, a response given before the stimulus cannot get reinforcement, and for
reinforcement to be effective it must be received after giving a response and not
Actions that lead to positive consequences are repeated and those that bring negative
consequences are avoided. Remember that repeating or avoiding are both responses.

Positive Reinforcement is a pleasant or rewarding consequence that follows a response

and as result makes it likely for response to be repeated in future when under the same
circumstances. A student will always study more for a course s/he does well. Negative
Reinforcement is consequence that makes a person escape or avoid painful situation.
These responses are likely to be repeated since they remove unpleasant conditions. A
person will repeat taking pills that relief (avoid) headache when s/he gets a headache
in the future.

Reinforcement (either categorized as positive or negative) is any

consequence that increases the probability of response being repeated in
the future.
Make a list of ten positive reinforcements and ten positive

reinforcements available to teachers for using on students in a


Reponses that do not get reinforcement eventually become extinct. Extinction means
an organism stopping giving a response in presence of stimulus after learning that it
will not be reinforced. A student will stop raising a hand to a teacher whom s/he
knows will not select him/her to answer questions. As teachers we should stop giving
reinforcement to students misbehaviour so that these behaviors become extinct.
Just as in classical conditioning there is stimulus generalization and discrimination in
operant conditioning. Sometimes we give a response to a stimulus that is similar to the
one that usually leads to reinforcement. Waiving to a bus expecting it to stop only to
realize after it has passed, that it is a private bus and not a public one (stimulus
generalization). After a while we can differentiate between public and private buses.
So, for a private bus we do not wave, if it is a public bus (stimulus discrimination) we
wave knowing that our response will get reinforcement.
In some occasions it takes time and through trial and error to make an association
between stimulus, response and reinforcement i.e. to establish new behaviour through
a process known as behavioural shaping. Behavioural shaping involves giving
reinforcement to responses that lead to the final required response, and ignoring the
other responses, until the individual learns the association between the stimulus and

the desired response. If you are training a child to write you only give reinforcement
to steps (inform of responses) that lead to holding the pen correctly and making the
correct shapes of letters. The child is required to master each step (responses) until the
whole sequence is mastered. The role of the teacher/parent is to give reinforcement to
appropriate responses in each step.

Behavioural shaping is a process that begins with stimulus generalization

or trial and error and then through stimulus discrimination the ultimate
response is elicited.
Primary and secondary reinforcers
Reinforcers are objects, events or actions that increase the individuals possibility of
repeating a specific behaviour in the future. An object having powers of a reinforcer
depends on the person or organism being reinforced. Money is an effective reinforcer
to humans but worth nothing to a dog and even to a small child. Aspirin is reinforcer
to a person with headache but not to a starving person. As a teacher you must identify
things or objects that are effective as reinforcers to students and sometimes to a
specific student.
There are two types of reinforcers, namely primary and secondary reinforcers.
Primary reinforcers are natural things that meet our basic needs such as food, water
and shelter. Other things that are paired with primary reinforcers and eventually get
their own reinforcing powers are known as secondary reinforcers. Money is good
example of secondary reinforcers. Many of the reinforcers in schools are secondary
reinforcers. When a secondary reinforcer acquires the properties of a primary
reinforcer it is known as a generalized reinforcer. When we just work to get money
just for the sake of getting rich then money is a generalized reinforcer.

Money is a secondary reinforcer when used to meet our needs; it

becomes a secondary reinforcer when we work to get satisfaction in
accumulating more of it!
Schedules of reinforcement


From our own experiences we know that not all of our responses are given
reinforcement immediately. Some responses are reinforced immediately while others
are not reinforced immediately i.e. the reinforcement is provided latter. In most cases
when we pay cash to the shopkeeper we get the object we want. However, sometimes
we have to go to several shops before we find the desired object at the right price.
Schedules of reinforcement refer to a system that indicates which response get
reinforcement and which will not get reinforcement. In continuous reinforcement
every response is followed by reinforcement. Every time a student gives a correct
answer in the classroom the teacher nods in recognition. In the long run this schedule
is not very effective since some people and organisms stop responding to enjoy the
reinforcements that have been accumulated.
Continuous reinforcement is very effective in establishing new behavioural responses.
Once the intended behavioural response has been established we can now move on to
partial reinforcement schedules i.e. not all responses get reinforcement, but rather just
some of them. Partial reinforcement schedules have been known to be more effective
in maintaining an established response than the continuous reinforcement. Partial
reinforcement schedules can be in various patterns. Here we are going to discuss
interval schedules and ratio schedules.
In the interval schedules presentation of reinforcement is based on time factor. In
fixed interval schedules a response is reinforced after a fixed amount of time has
elapsed since the last reinforcement. The time period between reinforcements is
constantly the same. An employer can decided to give reinforcement to his worker
after five days of work i.e. paying the worker at the end of every fifth day. In
classroom situation a teacher may be giving a test on the last Monday of each month
(I know you like doing tests!). In variable interval schedules the amount of time that
elapses between the reinforcement varies. The individual (organism) knows that s/he
will be given reinforcement but does not know when. The employer may pay his
worker after five days this time, next payment after seven days and the following
payment after four days. A teacher may decide to give a quiz after five days, then after
six days and the next one after three days. Note that an individual has to give
responses to get reinforcement within the respective period of time. The main


limitation of fixed interval is that some people stay idle and only give response just
before the time the reinforcement is expected.

I hope you are not one of the people who only perform their duties close
to pay day!

In the ratio schedules presentation of reinforcement is based on number of correct

responses one has to make to get reinforcement. In fixed ratio schedules one is
reinforced after making a fixed number of correct responses since the last
reinforcement. An employer can decided to give reinforcement after his worker has
produced a specific number of items e.g. paying the worker after baking 100 loaves of
bread. In classroom environment a teacher only marks students maths exercise after
the student has completed five sums. A variable ratio schedule implies one gets
reinforcement after a set average number of correct responses. These set vary in the
number of correct responses. The first set might be after five responses, the second set
after four responses and the following after six responses. A worker may get
reinforcement after baking 100 loaves, then after baking 200 loaves and then after just
baking 75 loaves. In classroom situation a teacher may mark students work after
completing 5 sums, next lesson after 3 sums and the following lesson after 7 sums.
The effects of type of schedule of reinforcement used differ. Fixed ratio is more
effective when establishing a new behaviour. (Remember that continuous
reinforcement is one type of fixed schedule reinforcement). It is also easily
susceptible to extinction. The best schedule for maintaining behaviour is variable
ratio. The individual does not stop giving responses since s/he is always expecting to
get reinforcement after the next response!
For each of the five schedules of reinforcements described above,

describe them by citing five real life examples for each schedule.

Premarks principle


I am sure you are aware of this principle although it may sound new to you. This
principle was described by David Premark. Actions that are more desirable to the
individual can be used as reinforcers for less desirable actions. Desirable actions are
those done by an individual more often and much longer in terms of time relative to
the less desirable ones i.e. desirable actions have high frequency activity. In life every
person has actions that s/he likes more and other actions s/he likes less. Many children
(and adults too) like to watch television and dislike homework (or washing pots).
Premarks principle says that watching television can be used as a reinforcer for doing
homework or washing pots. A child is required to complete homework or washing
pots before being allowed to watch television. In schools sometimes students have to
complete their class work before being allowed out to play. (Do you remember your
mother telling you to first finish taking porridge before being allowed to go out to
play with others?).
As a teacher it is advisable to identify desirable actions of your students and then
make a reinforcement hierarchy i.e. listing actions of the student with the most
desirable action at the top and ending the least desirable action at the bottom. To
obtain the list you can tell students to write what they like or you can observe them
during their spare time. A less desirable action cannot be used as reinforcer to more
desirable actions. Washing pots cannot be used as a reinforcer to doing homework.
Make a list of activities in the classroom that students like most and

those that they like less. Based on Premarks principle describe how you
will use the activities for effective learning.

Contributions of operant conditioning to education will be discussed in various parts

of this course.
5.3.3 Social learning theory
Remember that in behavioural approach learning is largely caused by ones
environment and that there must be a behavioural change. Albert Bandura postulated
the social learning theory that opposed the behavioral approach. He believed
behavioural perspective was too simplistic to encompass all that is involved in
learning processes. His theory emphasizes the significance of other people on our
learning. We learn by observing other people and the outcome of their behaviours. If
we see a person crying because of being stung by a bug it is enough to learn that a bug

can sting and we should be careful with it. We do not need to be stung personally to
learn this. In school sometimes, punishment (or reward) is applied before other
students so that they avoid actions that led to the punishment (maintaining the
rewarding behaviour). We also learn by imitating other people. Just observe how
small children imitate our actions and also develop many skills by imitating adults.
Later they use imitated skills to deal with the demands of the environment. Also, we
learn from other people through modeling i.e. other peoples behaviour serves as a
guide to us when we are learning that behaviour. We expect children to observe us
writing so that they can perform the same. I think modeling is easier than shaping, for
the teacher and students alike. Learning through symbolic modeling i.e. learning by
watching other people on the television or from reading or listen to stories involving
people (is this not one of the main functions of literature?).
In behavioural approach learning is associated by a permanent behavioural change.
Learning by observation means that sometimes we learn through observation alone
without a change in behaviour occurring.

As a teacher, make sure that you are a model for positive aspects of
students development. Plan your actions well for easy imitation by
Social learning theory identifies the following factors for effective modeling:

Attention: the person has to pay attention to the modeling when making
observations. There are several factors that have influence on the amount of
attention paid to the model by a student.

Retention: one has to retain what s/he has observed (in the memory) and later
retrieve it (remembering) in form of responses. It is important to rehearse our
observations for effective learning.

Reproduction: based on what is in the memory one must have the ability to
reproduce the behaviour that was demonstrated by the model. Reproduction can
be in form of motor activities (physical activities) or symbolic (images).
Sometimes children are unable to reproduce actions of the model due to level of
their physical development.

Motivation: the individual must have a reason to imitate the model and for
demonstrating what s/he has observed. Getting reinforcement (both positive and
negative), and external factors (promised reward) or internal factors (just pleasing
oneself) can be motivating factors for learning and making a response.

The above factors and social learning theory in general indicate that the environment
(especially the social context) and the cognitive processes are both critical in learning.
(Remember that behaviorists insisted on only focusing on observable behaviours and
ignoring mental processes). The models and some of the motivation are part of the
environment while attention, retention and motivation are part of the cognitive
processes. So, social learning theory is seen as the bridge between behavioral learning
theories and cognitive learning theories.

Observe children in different setting for a number of days and

determine by listing behaviours that they have developed through
imitation and symbolic modeling.


As you have already noticed not all learning can be explained by behavioural
approaches. Now let us have a look on cognitive learning theory. Several
psychologists identify cognitive processes as critical component in understanding
human behaviour. All cognitive theories look beyond overt behaviour and rather focus
on brain and mental processes in explaining learning. Other common features in these
theories include making inferences on observable mental processes, believing
individuals are actively (rather than being passive) involved in learning process, and
learning involves relating new information to previously learned information
(Ormrod, 1999). Here we are just going to mention a few of the theories.
Edward Tolman (Tolman and Honzik, 1930) proposed latent learning in which an
organism learns about its environment without reinforcement or a change in
behaviour. We develop cognitive map (mental representation of spatial locations and
direction) of our environment and only demonstrate this knowledge when
reinforcement is available. When in a new surroundings you observe the area and

learn about the layout of objects without expecting any reinforcement. Later on the
information acquired can be used to give a response that leads to reinforcement.
5.4.1 Gestalts psychologists
Psychologists in gestalt perspective were against behaviourism by emphasizing that
mental processes are important in explaining learning. Among the basic ideas of this
theory is that we perceive things in whole and not in segments (stimulus and single
responses) and the perception formed can be different from the reality. Past
experiences predispose people on how they organize information in particular way
and in relation to their environment (Ormrod, 1999). So in explaining learning we
must include the overall experiences of the individual. Gestalt psychology has been
instrumental on our understanding of thinking, problem solving and perception.
5.4.2 Cognitive constructivism
Constructivists hold that a learner is actively constructing and inventing his/her own
knowledge from his/her past experiences. Rather than just receive and absorb what
s/he gets from others (teachers included) a learner modifies his/her understanding in
relation to the new information leading him/her internalizing concepts, rules and
principles that are later applied in future encounters.
The main ideas of cognitive constructivism have been summarized as follows (Elliot
et. al., 2000):

We only know subjective reality and not the object reality since the knowledge we
have is based on our own subjective experiences.

Knowledge is subjective because each one of us has his/her own unique


The knowledge of two people are said to be taken-as-shared to the extent that
their constructions seem to function in the same way in given situation. Since
every one constructs his/her own knowledge, the knowledge shared cannot be
exactly the same.

Knowledge is constructed through the process of adapting to events and ideas one
experiences. This idea is very much related to Piagets concept of disequilibrium
in which people tend to be motivated to solve mental problems they encounter.


The construction of knowledge is significantly influenced by the symbols and

materials one uses or has ready access to.

Both the physical and social

environment provides us with experiences that we use to construct knowledge.

The language (or languages) that we speak is based on the society we live in and
attitudes that we form are mostly influenced by our culture.

Readiness to learn means that an individual is ready to learn when his/her

existing cognitive constructions are capable of incorporating new information.

5.4.3 Piagets theory of learning

We mentioned Piagets theory earlier in this course. This theory belongs to Cognitive
Constructivism theories. Remember that learning is determined by mental structures
and how the new information is incorporated into the existing knowledge. Since
childhood people are not passive respondents of the environment (as in classical
conditioning) but rather they actively process new information as they develop and
interact with their environment (both social and physical). When we experience
disequilibrium we are motivated to make sense of our surroundings through mental
operations of accommodation and assimilation.

Please revisit the section on cognitive development to remind yourself

that mental processes are qualitatively distinct in each level of

Later on in this course we will discuss the implications of the above theories on
teachers and their applications in teaching/learning processes. However, according to
Ormrod (1999) cognitive theories have the following implications on education:

Cognitive processes influence learning.

Learning difficulties often indicate ineffective cognitive processes, especially for

children with learning disabilities.

As children grow they become capable of increasingly more sophisticated thought.

People organize things they learn.

New information is most easily acquired when people can associate it with things
they have already learned.


People control their own learning.

There are other cognitive theories and concepts that you are compelled to know about.
These include Cordons cognitive style typology; meaningful learning as described by
David Ausubel; and constructivist theory of Jerome Bruner.

In this lecture we had a glance on several theories of learning and their

implications on the teaching processes. Each of the theories has
limitations on describing the learning processes and their applications
in the classroom. However the limitations have not been identified in
the lecture.


From different sources identify the limitations of each of the

theories. Remember one day this activity might prove handy;
ignore it at your own peril!

2. Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through
the lecture to verify your accurateness.

Domjan, M. (2003). The principles of learning and behaviour (5 the).

Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth
Dorin, H., Demmin, P. and Gabel, D. (1990). Three Basic Learning
Theories. www.meadowfields.ednet.ns.ca/sutherland.

Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
Good, T. L. & Brophy, J.E. (1990). Educational Psychology: A realistic
approach. (4th Ed.) White Plains, N.Y: Longman
Ormrod, J. E. (1999). Human learning (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA
Watson, J.B. and Reynar, R (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions.
Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1-14



We normally ask such questions as: Why did s/he do such a horrible thing? What was
his/her motive? Bahati looks so gloomy, what should we do to make him/her
cheerful? What - as teachers, do we need to do to keep students engaged in their
studies, especially mathematics and science subjects? Motivation may relate to
addressing the above challenges. Motivation is one of the most significant constructs
in the field of psychology and is a component in most theories of psychology. Also,
motivation is the key to all learning and the atmosphere relating to school. Some of
the problems in the class or school are result of motivation. Some of these problems
include truancy, disobedience in the classroom and poor interaction in the learning


process. As a teacher it is important you learn as much as possible about this

significant component of learning processes.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Define motivation as it applies to education;


Describe Maslow's human needs view of motivation;

(iii) Describe attribution theory;

(iv) Explain expectancy theory and achievement motivation in school;

Explain methods that lead to high level of motivation to students.


The focus of this lecture is on human motivation. Most psychologists see motivation
as a process or a factor that initiates, energizes, directs and sustains behaviour
towards a certain goal. This definition implies that motivation is involved in all stages
of our actions i.e. it can cause us to start engaging in certain behaviors (learning a new
language), increases level of activity and/or being persistent in the activity (working
hard when learning the language), and directs us toward a certain goal (we get
satisfied when we speak the language fluently).

Therefore, there is a close

relationship between motivation and learning.

According to Ormrod, (2003) motivation in education has the following effects on
student learning:

Directs students behaviour towards a specific goal;

Increases effort and energy; increase imitation of, and persistence in activities; and
enhance cognitive processing;

Determines consequences to be reinforced;

Improves performance.

Before moving on let us clear some misconceptions about motivation. One of them is
that one can directly motivate someone else to do something. This is not accurate.
What we can do is only create conditions that make someone to be motivated to do
something. Later on, based on this condition the person will develop motivation
towards that behavior. No amount of a pay increase can directly make an incompetent
and lazy teacher improve students academic performance by his/her teaching. We

also hear people saying that students lack motivation to learn a certain course when
they avoid it (e.g. science subjects). If they lack motivation to learn science subjects
it means they are indifferent to science subjects. However, in this case of the students
deliberately avoiding science subjects it means they are rather motivated not to learn
science subjects. Also punishment cannot be used to make people motivated. Beating
students who dislike mathematics will not make them like or be motivated to learn
mathematics. Recall that based on classical conditioning principles the student will
also be conditioned to hate the subject and/or the teacher and this can be generalized
to other subjects/teachers.

I will be very disappointed if you are motivated not to continue with

this course. Personally I am motivated to make you develop skills to
motivate your students to study the subjects you teach.
Incentive approach is based on the behavioural perspective that was described in the
previous lecture. The main emphasis is on reinforcement principles and reinforcers as
key in describing motivation. Incentives include all external rewards (tangible or
intangible) presented after response so as to cause behaviour to reoccur in the future.
The incentive conditions a person to feel happy. The main limitation of incentive
approach is that the motivation is not internalized and it can easily suffer extinction.
Also some people might feel that they are manipulated by those with reinforcers.

Incentives are external forces in form of stimuli that pulls an organism

towards a goal.

Instinct approach believe that humans and other organisms have inborn tendencies
that lead to engaging in behaviours that are essential for survival. Sex urge is
considered as an instinct for maintaining the existence of the organism. This approach
does not account for motivations to engage in voluntary behaviours and psychologists
have been unable to come up with one definition of instinct and the scope of instincts.


Drive-reduction theory was, among others, proposed by Clark Hull. The theory
points out that when a person lacks a biological requirement a drive is produced that
needs to be satisfied. The basis of this approach is homeostasis, a process which
strives to maintain a stable, balanced internal state of the body. When there is a
deficiency in the body i.e. a need. A need leads to purposive activities (drive) aimed at
the goal of removing the deficiency. Need of water in the body creates thirst drive that
activates behaviour of drinking water, lack of food produce hunger drive that is
reduced by taking food. Other drives include sex and sleepiness. The main limitation
of this approach is that it does provide explanations on responses that do not originate
from biological needs.

Drives are internal forces that push an organism to act.

Arousal approaches go beyond drive reduction by postulating that human beings

want to maintain certain level of stimulation and activity. If the level is too low
(feeling bored) we increase it by seeking stimulation and if it is too high we decrease
it. As you know some people go to extreme to get stimulation e.g. engaging in
dangerous activities.
Cognitive approaches emphasize that thoughts, expectations and our perception of
our surroundings underlie our behaviours. Sometimes we engage in certain behaviour
because we expect that the behaviour will lead us towards a pleasant goal. So our
expectations have motivational forces. Cognitive approaches distinguish between
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is related to doing something
due to individuals internal satisfaction i.e. engaging in behaviour not because of any
tangible benefits but rather for personal enjoyment, or s/he thinks it is important or
significant to ones self. Extrinsic motivation is associated with doing behaviour in
order to gain tangible things or in pleasing others. Common extrinsic motivation
things include money, grades, avoiding of punishment and getting applause from the
audience. Thus intrinsic motivation originates internally from the person while
external motivation is caused by external factors. One has to know that people differ
in what is intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation i.e. what is intrinsic motivation
to me might not be a motivation factor to you at all or it can be extrinsic motivation to


another person. Many psychologists acknowledge that intrinsic motivation, rather than
extrinsic motivation, is more effective in making an individual work harder and
persevere on the task that is goal oriented. In some studies provision of extrinsic
motivation adversely affect ones intrinsic motivation. Later in this culture we will
look at conditions that facilitate intrinsic motivation.

The main limitation of cognitive perspective of motivation lies in that it is

very difficult to make students experience cognitive disequilibrium that is
enough to sustaining motivation to learn.
Maslows Needs Hierarchy is one of the most famous theories of motivation.
Abraham Maslow (1908 1970) believed that human beings have needs and desires
that have influence on behaviour. He identified these motivational needs, classified
and arranged them in a hierarchy, from the very basic to complex ones. The basic ones
must be minimally satisfied before being motivated to meet the upper ones. He
arranged and illustrated the hierarchy in a pyramid with the most basic ones at the
bottom level and the more sophisticated ones as one moves up. At the bottom there
are physiological needs which are basic and primary for the survival of the individual
namely water, food, sleep and sex (for survival of specie). As you can see these are
needs found in every individual. When these needs are satisfied the person then
moves on to safety needs i.e. people needing to live in places (including classrooms,
school and home) where they feel secure and safe to conduct their activities. Next
come the love and belongingness needs level whereby an individual wants to be in
group of other people, getting affection and feeling that s/he is loved by them. One
likes to be part of a family, peers and avoid being lonely. Above this level is esteem
need whereby a person seeks to develop sense of self-worth by feeling that other
people value our competencies and have a favorable judgment on our achievements.
We feel quite good when others praise us. The last level in the hierarchy is referred to
as need for self-actualization. As indicated in the pyramid very few people reach this
level where one feels s/he has realised his/her full potentials.


The main limitation of this approach is that it takes for granted that all human beings
have same needs arranged in the same order. In some situation security matters more
than food, and for others sex is not at all important to some individuals.

Observe members in your community and identify their level of

motivation to work in relation to the Maslows hierarchy of needs.


Many complex factors have influence on students motivation to learn. Below are
some of these influences that affect students we teach and consequently the direction


and intensity of their learning. We say Some since we cannot identify all of the
factors relate to motivation.
6.4.1 Student Attributions to Success and Failure
In describing this influence we look at Bernard Weiners attribution theory. People,
including students, are always motivated to figure out the reasons and causes of their
behaviours and successes or failures they experience in life. An individual gives
logical explanations to causes perceived by the person to describe the outcomes of
his/her behaviour. These explanations are called attributions. These attributions are
based on an attempt to use individuals past experiences to describe possible causes
and consequences of events. Student always try to find out the basis of their academic
performance i.e. the causes of the grade they get in different courses. The causal
attributions we make have influence on how we engage in our future behaviours.
Clarification on attributions is provided below.
Wiener (1990) stated that people (including students) attribute success/failure to one
the following attributes:
(i) Ability
Some students attribute success/failure to their ability or lack of it. Normally, a
student who fails consistently feels s/he lacks mental ability to be successful in the
task; while another student who is frequently successful may believe that s/he is
endowed with the ability to undertake the respective task. Those who perceive lacking
ability develop sense of incompetence that consequently undermines motivation to
learn. A student who believes that s/he does not have ability to understand science
subjects will not even try to study these subjects. Why? Because ability is perceived
as being stable and unlikely to change, and as such future failure is seen as more
likely than future success. On the other hand if s/he feels she has ability for arts
subjects s/he will be motivated in future to study arts subjects.

