BENITTA LEARNING PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION COURSE

Log In to Connect With Members
View and follow other members, leave comments & more.

Module 2: Understanding Student Development And Diversity

Student Development


This module differentiates between learning and development and outlines ways that students' development is relevant to teachers. You will be introduced to different developmental models such as the staircase model and the kaleidoscope model of development. Student Development - Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate between learning and development
  • List ways that students development is relevant to teachers
  • List ways that developmental trends differ from each other
  • Differentiate between the "staircase" and the "kaleidoscope" model of development




Introduction to Moral Development


Moral development: forming a sense of rights and responsibilities Morality is a system of beliefs about what is right and good compared to what is wrong or bad. Moral development refers to changes in moral beliefs as a person grows older and gains maturity. Moral beliefs are related to, but not identical with, moral behaviour: it is possible to know the right thing to do, but not actually do it. It is also not the same as knowledge of social conventions, which are arbitrary customs needed for the smooth operation of society. Social conventions may have a moral element, but they have a primarily practical purpose. Example: Conventionally, in a particular country, motor vehicles all keep to the same side of the street. The convention allows for smooth, accident-free flow of traffic. But following the convention also has a moral element, because an individual who chooses to drive on the wrong side of the street can cause injuries or even death. In this sense, choosing the wrong side of the street is wrong morally, though the choice is also unconventional. When it comes to school, moral choices are not restricted to occasional dramatic incidents, but are woven into most aspects of classroom life. Example: Imagine a teacher teaching reading to a group, where the students are taking turns to read aloud. Should the teacher give everyone the same amount of time to read, even though some might benefit from additional time? Should the teacher give more time to the students who need extra help, even if doing so bores classmates and deprives others of equal shares of “floor time”? Which option is fairer, and which is more considerate? Simple dilemmas like this happen every day at all school levels simply because students are diverse, and because class time and a teacher’s energy are finite. Embedded in this rather ordinary example are moral themes about fairness or justice, on the one hand, and about consideration or care on the other. It is important to keep both themes in mind when thinking about how students develop beliefs about right or wrong. Students and teachers need both forms of morality. In the rest of this module, a major example of each type of moral developmental theory is explained. Morality of Justice: A morality of justice is about human rights or more specifically, about respect for fairness, impartiality, equality, and individuals’ independence. Morality of Care: A morality of justice is about human rights or more specifically, about respect for fairness, impartiality, equality, and individuals’ independence.




Lawrence Kohlberg's Theory


One of the best-known explanations of how morality of justice develops was developed by Lawrence Kohlberg and his associates (Kohlberg, Levine, & Hewer, 1983; Power, Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1991). Using a stage model similar to Piaget’s, Kohlberg proposed six stages of moral development, grouped into three levels. Individuals experience the stages universally and in sequence as they form beliefs about justice. He named the levels:

  1. Preconventional
  2. Conventional
  3. Postconventional
Kohlberg's moral development - The levels and stages are summarised in the table below. Preconventional justice: obedience and mutual advantage The preconventional level of moral development basically coincides with the preschool period and with Piaget’s preoperational period of thinking. At this age the child is still relatively self-centred and insensitive to the moral effects of actions on others. The result is a somewhat short-sighted orientation to morality. Initially (Kohlberg’s Stage 1), the child adopts an ethics of obedience and punishment - a sort of “morality of keeping out of trouble”. The rightness and wrongness of actions is determined by whether actions are rewarded or punished by authorities such as parents or teachers. Example: If helping yourself to a cookie brings affectionate smiles from adults, then taking the cookie is considered morally “good”. If it brings scolding instead, then it is morally “bad”. The child does not think about why an action might be praised or scolded; in fact, says Kohlberg, he would be incapable at Stage 1 of considering the reasons even if adults offered them. Eventually the child learns not only to respond to positive consequences, but also learns how to produce them by exchanging favours with others. This new ability creates Stage 2, an ethics of market exchange. At this stage the morally “good” action is one that favours not only the child, but another person directly involved. A “bad” action is one that lacks this reciprocity. If trading the sandwich from your lunch for the cookies in your friend’s lunch is mutually agreeable, then the trade is morally good; otherwise it is not. This perspective introduces a type of fairness into the child’s thinking for the first time. However, introducing a type of fairness into the child’s thinking for the first time still ignores the larger context of actions - the effects on people not present or directly involved. In Stage 2, for example, it would also be considered morally “good” to pay a classmate to do another student's homework - or even to avoid bullying or to provide sexual favours - provided that both parties regard the arrangement as being fair. But it still ignores the larger context of actions - the effects on people not present or directly involved. In Stage 2, for example, it would also be considered morally “good” to pay a classmate to do another student's homework - or even to avoid bullying or to provide sexual favours - provided that both parties regard the arrangement as being fair. Conventional justice: conformity to peers and society As children move into the school years, their lives expand to include a larger number and range of peers and (eventually) of the community as a whole. The change leads to conventional morality, which are beliefs based on what this larger array of people agree on - hence Kohlberg’s use of the term “conventional”. At first, in Stage 3, the child’s reference group are immediate peers, so Stage 3 is sometimes called the ethics of peer opinion. If peers believe, for example, that it is morally good to behave politely with as many people as possible, then the child is likely to agree with the group and to regard politeness as not merely an arbitrary social convention, but a moral “good”. This approach to moral belief is a bit more stable than the approach in Stage 2, because the child is taking into account the reactions not just of one other person, but of many. But it can still lead astray if the group settles on beliefs that adults consider morally wrong, like “Shop lifting for candy bars is fun and desirable.” Eventually, as the child becomes a youth and the social world expands even more, he acquires even larger numbers of peers and friends. He is therefore more likely to encounter disagreements about ethical issues and beliefs. Resolving the complexities leads to Stage 4, the ethics of law and order, in which the young person increasingly frames moral beliefs in terms of what the majority of society believes. Now, an action is morally good if it is legal or at least customarily approved by most people, including people whom the youth does not know personally. This attitude leads to an even more stable set of principles than in the previous stage, though it is still not immune from ethical mistakes. Example: A community or society may agree that people of a certain race should be treated with deliberate disrespect or that a factory owner is entitled to dump waste water into a commonly shared lake or river. To develop ethical principles that reliably avoid mistakes like these require further stages of moral development. Postconventional justice: social contract and universal principles As a person becomes able to think abstractly (or “formally”, in Piaget’s sense), ethical beliefs shift from acceptance of what the community does believe to the process by which community beliefs are formed. The new focus constitutes Stage 5, the ethics of social contract. Now an action, belief, or practice is morally good if it has been created through fair, democratic processes that respect the rights of the people affected. Example: Consider the laws in some countries that require motorcyclists to wear helmets. In what sense are the laws about this behaviour ethical? Was it created by consulting with and gaining the consent of the relevant people? Were cyclists consulted and did they give consent? How about doctors or the cyclists' families? Reasonable, thoughtful individuals disagree about how thoroughly and fairly these consultation processes should be. In focusing on the processes by which the law was created, however, individuals are thinking according to Stage 5, the ethics of social contract, regardless of the position they take about wearing helmets. In this sense, beliefs on both sides of a debate about an issue can sometimes be morally sound even if they contradict each other. Paying attention to due process certainly seems like it should help to avoid mindless conformity to conventional moral beliefs. As an ethical strategy, though, it too can sometimes fail. The problem is that an ethics of social contract places more faith in democratic process than the process sometimes deserves, and does not pay enough attention to the content of what gets decided. Example: In principle (and occasionally in practice), a society could decide democratically to kill off every member of a racial minority but would deciding this by due process make it ethical? The realisation that ethical means can sometimes serve unethical ends leads some individuals toward Stage 6, the ethics of self-chosen, universal principles. At this final stage, the morally good action is based on personally held principles that apply both to the person’s immediate life as well as to the larger community and society. The universal principles may include a belief in democratic due process (Stage 5 ethics), but also other principles, such as a belief in the dignity of all human life or the sacredness of the natural environment. At Stage 6, the universal principles will guide a person’s beliefs even if the principles mean disagreeing occasionally with what is customary (Stage 4) or even with what is legal (Stage 5). As logical as they sound, Kohlberg’s stages of moral justice are not sufficient for understanding the development of moral beliefs. To see why, suppose that a teacher has a student who asks for an extension of the deadline for an assignment. The justice orientation of Kohlberg’s theory would prompt the teacher to consider issues of whether granting the request is fair: Would the late student be able to put more effort into the assignment than other students? Would the extension place a difficult demand on the teacher, since she would have less time to mark the assignments? These are important considerations related to the rights of students and the teacher. In addition to these, however, are considerations to do with the responsibilities that the teacher and the requesting student have for each other and for others: Does the student have a valid personal reason for the assignment being late? Will the assignment lose its educational value if the student has to turn it in prematurely? These latter questions have less to do with fairness and rights, and more to do with taking care of and responsibility for students. They require a framework different from Kohlberg’s to be understood fully. The next unit deals with a different type of framework from Carol Gilligan.