(ii) Effort
There are students who believe their grades are positively correlated to amount of
effort they put on studying i.e. success depends on how hard they try. If they pass they

attribute success to studying hard and when they fail they attribute failure to lack of
studying hard enough. Those who are successful are motivated to work even harder in
future which in turn increases more success. Why? Because effort is internal to the
individual and is seen as unstable factor that is under his/her control. This belief
motivates a student to study hard since success increases effort, and effort increases
(iii) Luck
When a student is unable to see a direct relationship between behaviour and
attainments s/he attributes this to luck. Students who believe they should have scored
low grade but pass the subject they attribute this to luck rather than ability or effort.
Such students will not be motivated to work hard on that subject since they know they
have very little control over luck. Success in task is perceived as if playing lottery
where once you buy the ticket there is nothing you can do win, you only wait for fate.
(iv) Task difficult
In case many students are successful in obtaining high grade some students say
(perceive) the test as being easy, if many fail they say (perceive) the test as being
difficult. A student with such perceptions may not be motivated to learn the subject
since task difficulty is external to him/her and not under his/her control.
The above attributes are mostly based on Western culture. I know some students in
our culture who attribute their behaviour outcomes to God, superstition and personal
beliefs or rituals. All these attributes are external to the individual. People perform
rituals that they belief lead to positive outcomes and avoid objects/events suspected to
have negative aspects.
In summary Weiner (1992) points out that luck and task difficulty are both external
attributes to the student. Ability and effort are both internal attributes. Ability is seen
as being stable i.e. it will remain the same and not change in the future. Effort is
perceived as being unstable and under the control of the individual. When a student
ascribes success/failure to ability s/he will expect to succeed/fail in the future.
Students who attribute ability and effort to outcome of behavior have internal locus of
control, while those who attribute performance to luck and task difficulty have
external locus of control. Thus, what one attributes as cause of outcome of behaviour

has motivational impact on his/her future undertakings. Students with internal locus of
control are internally motivated and belief performance is in their hands. Those with
external locus of control believe external forces determine their fate and have little
they can do. I think you know people who believe that the government has to meet all
their demands and blame failure on other people.
In many instances when people (students included) attribute internal forces in case of
success and attribute external forces for failures. I have experience of many of my
students who perform poorly blaming me or the test for being too difficult but when
they perform well attribute success to their abilities and effort.
What do you attribute to your success and how about your failures?

What do many students in your school attribute to their



Attributions to consequences are beliefs that may not be the real causes of
performance, so the theory may explain why some students who seem
able sometimes perform poorly.
6.4.2 Expectancy
We are aware that one specific incentive has different values to different people. For
one student a C grade in History is enough while for another a B grade in History
is not good enough since they want an A. Expectancy-value theory explains this
phenomenon by stating that students goal directed behaviour is determined by two
factors i.e. expectancy and incentive value. Our expectations tell us that our specific
behaviour will make us reach a certain goal. Also we have the value attached to that
goal - namely, incentive value. If a student has high expectations and values are also
high s/he will be motivated to study hard. Why? Because s/he believes studying hard
will lead to a high grade. On the other hand if expectations are low and the value
attached is low the motivation to study that subject will also be low. Sometimes
students who aspire to be lawyers attach high value to Art subjects and low value to
Science subjects, so they are more motivated to learn Arts subjects and have low
motivation to learn Science subjects although they could have gotten a higher grade in
these subjects too.

6.4.3 Teacher expectations

In 1968 Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson introduced a publication titled
Pygmalion in the Classroom which had a great impact on how teachers perceptions
of students are significant in students academic performance. Based on their studies
they concluded that students labeled as potential achievers to teachers showed
significant increase in their IQ scores relative to students not labeled so. In actual fact
before the study the students were determined to be of the same IQ. So, the difference
between the groups was attributed to teachers expectations i.e. teachers expectation
had influenced the students gaining in intelligence. The implication of this
publication included the notion that of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby teachers
communicate their beliefs on how students are expected to behave. When they
communicate that a student will behave intelligently that specific student behaves
intelligently; whereas when they communicate low expectations to a student that
student will perform poorly. Quite often we see teachers asking more questions,
giving more time and praises to students they perceive as being intelligent; and on the
other hand spending very little time and effort on students they perceive as failures
(sometimes teachers ignore these students completely). So, teachers expectations
affect the way they treat students which in turn serves as an aspect of motivating
students to learn or not to learn. It is fortunate that once teachers are aware of their
expectations they can change for the good of all students.

It is not the expectations of teachers that have direct influence on

students performance but rather the teachers expectations influence the
way they treat students during instruction.
6.4.4 Emotions
Emotions are feelings that we experience as we interact with environment or on
ourselves. These feelings are either pleasant or unpleasant. Among the feelings we
experience include anger, happiness, sadness, fear and envy. Emotions have
physiological and cognitive elements that influence our behaviours. The way we
undertake same tasks depends on the emotions we are experience at that time. We
may run very fast when we sense danger and walk slowly when we feel safe. The


main functions of emotions are: preparing for action; shaping our future behaviour;
and act as mechanism to regulate social interactions. As you can see the first two
functions are closely related to functions of motivation i.e. initiating and sustaining
actions. The link between emotions and motivation is strong, we are happy when our
motives are satisfied and feel threatened or angry when our motives are frustrated
(Lazarus, 1991).
The aim of this section is to see how emotions influence motivation, so we will not
elaborate the functions of emotions. Also we will not list all the emotions that we
experience but only focus on some that seem to influence student motivation to learn.
Anxiety (high feeling of fear) is one of emotions that affect motivation. Students
experience different levels of anxiety while learning in school. They worry about their
academic performance (Will I pass the test?), and the challenges they face in school (I
am late to class! Will I be punished? I dont have time to complete all my
homework!). Other sources of anxiety can be significant others expectations and
demands on the student.
Levels of anxiety and the task difficulty have influence on students performance.
Students experiencing high levels of anxiety for a long time have problem
concentrating on their studies. Some students perform poorly in tests because of test
anxiety i.e. intense fear of preparing for and taking tests. According to Sarason (1980)
the main characteristics of test anxiety include perceiving test conditions as being
difficult and threatening; one seeing himself/herself as being inadequate in doing
tests; focusing on adverse consequences of test, anticipating failure and loss of regard
from others. This undermines their academic performance and consequently
motivation to learn. However, it is important to note that boredom also undermines
motivation. So, a certain level of emotions is required to be motivated to learn. Too
high or too low undermines motivation.
6.4.5 Classroom atmosphere and motivation
Classroom atmosphere include the social interactions and physical setting of the room
where school learning takes place. If the students feel relaxed, encouraged to learn
even when they fail or face challenges, and perceive the main emphasis of instruction

is on individual improvement then the student feels motivated to learn. If the focus in
the classroom is too much competition and only few students get rewarded in the
expense of others then most students will be motivated not to learn. Competition is
not all bad since it can be practiced between groups, thus more students experiencing
winning feelings and rewards widely distributed. Also remember that rewards are
extrinsic motivation that can undermine intrinsic motivation which has more value in
maintain learning.
Classroom is mostly composed of peers who affect individual motivation. Students
judge themselves (academically and socially) by making comparisons with their
peers. According to Harter (1990) students with positive comparisons have high selfesteem and those with negative comparisons have low self-esteem. Students accepted
by others do better in school and have high level of motivation to achieve in school
(Wentzel, 1996). I think we are aware of students study groups that encourage
(motivate) their members to study hard. So, peers in the classroom have some
influence on motivation to learn.
Later in this course we will look at how classroom management techniques influence
student expectations.
6.4.6 Need for achievement
Need for achievement refers to the desire/motive to perform at the highest standards
of excellence. This motive is one form of intrinsic motivation and it is acquired in the
process of development. Students with it have high motivation for success and are
thrilled when they succeed. They focus on mastery goals and performance-approach
goals (Elliot and Church, 1997). This means they are more interested in having deeper
meaning of things they are learning and be competent in skills rather than competing
or comparing with others. Students with high need achievement work hard to succeed
as they see themselves as responsible for the outcomes; are ready to take some risk of
not succeeding when there is an opportunity to receive performance feedback
(Koestner, and McClelland, 1990). They also know how to weight the task facing
them and selecting the level that they know it is challenging (not too easy or too
difficult) but achievable. Students with low levels of need of achievement select tasks
that are either too easy or too difficult. Easy tasks since they are assured of success

and difficult tasks so that when they fail they blame that the task is so difficult it is
impossible to succeed.
6.4.7 Self-efficacy
Albert Bandura introduced this concept which refers to ones ability to cope with the
situation and produce desired outcomes. Self-efficacy is related to intrinsic
motivation. Student with high self-efficacy believe that s/he has the ability to
accomplish the task/challenge facing him/her. The one with low self-efficacy believe
that s/he cannot undertake the task/challenge ahead. Relate this concept to inner voice
that says Yes I can learn and pass this subject (high-efficacy) or I cannot
understand this subject (low-efficacy). So a student with high-efficacy is motivated
to learn while the one with low-efficacy is motivated not to learn. Self-efficacy also
influence on deciding which tasks to address and which ones to avoid.
Self-efficacy is a result of ones past experiences and also a product of observational
learning i.e. performance of others may influence our beliefs on our ability to perform
that task. Also what teachers communicate to students influence their self-efficacy.
Students who fail consistently and perceive themselves lacking control of their own
behavior develop what is called learned-helplessness. They have learned that there is
nothing they can do to improve their performance, so they are motivated not to learn.
List the characteristics of students with need of achievement and those

of low self-efficacy. Identify students in your community with need of

achievement and those of low self-efficacy.


Among your students some are naturally eager to learn i.e. already motivated to learn.
Your task with these students is to maintain their level of motivation. Effective
teaching includes teachers ability to maintain interest of students who join his/her
class (Ericksen, 1978). If a teacher is not careful or ignore these students he may
undermine their motivation. Unfortunately there are students in the classroom that are
motivated not to learn. It is your role to create conditions that will lead to such
students developing motivation to learn.


As shown above, we have only mentioned a few factors that influence student
motivation to learn. Remember there are other factors, including unsatisfied basic
needs (hunger can definitely affect motivation); gender, family and culture influences
that have effect on motivation., As a teacher, you are required to identify as many
factors as possible, especially those relevant to your students. One can categorise the
factors as some being internal to the individual and others as being caused by external
influences (teachers included).

Some factors facilitate motivation to learn while others undermine

motivation to learn.

As a teacher you know that motivation is significant in learning processes. Being

aware that there are different perspectives of describing motivation is important for a
teacher. However, what is more important is the realization that the teacher has great
positive influence on students motivation to learn. Strategies mentioned below are
not exhaustive. Application of each depends on the teacher, student and existing
learning conditions.
6.5.1 Classroom atmosphere

Manage the classroom effectively. Remember you are the principle factor in
determining classroom atmosphere. Much of your actions influence students
motivation. It is very possible for a teacher to be the main agent of creating
students motivation to learn.

Make sure the classroom is physically and psychologically safe. Students should
feel having sense of security based on the behaviours of all students. Too much
use of punishment creates anxiety among students.

Create an atmosphere that is open and positive. All students should feel free to
interact in classroom learning.

Avoid making comparisons between students. Students should acknowledge and

value their differences and accord respect to all. Encourage spirit of cooperation
among students by creating study groups.


Make classroom experiences as positive as possible. Even when students make

mistakes when learning they should be encouraged to continue participating in
the learning processes in the classroom. Never ridicule students who make

Make your lesson interesting to students. A boring subject (content or teaching

methods) creates motivation no to learn.

6.5.2 Teacher expectations

Based on a number of findings by different scholars (among them Brophy, 1983;
Marshall and Weinstein; 1984; and Patriarca and Kragt, 1986) the following have
been recommended in regard to teacher expectations:

Avoid unreliable sources of information about students learning potentials. People

(including fellow teachers, parents and influential people) have their own biases
that they communicate to you. Also be aware of peoples social stereotypes.

Concentrate on extending warmth, friendliness and encouragement to all students.

All should be given generous amounts of wait-time to formulate their answers and
to participate in class activities. This opportunity will improve quality of their

Monitor student progress closely so as to keep expectations of the individual


In giving students feedback, focus on giving useful information, not just

evaluation of success or failure. Stress continuous progress relative to their
previous level of performance rather than comparing the student with other
students. A student should not be protected from failure or making mistakes but
rather stimulated to achieve as much as s/he can.

Examine your expectations and develop habit of having positive (high)

expectations of your students, even those you are sure have low ability.

6.5.3 Helping student develop motivation to learn

In our teaching we will encounter students who are motivated not to learn or are
indifferent to our instructions. It is your responsibility to have the students motivated


to learn your subject. Be aware that if they are not motivated you are wasting your
time and undermining the objectives of having schools. Below are some suggestions
on how to develop student motivation to learn. Note that you must look for other
recommendations and also devise your own.
Remember that in learning, intrinsic motivation is more effective and persevering than
extrinsic motivation (extrinsic motivation wears down soon when the external element
is withdrawn). It is impossible to avoid using extrinsic motivation completely (grades,
prizes, certificates and medals) in our schools and community. However, you
personally can do something. Always aim at students developing intrinsic motivation.
To start with, minimize giving extrinsic motivation by making an effort to arouse and
sustaining interest in your subject (studies have shown that extrinsic motivation
undermines intrinsic motivation). Young students increase their intrinsic motivation
when they contextualize material and feel the material is significant to them (Cordova
and Lepper, 1995). So, avoid presenting material in abstract form.
Biehler and Snowman (1982) make the following suggestions:

Make studying active, investigative and as useful as possible. It is unfortunate that

a teacher can make an interesting subject a boring one. Be the opposite. Make all
learning experiences (including difficult parts) interesting and you personally all
the time be enthusiastic about your lesson. In your teaching convey confidence,
enjoyment of the content and teaching. If you find teaching your own subject
boring think how the students will perceive it.

Take into account individuals differences in ability, background, and attitudes

toward school and specific subjects. Levels of motivation varies among students
(some have low self-efficacy while others high self-efficacy, others have already
developed learned-helplessness); incentives that apply in one culture may or may
not be effective to your students; one student may have positive attitude towards
you as a person while having negative attitudes towards the subject.

Make sure that students needs have being satisfied.

Direct learning experiences towards feelings of success in an effort to encourage a

realistic level of aspiration, an orientation toward achievement, and positive selfconcept.

To improve students self-efficacy teach students specific learning strategies; guide

students in setting goals that are realistic and challenging; provide support from other
teachers, parents and peers; and make sure students are not too anxious (Santrock,

In this lecture we have defined motivation and described different

perspectives of motivation. Also the internal and external factors that
have influence, both negative and positive, were identified. The last part
was on strategies of improving students motivation to learn

1. Make a summary of the teacher activities that may improve students

motivation. The content in this lecture is not enough you need to
consult other resources.
2. Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness.

Biehler, R. & Snowman, J. (1982). Psychology Applied to Teaching

(4Ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Brophy, J. E. (1983). Research on Self-fulfillment Prophecy and Teacher
Expectations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 75, 631-661.
Cordova, D. & Lepper, M. (1995). Intrinsic Motivation and the Process






Personalization, and Choice.

Elliot, A. J. & Church, M. A. (1997). A hierarchy model for approach
and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 72, 218-232.
Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,


Ericksen, S. C. "The Lecture." Memo to the Faculty, no. 60. Ann Arbor:
Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, University of
Michigan, 1978.
Harter, S. (1999). The Construction of Self. New York: Guilford.
Koestner, R. & McClelland, D.C. (1990). Perspectives on competence
motivation. In L.A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality theory
and research, New York: Guilford Press.
Marshall, H.H. & Weinstein, R.S. (1984). Classroom Factors Affecting
Students Self-Evaluations: An Interaction Model. Review of
Educational Research, 54, 301-325.
Lazarus, R. (1991). Progress on a cognitivemotivational-relational
theory of emotions. American Psychologist, 46, 819-834
Ormrod, J. E. (2003). Educational Psychology Developing Learners (4th
Ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hal
Patriarca, L.A. & Kragt, D.M. (1986). Teacher Expectations and Student
Achievement: The Ghost of Christmas Future. Curriculum
Review, 25, 48-50.
Sarason, I. (1980). Introduction to the study of test anxiety. In I.G.
Sarason (Ed.) Test anxiety: Theory, research, and applications, 136. Hillside; N.J. LEA
Weiner, B. (1990). History of Motivational Research in Education.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 82 (4), 616-622.
Weiner, B. (1992). Human motivation: Metaphors, theories, and
research. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications.
Wentzel, K. R. (1996). Social goals and social relationships as
motivators of school adjustments. In J. Juvonen & K.R. Wentzel
(Eds.), Social Motivation. New York: Cambridge University





In this lecture we look at a very important human component used in learning. In
learning one must receive information from the environment and have mechanism of
retaining it. We are talking about memory and learning. Learning involves storing
information in the memory; memory is involved in learning. The two are related.
Academic performance or competence can only be demonstrated when the retained
information or potential is retrieved by the individual. Thinking and the addressing of
challenges we face depend on the content we posses. Our lives depend on memory.
Your performance in this course and the fate as a graduate teacher is significantly
dependent on your memory. I am sure that your performance in this course will
improve as a result of this lecture

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Define and describe sensory register, short-term (working memory)

and long-term memory and explain their roles as far a memory is

(ii) Describe information processing and identify factors that affect the
retaining and forgetting of information;
(iii) Distinguish between episodic, semantic and procedural memory;
(iv) Define "cognitive teaching" and identify strategies teachers can use
to make learning relevant to students' prior experience.
Memory is that ability we have of encoding, retaining information around us and the
experiences we encounter over a period of time and then retrieving that information
from our memories. So the first part of memory is on how we store knowledge in the
memory (input). There are structures and processes involved in storing information in
the memory. Memory structures are part of the functions of the brain. Each structure
has its own characteristics in term of its capacity and duration of the stored
information. As you can see memory is mostly about sense organs, brain and mental
functions. So the structures are not physical chambers in the brain but processes


involved in forming memory. The main structures are sensory registers (SR), shortterm memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM).
Most of the information we have in the memory has emanated from the environment.
It is received through the sensory organs i.e. eyes (vision), ears (audio), skin (warmth,
cold, pressure, pain and touch), nose (smell) and tongue (taste). The information from
the stimuli has to be encoded i.e. stimulus is converted into the form that can be stored
in the brain. Sometimes we encode meaning and imagery. During discussions we
process the verbal information and encode its meaning. As an example think of some
Swahili sayings. Encoding imagery involves the forming of mental pictures. It is not
rare to have in the memory pictures of past events that cannot be easily described in
words (for those who love football remember the scoring of a special goal). In
classroom teaching the teacher uses pictures to aid students to learn a specific object
or event. Echoic memory stores audio sensations like tone of a nice piece of music or
voice of your beloved teacher. Iconic memory deals with visual sensations from the
environment. Episodic memory concerns events in relation to time and location of that
event, for example remember the day you graduated or the day somebody in your
family wedded. Semantic memory has a record of facts and concepts we have formed
overtime. Tulving (2002) has postulated that semantic information is based on the
content in the episodic memory. Procedural memory is involved in learning the
sequence of motor skills, for example the sequence of writing letters or riding a
The most crucial factor in the acquisition part of the memory is attention, i.e. the
ability to focus on one aspect of the environment while ignoring others. Attention
known as sensory gating enables us to focus on the information entering through one
sensory organ while putting a damper on the other sense organs. Selective attention
helps us to focus only on one aspect of information among many that are being sensed
by one specific organ. In the classroom the student is bombarded by a number of
stimuli at any one moment. S/he can ignore all or pay attention to one stimulus, likely
on the teachers instructions that will then be processed for storing. In classroom
learning we use sensory gating when we only use our ears to listen to the teacher
while blocking information from entering in the other senses. We use selective


attention to attend only to the voice of the teacher while ignoring all other sounds

Without attention we will be overwhelmed by all the information

bombarding our senses at the same time. Attention explains why
students in a school near a busy street hear and follow their teachers
teaching! They have learned to pay attention to their teachers, ignoring
the sounds of cars passing.
We only store information that we pay attention to. The messages we ignore or we are
not aware of cannot enter the memory and thus cannot be processed. Encoding
process can either be automatic or effortful. In automatic processing we
unconsciously process the information. You processed much of what happened on
your graduation day or when you got a very dreadful experience (e.g. an accident)
without even deciding to do so. Sometimes it is very difficult not to process some of
the stimuli. In effortful processing we deliberately make a conscious effort to store
some information or messages. You remember that you were reciting multiplication
tables several times (some of us for days) when you were in primary school. What we
have to bear in mind is that effortful processing is necessary and effective, and
students should be encouraged to practise it.
Sensory registers (SR) is the first structure of the memory that holds raw information
from the environment for about one to three seconds, just long enough to decide
whether to process it or not. Sensory registers have a capacity of storing very few
items. Normally we receive more information than we can process. As mentioned
above, due to sensory characteristics a student has to recognize and pay attention to
the incoming information for further processing. Recognition involves determining
the information as important and needing to be stored in the memory. Information not
processed decays and fades away from the memory. The information we pay attention
to is selected for processing to short-term memory.
Short-term memory has a limited capacity of holding between five and nine chunks of
information (Miller, 1956). A chunk is information grouped in a meaningful way that
can be stored in the memory. It is difficult to hold 0123876954 in STM. However it


becomes easier if you chunk it into 0123-876-954. So instead of memorizing nine

numbers (items) now you have four chunks, thus increasing the storing capacity.
Think of chunking in relation to money in circulation and a wallet. It is impossible to
put one million shillings of one hundred shilling coins in a wallet but it is quite easy if
the same amount is put in the wallet in ten thousand shilling notes. So, to have more
information in the memory the student and you should practice chunking.
STM is also limited in duration. Without rehearsal information can last for only about
20 seconds. I think you have experienced someone telling you his/her name only to
find out you cannot remember it shortly afterwards! This is a result of engaging in
conversation before processing the name into the next stage. To store new knowledge
you need to rehearse i.e. repeat the name several times until it is established in the
memory. So the amount of time spent on learning new material has an influence on
forming memories. Processing in STM determines what information has to go onto
LTM and the rest is forgotten through decay.
Short-term memory is also known as a working-memory because we consciously
process raw information from the sensory registers and we give it a meaning. What
you are currently thinking about is taking place in the STM. It is in STM that we form
connections between different sensations that we receive from one object. We form
association between a picture of a radio (vision) and the sound from the radio (audio).
It is involved in many cognitive functions such as problem-solving and planning. It
coordinates the information to pay attention to or needed when reasoning or making
decision. STM also helps us to do two different tasks at the same time as long they do
not involve the same sense organ. You can speak and see at the same time for example
I can see a teacher speaking and watching his/her class at the same time. However, it
is not possible to watch two events at the same time or taste two things at the same
Long-term memory is vast and more durable than the STM. Once information has
been processed into LTM it is catalogued like new books in the library for future
retrieval when needed. LTM capacity is unlimited. In normal circumstances once
information enters the LTM it can remain there in ones life time. I think you can still


recall the taste of food you liked when you were a child, or names of your primary
school friends.
LTM is significant in our lives since it holds all that we have learned and experienced.
Information in LTM includes emotions, opinions, attitude and expectations that
influence our behaviour. Just think of relearning about everything each day due to
lack of memory! LTM connects previous experiences and new information, thus
making us able to adapt to new challenges. Due to LTM students are able to
accommodate new learning to the previous knowledge. We always prepare our lessons
fully aware that all that is in a topic cannot be covered in one lesson, so we know that
the content of the new lesson will be connected to the information of the previous

Normally the Introduction of a lesson is geared towards helping students

connect the information of the previous lesson with that they are about
to learn in the current lesson.
There are several models of how the memory functions. Remember that memory is a
construct and thus the models are abstract representations. The model below was
made by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968).







The above model is not very definitive since the memory system is obviously more
complex with more process involved in storing and retrieving information.
The memory system is not only on storing information but also on the mechanism of
retrieving the information in the memory when it is needed. When conscious we are
constantly in the process of retrieving information, messages and skills in the
memory. Think of any situation when you will not need the use your memory.


Retrieval is a process just like encoding i.e. processing input and processing output.
This process involves sorting out and transferring information from LTM to STM for
use. Sometimes it is so instant that it seems like automatic for example recalling your
name or that of your country. Other times we deliberately search for the information
in the memory and it may require a lot of effort and time to retrieve it. We all know
that there are occasions when we are able to retrieve the information (remember) and
in other occasions we are unable to retrieve it even when we are sure that it is in the
memory (forget). This becomes really bad when attempting an examination or
introducing someone we know. Think of your memory as a big box containing many
things that you have put yourself there. Remembering is like sorting out and finding a
specific object in the box; while forgetting is searching for an object in the box
without success.

You cannot forget/remember something you have never stored in your

memory. In the same token do not expect students to forget/remember
something they have never learned. Forgetting/remembering happens
after learning!
Let us first focus on remembering. There are several ways of getting information out
of the memory. Recall occurs when we retrieve information learned earlier in the
absence of clear clues. A good example is when you retrieve names, not faces, of your
secondary school classmates or the content of a History course. Also in answering
most essays test and fill in the blank questions, we use recall. Recognition refers to the
ability to compare the incoming information with the one already in the memory. If
the two match then you have recognised that you have seen/heard them before.
Normally recognition is easier than recall. Quite often you people say I remember this
guy but I cant retrieve his/her name. Police depend on recognition when the offended
person identifies the culprit in a lineup. This is easier than describing the person to the
police i.e. recall the person. Recognition is used when selecting possible correct
answers in the multiple choice tests or matching items. Relearning is a form of
retrieving information that seemed to have been forgotten. We spend less amount of
time on learning the same information compared to time used when we learned it for
the first time. One bit of information retrieves other related information.



I expect you to spend less time when making revision of this course
material relative to when you learned it first. Expect the same from your
Now let us see why we forget i.e. unable to retrieve information in the memory. A
student cannot forget something s/he has not learned. Forgetting involves information
in the memory but due to some reasons it is inaccessible to the individual. We learn a
lot in the course but we forget some of the information when doing tests and
consequently get a lower score. After the examination we retrieve the information
(when it is not helpful), thus proving that we have more information in our LTM than
we can retrieve. Most of the forgetting happens just after actively stopping the
learning of the respective material (Elliot et al., 2000).
As noted earlier most of the information entering SM and some in STM is forgotten
since it fades away due to lack of attention. This is a natural phenomenon that takes
place even in LTM in the form of decay whereby we forget unused information in the
memory. Note that you may forget information you encoded a long time back but at
the same token remember information encoded at the same time that has been used
regularly. Now this is between you and me. There are tests which I scored very
highly when I was in college, but if given the same test today I will perform
miserably! Why is this so? It is because I have never revisited the material since last
preparing for the test. So, information encoded in the LTM long time ago and not
constantly used will naturally decay.
Sometimes we forget because of interference when learning. A number of studies have
shown that new learning interferes with previous learning i.e. new learning impairs
the retrieval of the material of the other learning. In proactive interference prior
learning inhibits the retrieval of new information while in retroactive interference new
knowledge inhibits the retrieval of the previous knowledge. This usually occurs when
the materials in both situations are somewhat similar. If one is given list A to
memorize and then immediately given list B to memorize, the chances of memory
interference increase. Learning of list A will make one to forget some items in list


B i.e. proactive interference. Learning of list B will lead to forgetting some items
in list A i.e. retroactive interference. Forgetting would have been minimal if one
had not followed the other or the interval between the two learnings had been greater.

According to psychoanalysis perspective we use repression to block painful

information from being retrieved. The aim is to avoid anxiety caused by the
information in the memory and also to defend self-concept. In case you have done
something that is very embarrassing every time you remember it you become very
uncomfortable and you deliberately try to get this information out of the STM and
return it to the LTM. So, we can say that sometimes we are motivated to forget!


Your reaction to students responses can be so embarrassing to them that

repression is the only option for the respective student!

I think you can recall about extinction whereby the response is forgotten due to the
lack of reinforcement. This type of forgetting depends on schedules of reinforcement
used on maintaining the response. You also are aware that spontaneous recovery is
similar to relearning.

Position of the material in a list has some influence on memory based on phenomenon
known as the serial position effect. If you read items in a list you are more likely to
remember items at the beginning and at the end of the list, and more likely to forget
items in the middle of the list. I think you have heard young pupils learning to count
saying the numbers at the beginning for example one, two, three and then jumping the
middle numbers to say the last ones, nine, ten.
Ones state of emotion during the retrieving process may lead to forgetting. In an
examination situation, if a student is preoccupied with fear of failure s/he will not be
able to concentrate on retrieving the information in the memory. Also, if the student
has developed learned helplessness s/he will not be motivated to retrieve information
since failure is expected.



Students are unable to focus on retrieving knowledge in the memory due

to their fear of the teacher or the stick s/he is holding and ready to be
used in case of a wrong answer. You can evidently see some students
shaking with fear.
We normally pay less attention to information deemed to be of no significance or
meaningless to us. Information gained in such a situation will not be rehearsed and
consequently will fade away. A student expecting to be a lawyer in the future will not
pay much attention to physics or chemistry.
Note that in this lecture we cannot exhaust the list of all factors that lead us to forget.
Each student has some unique reason(s) for not retrieving knowledge in the memory.
Now lets turn to how you can improve your memory and that of your students.
Remember that all of us have memory and use it every time. Also, one cannot increase
the capacity of memory in each structure. However, we have previously noted that the
LTM cannot be filled with knowledge. We also know that we can develop skills and
strategies of efficiently storing and retrieving information in our memories.
Furthermore, as teachers we can facilitate students to improve their memories.
I know that you want to get a very high score in your coming examinations. Kendra
Cherry (retrieved 2011) has, based on cognitive psychology literature, suggested the
following ways to improve memory; enhance recall and increase the retention of

Focus your attention on the materials to be learned

Attention is the key to processing information in SM to STM and then to LTM. Avoid
any situation that distracts attention.

Avoid cramming by establishing regular study sessions

Cramming is a method used to store information in LTM intensively in a short period

of time. Space your sessions; do not wait until a few days before the examination date
to memorize the content of the subject.



Structure and organize the information you are studying

You can make your memory as a well-organized library or it can be a mess of lots of
books. In an organized library it is quite easy to locate a book. But it is difficult to find
a book in a room where books have not been arranged in good order. Organize
information in the memory by grouping similar terms and concepts together.

Utilize mnemonic devices together


Elaborate and rehearse the information you are studying

Remember rehearsing is important in encoding information in the LTM. Elaborate

rehearsing involves reading several times for details of the concept from different

Relate information to things you already know

Take time to think about the relationship of the new information and what is in your
memory and then make connection of the two. The key word here is deliberately
making (thinking) the connections.

Visualize concepts to improve memory and recall

Pay close attention to diagrams, charts and photographs in your textbooks. If they are
not available try to construct your own when making personal notes. In some cases
you can highlight some parts to draw attention to their importance or in organize the
material into related groups.

Teach another person new concepts

Most of us want to gain more information from other persons. However, in improving
memory it is better to teach another person the knowledge you have just encoded.
This approach involves practicing recalling the information and thus enhancing your
understanding of the new material. If you can teach another person definitely you can
easily retrieve the material in the future.

Pay extra attention to difficult information

Yes, there are relatively easy parts and difficult parts in the material you study. It is
also true that the position of information has some effect on retrieving information in


the memory; remember serial position effect. Spend more time and energy by
rehearsing and memorizing difficult parts.

Vary your study routine

One way of improving recall is to occasionally change your normal routine in terms
of time of study, location and duration. You can review your study at different time of
the study e.g. if you are accustomed to study in the evening try to make review in the
Put the above suggestions into practice. There is a difference between knowing about
something and the actual skills involved. Also in addition be relaxed when studying
and retrieving from the memory. Anxiety and stress block access to memory; develop
techniques for relaxation. Above all look for more information from other sources on
how to improve your memory. How about learning metamemory i.e. knowledge on
your storage and retrieval process. It will help you know about your abilities and the
approaches you use to retrieve information from the memory.

Identify and develop cues that will help you to retrieve materials


As a teacher you should help your students to enhance their memories. What is the
point of teaching if the material presented is forgotten by your students? Bear in mind
that all students can be trained to improve their memories. The word improve
implies that students use their memories at all times, what you do is to make them use
it more effectively and efficiently. Remember that encoding, retention and retrieval
processes are equally significant in students academic performance. Studying should
all be about deliberately processing memory into LTM and retrieving it when needed.
Below are some recommendations for enhancing a students memory from different
(i) Help students to develop intrinsic motivation towards your lesson


Remember that there are two ways of processing memory i.e. automatic processing
and effortful processing. Intrinsic motivation is both significant in these two
processes. From the beginning the student will be relaxed and motivated to process
the subject material.


Students should learn to focus on the material being presented

You already know that attention is critical in processing information to the LTM.
Where there is no attention, there is no memory. Sometimes it is not easy to focus on
the material being presented since there are many variables that distract attention i.e.
paying attention to other things rather than the material presented! As a teacher you
can be of help by making your lessons interesting and not boring, meaningless or too
difficult to the students.

(iiii) Help students to be relaxed when encoding and retrieving information

Stress and anxiety are among the factors that adversely affect attention. As a teacher
make learning in your class stress free and help students to develop techniques of
dealing with anxiety. You can get these techniques in the Guidance and Counseling


Students should minimize the effects of interference

Remember about proactive and retroactive interferences. A student should avoid

learning material that is similar but different in close succession. Such materials
should be studied at different times or the interval between the studying of the subject
should be long. This will reduce interference by giving time for the old material to
solidify and increasing chances of easily encoding the new material.


Help students to make the material meaningful to themselves

Once a student realizes that the material is significant to his/her life s/he will strive to
understand it, thus relating it to his/her life and consequently retrieving it relatively
(vi) Students should be encouraged to take some time to relate the new
information with material already in their memory


This will lead to the good organization of the material in the memory easy to retrieve.
The essence here is that enough time is required for a student to deliberately connect
the new knowledge with the previous one.
(vii) Encourage students to use as many senses as possible when encoding the
Material stored in different forms is not easily forgotten. Also they should be
encouraged to develop elaboration strategies whereby a student personally adds more
information on what s/he is learning. Remember that elaboration cannot be done by
anybody else besides the respective student.
(viii) Urge your students to use imagery
Encourage students to form their own pictures of the material being presented. For
example, in learning geography encourage them to form pictures of location or
activity; in history give them a chance to form pictures of the sequence and settings of
the event. Imagery can be used in all the subjects and concepts.
(ix) Encourage your students to verbally describe concepts they have been
In study groups each student should be encouraged to teach. The student should be
made aware that s/he is teaching others for improving his/her memory processes. In
short, it is one way of making a student active in his/her own learning. Cajoling
incorrect descriptions or the use of punishment should not be entertained when a
student is teaching.

Encourage your students to over-learn material

Students should know that learning once or twice is not enough to solidify material in
the LTM. Remember that we earlier said that most of the forgetting takes place just
after learning the material for the first time. Rehearsing the material many times until
one can reproduce it perfectly several times is necessary for easy retrieval. To
minimize fading and decaying regular revision of the material should strongly be
(xi) Encourage students to develop their own cues and mnemonics


Cues used when encoding are very important in retrieving learned material. Cues
developed should be those that can easily be present when retrieving the material.
Sometimes one is forced to form mnemonics when memorizing related material. It
may take time but it is worth doing it. Chunking should be encouraged since it
increases memory capacity and makes it easier to retrieve a large amount of
information. Developing cues, mnemonics and chunking make a student active rather
than passive in his/her learning.
(xii) Students should practise retrieving information
Retrieving involves some deliberate effort to search material in the LTM and transfer
it to the STM, the working memory. A student should be encouraged to construct
questions and then practise answering them. This practice will make student realize
whether s/he has learned and has the ability to retrieve it. Regular class tests should be
used by students as a mechanism for learning to retrieve material and as well as a tool
to determine academic performance.
(xiii) From Santrock (2004) we advise teachers to be aware of individual
differences in students attention skills
As we will see latter there are some exceptional children with problems on paying
attention. I think you are aware of students who are always restless. You need to
devise means of helping them to focus on learning tasks so that they can encode
information and skills.
(xiv) Motivate students to remember material by understanding rather than by
rotely memorizing it
Memorization is good in rehearsing material for STM but not efficient in retrieving
information in the LTM.

In this lecture we looked at different structures of memory. Information

needs to be encoded to store in the memory. There are factors that either
enhance or impede the processing of storing and retrieving information
in the memory. The lecture also identified strategies for improving your
memory and helping student to enhance their memories.


Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness

Miller, G.A. (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two:
Some Limits in Our Capacity for Processing Information.
Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.
Tulving, E. (2002). Episodic Memory: From Mind to Brain. Annual
Review of Psychology 53: 1-25.
Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
USA. Chapter 7.
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology, (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA. Chapter 8



You are thinking what you will be learning about thinking. You are asking yourself,
How do I think? What can I do to improve my thinking? Also you want to know


how your students think and what you can do to develop and improve their thinking
skills. That we can ask these questions is an indication of having a unique ability that
is only found among humans. In our daily experiences we encounter novel situations
that pose as problems that need to be solved. We use thinking ability to solve these
problems. Solving problems is core to human development. Think of any other
creature with the ability of thinking that can do things that humans do. Thinking and
problem solving are very much a component in the learning/teaching process in the

After reading this lecture you should be enable you to:


Define and describe thinking, reasoning, critical thinking and

decision making;


Identify characteristics of creativity;


Outline obstacles and key strategies for problem solving;


Illustrate how to teach problem solving and critical thinking.


To most psychologists thinking is the ability to manipulate and transform mental
representations. By this definition we see that thinking is a cognitive process that
involves information in the memory. Mental representations are in various forms

Mental images. These are visual images in the mind representing objects or
events. When asked about your worst teacher you see his/her image and
sometimes his/her actions. See is in quotation marks because you do not need
eyes to access and/or retrieve the images in the memory. What we have in the
brain are encoded visual sensations. Students use mental images when drawing
maps or performing science experiments. When planning a study tour you use
visual images in making some of the decisions.

Concepts are basic units of semantic memory organized in categories that share
common characteristics. The units can be in the form of objects, events or people.
Concepts enable us to organize complex information into a simpler form; classify
new objects into existing concepts; and to adapt behaviours to new different

We manipulate these representations to analyse our experiences, to think critically and

creatively, to solve problems and to fantasize. Thinking encompasses concrete aspects
like kicking the ball or abstract ideas like defining democracy; it involves reflecting
on the past experiences and the future ones (how did I perform in the last psychology
test and what will the final examination be like).

It is not that easy to use taste and smell sensations in thinking!

From different sources determine the difference between thinking and


8.2.1 Reasoning
Reasoning is a logical thinking of processing information with the aim of reaching a
conclusion. Reasoning helps us to make decisions, acquire new knowledge and solve
problems. Logic i.e. the science or method of reasoning enables us to develop
solutions to the problems we face without having to rely on trial and error method
which is time consuming and inefficient in complex situations. If one wants to build a
house one will first reason on the type of house one wants to build, what materials to
use and where the house will be built before building it. In solving a mathematical
problem a student has to have stages of solving the problem before starting to write.
Just imaging making decisions without first forming possible solutions to the
problem! Sometimes it will be very dangerous and time consuming too.
Most of the reasoning in reaching a decision is done by two approaches, namely:
deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. In deductive reasoning we reason from
general or universal principles to a conclusion regarding a specific case. The general
principles are assumed to be universally true based on human experiences; and then
they are used to determine their implications on a specific situation. In solving
mathematics deductive reasoning is the one mostly applied. The best example is the
proposition that if X then Y i.e. if x occurs then it implies y. If all females are human
beings and Bahati is a female, therefore Bahati is a human being. Thick clouds are


followed by rain, and water makes dry clothes wet. I can see dark clouds, so it is
going to rain soon and I have to collect my clothes hung outside into the house.
In inductive reasoning, one starts with several specific facts and from them one
develops a general principle. Induction is used to develop theories and laws in the
scientific fields. Remember that B. F. Skinner made several observations in the
Skinner Box to come up with the operant conditioning learning theory; and Sir.
Isaac Newtons law of gravity is based on observation that all objects fall to the
ground. Both these scientist made specific conclusions based on a number of
In our daily life we use both inductive and deductive reasoning to make decisions and
solve problems. Which one is best for reaching a conclusion depends on the
situations. However, it is worth noting that results based on deductive reasoning are
more accurate than those based on inductive reasoning. That is the reason why in
psychology most of conclusions based on observations are taken with caution when
making generalizations. One is liable to find one specific situation that does not fit the
I have heard many teachers encouraging students to respond by saying think hard.
The implication is that teachers also want their students to use thinking skills when
learning; they should not just transfer information into the LTM. Now let us look at
the strategies used in thinking. Remember that students and you use these skills in our
daily encounters. The aim is to be aware of them with the intention of improving
The Bloom Taxonomy
Taxonomy as used by Benjamin Bloom et al. (1956) refers to a classification system
in a hierarchy. The aim of taxonomy is to provide educational objectives as related to
the level of thinking involved. The objectives are in three main sections, namely
cognitive domain (cognitive functions); affective domain (emotional response); and
psychomotor domains (motor activity that may require coordination of different parts
of the body). Education objectives as expressed in the curriculum include the three


domains e.g. students developing thinking skills (cognitive), participating in sports

(motor) and love of their country and cultural values (affective domain).
In this part we focus on cognitive domain and we will focus on the other domains
latter in the course. Cognitive domain is divided into six major classes, starting with
the simplest form of thinking and progressing to relatively more complex ones.
Biehler and Snowman (1982) described the classes as follows:

Knowledge of specifics. In this level the students process information for

recalling purposes. I believe you still remember the definition of recall.
Thinking is expressed in: Definition of terms (symbols and terms one needs to
know) and of specific facts (facts like names and important dates). Knowledge
of ways and means of dealing with specifics (e.g. rules used to solve a specific
problem, knowledge of a sequence); knowledge of classifications and categories
(e.g. different types of an object); knowledge of criteria (factors needed to make
a judgment); and knowledge of methodology namely ways of solving a


Comprehension. This class includes the ability to make translation namely to

communicate in another form rather than the way it was received e.g. describing
a situation in ones own words; interpretation (ability to reorganize an idea) and
extrapolation (to go beyond the given data). The main focus in this level is the
ability to remember information.

(iii) Application. The ability to apply principles in actual situation or to solve

problems for example boiling water to avoid infectious diseases; using
mathematical principles in making a sketch of a house.
(iv) Analysis. The ability to break down complex ideas into simpler parts, to see
how they are related or organized (discussing Arusha Declaration, Universal
Human Rights).

Synthesis. The ability to rearrange the parts of ideas or objects into a new
whole. Sometimes existing ideas are combined to form a new idea like using
parts of Arusha Declaration and Human Rights to make a New Constitution.


(vi) Evaluation. Ability to make a correct judgment or decision based on internal

evidence or external criteria (make a review of an article, detect contradiction in
a speech by a politician).
The above illustration indicate that information received can be processed at different
levels; and mastering of skills of the lower levels is a prerequisite for gaining thinking
skills of the upper levels of thinking. Based on discussions with teachers I have noted
the confusion between application and knowledge of methodology. These two are
quite different. Most people in Tanzania know what to do to avoid cholera. If asked
what needs to be done to avoid getting cholera they will answer by boiling and
drinking boiled water (knowledge of methodology). The answer does not constitute
application of knowledge since some of these same people will not boil their drinking
water and as a result will get cholera. Application in this situation involves the actual
boiling of drinking water.

Observe people in your community and reflect on their actions and

determine where to place them in the taxonomy above.

8.2.2 Critical thinking

Critical thinking includes thinking reflectively, and productively, and evaluating the
evidence (Santrock, 2004). In critical thinking one does not accept a proposed idea or
make a judgment without first deliberately doubting the proposition by thinking about
the context and methods used to reach it (i.e. preposition). Critical thinking occurs
when one decides what to believe in, what course of action to take, reflection on
deciding what is credible or not, and evaluating between what is false (or irrelevant)
or based on true premises. So, according to Scriven and Paul (1996) critical thinking
is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing,
applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or
generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a
guide to belief and action.
Critical thinking by students is characterized by questioning the information received,
even from the teacher. However, in many learning/teaching experiences in our

schools, such as in setting and marking of examinations; teachers mental setup of not
accepting alternative responses to their questions and punishing incorrect responses
(sometimes the responses are correct but labeled incorrect by teachers); and
curriculum demands, students are forced to give only one acceptable response. Many
textbooks in our schools, especially those geared at preparing students for national
examination have no component of engaging the reader into reflective thinking. This
leads to students being encouraged to memorize instead of being taught to develop
critical thinking.

Critical thinking is crucial in instruction i.e. in teaching and learning.

Without critical thinking a teacher is less effective in teaching.

8.2.3 Developing students critical thinking

Teaching critical thinking skills should be a component in students learning processes
since they will use them in making personal decisions in their lives and in addressing
challenges facing the society. The teacher is the most appropriate person to make
students develop critical thinking.
Santrock (2004) in citing Perkins and Tishman (1997) suggested that teachers should
include the following skills in their teaching in order to develop critical thinking
among students:


Encourage students to avoid narrow thinking by searching for different opinions.