Carol Gilligan's Theory


Carol Gilligan developed a framework where the ideas in it centre on a morality of care, or system of beliefs about human responsibilities, care, and consideration for others. Gilligan proposed three moral positions that represent different extents of ethical care. nlike Kohlberg, Piaget, or Erikson, she does not claim that the positions form a strictly developmental sequence, but only that they can be ranked hierarchically according to their depth or subtlety. In this respect her theory is “semi-developmental” in a way similar to Maslow’s theory of motivation (Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Taylor, Gilligan, & Sullivan, 1995). The table below summarises the three moral positions from Gilligan’s theory. Position 1: Caring as survival The most basic kind of caring is a survival orientation, in which a person is concerned primarily with his or her own welfare. Example: If a teenage girl with this ethical position is wondering whether to get an abortion she will be concerned entirely with the effects of the abortion on herself. The morally good choice will be whatever creates the least stress for herself and that disrupts her own life the least. Responsibilities to others (the baby, the father, or her family) play little or no part in her thinking. As a moral position, a survival orientation is obviously not satisfactory for classrooms on a widespread scale. If every student only looked out for himself, classroom life might become rather unpleasant for everyone. Nonetheless, there are situations in which focusing primarily on yourself is both a sign of good mental health and relevant to teachers. Example: For a child who has been bullied at school or sexually abused at home, it is both healthy and morally desirable to speak out about how bullying or abuse has affected the victim. Doing so means essentially looking out for the victim’s own needs at the expense of others’ needs, including the bully’s or abuser’s. Speaking out, in this case, requires a survival orientation and is healthy because the child is taking caring of herself. Position 2: Conventional caring A more subtle moral position is caring for others, in which a person is concerned about others’ happiness and welfare, and about reconciling or integrating others’ needs where they conflict with each other. Example: In considering an abortion the teenager at this position would think primarily about what other people prefer. Do the father, her parents, and/or her doctor want her to keep the child? The morally good choice becomes whatever will please others the best. This position is more demanding than Position 1, ethically and intellectually, because it requires coordinating several persons’ needs and values. But it is often morally insufficient because it ignores one crucial person: the self. In classrooms, students who operate from Position 2 can be very desirable in ways. They can be: - Eager to please - Considerate - Good at fitting in - Good at working cooperatively with others As these qualities are usually welcome in a busy classroom, teachers can be tempted to reward students for developing and using them. The problem with rewarding Position 2 ethics, however, is that doing so neglects the student’s development - his or her own academic and personal goals or values. Sooner or later, personal goals, values, and identity need attention and care, and educators have a responsibility for assisting students to discover and clarify them. In classrooms, integrated caring is most likely to surface whenever teachers give students wide, sustained freedom to make choices. If students have little flexibility about their actions, there is little room for considering anyone’s needs or values, whether their own or others’. Example: If the teacher says simply: “Do the homework on page 50 and turn it in tomorrow morning”, then the main issue becomes compliance, not moral choice. But suppose instead that she says something like this: “Over the next two months, figure out an inquiry project about the use of water resources in our town. Organise it any way you want-talk to people, read widely about it, and share it with the class in a way that all of us, including yourself, will find meaningful.” An assignment like the previous example poses moral challenges that are not only educational, but also moral, since it requires students to make value judgments. Why? 1. Students must decide what aspect of the topic really matters to them. Such a decision is partly a matter of personal values. 2. Students have to consider how to make the topic meaningful or important to others in the class. 3. As the time line for completion is relatively far in the future, students may have to weigh personal priorities (like spending time with friends or family) against educational priorities (working on the assignment a bit more on the weekend). As one might suspect, some students might have trouble making good choices when given this sort of freedom - and their teachers might therefore be cautious about giving such an assignment. But the difficulties in making choices are part of Gilligan’s point: integrated caring is indeed more demanding than the caring based only on survival or on consideration of others. Not all students may be ready for it.