Intellectual curiosity. This refers to tasks that require cognitive processes.

Students should be encouraged to wonder, probe, question, and inquire. This
involves students deliberately thinking about different aspects of the lesson
and examining facts rather than just being passive. There is nothing wrong
with students discovering inconsistencies in the material being presented and
recognizing unstated assumptions.


Planning and strategy. In some lessons involve students in developing plans,

setting goals, finding directions and in seeking solutions. They have to
recognize problems/challenges, be in the position to address them by gathering

relevant information and organizing it to draw conclusions and make


Intellectual carefulness. There is a tendency of students to leave the checking

of their class work on teachers. They believe they lack the ability to evaluate
their work and think it is only the teacher who can make the correct decisions
on their performance. This state of mind can be rectified by teachers
encouraging students to check for inaccuracies and errors in their intellectual
work e.g. essays and responses. One has to evaluate conclusions and
generalizations that one has reached against relevant criteria and standards.

Furthermore Adsit, Ed. (1997) based on special issue of Teaching of Psychology 1995
Volume 22 on critical thinking identified the following strategies of teaching critical

Stressing the use of ongoing classroom assessment techniques. To give

students tasks that will facilitate and monitor students critical thinking.


Cooperative learning strategies. Put students in learning groups to foster

critical thinking when students actively participate in learning. In groups
students develop the ability to communicate effectively with others in
discussing and finding solutions to complex problems (Some teachers give a
group of students a joint project). Students also get feedback from group


Case study/Discussion Method. Provide students with cases without

conclusions for discussion. This will allow students to form their own


Using Questions. Teachers should require students to construct questions on

the lesson. In groups students should ask questions to each other.
Identify and describe strategies that you will use to help students

construct questions that promote critical thinking.


One of the functions of thinking is to solve problems and address challenges that we
encounter. Encountering problems is part of human life. Some of the problems are


quite simple while others are very complex. Note that we all, teachers and students
included, solve some of the problems correctly but sometimes we fail. The point is
that in this section you are only being made aware of the processes involved in
problem solving with the belief that we can develop and improve strategies of solving
problems. Problem solving means finding the best way or strategy for reaching a goal;
for example finding a cure for AIDS, raising peoples awareness of the effects of
corruption or teaching students the best strategies of solving a problem. Problem
solving is the crucial component of humans development.
Life without problems/challenges has never existed and never will. Life
without challenges is very boring!

As we saw above, sometimes we systematically use deductive or inductive reasoning

in solving some of the problems. Most psychologists believe that the following steps
are engaged in problem solving:

Finding and defining the problem. Before one can embark on problem
solving one must recognize the problem. A student (or a teacher) who always
comes to school late and does not recognize this as a problem will not even
start thinking about addressing it. After recognition follows the understanding
of the problem by defining it. Sometimes teachers and students can recognize
the problem but fail to understand it. To solve the problem correctly one needs
to understand the nature and the specific facts of the problem including its
causes. According to Feldman (1999) there are three kinds of problems,
namely arrangement problems requiring group of elements reorganized or
rearranged to meet a certain criteria; problems of inducing structure whereby
one is needed to identify relationships among existing elements with the goal
of establishing new relationships; and transformation problems which consist
of changing the original state into the new goal state. Only after understanding
the problem then one can move on to the next stage.


Problem presentation. This stage refers to the way we represent the problem
to ourselves by making it meaningful to ourselves. Problem solving is a
personal internal process and working for the solution depends on problem


presentation. Presentation and organizing the problem depends on the nature

of the problem, some are complex while others are simple. Also presentation
can be in the form of various ways. One analyses the problem learning about
it, tries to see it in different perspectives, and goes beyond the surface of it. In
some cases one might use different sources for correct presentation. Students
seek clarification on the questions from the teacher.

Formulating possible solutions. In this stage one generates possible solutions

to the problem. One thinks of as many solutions as possible. Creativity plays a
great role formulating solutions. In other incidences one has to consider
similar previous problems and recall how they were solved i.e. what is
required is retrieving the solution from the LTM. Algorithms are strategies
based on using established formulas and instructions as means of solutions.
Automatically they generate correct solutions when used properly. Trial and
error is one of the possible solutions but as said earlier it is inefficient. Subgoaling involve dividing the problem into intermediate stages, with the aim of
solving the stages sequentially until the final goal is achieved i.e. the solution
to a problem. The main determining factor here is appropriately identifying the
stages in correct sequence since stages can, in some cases, be stumbling block
in problem solving. In rare case an insight can be a possible solution. Insight
refers to a sudden awareness of the solution to a problem. However insight
depends on the previous experience with the elements involved in the problem
(Feldman, 1999). In rational thinking problem solving method one sets the
ideal situations; identifies current situation; makes a comparison of ideal
situations and current situation to identify the problem situation; breaks down
the problem to its causes; conceives the solution alternatives to the causes; and
lastly before implementation evaluate and choose the reasonable solution
alternatives (Shibata, 1998).


Evaluation of the solutions. This stage involves two sub-steps. The first is to
ensure that all important factors are in the plan and each has the essence of the
problem. It also evaluates all the possible solutions by considering all the
advantages and disadvantages of each solution before the implementation of
the plan. Sometimes modification is required. The final step is to make
evaluation if the strategies used were effective in achieving the goal. Feedback

from others or consequences of the solution form part of mechanism of

evaluation. A wrong answer implies that the strategies used are incorrect, and a
right answer implies that the strategies used are the appropriate ones.

Identify one problem you are currently facing and indicate at which
stage you are, in solving it.

8.3.1 Stumbling blocks to solving problems

It is common that although we have the ability of solving problems we do not come
up with the appropriate solutions. Now let us see some of the factors that hinder us
from solving problems. It is important to know about them so that we can avoid them
and help our students to do the same too.
Santrock, (2004) based on studies identified the following obstacles:

Lack of motivation. Even if one has the ability and strategies to solve
problems one must be motivated to use the strategies to solve problems. I have
heard teachers telling their students, I know you can do this sum but you are
intentionally not attempting it because you are lazy or not interested!


Fixation. Sometimes we make wrong Problem presentation, ending up fixated

at using a particular strategy that previously worked in a problem that looks
similar. This is the result of not looking at the problem afresh to form
appropriate problem presentation. Mental set is a type of fixation whereby the
individual fails to solve the problem because of having the same view that
worked in the past. In functional fixedness we are unable to solve a problem
because we view things in their normal use. The world and situations change,
thus an individual has to change his/her mind set to solve problems.


Inadequate emotional control. Emotional aspects are essential in problem

solving. Too much anxiety can prevent one from concentrating on solving the
problem. Remember test anxiety undermines performance.

Feldman (1999) mentions the following factors in regard to inhibiting reasoning:



Distraction by irrelevant information. In problem solving it is essential to

distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information in the problem. Very
often irrelevant information leads one astray from reaching the solution.


Belief bias. This is similar to fixation but different in that we abandon logical
rules and base strategy on our own personal beliefs. This happens when we
start with a wrong premise. Can you believe that some individuals kill people
with albinism with the expectation of solving business related problems? This
strategy is based on a very wrong premise.



8.4.1 Definition/Concept of Creativity

Creativity is more than critical thinking. In many school problem situations students
and their teachers do focus on a logical way, including critical thinking, of coming to
one specific expected solution. However, in problem solving some individuals come
up with creative solutions. What is creativity? According to Harris (1998) creativity is
the ability to imaging or to invent something new, to generate new ideas by
combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas. So, creativity is more than just
coming up with the correct solution in a logical format as in normal problem solving
methods; it has to show originality. Harris further notes that creativity is an attitude to
accept change, a flexibility of outlook and the habit of enjoying good work and
looking for ways to improve it; and that creativity is a process of working hard and
continually improving ideas and solutions by making alterations and refinement to the

It is very difficult to establish causes of creativity!

8.4.2 Creativity Theories
Creativity is found in all cultures, professions and in our daily encounters. There are
several theories that try to explain why some people are creative while others are not.
Below are some of the factors/characteristics that are associated with creativity
(derived from a number of sources):



Divergent thinking. This is the ability to generate new possibilities, solutions

and inventions that are appropriate and correct as opposed to convergent
thinking where one comes up with a solution that is based on known knowledge
(Guilford, 1967). So, a creative student will come up with several answers
whereas for the same question other students will all have one similar answer.


Positive attitude. According to Harris (1998) creative people are curious to

know things just for the sake of knowing. They also, constructively challenge
existing ideas/assumptions and beliefs that most problems can be solved. They
persevere on solving problems since they believe that there is no quick answer
to a problem. Mistakes are welcomed and failure is taken as an opportunity that
something needs to be done. In short, creative people have the sense that they
can do it.

(iii) Willingness to take risk. Creative people are willing to risk in the venture that
may bring high payoffs (Sternberg and Lubart, 1996). They believe that in the
long run other people will find their ideas and inventions valuable. They have
the ability to suspend judgment when new ideas come rather than condemning
the results outright looking for what is good in outcomes that may seem bad.
8.4.32 Fostering students creativity
Although in the above paragraphs we said it is difficult to determine the causes of
creativity, it is quite possible to teach your students to be more creative than they
really are. We say more creative since students have elements of creativity that they
utilize in their normal encounters outside the classroom setting. Based on different
sources the following are strategies for fostering creativity among students:

Encourage students to think divergently. Students do not have to follow the

same sequence in problem solving but rather be encouraged to think in other
ways and generate as many appropriate solutions as possible.

In addition to above, Nickerson (1998) further proposes that the teacher should create
conditions that are:

Building basic skills. Basic learning skills are essential for critical thinking and
more so for creativity. These skills are fundamental in creativity since lacking
them leads to deficiency in learning processes in classroom setting.


Stimulating and reward curiosity and exploration. Students have natural

curiosity that needs to be nurtured by giving work that stimulates generations
of new ideas as opposed to questions that require only specific answers.


Building intrinsic motivation. Students should enjoy looking for answers for
quenching their curiosity rather than on getting external rewards. Learning
need not be based on being watched by the teacher.


Promoting supportable beliefs about creativity. Teachers should avoid over

controlling students based on dictating what is expected of them or ridiculing
their responses. Criticizing students work diminishes creativity. Students need
to be flexible in responding to challenges.


Encouraging confidence and a willingness to take risks. Students should have

the sense of I can do it and be willing to attempt without fear of failure or
punishment. Incorrect answers are used to preserve until one is successful.


Teaching techniques and strategies for facilitating creative performance.

Teachers have to create conditions that lead students to develop selfmechanisms that sustain creativity.

This includes redefining problems or

considering the opposite of how they understand things.


This lecture focused on the thinking processes, critical thinking, stages

used in problem solving and creativity. Also we looked at factors that
may hinder thinking and interfere with reasoning and problem solving.
The last part was on the means a teacher can use to foster critical
thinking and creativity among his/her students.

1. Make a list of strategies you can use to make yourself more creative.
2. Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness.


Adsit, K. Ed. (1997). What is Critical Thinking? Grayson H. Walker

Teaching Resource Center. The University of Tennessee at
Biehler, R. & Snowman, J. (1982). Psychology Applied to Teaching
(4Ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Bloom, B. (Ed.) (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:
Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain. New York; McKay.
Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
Feldman, R.S. (1999). Understanding Psychology (5th Ed.) McGrawHill College Inc.
Guilford, J. P. (1967). The Structure of the Intellect. New York:
Harris, R. (1998). Introduction to Creative Thinking. VirtualSalt Home.
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology, (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA
Scriven, M. & Paul, R. (1996). Defining critical thinking: A draft
statement for the National Council for Excellence in Critical
Shibata, H. (1998). Problem Solving: Definition, terminology, and
patterns. Copy rights H. Shibata.
Sternberg R. J. & Lubart, T. I. (1996). Investing in Creativity. American
Psychologists, 51, 677-688.





In the previous lectures there is an assumption that all students are similar. Students in
one class may appear similar but we all know that there are variations in some of their
aspects. Even children of the same age differ in terms of their height, weight and
mental ability. Many students will be of average height, weight and mental abilities,
but a few of them will be in the extremes of the normal. In this lectures we focus on
students variations on some of the factors that have an influence on learning in school
namely intelligence, learning skills and personality. One individual can be of average
weight but be shorter/taller than his/her age mates.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Describe variations in intelligence;


Identify and compare learning and thinking skills;

(iii) Describe variations in personality and temperament;

(iv) Explain what at-risk students are and describe the prevention
programs that serve students at-risk and;

Summarize the effectiveness of various individualized instruction



Observe students of the same age and then describe the variations among

them that are obvious to you.

Intelligence is one of the most difficult terms to define since we know that it is there
but we cannot touch it. It is safe to say that psychologists know that intelligence is a
function of the brain. Beyond that even very intelligent psychologists cannot have one
acceptable description of intelligence. It is an abstract concept that is not directly
observable and it is too broad to have one definition that encompasses all of its
aspects and be accepted by all. Intelligence is associated with, but definitely not
restricted to, problem solving skills, learning, and the ability to adapt to new
Psychologists have been debating if intelligence is a single general ability applicable
in different situations or a variety of abilities of which each applies in a specific


situation. So, there are different approaches in discussing the nature of intelligence. In
psychometric approach intelligence is seen as a general factor (Described by Charles
Spearman, 1863-1945) and specific

abilities such as verbal, analytical and spatial

reasoning. Currently this approach is known as cognitive process as it focuses on

thought processes relating to mental functions. The general intelligence enables us to
operate in different situations either by using a single specific ability or in a
combination of several specific abilities. These abilities are not of the same measure
i.e. one ability may stand out more than the others. An individual may have greater
verbal ability relative to spatial ability. This perspective can be demonstrated by the
performance of students in a classroom. Some students have an overall high/poor
performance in all subjects however the performance is not the same in all subjects. In
some subjects s/he has a higher/lower grade relative to other courses. Thus a student
performance in a subject depends on his/her general intelligence and specific abilities
as related to that subject.
On the other extreme of describing intelligence Howard Gardner advocates that we
have multiple intelligences that are independent of each other rather than one single
intelligence (Gardner, 1993). Among the aptitudes he identified are verbal,
mathematical, those for music, spatially analyzing the visual world and for mastering
movement skills. Sternberg (1994) postulated the Triarchic Theory which hypothesize
intelligence as comprised of three separate but interrelated abilities, namely: analytical
ability for solving familiar problems based on analyzing, evaluating, judging, making
comparison and contrasting the elements of the problem, creative ability for solving
new problems by creating, inventing, discovering, and imaging the elements of the
problem and practical ability of applying, utilizing, implementing, and activating what
we know in solving problem we encounter in our everyday contexts. People are not
always equally endowed in all the abilities but intelligent people effectively exploit
the abilities they have by capitalizing on the stronger abilities and knowing how to
compensate for the weak ones. Hunt (1995) says human intellectual competence is
divided into three dimensions, namely fluid intelligence i.e. the ability to develop
techniques for solving problems that are new or unusual to the solver; crystallized
intelligence i.e. the ability to use previously acquired methods in solving current
problems); and visual-spatial reasoning, specialized ability to use visual images and


visual relationships in problem solving. The central point in all these perspectives of
intelligence is that it is very much involved in solving problems.

We are going to live with different perspectives of intelligence for a long

time. However, these perspectives have no impact on the significance of
intelligence on human activities.
9.2.1 Intelligence tests
Many countries have individual intelligence tests that identify individuals level of
intelligence. In the school setting these tests are used to predict ability to learn a
specific skill. Also the results are used in making decisions about a student placement
in the context of special education. Here we are going to mention a few of those tests.
Stanford-Benet is a test developed by Alfred Benet in France and latter on revised at
Stanford University in USA. Benet compared the level of mental development of an
individual child relative to other children in the same developmental stage. If the
score was above that of the majority in the same stage then one is more intelligent. If
the score is lower than the majority then s/he is less intelligent and if his/her score was
more or less equal to that of the majority then s/he was classified as of average
intelligence. In the current Stanford-Benet test the scores of all people together reflect
the normal distribution i.e. the majority of the scores are in the middle range while
few scores are in the extremes.
The Wechsler Scales is another popular test developed by David Wechsler in USA.
There are three versions, namely Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of
Intelligence for children 4-6.5 years of age; Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children
for children 6-16 years and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale for adults above 16.
The worthiness of intelligence tests depends on the user. The score can be used to
place the student in the most appropriate conditions for his/her effective learning.
However, in the hands of a wrong person it can lead to undermining the students
academic performance and at worse be used to abuse the individual. Only experts
should be allowed to interpret the results and make recommendations on the action to



There is a controversy among educationists on whether intelligence tests

are useful or not.

There are controversial issues in regard to intelligence test. One of them is the naturenurture issue. On one side some say nature i.e. biological inheritance has more
influence on the development of intelligence than that of nurture, i.e. environmental
experiences. They believe that intelligence is determined by genetic factors and the
environment has little influence. Those on the other side claim that environmental
experiences rather than inheritance have greater influence on the development of
intelligence. Both heredity and environment contribute to intelligence and both
interact in various ways. Currently most psychologists believe that nurture has more
influence on the development of intelligence than those on the nature proclaim.
Another issue is the influence of culture and ethnicity on the students performance on
intelligence tests. This is a controversy in countries with students of different ethnicity
in their school systems such as USA. This issue is also to some degree related to the
nature-nurture controversy. When debating this issue one has to take into
consideration that intelligence tests are geared towards students in western countries,
and mostly to children raised in the middle class and living in urban areas. What we
believe is that genetic factors and environmental factors have influence on intelligence
development and as such teachers have some role to play in enhancing students
intelligence development since they are part of the environment.

Up to now the tests developed in western countries are not appropriate

for children in the African context.

As implied by the different perspectives of intelligence and the intelligence tests, there
are variations in the level of intelligence among students and in other aspects related
to intelligence. Also in our normal encounters we observe that some of the human
behaviours and responses indicate variations in intelligence. This can be inferred from
behaviours of humans in different locations and of different cultures. Among them,
solutions are related to problem solving and creativity. Thus, we believe that there are

students who are more intelligent or bright students while others are less intelligent or
dull. In our school system we have in one extreme students who are mentally retarded
and in the other extreme the gifted ones who will be discussed in the following
lecture. Most students in primary schools are in between these two extremes.
However, due to screening done when selecting students who proceed to secondary
schools we can safely state that students at this level are those average or above
Also in one individual student we observe varying levels in abilities related to
intelligence. A student can be performing better in verbal tasks and less so in
numerical tasks or the other way round. The above imply that a teacher, in planning
and teaching, has to put into considerations the variations among students in the class
as well as ability variations in individual students intelligence.
Do you really need an IQ test to know your level of intelligence? How

will you feel if you discovered that your IQ is lower/higher than you


In the above section we saw that intelligence is a significant component in learning
and thinking. We are aware that there are several ways of learning and one poses a
number of these techniques. Teachers know that students differ in the way they learn
school material. Learning and thinking styles refer to the mechanisms/skills of
utilizing ones intelligence i.e. a students preferred way of learning. Knowing these
various styles of learning will help you to be aware of the different learning ways of
which individual students in the class approach your teaching. So, you should expect
wide variations of learning styles in your class and also be in the position to know the
reasons as to why students give different responses to the same learning requirement.
Consequently your teaching and perception of your students will take into
consideration the various styles of learning.
As mentioned earlier some of the students use divergent thinking while others use
convergent thinking in problem solving. Kagan (1964) found that some students are
impulsive i.e. quick in giving the first answer that comes into their mind) while others
are reflective i.e. take time to respond as a result of evaluating alternative answers so

before deciding the correct answer. According to Santrock (2004) impulsive students
tend to do well in remembering structured information; reading comprehension and
text instructions; and in problem solving and decision making. Reflective students are
better in setting their own learning goals and in concentrating on relevant information,
and have high standard of performance. Jerome Kagan also identified analytical
styles i.e. tending to focus on details and thematic styles i.e. view the pattern as whole.
Other styles identified include deep style i.e. try to understanding the meaning of the
material by actively constructing and giving meaning to what they want to remember
and surface style i.e. passive learners and only interested to know what needs to be
learned (Marton et. al. 1984). Students who approach learning in deep style have
intrinsic motivation while those using surface style are extrinsically motivated.
Categorizing a student into a certain style does not imply s/he uses that style in all
situations. A student may use deep style in one subject and surface style in another

Always intend to help your students in their learning to be reflective, and

use deep style.
Make a reflection on how you approach learning and determine in which

of the above category you mostly fit.


According to Zastrow and Krist-Asman (2004) personality is the complex cluster of
mental, emotional, and behavioural characteristics that distinguishes a person as an
individual. Personality has enduring characteristics that make each of us a unique
person. It is a result of the persons experiences as s/he develops taking into account
many internal and external factors. It is has dimensions. However psychologists have
identified and grouped these dimensions of personality into the big five factors of
personality (Santrock, 2004). These broad identified personality dimensions are:

Openness. Whether one is imaginative or practical; interested in variety or

routine; independent or conforming; and shallow or original.


Conscientiousness. Whether one is organized or disorganized; careful or

careless; irresponsible or efficient; and disciplined or impulsive.


(iii) Extraversion. Whether one is sociable or retiring; fun-loving or somber; quiet

or talkative; and affective or reserved.

Agreeableness. Whether one is softhearted or ruthless; trusting or suspicious;

quarrelsome or affectionate; and helpful or uncooperative.


Neuroticism (emotional stability). Whether one is calm or anxious; secure or

insecure; and self-satisfied or self-pitying.

In your class you will have students of the above personality traits. In classroom
learning interactions these types will be manifested by students, e.g. in the same
conditions some students will be anxious while others will be calm; some will be
trusting while others will be suspicious. Bear in mind that an individual does not
portray the same traits in all conditions. S/he might be anxious in one condition and
calm in a different condition. Santrock, (2004) says that the best way to characterize a
students personality is in terms of his/her traits and situation involved. As a teacher
you need to know the personalities of your students so that you understand their
reactions, avoid creating conditions that lead to negative aspects of students
personality, and be in position to encourage the reactions or help the student to cope
with the prevailing conditions.

Personality encompasses all aspects of the individual and has wide

variations among your students. It is impossible to have two students of
exactly the same personality in one classroom. Handle each as a unique
human being.
Temperament is a persons characteristic way of approaching and reacting to people
and situations, it is how they manifest behaviour and not what people do, but how
they go about doing it (Papalia et. al., 2001). It is believed that people exhibit
temperaments just after birth.
Based on the longitudinal study on temperament Thomas, Birch and Chess (1968)
categorised individual into three groups, namely:

Easy children. These are children with a generally happy temperament, regular
biological rhythms, and readiness to accept new experiences. Most of the time


they are cheerful, calm, eat and sleep at regular times. In school setting they are
in positive mood, adapt quickly to new experiences, routines and rules; and
accept frustrations with little fuss.

Difficult children. These are children with irritable temperament, irregular

biological rhythms, and intense emotional responses. They cry most of time for
no apparent reasons, have difficulties to sleep, harder to please and see new
people and experiences as threatening. In school setting they are slow to adapt
to new routines and rules; and react to frustrations with bad temper and such
puts them at risk for problem.

(iii) Slow-to-warm-children. These are children whose temperament is generally

mild but who are hesitant about accepting new experiences. Compared to easy
children they take longer time to adapt to new people and experiences. In school
setting they respond slowly to new situations and display low intensity of mood.
Temperament seems to be relatively stable through ones development. As a teacher
you will have a class of students with these types of temperaments. Remember that
not all students fit exactly in these three groups. Also the characteristics of one student
do not apply in all situations and at all times. A student can exhibit easy child
characteristics in one situation and easy-to-warm characteristics in another condition.
So, it is very challenging dealing to students in relation to their various temperaments.
It is important for a teacher to be aware of the temperament of each student in the
Santrock (2004) in citing several sources advance the following teaching strategies in
regard to students temperaments:

Show attention to and respect for individuality. Sensitivity is highly needed in

detecting the temperament of individual student and the overall temperament of
the class. Being insensitive to some students may lead to chaos and
misunderstandings in the class consequently affecting learning of all students
including the easy children.


Consider the structure of the students environment. Difficult children have

problems in a crowded class or in frustrating situations.


(iii) Be aware of problems that can emerge by labeling a child as difficult. Some
teachers focus too much on students they believe are difficult and sometimes by
actually telling them they are difficult and expecting trouble from them. This
may lead to student believing that s/he is difficult and act in the expected
Who are at-risk students? For some Tanzanians this might be a new term. Up to now
we have observed that there are quite a number of factors, both internal and external
to the students that lead to students poor performance. The next lecture focuses on
exceptional students needing special education. However, there are students who do
not fall into this category of needing special education since they do not have any
disability but are in danger of underperforming academically or have a high
probability of dropping out of school. Donnelly (1987) points out that, at-risk
students are students who are not experiencing success in school and are a potential
dropout. Also it includes students who are in danger of failing to complete their
education with adequate levels of academic skills (Slavin and Madden, 1989).
Students in this group come from low socioeconomic families, of parents with low
level of education, broken families, and orphans. It is now common to see street
children in our cities, hear about child labour, students engaging in petty business or
prostitution to supplement family income. Most of these students are supposed to be
in school learning but their school attendance is very low and concentration as well as
participation on school learning is minimal leading to poor performance. In many
circumstances they lag behind their fellow students in academic progress and low
expectations from teachers and society undermines their self-esteem and expectations.
In short, experiences in school for them bring negative feelings.
It is a difficult to identify students at-risk, and one should exercise caution. The
following are some of the characteristics of students at-risk from different sources:

Avoid labeling these students and be aware that some of them may be getting
inadequate diet, lack access to medical services and have limited exposure to
matters related to education. It is inappropriate to condemn these students due
to their existing conditions based on how we approach them in the teaching


Low grades. Low scores are indicators that a student is experiencing problems.
This can be in the form of having low scores at the beginning of the year or
scores declining as academic year progresses. They are low achievers who
exhibit low self-esteem (Donnelly, 1987). A conversation with the students may
indicate the source(s) of the low performance. The reasons are numerous and
some can be complex. However, if left unaddressed it may lead to more
problems and putting the student at risk of not participating in learning

(iii) Lack of participation in school activities. Students at-risk tend not to participate
in school activities and have minimal identification with the school (Donnelly,
(iv) Lateness or absenteeism. If a student is always late or s/he is not attending class
regularly it is an indication of a problem. Have a conversation with the student
to find out the reasons for missing classes.

Disciplinary problems. They may exhibit impulsive behaviour and have

problematic relationship with peers (Donnelly, 1987).

(vi) Drug addiction and pregnancies. These are definite indicators of students atrisk.
(vii) Family problems. If there are problems in the family of the student they may
affect his/her attendance and performance.
(viii) Disruptive behaviour. If a student is being too disruptive in the class it is the
opportune time to seek the causes of this behaviour. One has to be careful with
these students since they can also adversely affect other students.
(ix) Disadvantaged students with low aspirations. These are students from groups in
the society that are considered as disadvantaged i.e. students whose society does
not expose them to education offered in the countrys educational system.
Disadvantaged students include those raised in nomadic tribes; girls in societies
that consider educating women as against their traditions or is a wastage of


resources; students in low economic-status communities that do not offer basic

needs to their children; and children whose parents have low expectations on
their children. In some countries there are communities that deliberately
discourage girls from participating in school learning. If you detect a child from
such background with low aspirations in education coupled with the
expectations of not being a professional then this is a student at-risk (Biehler
and Snowman, 1982).
The above characteristics are not exhaustive. Some of the students may be at-risk but
not manifesting any of the above characteristics. As a teacher you are challenged to
know all your students individually. This is a daunting task since some of the classes
are overcrowded with students and the learning resources are limited.
In your community identify students at-risk and establish the causes

that lead them to this situation. Identify programmes that address

educational needs of children at-risk in your country.

In addressing students at-risk you are advised to do the following:


Be alert. Training on identifying symptoms of students at-risk is needed. Your

numerous encounters with students put you in a position to be the first one in
the community to recognize students at-risk.

Brushing off some of the

characteristics can lead to more problems. It is common knowledge that some

teachers are quick in punishing students who fall out of school regulations
because they are not aware of the concept of students at-risk.

Identify students at-risk as early as possible. Early detection facilitates early

intervention and so lowering the risks of not participating in learning activities.

(iii) Continually monitor progress of your students. Situations that may lead to being
at-risk arise during student life in school. The author is aware of students losing
parents and sudden family problems like parents divorces or becoming
unemployed that affect students life and consequently putting them at-risk.
(iv) Have a positive attitude towards students at-risk. Avoid making students at-risk
feeling alienated from you and other teachers. As a teacher create an atmosphere
that make students at-risk feel at ease with you. Make them believe that you


have high expectations on them controlling their destiny or coping with the
problem while actively participating in school activities. The student at-risk
should be encouraged to participate in school activities.

Involve school administrators. A school should act as a unit in addressing

problems facing a student at-risk. You should also work in consultation with
school counselors.

(vi) Involve parents/guardians. Parents and the community have a bearing on a

student life that may lead him/her being at-risk. They are also involved on the
education of the student and have the right to be involved on such important
matters and solutions relating to school learning because some school learning
like homework take place at home. With parents and other members in the
society you can control situations that lead to students being at-risk and also
create conditions that facilitate effectively learning to students in the
(vii) Prevention programmes. Identify programmes that are effective in helping atrisk students. Donnelly (1987) suggest that you look for programmes that are
involved in broad range of special services to help at-risk students; programmes
that are intensive and provide students personal contact with a qualified, caring
staff, and woks in collaboration with administrators, parents, teachers, and
supporting staff to provide at-risk students a climate in which they are able to
become successful.


Due to variations of learners sometimes it is possible to have instruction based on

unique characteristics of the student. Individualized instruction is a method of
instruction in which the content, instructional material, instructional media, and pace
of learning are based on the abilities and interests of each learner (Wikipedia,
retrieved June 2011). After analyzing several other definitions Salser (2001) defined it
as a method of managing the instructional process without requiring live lectures from
teachers. Thus individualized instruction is based on an individuals unique learning
style and instruction tailored to fit a students educational needs. With the
advancement in computers and information technology the potential for

individualized instruction has increased tremendously. Computer-Assisted Instruction

uses the computer and the prevailing electronic environment to improve the design
and delivery of individualized instruction.
The curriculum for individualized programme has to take into account the following

Pace. This is the amount of time given to a student to learn the content. Time to
be spent on learning the material can either be controlled by the teacher in one
extreme or by the student in the other extreme. Most of the students in Open and
Distance learning have great control of the pace of learning.


Method. This refers to the structure of instruction and how it should be

managed. The method selected depends on how learning takes place. There are
several theories and approaches of learning and the teachers have to choose the









(iii) Content. This is the material to be learned. The materials can be uniform to all
students; however, high-achieving students can define their own objectives and
pursue learning depending on their own interests.

This lecture looked variations among students in the same classroom;

variations in intelligence, variations in learning and thinking styles,
variations in personality and temperament. Suggestions on how to
accommodate students with various differences were advanced.

1. Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness
2. Go through the school curricula of your country and identify the







recommendations on how to handle a class with these variations.


Biehler, R. & Snowman, J. (1982). Psychology Applied to Teaching

(4Ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Donnelly, M. (1987). At-Risk Students. ERIC Digest Series Number


21. ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management Eugene OR.

Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
USA. Chapter 4
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: the Theory in Practice. New
York: Basic Books.
Hunt, E. (1995). The Role of Intelligence in Modern Society. The
American Scientist.
Kagan, J. (1964). Impulsive and reflective children. In J.D. Krumbtz
(Ed). Learning and the Educational Processes. Chicago: Rand
Marton, F., Hounsell, D. & Entwistle, N. (1984). The Experience of
Learning. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
Papalia, D., Olds, S. W. & Feldman, R. D. (2001). Human Development
(8th Ed). McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA
Salser, M. (2001). What is Individualized Instruction? Education
Research Associates, Inc. Portland, Oregon.
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology, (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA. Chapter 4
Sternberg, R. (1994). In Search of Human Mind. New York: Harcourt
Zastrow, C. & Krist-Asman, K. (2004). Understanding Human
Behaviour and Social Environment. Thomson Brooks/Cole




In the previous lecture we looked at individual variations among students considered
to be normal. The teacher can address these variations in normal class and within
his/her repertoire. This lecture focuses on exceptional learners. In any society there
are children who cannot function properly in normal conditions as normal children do.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:


Explain what is meant by exceptional students;


distinguish the terms handicap and disability;

(iii) List the characteristics of students with learning disabilities;

(iv) Describe the teacher's role in dealing with students with disabilities;

List the characteristics of gifted and talented children;

(vi) Critically evaluate the concept and practice of inclusion.



Exceptional students include learners with disabilities and those classified as gifted
and talented. The next question is what a disability is and why gifted and talented
students are classified as exceptional students. Disability is defined as limitation on
individual functioning that restricts the individuals ability. Currently it is
acknowledged to say students with disabilities rather than disabled students. This
acknowledgement is based on the fact that the second one is on specific conditions
rather than implying the individual is disabled to function in any condition.
Another term confused with disability is handicap which is impediment imposed on a
person with disability. In many public areas in Tanzania the toilets are built without
considering the conditions of persons with physical disability, so these toilets are a
handicap to such people. It is not proper to address people with disabilities as
handicap. It is expected that the society will minimize or eliminate conditions that
make people with disabilities be handicapped.
Before categorising a student as having a disability, one has to assess the functioning
ability of the respective student before determining it as less than normal. The main









communication. It is also crucial to identify handicapping conditions that adversely


prevent a student with disability to function at the same as other normal students. A
normal teacher can observe without any special aid some of the characteristics of a
student with disability. However, only a specialist can determine the level of the
disability and provide recommendations on plan of action to help the student.
It is imperative to know that one same condition of disability is characterized at
different levels of severity. Each level has corresponding effect on the respective
student and as such requiring specific educational needs. Lamping students with
similar disability in the same category and treating them the same may lead to more
complications instead of assistance.
There are number of disabilities each with its own characteristics, each being caused
by a number of factors. Here we discuss some of them briefly starting with the
sensory disorders i.e. related to seeing and hearing:
10.2.1 Blindness and Visual Impairments
These are students who are legally blind (cant see at all) and those with mild vision
problem that has not yet being corrected or still have vision problems even with
correction. Characteristics of visual impairments including holding books very close
to eyes, difficulty in reading small prints, rubbing eyes frequently, red or inflamed
eyes, watery eyes, headaches and complaints related to vision.
As a teacher you refer such students to eye specialists for diagnosis purposes and also
for corrective measures; and most will be helped. For students with low vision sitting
in front of the class can be of help. A student determined as blind cannot access
materials needing vision and can be referred to schools which can cater for his/her
condition. Also students with good vision can read to the students with visual

Determine how children with visual impairment in your community are

assisted to access education.


10.2.2 Deaf and Hearing Impairments

Deaf students cannot process information through hearing even with the aid of
amplifying devices. Hearing impairment is less severe than deafness but yet it
adversely affects student performance related to hearing. These students find it very
difficult (impossible for the deaf) to hear conversations in the class. Also children
with this condition may also have speech disorders. (I believe you know that one first
hears the word then imitates to pronounce it or use it in thinking process). In class
they have difficulty following oral presentations and directions, turn head and lean
towards the speaker, use speech sounds poorly, not responding when called from
behind, and complaints about earaches, ear infections or have ear discharge
(Ysseldyke and Algozzine, 1995).
Once you suspect a student has hearing impairment, seek professional help to
determine the problem and advice on corrective measures. Santrock (2004) points
some of the teaching strategies for students with hearing impairment, namely:

Be patient.


Speak normally, not too fast or too slow.


Speak distinctively rather than shouting.


Reduce distractions and background noise.


Face the student when talking to him/her since they need to read your lips and

10.2.3 Physical impairments

Physical impairments refer to conditions of the central nervous system and other body
systems that adversely affect students participation in academic activities. They
include a number of disorders. Orthopedic impairments have conditions that impede
movement and control of muscle and skeletal movements. Students with cerebral
palsy lack control of muscular coordination, shaking and have unclear speech.
Epilepsy disorder is characterized by frequent sensorimotor and movement attacks.
The frequency and duration of epilepsy attack varies among students affected.
Some of physical impairments require special services such as wheelchairs for
movements. As a teacher you should arrange the class to improve movement. Also
you have to be in position to influence the construction of structures that are friendly
to students with physical impairments.

List down strategies you will use to make changes in schools in your

community that will make it friendlier to students with physical


10.2.4 Speech and/or Language Disorders

Remember that in learning a student has to communicate his/her ideas to teachers and
others. In language learning course one must develop the oral aspect of the language.
So speech and language disorders refer to disabilities related to communication
functions of speech and language. They include stuttering, problems in articulation
and voice. Also they refer to receptive disorders whereby a student lacks the ability to
process incoming audio messages. On the other hand there are students with
expressive disorder i.e. inability to use language to express one self. Expressive
disorders can be inform of articulation disorder (problem in pronouncing sounds);
voice disorders (producing speech that is too high-pitched, too low-pitched, hoarse, or
harsh); and fluency disorders (stuttering). All these conditions will experience
difficulties in communication.
Santrock (2004) suggests the following strategies for working with students with
receptive or oral expressive language disorders:

Use multisensory approach to learning rather than an oral approach alone.

Always supplement oral information with written materials and directives.

Monitor the speed with which you present information. Slow down and go back to
check with the student for understanding.

Give them much time to respond, as much as ten to fifteen seconds.

Provide concrete, specific examples of abstract concepts.

For an oral expressive disorder he suggests:

Giving the student plenty of time to respond.

Recognize that the student has trouble responding orally. So consider asking the
student to do written work rather than oral report.

Provide choices or give the student initial sound in word-finding problems.


Let the student know ahead of time what question might be asked so that s/he can
have enough time to prepare an answer.


It may take time to recognize students with speech impairments in

classroom setting since some may not speak at all.
10.2.5 Behaviour disorders
Behaviour disorders are also known as conduct disorders. This is a broad category
referring to students with persistent behavioural difficulties that adversely affect their
education. These problems include aggression by being physically abusive of others
and destroying their properties, difficult in maintaining relationships with teachers and
peers, tendency to have anxiety associated with school problems, depression and
inappropriate behaviour in normal situations. Furthermore they show lack of feeling
guilty and tend to blame other students for the troubles they create. Since students
with this disorder display these behaviours consistently they cause great disruption to
teachers and other students in the class.
Schreiner (2008) identified the following effective strategies for students with
emotional and behavioural disorders. I have included Watson (2011) suggestions that
concur with Schreiners.:

Help students to overcome their emotional problems to achieve academic success.

They have to learn and develop skills to control their mood and to think before
they act. Seek from the student about his/her strengths, weaknesses and goals.
Involve the student in setting academic and personal goals; provide opportunities
for the student to use self-control/self monitoring; and teach self talk to relieve
stress and anxiety (Watson, 2011).

Acknowledge the problem. Take the student aside and discuss his/her disability
and allow him/her to explain how s/he if affected by it. This will make the student
feel s/he is valued by the teacher and that you have recognized the problem. Also,
develop consistent behaviour expectations and set limits and boundaries (Watson,


Create a silent signal. Work out means of silently communicating with the student
so that you do not have to call him/her in front of others. Avoid confrontations and
power struggles; and establish cues as reminders for inappropriate behaviour
(Watson, 2011).

Reward frequently. To avoid making these students angry easily when corrected
reward them instead of punishing whenever possible. In developing his/her selfesteem you reward more than you punish. Also give frequent feedback and
acknowledge and reinforce acceptable behavior so that they see their efforts are
appreciated (Watson, 2011).

Watson, (2011) also has the following strategies:

Develop consistent behaviour expectations. In setting your expectation you should

acknowledge that students with behavioral disorders cannot change for success
immediately, so work on gradual overall improvement. Be patient, sensitive, a
good listener and consistent in treating your student.

Communicate with parents and others teachers so that strategies are consistent at
home and school. The disruptive behaviour displayed in your class is also
displayed at home and in other classes.

Apply established consequences immediately, fairly and consistently. The student

should know what is expected of him/her.

Remain calm and aware of body language when addressing the student.


There is a difference between normal adolescent behaviour and conduct


Determine if there are students with conduct disorders in schools in

your community. What help is available to remedy their conditions.

10.2.6 Mental retardation

This is generalized disorder associated with impaired cognitive functioning. Students
with this disorder show low level of intelligence (IQ score of less than 70). As


expected, with this level of intelligence they have difficulties in learning in school
settings and are unlikely to be selected for secondary school education. Also included
in this group are students with deficit in adaptive behaviours that are indicative of
problem with mental functioning. They cannot conduct things that normal students
take for granted i.e. they have difficulty in such simple things like dressing, feeding
and self control.
Mental retardation is classified into four categories, namely:

Mild mental retardation. IQ range of 55-70.


Moderate retardation. IQ range of 40-55

(iii) Severe. IQ range of 25-39

(iv) Profound mental retardation. IQ below 25.
Students with mild mental retardation can be expected to develop basic academic
skills in ordinary schools. However they have problems in regard to attention and
cognitive processes related to organization, classification and strategies, memory,
transfer to new tasks and are vulnerable to distractibility (Elliot, 2000). Those in the
other categories require professional help.
Santrock (2004) identified the following strategies of interacting with students with
mental retardation:

Always keep in mind the childs level of mental functioning. Their performance in
academic matters is below that of normal students in the class.

Individualize your instruction to meet the students needs.

Give concrete examples of concepts. Teaching should be clear and simple.

Give these students opportunities to practice what they have learned.

Be sensitive to the students self-esteem.

Have positive expectations for the students learning.

Put into consideration students other needs, and help him/her in improving selfmaintenance and social skills.

Involve parents as equal partners in students education.

Also avoid placing them in situation where they can be frustrated.


10.2.6 Multiple impairments

Refer to a condition whereby one has a combination of several disabilities that
adversely affect learning process. There students who are dumb because of being
deaf; others are mentally retarded and blind. If you have students with multiple
impairments seek advice from a specialist.

Find out if there are specialists for determining multiple impairments in

your area.

10.2.7 Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities (LD) are among those concepts that are very difficult to come up
with one definition that applies to all conditions associated with it. Visser (2000) gave
five different definitions of LD and Elliot at al. (2000) points out that there are more
than eleven definitions. While mental retardation is related to cognitive functions
while learning disabilities are associated with disorders in which a student has a
difficulty in learning in a normal manner. According to Lerner (2003) a student with
LD does not have mental retardation, behavior disorders or other major disabilities but
still the student has difficulty with processing skills such as memory, visual
perception, auditory perception, or thinking; and a result has trouble achieving in at
least one subject such as reading, maths or writing.
Visser (2000) identified among others the following definition as used by United State
office of Education:
The term specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the
basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language,
spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen,
speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes
such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain
dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include
children who have learning disabilities which are primarily the result of visual,


hearing or motor handicaps, or mental retardation, or emotional disturbance, or

of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
This definition implies that LD includes several disorders associated with learning but
the factors that lead to them (LD) are still unknown. So, students with LD will have
difficulties in learning and they will not learn as quickly as students not affected by
From the responsible people in your country get the operating

definition of learning disability. How are the students with learning

disabilities identified?

Characteristics of students with learning disabilities as cited by Elliot et al. (2000)


Discrepancy. In definition of LD students with mental retardation are excluded.

This implies that students with LD have normal or above normal levels of IQ. To
be categorised as having LD there must be a difference between what a student is
able to do and what actually s/he is doing. There is discrepancy between ability
and level of performance.

Deficit. This is indicated by LD student being unable to develop academic skills

that other students have. Some of the skills LD can perform include listening,
reading and doing arithmetic.

Focus. The students problem is centered on one or more of the basic

psychological processes involved in processing in using or understanding

Exclusions. LD is not direct result of poor vision or hearing, disadvantaged, or

cognitive disabilities, but these students still cannot learn. Once the cause of the
problem is determined the student cannot be categorised as having LD.

Teachers may use the following strategies that are considered successful for teaching
students with learning disabilities:

When preparing lesson put into consideration the needs of a student with LD. S/he
will need more time to complete assignments and other tasks.


Break learning into small steps. Make modifications when teaching to encourage
self-confidence and success.

They benefit more when learning is to real life situations.

When introducing new concept, first discuss what they know related to the
concept and then introduce it.

Supply regular feedback.

10.2.8 Gifted and talented children

Students in this category are quite different from students with disabilities we have
described in the above part of the lecture. This is a broad term used in education.
Students who are gifted and talented have IQ that is above 130 and demonstrate or
have potential abilities that give evidence of high performance capabilities in specific
areas (Santrock, 2004). These are students who have evidence of high performance
capability in areas of intellectual, creative and artistic or in specific academic areas.
Some of characteristics of gifted/talented include (Cited by Santrock (2004):

Precocity. Gifted students who are precocious (intelligent) in situations that

demand use of their gift or talent. They are so far ahead of their age mates and
others in the class in terms of understanding, mastering and completing school
work since they possess good memorization, advanced comprehension and
processes information in complex ways.

Marching to their own drummer. They learn in qualitatively different way from
other students. They are creative by being independent thinkers; and exhibit
original thinking in oral and written expressions; creates/invents and formulate
abstracts. They learn rapidly without much assistance from teachers and parents.

A passion to master. Gifted students are intensely enthusiastic in understanding the

domains they have high ability. They widely read in special areas of interest. They
are often perfectionist and highly motivated with high expectations for self and do
not need to be pushed to in learning.

Why do students who are gifted/talent need special attention in school?


Although students who are gifted have an advantage over their classmates, in normal
classroom setting this can be very challenging to themselves and to teachers too. To
beginning with the above characteristics of gifted do not fit into lesson preparations
geared towards normal students since they comprehend school material quite rapidly.
So they spend less time than peers and this can lead to problems to themselves and to
the rest of class. According to Peterson and Medaris (2006) gifted students find it
difficult to fit in with schoolmates; and pressures from others can have a significant
negative impact on their emotional development. In short normal class setup is not
conducive for gifted students learning capabilities.
Teachers with students who are gifted/talent are advised to use the following
strategies in teaching:

Enrichment. Since they take less time to cover school material modify
assignments provided to regular class by giving them extra work at an advanced

Self-pacing methods. Use flexible practices that allow students to advance at their
own pace.