Character Education


Character development: Integrating ethical understanding, care, and action The theories described so far all offer frameworks for understanding how children grow into youth and adults. Those by Maslow, Kohlberg, and Gilligan are more specific than the one by Erikson in that they focus on the development of understanding about ethics. From a teacher's point of view, though, the theories are all limited in two ways. One problem is that they focus primarily on cognition - on what children think about ethical issues - more than on emotions and actions. The other is that they say little about how to encourage ethical development. Encouragement is part of teachers' jobs, and doing it well requires understanding not only what students know about ethics, but also how they feel about it and what ethical actions they are actually prepared to take. Many educators have recognised these educational needs, and a number of them have therefore developed practical programs that integrate ethical understanding, care and action. As a group the programs are often called character education, though individual programs have a variety of specific names: moral dilemma education, integrative ethical education, social competence education, and many more. Details of the programs vary, but they all combine a focus on ethical knowledge with attention to ethical feelings and actions (Elkind & Sweet, 2004; Berkowitz & Bier, 2006; Narvaez, 2010). Character education programs go well beyond just teaching students to obey ethical rules, such as “Always tell the whole truth” or “Always do what the teacher tells you to do.” Such rules require very little thinking on the part of the student, and there are usually occasions in which a rule that is supposedly universal needs to be modified, or disobeyed. Example: If telling the whole truth might hurt someone's feelings, it might sometimes be more considerate, and therefore more ethical, to soften the truth a bit, or even to say nothing at all. Instead, character education is about inviting students to think about the broad questions of his or her life, such as:

  • What kind of person should I be?
  • How should I live my life?
Thoughtful answers to such broad questions help to answer a host of more specific questions that have ethical implications, such as:
  • Should I listen to the teacher right now, even if she is a bit boring, or just tune out?
  • Should I offer to help my friend with the homework she is struggling with, or hold back so that learns to do it herself?
Most of the time, there is not enough time to reason about questions like these deliberately or consciously. Responses have to become intuitive, automatic, and embodied - meaning that they have to be based in fairly immediate emotional responses (Narvaez, 2009). The goal of character education is to develop students' capacities to respond to daily ethical choices not only consciously and cognitively, but also intuitively and emotionally. To the extent that this goal is met, students can indeed live a good, ethically responsible life. School wide programs of character education In the most comprehensive approaches to character education, an entire school commits itself to developing students' ethical character, despite the immense diversity among students (Minow, Schweder, & Markus, 2008). All members of the staff - not just teachers and administrators, but also custodians, and educational assistants - focus on developing positive relationships with students. The underlying theme that develops is one of cooperation and mutual care, not competition. Fairness, respect and honesty pervade class and school activities; discipline, for example, focuses on solving conflicts between students and between students and teachers, rather than on rewarding obedience or punishing wrong-doers. This approach requires significant reliance on democratic meetings and discussions, both in classrooms and wherever else groups work together in school. Classroom programs of character education Even if a teacher is teaching character education simply within her own classroom, there are many strategies available. The goal in this case is to establish the classroom as a place where everyone feels included, and where everyone treats everyone else with civility and respect. Conflicts and disagreements may still occur, but in a caring community they can be resolved without undue anger or hostility. Here are a few strategies towards developing this type of classroom:
  • Clasroom Meetings
    • Use class meetings to decide on as many important matters as possible - such as the expected rules of behaviour, important classroom activities, or ongoing disagreements.
  • Collaboration
    • Try arranging for students to collaborate on significant projects and tasks.
  • "Buddies Program" program
    • Arrange a “Buddies” program in which students of different class levels work together on a significant task. Older students can sometimes assist younger students by reading to them, by listening to them read, or both. A reading buddies program can also be helpful to an older student who may be having trouble with reading.
  • Conflict Resolution
    • Familiarise students with conflict resolution strategies, and practice using them when needed.
  • Curricullum
    • Many areas of curriculum lend themselves to discussions about ethical issues. Obvious examples are certain novels, short stories, and historical events. But ethical issues lurk elsewhere as well. Teaching nutrition, for example, can raise issues about the humane treatment of animals that will be slaughtered for food, and about the ethical acceptability of using large amount of grains to feed animals even though many people in the world do not have enough to eat.
  • Service Learning Projects
    • Service learning projects can be very helpful in highlighting issues of social justice. Planning, working at and reflecting about a local soup kitchen, tutoring students from low-income families, performing simple repairs on homes in need: projects like these broaden knowledge of society and of the needs of its citizens.