Acceleration. After covering normal curriculum in shorter time schools these

students can advance into higher-level class.

Full-time separate classes or schools. Gifted students can be educated in special

schools or separate classes where available.
Hold a discussion with teachers in your area and find out their views on


gifted students and what strategies they use to accommodate such

students in their classrooms.


Some students with disabilities need special education services since they face
challenges with learning in normal classroom settings. As already noted some students
have communication challenges, others have behavioural disorders, physical
disorders, mental retardation or learning disabilities. In order for a student with
disability to get the same education as normal student s/he might need individualized
teaching procedures, equipment and materials adapted to his/her respective needs,


rearranging learning setting for easier access, and if need be, be placed in special
environment. Special education refers to education of students with disabilities that
addresses their special needs and taking into account each students individual
differences and needs.
To be categorised for special education the first thing to do is to diagnise the disability
in order to determine the students weakness and strengths in learning. Students
needing special education have different needs, even if they have the same type of
disability the level of the disability varies among them. After diagnosis the teacher
makes intervention by modifying his/her teaching processes and assesses the response
of the respective student. If the response is not effective there might be a need to refer
the student for special education. Special programme identified for the student should
be tailored to address the needs of the individual student and also taking into account
his/her strengths. According to Goodman (1990) special education should be
individualized so that it addresses the unique combinations of needs in a given

Students with disabilities have different and varying levels of disabilities

and each have special needs.

There are different approaches and institutions offering special education to students
with special needs, especially in developed countries. Each approach has it merits and
limitations and none is perfect. In deciding which approach is appropriate for a
student with special need on has to consider the nature of the disability. Some
disabilities, such as conduct disorder can necessitate the respective student to be
excluded from class. You have to identify institutions available in your country and
learn more about special education in course offered by the Faculty of Education.
Here we identify some of the approaches:

Mainstreaming. In this approach, part of the day students with special needs are
educated in regular classes with non-disabled student and in other time segregated
in separate special classes for students with special needs.


Inclusion. Students with disabilities and with a need of special education spend
most of their time in a normal school with students who do not have special
education needs. Such schools make modifications to cater for the needs of special
education and also have resource rooms with specialized equipment for more
intensive instruction secessions. Schools practicing inclusive approach need to
have regular teachers trained in planning, and offering support to students with
special needs. Inclusive approach taking into consideration the needs of normal
students by sometimes segregating students with need of special education e.g.
special room for students with hearing disability to minimize disruption.

Elliot et al., (2000) suggests the following guidelines for including students with
special needs in regular classes:

Students should be capable of doing some work at grade level.

Students should be capable of doing some work without requiring special

materials or adaptive equipment.

Students should be capable of staying on task without requiring as much attention

and help as a student in a special school.

Students should be capable of fitting into routine of the regular class.

Students should be able to function socially in the regular class and profit from the
appropriate behaviour of classmates.

The physical setting of the classroom should not interfere with the student

The school should be possible to workout scheduling to accommodate the

students various classes and schedules.

The classroom teacher should have adequate support to serve the needs of all
children placed in the classroom.

Instructional strategies for students with special needs in inclusive setting can be
classified as either being accommodation or modification. An accommodation
approach refers to providing the same material to all students in the class but changing
the delivery mode so that students with disabilities can access the material ( Pepper,
2007). This can be in form of providing texts with large prints or using recording

devices for students with visual impairments, listening to audio tapes, or student with

physical disabilities sitting in front of the class for easy movement. In modification
the material is changed to make it simpler depending on the mastery level the student
is expected to reach; sometimes the school can make modification on the way the
student is assessed e.g. during test one might read the questions to visually impaired
students (Busuttil-Reynaud and Winkley, 2007). Modification may also include skipping
some of the text, giving simplified or shorter assignments, providing extra aids and/or
providing extra time to complete learning task. In some circumstances the school
might provide both modification and accommodation to some students.

Exclusion. This refer to students with special needs but are excluded from school
and as such do not receive any instruction. In some communities in Africa there
are parents with children with disabilities but do not want to enroll them in any
school. Also some of these students are in hospitals/institutions for children with
emotional disabilities or some of them are far away from schools with facilities
special education.

Special schools. A special school is officially designated to cater for students with
specific needs that are so severe they cannot be offered in other institutions. These
schools provide individualized education that addresses specific needs of the
students. The teachers in these schools are specifically trained to be professionals
in teaching students with severe disabilities.


In this lecture we defined several disabilities related to learning and

giftedness. Also, we looked at characteristics of each disability and
recommendations for assisting students with disabilities. Above all,
there are activities that will make you familiar with cases of disabilities
in your community and services available.


Identify services near your location that are available for students
with special needs


Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through
the lecture to verify your accurateness.



Busuttil Gavin and John Winkley.




Glossary (Extended)]. UK: Joint Information Systems Committee

and Ofqual's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. (Report).
Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
USA. Chapter 5
Lerner, J. (2003). Learning Disabilities: Theories, diagnosis, and
teaching Practices. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Goodman, Libby (1990). Time and learning in the special education
classroom. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press.
Pepper, David (25 September 2007) Assessment for disabled students: an







Curriculum Authority, Regulation & Standards Division. (Report).

Peterson, J. S. & Medaris, K.

(2006). Study: Gifted Children

especially vulnerable to effects of bullying. Purdue University.

Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology, (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA. Chapter 6
Schreiner, E. (2010). Effective Teaching Strategies for Students with
Emotional and Behavioural Disorders. eHow, Trails.com and
Visser, R. (2000). Definitions of Learning Disabilities. Texas Center for
the Advancement of Literacy and learning.
Watson, S. (2011). Best practices for Behavior Disorders in the
Classroom. About.com Guide.
Ysseldyke, J.F. and Algozzine, B. (1995). Special Education: A
practical approach for Teachers (3rd Ed.). Boston: Houghton





To be effective a teacher has to make decisions that will facilitate effective student
learning. The decisions depend on a number of factors; some have already been
discussed in the previous lectures e.g. age, mental ability, and appropriate teaching
strategies based on the condition of individual student in the class. In this lecture we
take an overview on assessment of learning in the classroom context. Details of
concepts described here are available in detail in the Test and Measurements Course.
Assessment is part and parcel of instruction.

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:

(i) Describe the components of instructional objectives;
(ii) Perform a task analysis on a complex skill of your choice;
(iii) Identify and apply the six levels of Bloom's taxonomy;
(iv) Explain the functions of evaluations;
(v) Develop a table of specifications for test construction;
(vi) Identify the advantages and disadvantages of true/false, multiplechoice, completion, matching, essay and problem-solving test
Educational evaluation is an evaluation process of characterizing and appraising some
aspects of an educational process (Wikipedia, 2011). The aim is to determine the
worth of or to find the value or amount of the component of education. This amount
or value is often expressed in time on a numerical order. Data collected demonstrates
effectiveness to the stakeholders; provide a measure of performance for marketing
purposes, and for educators to undertake continuous review and enhance learning. So,
evaluation in education encompasses different aspects of determining if the goals and


objectives of the curriculum have been realised. The information obtained indicates
success and failures that form the bases of improving the curriculum.
It is not that easy to differentiate evaluation and assessment. Sometimes these two
terms are used interchangeably. However, for most educationists evaluation is broader
than assessment since it is used to make judgment on the merit of something.
Assessment is part of evaluation. Assessment in education is the process of gathering
information about a students abilities or behaviour for the purposes of making
decisions on the student (Elliot, et al. 2000). The definition has three main points i.e.
assessment is not one off act but rather a process of gathering information about the
student. As a teacher you have to know the student well before you determine your
plan of action. Wrong information or personal biases can have detrimental effect on
students performance and undermine effective teaching e.g. labeling a student as
mentally retarded while s/he is a student at-risk. The second point is, assessment in
school setting mainly focuses on students abilities and behaviour as related to
education matters and learning. The third point, assessment has an objective of
making decision on the student. We do not assess just for the sake of assessing. Some
of the feedback may validate the strategies that are successful and identify those
needing to be improved. Teachers use the information gathered (feedback) to make
decisions that have positive effect on the student and the society.
Assessment is an integral part of the teaching process. Before preparing instruction for
your class you need to know your students in terms of their abilities, background and
previous academic performance i.e. pre-instruction assessment. My tutor used to tell
us that before preparing a lesson, as teachers, we need to have answers for the
following questions: Who am I going to teach? What material am I going to present?
How am I going to present the material? After having the information on these
questions the teacher can embark on preparing a lesson. Results based on assessments
of the student and the learning materials determine the instruction part of teaching.
A teacher is continuously making assessment during instruction i.e. formative
assessment. The aim is to assess activities of the ongoing teaching so as to improve
the processes of teaching and learning. Formative assessment is generally not graded.
Assessment during instruction is done through observing students faces and reactions

when they are listening; listening to students answers and questions or lack of
questions/answers. Information gathered during teaching indicates the progress of
students in understanding the material and if need be make some modification to
facilitate learning. It is ineffective to wait till the end to make assessment.
After the instruction is completed a teacher has to determine the performance of the
students in regard to the objective of the lesson i.e. summative assessment. These are
activities to find out the level of performance of students against the objectives of the
curriculum. Normally this assessment is done at the middle of the term/semester;
and/or at the end of semester; and/or at the end of academic year. Summative
assessments are generally graded. Thus an effective teacher is constantly making
assessment in all processes of teaching. Assessment is used to set learning goals, as
strategy for reaching the goals and as mechanism for determining if the goals have
been achieved. A teacher lacking assessment skills or not using assessment in the
teaching processes cannot be called a teacher.
Assessments have other functions more than just for making decisions. Assessments
are used as diagnosis tools for determining students with learning problems. Parents
and other stake holders use results of assessment to know the performance of students
and consequently use it in regard to their specific needs e.g. selecting students for the
next level in the academic ladder or for recommending them for specific professions.
Also, assessments make students active in learning by engaging in answering
questions, and as a mechanism for motivating students to learn (both extrinsically and
intrinsically). Some students study because they know the significance of assessment
in determining their future life, while others just want to have good performance
based on assessment. However, assessment can cause anxiety among students and
undermining their performance.

It is important for students to develop positive attitudes towards

assessment of learning.
What is the difference between assessment and measurements?


Measurement refers to expressing the students ability or performance in quantitative

form by assigning it numbers. Test score is one form of measurements. However, not
all performances can be quantified and it is important to acknowledge the limitations
of measurements. Motivation to learn cannot be quantified and a student who scores
very low in Kiswahili test does not imply that s/he cant communicate in Kiswahili.
A teacher needs to plan on his/her classroom teaching. Planning involves many
aspects of making preparations for instruction and activities during teaching. A
teacher without a plan is likely to waste students abilities, and time, and worse,
undermines the objectives of establishing school system. According to Santrock
(2004) instructional planning involves developing a systematic, organized strategy for
planning lessons. A lesson plan includes aspects of what needs to be done; sequence
of events during learning; and time needed to cover the material. A lesson plan
prepares the teacher mentally by having a mental picture of the lesson in the context
of class learning, minimizes missing important aspects of the lesson and going to the
class with confidence.
An effective teacher has a mechanism of determining clearly what s/he is going to
accomplish in the class. Also, it is important for a student from the very beginning to
know what s/he is going to achieve at the end of period or course. The teacher has to
formulate clear objectives that precisely describe what students will accomplish at the
end of instruction. Clear objectives make the teacher focused and students know what
is expected of them. Objectives in education are goals which focus on students
observable behaviours that are a result of instruction/learning. Objectives focus on the
performance that is expected of the student.
In preparing objectives, Mager (1962) a proponent of behavioural learning theory
suggested that the teacher has to use procedures, content and methods that are
appropriate to the set objectives. The statement of the objective describes what the
students will be able to do when they complete a unit; methods and motivation to
acquire information/or skills intended; and the mechanism of determining if students
have acquired the intended information/or skills. So, the statement indicates the
behaviour to be acquired by the student through learning, conditions of acquiring it

and the performance criteria i.e. level of performance acceptable to demonstrate that
student has learned.
Educational objectives include expected learner outcomes (ELOs). Normally, ELOs
are established by official institutions and are intended to facilitate communication
between the school and parents; and between school and responsible organs of the
education system of the society. Learning outcomes are derived from needs
assessments that indicate the gap that exists between the students existing conditions
and the desired state. ELOs consist of objectives that can empirically assess students
level of performance in cognitive and behavioural aspects of the curriculum i.e.
knowledge, skills and/or attitudes a student has to demonstrate as a result of
instruction. ELOs have the following three specific characteristics: the specific actions
of the learners must be observed; the actions must be measured; and the specific
actions must be done by the student. So, in making preparations the learners outcomes
make the teacher to focus on the students behaviour that is going to change; serve as
guidelines for content, instruction, and evaluation; to be specific on what should be
learned; and to convey to learners exactly what is to be accomplished. To achieve the
above, ELOs statements have to avoid unclear verbs (know, become aware of,
appreciate, learn, understand, become familiar with, like) and rather use active verbs
that clearly indicate what the student will do (state, show, explain, define, describe,
predict, recognize and criticize).

Go though the school curriculum and analyse the objectives and ELOs.


In the preceding section we have seen that establishing objectives of instruction is
imperative for effective teaching. Once an objective has been established the next
natural step is to determine the procedure to achieve it. Normally educational
objectives are broad and cannot be achieved by a single task. The teaching procedure
includes a number of several tasks to be undertaken to reach the ultimate goal. Task
analysis involves breaking down a complex task into smaller tasks or subtasks. A subtask can further be broken down into actions. The sub-tasks have relationships and


must be connected as they lead to the general objective. The relationship can be in
form of:

Method, whereby the plan is a combination of a number of steps in a specific

sequence. In learning to write a student has to follow certain steps of holding and
forming letters.

Iteration, the sequence of the task is repeated until a certain level of performance
is achieved.

Selection, there are some tasks that require some inputs in form of making
selection among several choices. The student has to make correct choice to realize
the objective of the task.

According to Jonassen, Tessmer and Hannum (1999) instructional designers perform a

task analysis in order to:

Determine the instructional goals and objectives.


Define and describe in detail the tasks and the subtasks that the student will

(iii) Specify the knowledge type (declarative, structural, and procedural knowledge)
that characterizes the task.
(iv) Select learning outcomes that are appropriate for instructional development.

Prioritize and sequence tasks.

(vi) Determine instructional activities and strategies that foster learning.

(vii) Select appropriate media and learning environment.
(viii) Construct performance assessments and evaluations.
Method of task analysis to be used depends on the characteristics of the students and
the context to be presented (Jonassen, et al., 1999). They identified five kinds of task

Performance analysis.

Learning analysis.

Cognitive task analysis.

Content or subject matter analysis.

Activity analysis.


Thus, in instructional preparation the teacher indicates these sub-tasks and their
respective objectives. Citing several sources Santrock (2004) points out that in
making analysis a teacher can proceed in the following steps:

Determine what skills or concepts the student needs to have to learn the task.

List any materials that will be required in order to perform the tasks.

List all the components of the task in order in which they must be performed.


We have already discussed the Blooms taxonomy in the lecture on thinking and
problem solving. In this lecture we look on how to apply the taxonomies in
assessment of instruction. However, before proceeding we have to be aware that
Blooms taxonomy does not only refer to cognitive processes but also include
affective and psychomotor components of learning i.e. there are three domains,
namely cognitive, affective and psychomotor. Affective domain refers to objectives
related to emotions while psychomotor domain refers to objectives related to motor
activities. In developing objectives the teacher points out the strategies in terms of
instruction and assessment to be used to cover the expectations of the lesson/course.
Some objectives may cover some of the domains but it is not easy to have an
objective/topic that includes all the levels in the respective domain. It is imperative to
cover lower levels before proceeding to more complex levels.
11.6.1 The Cognitive domain
There are six levels in the taxonomy. As one moves up the hierarchy the upper levels
require the student to use more complex mental skills. Below are the levels and
objective of assessing the students performance starting from the basic to more
complex ones:

Knowledge level

This is the lowest level in which the objective is to determine if a student has acquired
specific information in the lesson. Knowledge can be in form of specifics, knowledge
of ways and means of dealing with specifics, and knowledge of the universals and
abstractions in a field. The assessment is on the ability of the student to remember
information. The questions that are commonly used in assessing include words like
tell, list, label, give definition, name, recall, state, write, record and outline.


Comprehension level

This level is achieved after mastering the previous level by giving meaning to the
information. Instead of just recalling, the student processes the gained knowledge in
terms of interpreting the facts to show degree of understanding. Comprehension
includes translation, interpretation, and extrapolation. The student can give
explanation in his/her own words. Questions for assessment in this level use describe,
contrast, discuss, formulate, interpret, summarize, classify, rewrite, measure and
(iii) Application
Application implies a student using knowledge and principles gained in concrete
situations that s/he encounters in real life e.g. solving problems. A student may boil
drinking water to avoid water borne diseases.

The term application is often

interpreted inaccurately. For example asking, Demonstrate how you will apply the
Blooms taxonomy as a teacher. If you narrate what has been described in this course
you are only recalling information (knowledge level) rather than application of
knowledge. Application in this regard, involves having a lesson plan based on the
taxonomy and mechanism of assessing the objectives. Words of assessment used for
this level include apply, solve, demonstrate, change, compute, manipulate, use,
employ, modify, predict, produce, relate, assess, operate, verify and illustrate.
(iv) Analysis
A student goes beyond application by breaking down the knowledge into parts, seeing
its patterns and relating the information into new information. Question related to
analysis use words like analyze, explain, investigate, evaluate, break down,
differentiate, diagnose, categorize, question and infer.


With synthesis student uses gained information to form new knowledge, putting parts
together into a whole, create new theories and make predictions. In this level the
student creates something new that did not exist before integration. Synthesis
questions include words like invent, imagine, create, organize, plan, formulate,
account for, alter, argue, derive, revise, suggest, prepare, design, propose, relate,
arrange, modify, construct and compose.


(vi) Evaluation
This is the highest level of Blooms hierarchy. In evaluation a student is required to
assess previously learned knowledge against a designated standard and make a sound
conclusion or judgment. Questions use words like judge, select, debate, discriminate,
invent, appraise, value, question, determine, assess, evaluate, conclude, criticize,
contrast and recommend.

Some of the words used in the level of synthesis also apply to activities
giving evidence of creativity. In the list of activities of creativity add
originate, begin, initiate, devise, generate and engender.
11.6.2 The affective domain
Affective domain includes the manner in which students deal with things emotionally,
such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasm, motivation and attitudes
(Krathwohl et al. 1973). The affective domain is significant in teaching since students
attitudes towards learning and the subject, and motivation to learn have a bearing in
their academic performance (think of the poor performance of students who have
negative attitudes towards mathematics and science subjects and as a result have
rejected these subjects completely). Teachers teaching methods, nonverbal
communications, and management styles should encourage students interest in their
respective subjects.
This domain has the following five steps starting from the very basic (as described by
Krathwohl et al., 1964) showing the intensity of feelings and attitudes:


This objective refers to a student willingly attending stimuli. The student becomes
aware of attitudes and a value determined in the instruction, and selectively and
actively attends specific experiences. Examples of learning objects include: to
differentiate to accept, to listen for, and to respond to.



The student willingly becomes committed to actively engage in doing something

specific. Examples include: to comply to, to follow, to commend, to volunteer, to
spend leisure time in, and acclaim.
(iii) Valuing
Valuing infers expressing a belief or attitude about worthiness of something or event.
A student willingly expresses and is perceived by others as being committed to be
identified with a value of certain ideas, materials or phenomena. Examples include: to
increase measure of proficiency, to relinquish, to subsidize, to support, and to debate.
(iv) Organizing
It means organizing two or more values into an internalized system by
conceptualizing the new values in the existing ones. Examples include: to discuss, to
theorize, to formulate, to balance and to examine.

Value characterization

This occurs when a value becomes a way of life of the student e.g. a student
increasingly values the history course as part of his/her professional development in
law. Examples include: to revise, to require, being rated high in value, to avoid,
resisting, to manage, and to resolve.
16.6.3 The Psychomotor Domain
This domain includes physical movements, and use of the motor skills (Simpson,
1972). The developments of these skills depend on practice and are assessed in terms
of speed, duration, precision, distance, procedures or techniques in execution
(accessed from www.nwlink.com 2007). Examples of courses in our schools








manipulating equipment in science laboratories; and of course athletics and sports.

Below are the major six steps of (listed from the simplest behavior to the most
complex) psychomotor domain as described by Santrock (2004):

Reflex movements


Responding to stimuli by movements that are involuntary i.e. actions not under the
control of the individual. They include blinking the eyes.

Basic fundamentals

Students make basic voluntary movements that are directed towards a particular
object. Examples include switching a switch correctly or holding an object
appropriately. The key here is student being capable of correctly making movements
on things considered basic in normal life.
(iii) Perceptual abilities
Students are capable of using sensory cues to guide motor activity. They may use
seeing, touching or/and touching to guide their skills e.g. properly adjusting a science
equipment as a result of directions from the teacher; or in domestic science course a
student adjusting heat of the cooker based on the smell of the food being prepared.
The sensory stimulation is used as a cue to act. Words used in this level include a
student: chooses, describes, detects, differentiates, distinguishes, identifies, isolates,
relates, and selects.

Physical abilities

Students develop general skills in endurance, strength, flexibility, and agility. An

example includes enduring in an activity that is physically demanding such as

Skilled movements

Students perform complex physical skills with degree of proficiency. The overt
response of the student indicates skillful performance of motor acts that involve
complex movement patterns. The initial stages of learning may include imitation and
by following instructions leading to habitual movements performed with some
confidence and proficiency. Performance is achieved by practice. Examples of this
level include effectively making a sketch.
(vi) Non-discussive behaviours
Students communicate feelings and emotions through body actions. Student may use
body movements in dancing or drama to express certain emotions. Words used to


make assessment of psychomotor skills include perform, execute, operate and

11.7 TESTS
There are assessment instruments for the objectives in the three domains in the
Blooms taxonomy. In this lecture we will solely focus on tests related to cognitive
I know by reaching this level in the academic ladder you must have done many
tests/exams (in this section I will use the term test in referring to either test or/and
examination). Tests are part and parcel of students life and that of teachers too. As a
teacher you will be involved with tests in various situations. In one situation you may
have to decide which test is appropriate for your students; in another you construct
tests of subjects you teach; prepare students for tests, in another situation invigilate
students doing tests; mark and score tests; evaluate the test results; and use test results
as a teaching tool or for making predictions or for grading students. So, it is
imperative for you to be conversant with all aspects of tests in your role as a teacher.
In many normal school-learning settings test is one form of assessment intended to
measure learners knowledge and skills, referred to as achievement tests. However
there are tests for other students components related to their capabilities to learn that
will not be discussed here, including aptitude, attitudinal tests; and physical fitness
tests. Although these tests are important they are not widely available or used in our
educational system.
Tests are administered in various ways and situations in our education system
including orally, in written form; in confined areas or in the field, on computers, in a
closed book test (not allowed to bring any books in the examination room) or open
book test (e.g. literature or law tests; or allow use of calculators), at the beginning of
the course or/and during the course or/and at the end of the course.
Some tests are administered informally by parents or teachers while others are
administered formally by a recognized authority in an education system. Most of the
tests in schools are formal and are administered by teachers and they (tests) result in a
learner getting a test score or a grade (Thissen & Wainer, 2001). The scores and

grades can either be interpreted on basis of individual student or a population of

students. They can be evaluated to norm (comparing the score of the student in
relation to the scores of other students). They can also be evaluated to a criterion
(determine if the score of a specific student has or has not reached a specific level of
performance). Norm-referenced tests evaluate performance relative to norm (average)
while criterion tests evaluate performance relative to pre-determined standard. An
English language test results ranking students in the order of the score is an example
of a norm referenced test, however if the students score is based on level of mastery
in the language then its a criterion referenced test.

Based on tests used in your country determine which ones are norm
referenced tests, are criterion referenced tests.

The tests used in education have to meet the following criteria:

11.7.1 Validity
Messick (1989) defines validity as integrated evaluative judgment of the degree to
which empirical evidence and theoretical rationales support the adequacy and
appropriateness of inferences actions based on test scores. This implies that there has
to be relationship between the measurements and the characteristic/variable being
measured. A characteristic in education can be in form of skills and abilities as related
to performance e.g. students academic performance. So, validity in test means the test
measures what it is supposed to test (characteristic) and the measurements derived
from the test relate to the respective characteristic so that accurate and appropriate
inferences can be made. If the test is supposed to measure mastery of language then it
must have the qualities of measuring the mastery of the respective language and the
score should reflect the level of mastery. There are three types of validity, namely
content validity, criterion validity; and concurrent validity. Content validity refers to
the degree of instructional content in the test. Test has content validity when it
encompasses all aspects of the material intended to be learned by a student. The test
lacks content validity if it covers only a portion of the content as indicated in the
curriculum. Criterion validity implies the extent in which the test measurements can
predict the students performance as set by another external standard. This validity is

used in predicting student future level of performance in a specified condition.

Concurrent validity refers to viability of the test in relation to other tests available at
that specific time and in the prevailing conditions. A good example is that the tests
prepared at school should be of the same quality with that of the national examination
for it to have concurrent validity. If a student gets a high score in the school test while
his/her score is very low in the national examination then the school test lacks
concurrent validity.
11.7.2 Reliability
This term refers to the consistency of the measurements of the test i.e. if the same
results are obtained repeatedly whenever the test is retaken. A students score on the
trait should be similar if the student had to repeat the same test under similar
conditions. If a test is meant to measure language proficiency, then each time the test
is administered to measure language proficiency the results should more or less be the
Although it is difficult to determine reliability precisely, there are several different
ways of estimating the reliability of the test: test-retest reliability estimates the
variation in the test by the same person taking it at different times but under same
conditions. It is assumed that there will be no variation in results over a period of time
if the test is reliable. Test-retest is normally applied on traits that are consistent over a
period of time. If the test-retest is applied on achievement test there is high chance
that the performance on the second sitting will be higher. In Alternate-forms
reliability two similar tests (but not identical) in context and level of difficult are
constructed and then are administered to the same group of students at two different
occasions. If the tests are reliable the individuals scores from the two tests should be
same. In split-half reliability is determined by having two sets of questions of same
content in the same test and then administering it to the same group of students. The
questions of the two sets can be randomly divided in the test; or grouped in oddnumbered questions for the first set and even-numbered questions for the second set.

Reliability does not imply validity.


The tests can either be standardized tests or non-standardized tests. According to

Santrock (2004) a standardized test has uniform procedures for administration and
scoring. He also points out that standardized tests have the following functions:

Provide information on students progress. They indicate areas where the student
is proficient in or weak at; and determine if one can graduate or not. Graduation
leads to getting a certificate that is recognized nationally.

Provide evidence for placement of students in specific programmes. Based on

individual results some students are selected to take science or arts courses. Also
some high learning institutions use the results to select (based on passing and the
credit obtained) and place students in respective programmes (based on subjects
passed and credit obtained in these subjects). For example, pass in physics,
biology and chemistry lead to studying degree in medicine; pass in History,
English and Kiswahili to studying degree in law or journalism.

Provide information for planning and improving instructions. Results are used by
the nation as a mechanism for determining quality of education in its institutions
and where necessary make changes on the way material is presented.

Help administrators to evaluate programmes.

Contribute to accountability. Schools are judged by the overall results and

performance of their respective students. Schools that have poor results are
required to improve and the school administrators may be penalized.

In some circumstances standardized tests have legal basis that apply in specific
country(ies) and recognized by several institutions (in respective country or/and other
countries). A good example is the examinations of The National Examinations
Council of Tanzania administered at several levels of Tanzanian education system. As
you are aware these kinds of tests are widely used (whole of Tanzania), meant for
students at the same educational level; have the same level of difficulty and in same
format; administered at the same time (at a particular day and hour) and in predescribed conditions. Depending on the examination body the test can be
administered by the class instructor or by another authorized person. The results can


be used to compare the performance of the student with others covered by the
examination body. In many countries the standardized tests are used to manage quality
of education and institutions.
In some countries like Tanzania it is compulsory for all students at a given level to
take the recognized standardized test (there are no options for these tests!). Normally
the results are crucial in students life. Results determine who graduates and/or
whether one to progress or not to progress to the next level in the academic ladder.
The significance of these tests can be measured in terms of the amount of national and
parental resources devoted to preparing students for the tests; anxious moments
waiting for the tests to commence; reactions of the way they are administered; another
anxious moments waiting for the results; and finally the individual and public
reactions when the results are released.

It is unfortunate that standardized tests cause anxiety; results condemning

others to developing low-self esteem and putting others into low socialeconomic status; and some students taking very dramatic adverse
decisions. (While I was preparing this chapter I read on the newspapers
about a student who committed suicide because she failed one of the
National Examinations).
With fellow teachers prepare a session teaching students that failing a

test does not imply that they are failures, or that failing any test is the
end of the world. There is life after failing a test.


In planning a test the teacher is required to be guided by the curriculum from which
the course objectives are operationalised. On constructing a test the teacher has to
make sure that it is valid in respect of the respective subject i.e. a language test should
assess elements of language, and science test should assess elements of science. The
teacher should also construct a test with high degree of reliability to have the results
that are usable for decision making.


A course has objectives that are achieved through a number of topics which are
further divided into several lessons, each having its own specific objectives. In
realizing the objectives of the course there is classroom teaching, use of textbooks,
references materials, practical work and other relevant learning activities. All these
approaches of teaching/learning form part of learning at different levels of the
Blooms cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains.
The process of developing a test varies based on the objectives and significance of the
test, type of questions to be used, time needed to develop the test, time allocated for
students to do the test, duration of the test, time needed to derive the scores and
released to the stakeholders, class size and students proficiency in test taking.
Non-standardized tests, compared to the standardized tests, are more frequently used
by teachers. As one way of assessing students learning, teachers construct tests that
are administered at different times of the academic year. In Tanzania some schools
have a policy of having tests at the end of month for all subjects. So, teachers spend a
lot of time on matters relating to test i.e. constructing tests, preparing students for the
tests, invigilating, marking the questions and grading the scores and finally giving
feedback to the students; other stakeholders and to the teacher himself/herself.
There are several formats used to develop tests and each has its merits and limitations.
The developer decides which format to use depending on the objectives of the
assessment. One test may contain different formats. Below are some of the widely
used formats of tests in most schools:

Multiple choice questions

In this format a student is given a number of set answers for each question in form of
statement and s/he has to choose which answer/group of answers is correct. The
statement can be a direct question, an incomplete statement, and/or in some
circumstances a student has to choose One-Best-Answer since some or all of the set
of statements is correct. The incorrect statements are known as distracters. Multiple
choice questions require little time to answer; are easy to score and grade; provide
great coverage of the material; allows a wide range of difficulty; and can be used to


detect students problem with certain concepts or areas of the course. In providing
feedback the student learns from the teachers description why some of the answers
are wrong and why one is correct. On the limitation side multiple questions are
difficulty to develop if one has to use meaningful distracters; a student does not have
an opportunity to demonstrate his/her level of understanding beyond the answer that is
provided; sometimes the student may guess the correct answer (hiding students lack
of understanding); and this format does not test students feelings towards learning
and the course.

True/False questions

A question statement with binary choice is presented to a student i.e. s/he has to
indicate if the statement is true or false. A student is required to identify if the
statements, opinions, facts or definitions of concepts are correct or not correct. This
type of question can cover a wide area of material but it has the same weaknesses as
multiple choice questions and more seriously, it is susceptible to guesswork and it is
restricted to the lowest levels of taxonomy of objectives of the cognitive domain. It is
quite possible for a student passing the test by just guessing the answers.
(iii) Matching item questions
In matching item questions a student is provided with pairs of terms/characteristics
that are required to be associated. It has the same advantages as the above type of
questions and furthermore they can easily be written on the chalkboard and a student
just records the answer on sheet of paper. Its main disadvantages include restricting
itself to the lowest levels of taxonomy of objectives of the cognitive domain.
(iv) Fill-in-the-blank questions/short-answer questions
A student is provided with a question that requires a brief answer in form of a name,
phrase, word or symbol. These type of questions are easy to develop, is more
demanding cognitively than matching item questions and true/false questions, and
guessing is highly minimized. Main limitations include getting unexpected but
plausible answers.

Essay questions


This type of question requires a student to write an answer in form of an essay to meet
certain requirements. The questions are easy to construct, demand skills of high levels
of taxonomy objectives in the cognitive domain, require demonstration of writing
skills (transferable skill which are needed in many professions and occupations), and
it is very difficult to guess the correct answer. Limitations include being time
consuming and tedious in marking and grading, getting poorly written answers since a
student does not have enough time to make corrections, subjectivity of the marker can
influence marking and grading (a teacher may give substantially different scores and
grades to different students with similar answers or to the same answer if remarked at
a different occasion), also students handwriting and spelling can influence
score/grade, and it is limited to cover only a portion of the course and may not assess
all the objectives of the course.

Mathematical questions

Most questions in mathematics do not fall in the types of questions mentioned above;
although they were times multiple choice questions were used in Tanzanian primary
school level examinations. Maths questions require a student to solve it and score is
given based on correctness of the answer and steps used to solve the problem.
Have a discussion with teachers in your area and find out which type of

questions do they mostly use in the tests they construct. Also enquire the
reasons for their choice of questions.

Table of Specifications for test

Table of Specifications is a blue print for guiding teachers in constructing
achievement tests to ensure course content validity. Notar et al. (2004) also point out
that in order to measure students learning across a wide range of content and reading;
and assessing students achievement at the higher learning levels of comprehension,
application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation a teacher should make use of Table of
Specifications. The table identifies which areas of the course content are covered in
relation to the different domains.
The above authors in citing other sources they further suggest that the table should be
developed before the test is constructed with the following major elements:

Balance among the goals selected for test.


Balance among the levels of learning.

The test format.

The total number of items.

The number of test items for each goal and level of learning.

Basic specifications of the table include:


Table heading containing information needed to construct the test.

Course title.

It is required to be exactly as stated in school official documents and in the timetable.

Subject matter

It shows what will be taught and tested. It provides the limit of subject matter that will
be covered in relation to the stated objectives. This helps in guiding the test and
focusing on the topics.

Learning objectives of every lesson

It is possible to list all learning of objects of all lessons of the course. Each objective
should be operationalised. Also should indicate the level of domain expected for each

Relative weight of each area

This is based on time devoted on teaching each concept and types of materials to be
learned. Normally all concepts and materials are important however they differ in
their levels of importance and this also taken into consideration in developing the
table. Also indicate weight of mental activity relative to different levels of the
cognitive domain. The weight can be expressed in terms of the percentage (%). If the
topic has not been taught it should obvious have 0% i.e. no questions relating to this
specific topic.

Types of tests to be developed

As mentioned above there are several types of tests. A test can solely have short
answers or essay or combination of short answers and essays. One should indicate if
the instrument is based on one type of test or different types of tests (number of

questions of each type of test e.g. 30% matching items, 30% multiple choice and 40%

Time allowed and available for testing

This depends on the purpose of the test. A test designed to assess comprehension
should not have too many aspects of application while the one assessing application
should have many items assessing application. Sometimes the student is given ample
time to respond while in some occasions the aim of the test is to determine the speed
at which a student can perform a task.


This lecture dwelled on assessment of instructions. We looked at

different concepts in the area and identified different tests and their
characteristics. Also we engaged in activities suggested in the lecture.


From different sources, including experienced teachers, prepare a

strategy for preparing students for standardized tests/examination of your



Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
USA. Chapter 11 & 12
Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S. & Masia, B.B. (1973). Taxonomy of
educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goal
Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co. Inc.
Mager, R. (1962). Preparing instructional objective. Palo Alto, Cal.
Messick, S. M. (1989). Validity. In R.N. Linn (Ed.), Educational
measurement (3rd Ed.). New York: Macmillan.


Notar, C. E., Zuelke, D. N., Wilson, J.D., & Yunker, B. D. (2004). The
Table of Specifications: Insuring accountability in teacher made
tests. Journal of Instructional Psychology, June, 2004.
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology, (2nd Edition).
McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA. Chapter 15 & 16.
Simpson, E.J. (1972). The classification of Educational Objectives in the
Psychomotor Domain. Washington, D.C: Grypton House.
Thissen, D. & Wainer, H. (2001). Test Scoring. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.



Classroom management is an integral part of teaching. Learning success/failure
depends on the classroom atmosphere as dictated by the conduct of students of
various abilities and the teachers management skills. All your teaching skills and
strategies will only be effective if you manage your class well. Classroom
management encompasses all aspects of Educational Psychology

At the end of this lecture you should be able to:

(i) Explain the need to manage classroom effectively;
(ii) Explain the causes of misbehavior in the classroom and ways to
stop it;
(iii) Summarize guidelines for establishing class rules;
(iv) Describe effective teacher behaviours;
(v) Describe strategies of dealing with problem behaviours.
As we have already observed there are a number of factors that influence learning.
Some are directly connected to the individual students while others are external to the
students. Some of them are inherently external to the teaching skills of the teacher but

do greatly facilitate/hinder the teaching/learning processes. All these factors are

present in the class and the teacher has to take them into account while teaching i.e.
managing the class for effective learning. Elliot et al. (2000) define classroom
management as the use of rules and procedures to maintain order so that learning
may result. In acknowledging the possibility of having classroom not conducive to
learning the teacher uses rules and procedures to facilitate learning.
Our experiences in years of living in the classroom setting we are aware of some
chaotic situations where learning is hardly possible; students fighting among
themselves; occurrences of bullying; shouting in arguments; ridiculing others; and
even some students arguing with the teacher to the extent of refusing orders from the
respective teacher. The same class in a different day or occasion may have atmosphere
that is peaceful and serious learning taking place in a friendly manner.
Santrock (2004) has Walter Doyle (1986) description of the characteristics that reflect
the complexity of classroom environment:

Classrooms are multidimensional

Classrooms are settings of both cognitive and social activities. The students are
simultaneously demanded to understand the content while interact with others in a
given schedule. Students have to learn an appropriate way of functioning in this
situation. The teacher has to be in position to monitor all what is going on in the
classroom and at the same time facilitate learning of academic and social skills.

Activities occur simultaneously

Many activities occur at the same time. Some students may be concentrating on
learning while another group of students are having their own discussion, one student
is looking outside the classroom, others are seeking permission to enter and a big
number looking indifferently to the instruction and whatever is happening in class.
One can never be sure about the number of activities that can take place in a
classroom at the same time.

Things happen quickly


Events often occur rapidly in classrooms and frequently require an immediate

response. Two students can start a fight out of nowhere and the teacher has to stop
teaching immediately and fast deal with the ensuing condition; a student can just get
sick when a moment a go s/he looked fine and the teacher has to take appropriate
response; or a student grabbing another students book without consent.

Events are often unpredictable

The school activities are supposed to be planned from the beginning of the year and
teachers always plan for their classes beforehand. However, the above identified
occurrences not only happen quickly but they were also unpredictable. Also the
teacher can be pressured to change what had been planned by school management.
Sometimes with all well preparations a teacher cannot anticipate what will happen in
the next moment.

There is little privacy

Whatever actions occur in the classroom they happen in clear view of most students.
The students observe what the teacher is doing in terms of interacting with students
and his/her reactions to the events taking place. This situation may make a teacher
uncomfortable in the classroom. Teachers actions and emotional state form students
perceptions on the teacher and have some influence on the classroom
teaching/learning process.

Classrooms have history

Classroom life is daily influenced by what happened in the classroom on the previous
days (or a year if a cohort and with the same teacher). Students have memories and
remember how the teacher treats/mistreats students, and his/her emotional reactions to
different occurrences. They also remember what/how they (individual student) and
fellow students reacted on teachers actions. In short a classroom has got its own
personality. It is imperative for a teacher to be aware what s/he does today will have a
bearing on classroom atmosphere in the future.
Reflect on your previous classrooms and identify aspects of above
complexes. Try to cite a real life example of the each.


Adding on the above complexities it is important to observe some characteristics that
are specific to the situation in schools in our country. Some of them include:

Overcrowded Classrooms

Some classrooms in our country may have up to a hundred students. It is very

demanding to manage all of them and at the same time effectively give instructions.
According to Doswell (2007) overcrowded classrooms tend to exhaust the energy of
the teachers and also prevent optimum learning since they do not give students time
for exploration, discourse and creativity. Without extra aide normally learning
activities are not in orderly form. Also Zorigian (2009) points out that as class sizes
grow and the demands on teachers increase, many teachers feel there is little they can
do to control misbehaviour in the classroom.

Lack of basic facilities

Some classrooms lack desks and as a result the teachers are not in position to observe
the whole classroom and their movement is restricted to just in front of the class.
Students who lack desks find it very difficult to engage in writing activities related to
learning. Just imaging students taking notes on their laps! The situation becomes more
complicated during assessment sessions.

Lack of adequate physical structures for classroom

Some of the rooms are exposed to outside elements such as leaking of the rain and
wind/cold due to lack of windows.

Welfare of students

Some of the students in the classroom lack adequate basic needs such as coming to
school hungry and low prospects of getting nutritious meal. Classroom atmosphere in
the afternoon may be affected in schools that do not provide lunch to students.
Based on the above observations what is the situation in schools in
your area? Discuss with respective teachers how these conditions affect


their teaching and classroom management.

The objective of classroom management is to have an environment that is conducive
for learning. According to Everton (retrieved 2011) classroom management includes
teacher actions to create, implement, and maintaining a learning environment within
the classroom. She further points out that everything a teacher does has implications
for classroom management including creating the setting, decorating the room,
arranging the chairs, speaking to students and handling their responses, putting routine
in place, developing rules, and communicating those rules to the students. This
implies the teacher is the significant factor in classroom management in several
interwoven aspects. Teachers have to know how to create safe (intellectually,
emotionally, and physically) and productive learning environments i.e. classroom
environment whereby all students can learn.
The classroom learning environment does not come into existence naturally but it has
to be created by the teacher. We say to create since this environment in the classroom
is a result of teachers style of management. You are aware that learning environment
of the classroom differs in relation to the respective teachers of that classroom. With
one teacher the classroom is always harmonious while with another teacher the same
classroom is in state of chaos with little learning taking place.
There are several teacher management styles and each of the systems indicating to the
students about teachers beliefs on content and learning processes. Students
perception of the teachers style of management have influence on the way they
approach learning, the content being delivered and some aspects of their personalities
in the future.
The management styles are identified in terms degree of control and level of
involvement. Baumrind (1971) and Phelan (2005) describe these management styles
as follows:

The authoritative style. Characterized by behavioural principles, high expectations

of appropriate behaviour, clear statements about why certain behaviours are

acceptable and others not acceptable. It is a relatively hard style to establish and
maintain. Students under the teacher with this style know s/he is positive, kind,
supportive, and they know when s/he serious. They trust him/her and the
classroom atmosphere has more time for academics. This style helps to produce
students who are socially competent and responsible.

The authoritarian style. It tends to be characterized by numerous behavioural

regulations. The teacher is seen as rather punitive and restrictive; and students
have neither a say in the management, nor are they seen to need explanations from
the teacher. Teachers using this style normally jump on any behaviour that is not
acceptable by shouting to get attention, acting angrily, seem to be shocked when a
student does not follow directives and rarely do they support students or use
reinforcement. So, this style gets students compliance immediately because of
fear. In the long run it produces students who are ineffective at social interactions,
and somewhat ineffective.

The permissive style. It is characterized by lack of involvement, the environment

is non-punitive, and there are few demands on students, and there is a lot of
freedom. Teachers using this style hope to be liked by their students by being
supportive without setting limits on the students. They ignore disruptive behaviour
or handle it with weak reprimands. In this environment the classroom becomes out
of control and constructive learning hardly occurs. This style produce students that
are immature, show poor self-restraint, and exhibit poor leadership skills.

The indulgent style. Under this style there are no demands of any sort on students.
Here the teacher cares more about the students emotional well-being than his/her
behaviours. The students are actively supported in their efforts to seek their own
ends at any reasonable means. The teacher is detached from the ongoing learning
activities by doing something else e.g. instead of supervising students working on
assignment in groups s/he might be marking or engaging on something else
outside the classroom. Such teachers miss important signs from students
indicating having academic or behavioural problems. This style produces students
like those under the permissive style.



style. As




(retrieved 2011) the balanced classroom management style combines the

authoritative and indulgent management styles. The teacher sets the rules and
conduct an orderly classroom but also keep the classroom student-centered by
allowing the students freedom to give their views and thoughts creatively through
group discussions. Students under this style grow to behave like teachers using
this style of management.
Based on the above styles we see that in one extreme some teachers takes complete
control of the classroom by guiding all student activities in the classroom. Students
have very little room on creating the learning environment in the classroom. In other
extreme some teachers have very little control of the classroom and seem to be not
responsible for the learning environment. In the middle of the two extremes we have
teachers who encourage and teach students assume responsibility of their behaviour
and consequently the learning environment in the classroom. Of the above styles of
classroom management the authoritative style is more significant in creating
constructive learning environment where students feel safe and the teachers feels
empowered by the positive development of his/her students.

List all of your previous teachers and determine the management style
of each.

12.3.1 Instruction as part of classroom management

Instruction is part and parcel of creating learning environment in the classroom.
Instruction has two components, namely teaching (what the teacher does) and learning
(what the students do) (Marshall, 2003). A teacher cannot only focus on delivering the
material in absence of managing the classroom. Research in 1980s has demonstrated
that management and instructions are not separate, but are inextricably interwoven
and complex (Everton, Retrieved 2011). The goal of the teacher should not only
facilitate learning to the students but rather use classroom management to facilitate
student growth in self-control and acceptance of responsibility in management
(Savage & Savage, 2010).


Some aspects of teaching (the content and the way it is delivered) have a direct impact
on the learning environment in the classroom. The teacher has to make the content in
the curriculum relevant, interesting, meaningful, and/or enjoyable. Presenting a lesson
in an interesting way is a mechanism of managing the classroom since it keeps the
students in the learning process and they have little room for engaging in the other
irrelevant activities. We have already discussed on how to make pupils be motivated
to learn. In managing student academic work an effective teacher-led instruction is
free of ambiguous and vague terms; unclear sequencing; interruptions; and students
must be held accountable for their work (Kizlik, 2010). In citing several sources
Santrock (2004), for increasing academic learning time the teacher should:

Maintain activity flow of the instruction and avoid unnecessary interruptions.

Minimize transition time i.e. the time used to move from one learning activity to
the next one. If the transition between activities is too long this provides for an
opportunity for students to engage in disruptive behaviour. The teacher has to
maintain flow of instruction by develop skills of moving students smoothly from
one activity to another, both physically and cognitively.

Engage students in a variety of challenging activities.

Hold students accountable for their work and use of class time.

Make sure the learning has a purpose.

Having seen the importance of teacher in creating learning environment now we

discuss specifically on other things that the teacher has to take into account in creating
and maintaining learning environment.
12.3.2 Physical environment of the classroom
The way the classroom is set up is a crucial component in management and conveys
the learning environment in the classroom. In a good physical environment the
students have the sense of security i.e. feeling safe in a secure place for learning. The
structure has to shield students from adverse external elements (such as sun, rain, and
cold) and yet be comfortable in terms of chairs, temperature, ventilation and lightings.
In citing several sources Santrock (2004) suggest teachers to use the following steps
in making a classroom arrangement:



Consider what activities students will be engaged in.


Draw up a floor plan before you actually move the desks and chairs.

(iii) Involve students in planning the classroom layout.

(iv) Try out the arrangement and be flexible in redesigning.
Whatever arrangement you plan to use, according to Kizlik (2010) one should
consider the following aspects:

Permit the teacher to observe all the students at all the times and to monitor work
and behaviour.

Frequently used area of the room and traffic lanes should be unobstructed and
easily accessible.

Students should be able to see the teacher and presentation without undue turning
and movement.

Commonly used classroom materials, e.g. books and student reference materials
should be readily available.

While good room arrangement is not a guarantee of good behaviour, poor planning
in this area can create conditions that lead to problems (Kizlik, 2010). Many
classrooms in our country have all the desks arranged in rows facing in front and the
teacher (all students facing the teacher and the chalkboard). In developed countries
this referred to as the traditional classroom setup or standard classroom
arrangement. This arrangement implies that the teacher and the lesson are centre of
learning processes. This setup is appropriate if the lesson is being presented in a
lecture mode. Although the teacher has access to any part of the room the students are
limited to communicate among themselves. In this setup the teacher arrange walk
ways for easy movements (for the teacher and students too) but the desks should not
be too far apart. In the front the teacher and his/her table should be out of way and not
blocking students view of the chalkboard or materials; and/or interfering with
learning activities taking place at the front of the classroom.
The teacher can rearrange the traditional setup to enhance instruction depending on
the size of the room, number of students in the classroom, availability and types of
desks in the classroom. In face to face style students sit facing each other; for
cooperative learning use off-set style whereby three or four students sit around

arranged tables together (in form of a circle or squire) forming a learning group; and
for collaborative learning use seminar style where a large number of students sit in
desks arranged in U-shape, squire or circle.
12.3.3 Setting classroom rules and procedures
A classroom, like a society, needs rules and procedures to function properly. A
classroom devoid of rules becomes chaotic. So, in classroom management the teacher
has to establish and enforce rules and procedures to have an effective learning
environment. Rules focus on expected standards of behaviour while procedures
indicate the expected routine of specific activities in the classroom. The objectives of
rules and procedures are for classroom as a group to function smoothly with the aim
of achieving something. Rules and procedures pre-describe how, where, who and
when one is expected to function in the classroom. Very rarely do rules change but
procedures can and do change. To appreciate their significance in determine learning
atmosphere just imaging a school/classroom without rules and procedures where
anything goes at anytime.
Some of the rules relate to explicit behaviours such as fighting, making noise and
running in the classroom as unacceptable. Other rules relate to implicit behaviours
like when is one allowed to go out or what to do when feeling uneasy. So, in
managing the classroom the rules and procedures have to be clearly defined through
discussion with students. Rules on addressing implicit behaviours should have
specific procedures to be followed by all. For example, in many circumstances, a
student has first to raise his/her hands to draw teachers attention before asking a
The process of establishing the rules and procedures starts on the first day of the
academic year. They are planned to last for the whole year. It is advisable whenever
possible to involve students in establishing the rules and procedures of the classroom.
Students sometimes do not understand the functions of having classroom rules and
subsequently do not respect them, especially adolescents (DesSpain, 1996). In
discussing the rules the students are in position to think about the need for rules in the
classroom and consequently in their lives. It has been observed that where students
were involved in establishing rules they came up with similar as those intended by the
teacher; and in some circumstances they suggest tougher ones relative to the teachers

rules. Students are more likely to succeed when they understand the rules and have a
supportive teacher who leads by example (Savage and Savage, 2010). In the same
vein the consequences of breaking the rules and procedures should be stated clearly to
the students. In the discussion on rules and procedures the students and the teacher
can make a list of consequences for breaking any of the rules.
When establishing the rules and procedures, consideration should be on cognitive
space necessary for a learning environment (Everton, Retrieved 2011). They should
facilitate learning rather than undermining creativity and motivation to learn. The
rules and procedures have to be appropriate for the level of students development.
Rules for young children cannot be appropriate for high school students learning
environment, and the vice versa. Also the rules and procedures have to revolve around
the learning activities of students in the classroom.
In addressing this concern Elliot et al., (2000) based on several sources suggest the
following steps in formulating meaningful rules for classroom activities:

Define the class activity. Specific activities require specific rules e.g. rules for
laboratory have to be different from those for theatre class.


Determine the social behaviours necessary for activities.

(iii) Determine which activities need lists of rules.

(iv) Make a list of rules for the selected activities.

Be sure to formulate a set of general activity rules.

List down and exhaust all classroom learning activities

Santrock (2004) in citing Weinstein (1997) advances the following teaching strategies
for establishing classroom rules and procedures:

Rules and procedures should be reasonable and necessary. There must be good
reasons for having the rule. Avoid making unnecessary rules and the class
should have few rules so that students remember them.


Rules and procedures should be clear and comprehensible. They have to be

stated clearly and be specific on what they mean.

(iii) Rules and procedures should be consistent with instructional and learning
goals. Effective rules are those that teach students acceptable behaviours. In

preventing disruptive behaviour is to include course and behaviour norms and

expectations for students and instructors in the syllabi (McKinney, retrieved

Classroom rules and procedures should be consistent with school rules.


Zorigian (2009) adds that the rules should be stated in positive terms i.e.
students should know what the teacher wants them to do, not what s/he doesnt
them to do.


Although setting classroom rules at the beginning of school is significant it is not
enough for instruction. A teacher is responsible for maintaining a learning
environment throughout the year for the curriculum objectives to be realised. S/he has
to be aware that students as a group or as individuals sometimes go against
established rules that undermining learning environment due to developmental factors
and the prevailing emotional state.
The first aspect in maintaining classroom learning environment is through instruction.
In this aspect Everton (Retrieved 2011) based on some observations (especially those
of Kounin, 1970) cited the following strategies teachers use for eliciting high levels of
students work involvement and minimizing student misbehavior:

With-it-ness. The teacher has to communicate awareness of student behaviour i.e.

students consciously knowing that the teacher is aware of whatever they are doing.
The teacher is required at all times to monitor students responses and actions and
furthermore be in position to anticipate areas that the students will have problems
and have a plan on how to address them if need be. This is the most effective
strategy for preventing misbehavior. Remember prevention is better than cure in
classroom behaviour management. Students know that teachers who have eyes
in their back of the head are surely much more effective at maintaining order
because they pre-empt problems by being right there in potential trouble spots
before the trouble has a chance to start (unknown author, Copyright 2009-2011
classroom-management-success.org). This is normally accompanied by verbal
comment that does not interfere with flow of instruction. Kizlik (2010) adds that
you have monitor students carefully and frequently so that misbehavior is detected
early before it involves many students or becomes a serious disruption.

Overlapping. The teacher has to be capable of doing two things at a time. A

number of things can happen in the classroom at the same moment e.g. some
students concentrating on the instruction while a group is having a discussion. The
teacher has to stop group making discussion and return to instruction with
minimum interruption to flow of instruction.

Smoothness and momentum. This refers to moving in and out of activities

smoothly, with appropriately paced and sequenced instruction.

Group alerting. This refers to keeping attentive in a whole-group focus. Students

in the classroom have a sense that they are learning as a group rather than just as
single individuals.

Attending students needs. In monitoring students a teacher has to actively detect

students individual behavioral and learning needs. During instruction students
behaviour and expressions may imply a student is uncomfortable, confused and/or
mentally somewhere else. The teacher has to have an eye on such students and
make an appropriate decisions and actions.

Planned activities. Learning activities should be paced to make sure that students
have enough activities in relation to their level of attention span and interests.
Instruction should include a variety of activities and the way they are to be

12.4.1 Causes of misbehaviour in classrooms

With all planning and engaging students in creating learning environment; and close
monitoring by the teacher some sort of misbehaviour is highly likely to occur during
instructions. In discussing primary causes of behaviour one educationist pointed out
that all behaviour has purpose i.e. a well-behaved student behaves well for a reason,
likewise misbehaving student acts have a purpose(Copyright 2010 The Incredible Art
Department, retrieved 2011). So, before looking on how to control misbehaviour let
us look at some of causes of misbehaviour:


Attention. Some students feel that the only way they can get attention and noticed
is through misbehaving. These are students who constantly talk in the class or
make noise to draw attention. There are positive ways of getting attention but
misbehaving students draw attention by making other students and teacher

Power. Student in need for power argue a lot and refuse to follow rules. For them
following rules is taken as sign of weakness and admitting defeat. They feel more
power will be an answer to their problems. When as a teacher you feel threatened
by act of a student then know power seeking is behind the misbehaviour.

Revenge. In case of failure they want to regain power, attention and personal
satisfaction by being mean or violent against their fellow students or the teacher.
Sometimes revenge is expressed by writing in prohibited places, through
vandalism or/and beating other students.

Self-confidence. Students who lack confidence believe that they do not have the
ability to function in the classroom and as thus expect to fail. However, you find
that they have self-confidence in activities not connected to instruction. Such
students escape participating in classroom learning by engaging in play or other
disruptive acts. Teachers feel angry about this type of student since the teachers
are aware that the student is capable of participating in learning but decide to opt
out. Such students are very frustrating when encouraged to learn.

Feeling inadequate. Students who feel are bad, act bad. They rarely try new things
but rather engage in bragging, boasting or fighting. They believe they are
unpopular and cruel and as a result mistreat other students.

Boredom. Linsin (2009) pointed out that boredom is one of the leading causes of
misbehavior in the classroom. Some teachers present material in very small pace
and in monotonous tone that can make a student to sleep. Boredom makes a
student to engage in acts of misbehaviour like playing silly games and chatting
with other bored students.


Students personal problems. A student experiencing personal problems may

engage in misbehaviour. For example, a student may come from a family with
internal conflicts or problems that cause frustrations to the student; who in turn
releases it by acts of misbehaviour. Also, peer pressure can make a student
misbehave in the classroom as the mean of being accepted in the group.
Basing/zeroing on your experiences as a student, list other causes of

misbehaviour in the classroom. Also use aspects of the previous

material in this lecture to identify other causes not mentioned above.

12.4.2 Controlling classroom

The teacher is the leader in the classroom, and leadership means taking control of the
situation. To be successful in classroom the teacher must be in control. It is impossible
to manage your classroom if you are not in control. Control refers to being responsible
and having the power of taking charge of all activities in the classroom. Classroom
control is part and parcel of what teachers responsibility when with students in any

If one cannot control his/her class s/he does not fit to be a teacher

As implied in the previous sections of this lecture teaching style determines how the
teacher controls the classroom. According to Savage and Savage (2010) in the long
run it is better if a teacher empowers students and enables them to learn and gain selfcontrol and develop their own characters, since both the teacher and students gain. So,
effective classroom management begins with teaching students how to control
themselves. Also you have already realized the significance of establishing classroom
rules and procedures classroom management. Most of your control will relate to them.
Now we look at other significant components related to classroom control.
Effective teachers behaviour is very significant in classroom control. Teachers
behaviour is a concept that is very broad and also complex to describe. Here we only
explain it in segments for easy understanding and also as means of teachers
developing aspects of behaviors and characteristics that are effective in classroom
control. The list of effective behaviours identified here is not exhaustive in any


measure. However, you should bear in mind that anything you do (or you do not do)
and how you are perceived as a teacher by your students has a bearing on how you
control the classroom and consequently the learning environment (either positively or
negatively). Also be aware that effective behaviour can be developed by the individual
teacher as s/he progresses in his/her professional development.

As a teacher, you should practice skills that will minimize misbehaviour.

There are several things a teacher can do to establish positive environment before
entering the classroom. The first is the teacher believing that s/he has the capability to
have a complete effective classroom control. One must have self-confidence in
handling students and eventualities in the classroom. Also s/he must have more
proactive approach to classroom management by establishing clear rules,
expectations, and consequences to make improvements in academics and increased
instructional time (Zorigian, 2009). We have already discussed rules and procedures;
now let us look at teachers expectations and other aspects as related to teachers and
classroom control.
Teachers expectations should be clear to all students in the classroom. They need to
know from the first encounter the behaviour that you as their teacher expect of them.
McKinney (2011) strongly suggests discussing the norms and expectations on the first
day; telling students you expect them to act appropriately. The students should fully
be aware that the teacher expects them to be accountable for their academic
performance and actions in the classroom. Have a system in place to reinforce
expectations since it is unwise to believe that just having rules and expectation is
enough to control all students. So, clear teacher expectations from the beginning are
preventive and eliminate (or minimize) future possible problems.
Elliot et al., points out that as a teacher you should not cause any problems yourself

Being unfair. Avoid being unfair by treating all students equally. Show that you
respect all your students since those feeling they are not liked are more likely to
cause you problems. Treat each with respect that you want accorded to you as a

person. Avoid controlling the classroom on some preconceived view of certain


Being inconsistent. React to the similar situation in a similar manner. Adhere to

the established classroom procedures and regulations. To be effective in
classroom management it takes time. You need to be consistent in using
appropriate approaches when you start your profession as a teacher from the
first day with the classroom. Every day work based on the prescribed schedule
and before the entering the class know exactly what you are going to do at all

(iii) Being boring. You must be conversant with subject matter of your lesson and be
in position to deliver it in an interesting way.
(iv) Being hot tempered. Do not perceive all students actions as directed to you.
However, some of the students unacceptable actions may be directed to you
personally and you have to respond in a controlled manner. Savage and Savage
(2010) says a teacher has to remain calm and speak to students in a respective
way; not to act in anger or wrath, but deal with issue that occur in the classroom
with as much care and concern as possible.
Santrock (2004) in controlling the classroom effectively he suggests that:

The teacher should develop positive relationship with students. The students have
to sincerely believe that you genuinely care about them as individuals. So show
caring attitude.

Be a good communicator. This involves developing speaking skills (clarity in

speaking, being assertive, and avoiding to criticize, name calling, threatening and
moralizing); listening skills (active listening by paying careful attention to the
student when speaking and giving feedback in a competent manner); and
nonverbal skills (facial expressions and eye communication, touch, observing
personal space appropriate use of silence).

Savage and Savage (2010) add that:


Discourage misbehaviour, encourage desired behaviour. Only giving attention to

acts of misbehaviour make students realize that attention is gained by such acts.
Dave Scott (2008) observed that in many classrooms students who conform
receive little or no recognition for their efforts, while students who challenge the
rules and expectations receive endless sanctions and when they manage to control
their behaviour and conform they also receive a lot of praises and rewards.
Recognizing desired behaviour when it occurs motivates a student to engage in
that specific behaviour.

Create an environment where students care about and respect one another.

Exhibit management qualities. The teacher has to lead by example by being a

warm demander; being a decision maker; holding high standards and be successoriented; and creating a predictable.

Carolyn Everton (Retrieved 2011) recommends that:

Create motivational climate. A teacher has to create a climate that encourages

students to do their best. S/he has to be excited by students work; demonstrate
that their work has value and worthwhile to their expectations and interests; and
that effort, time, energy and creativity used by students in their work holds value
at all times. Remember that you can have a well-organized classroom with no
occurrence of misbehaviour and yet little learning taking place. The students need
to be motivated to engage in and complete the task at hand for effective learning.
In motivating students a teacher need to identify what motivates each student.

12.4.3 Using punishment and rewards as means of controlling classroom

A teacher cannot avoid using punishment and rewards in controlling classroom since
misbehaviours are to occur frequently. Punishment in this context is taken as aversive
stimuli to the student. You need to determine which types of punishment are allowed
in your country. In this part it is taken in the context of controlling the students
behaviours in the classroom. Praise can be stimuli that are pleasant to the students or
as reinforcement based on operant conditioning perspectives.


Below are some suggestions on using punishment and praises in classroom

(a) Scott (2008) points out the need to maintain the right balance. One way of
managing behaviour is to punish for the unacceptable behaviours and reward the
desired ones. In many occasions teachers readily and consistently use punishment
whenever misbehavior occurs. Teachers must maintain an effective balance by
being especially vigilant about continuing to reward those students who are
consistently well behaved. In addressing balance, rewards and punishment have
to be hierarchal and distributed fairly and constantly.
(b) For Effective praise. Kizlik (2010) suggests the following guidelines. The praise:

Is delivered contingently upon student performance of desirable behaviours or

genuine accomplishment.

Specifies the praiseworthy aspects of the students accomplishments

Is expressed sincerely, showing spontaneity, variety and other non-verbal signs of


Is given for genuine effort, progress. Or accomplishment which are judged

according to standards appropriate to the individual.

Provides information to students about their competence or the value of their


Attributes student success to effort and ability, implying that similar success can
be expected in the future.

Encourages students to appreciate their accomplishments for the effort they

expend and their personal gratification.

(c) As regards punishment, Kizlik points out that:

Frequent use of punishment is associated with poor classroom management and

should be avoided.

When used the punishment should be related logically to the misbehaviour.

Milder punishments are often as effective as more intense forms and do not
arouse as much negative emotion.




As we have already seen in classroom management, prevention is always better than

cure. However, since students are human beings and they vary so much some
misbehavior will occur at times. I read somewhere that an effective teacher plans for
the best environment but is always prepared for the worst. So, in this section we look
at what to do in controlling the classroom learning atmosphere when misbehavior
Kizlik (2010) points out that most inappropriate behaviour that is not seriously
disruptive can be managed by relative simple procedures that prevent escalation. Most
of the minor problems you to deal with daily involve talking without order, making
noise, mentally wandering and/or out-of-seat behaviour.

However, you have to

remember that some of the minor misbehaviors are caused by teachers themselves by
boring the students or having the transition between activities being too long. The
control procedures for minor issues include:

Act to stop the appropriate behaviour so as not to interrupt the instruction activity.
Also handling it promptly keeps it from continuing and spreading to others.

Moving closer to the student misbehaving, making an eye contact and giving a
nonverbal signal to stop the disruptive behaviour.

Calling a students name or giving a short verbal instruction to stop behaviour.

In minor issues always try not to interfere with the flow of instruction. However, some
of the misbehaviours are quite serious needing a stronger intervention. The first thing
to do is to stop continuing with instruction whenever classroom rules are being broken
until you have the attention of the students misbehaving. In citing Everton et al (2003)
Santrock (2004) suggests the following moderate interventions:

Withhold a privilege or desired activity.

Isolate or remove the students misbehaving.

Impose a penalty or detention.

In dealing with students who are really disruptive McKinney (2010) suggests to do the

Walk over to the talkative students and conduct class standing next to them
whenever possible.



Stop whatever you are doing and wait as long as it takes for the students to
quiet down while you look at the disruptive students. Then begin again.


Note who the disruptive students are and speak to them after class or ask them
to your office hours.


Discuss the disruptive behaviour in private outside of class with some of the
non-disruptive students.


Sometimes break the students into groups for some work. Call on these and
other students to come forward and lead the discussion.


Consider changing the structure of the whole class.


Spend some time in class discussing the whole situation openly and honestly
with all students. They should know that their disruptive behavior does not fit
your criteria for participation in learning and that they are being unfair to other


Talk to your colleagues on how to handle the situation

For students involved in very serious offences like aggression and bullying use the
school guidelines.

Behaviour modification

Making students to cooperate

Collaboration with parents


We looked at classroom management in different aspects namely

complexities of classroom, instruction and management; steps involved
in establishing classrooms and procedures; maintaining and controlling
classroom; causes of misbehaviour and strategies of dealing with them.


Elaborate the summary with your own words and then go through the
lecture to verify your accurateness










Developmental Psychology Monographs, 4(1, pt 2) 1-103.

DesSpain, T. S., (1996). Making Classroom Rules. An Educators
Reference Desk Lesson Plan, University of North Texas.
Doswell, Toni (2007) classroom management
Elliot, Stephen N., Kractochwill, Thomas R., Cook, Joan L. & Travers,
John F. (2000). Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching,
Effective Learning. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York,
USA. Chapter 10.
Everton, C. M. (Retrieved 2011) Classroom Management- Creating a
learning Environment, Setting Expectations, Motivational Climate,
Maintaining a Learning Environment, When problems Occur.
Kizlik, B. (2010). Classroom Management, Management of Student
Conduct, Effective Praise Guidelines, and a Few Things to Know
About ESOL Thrown in for Good Measure. ADPRIMA
Linsin, M. (2009). Why Boredom is a Leading Cause of Misbehaviour
and How to Cure It In Two Minutes. Smart Classroom
Marshall, M. (2003). Curriculum, Instruction, Classroom Management,
and Discipline, http://www.MarvinMarshal.com
Marshall, H.H. & Weinstein, R.S. (1984). Classroom Factors Affecting
Students Self-Evaluations: An Interaction Model. Review of
Educational Research, 54, 301-325.
McKinney, K. (2011). Dealing with Disruptive Behaviour in the
Classroom. Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology,
Instructional Technology & Development Centre, Normal Illinois
E-mail: teachtech@ilstu.edu
Phelan, T. W. (2005). Teaching Styles and Classroom Management.
Parent Magic Newsletter, Special Teachers Edition. For articles
like this visit http:www.parentmagic.com/
Santrock, John W. (2004). Educational Psychology, (2nd Edition).

McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, USA. Chapter 16

Savage, T. & Savage, M. (2010). Successful Classroom Management
and Discipline: teaching self-control and responsibility (3rd Ed.).
Los Angeles: SAGE.
Scott, D. (2008). Rewards and punishment in the classroom: the right
balance. E-bulletins.

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