Moral Development - Lesson Summary


The main points from this module are as follows: Morality is a system of beliefs about what is right and good compared to what is wrong or bad. Moral development refers to changes in moral beliefs as a person grows older and gains maturity. A morality of justice is about human rights or more specifically, about respect for fairness, impartiality, equality, and individuals’ independence. A morality of care is about human responsibilities or more specifically, about caring for others, showing consideration for individuals’ needs, and interdependence among individuals. One of the best-known explanations of how morality of justice develops was developed by Lawrence Kohlberg and his associates. Using a stage model similar to Piaget’s, Kohlberg proposed six stages of moral development, grouped into three levels: Preconventional Conventional Postconventional Carol Gilligan developed a framework where the ideas in it centre on a morality of care, or system of beliefs about human responsibilities, care, and consideration for others. The three moral positions from Gilligan’s theory are: 1. Survival orientation 2. Conventional care 3. Integrated care The goal of character education is to develop students' capacities to respond to daily ethical choices not only consciously and cognitively, but also intuitively and emotionally. To the extent that this goal is met, students can indeed live a good, ethically responsible life.




Cognitive Development - Learning Outcomes


After completing this module you will be able to:

  • Name the famous Swiss psychologist responsible for developing a four stage cognitive development theory
  • Outline the four stages of Piaget's theory of cognitive development
  • Identify the age when each of Piaget's stages occur
  • Define 'stability object permanence'
  • Outline the importance of dramatic play during the preoperational stage
  • List two ways that concrete operational thinking differs from preoperational thinking
  • Provide everyday examples of reversibility and decentration
Jean Piaget’s Theory and Cognitive Development ognition refers to thinking and memory processes, and cognitive development refers to long-term changes in these processes. One of the most widely known perspectives about cognitive development is the cognitive stage theory of a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget. Piaget created and studied an account of how children and youth gradually become able to think logically and scientifically. His theory is especially popular among educators. Piaget was a psychological constructivist. In his view, learning occurs through the interplay of assimilation (adjusting new experiences to fit prior concepts) and accommodation (adjusting concepts to fit new experiences). The to-and-fro of these two processes leads not only to short-term learning but also to long-term developmental change. The long-term developments are really the main focus of Piaget’s cognitive theory. After observing children closely, Piaget proposed that cognition developed through distinct stages from birth through to the end of adolescence. By stages he meant a sequence of thinking patterns with four key features: 1.The stages always happen in the same order. 2. No stage is ever skipped. 3. Each stage is a significant transformation of the stage before it. 4. Each later stage incorporated the earlier stages into itself. Basically this is the “staircase” model of development mentioned in an earlier topic. Piaget proposed four major stages of cognitive development. Each stage is correlated approximately with an age period of childhood. The Sensorimotor Stage In Piaget’s theory, the sensorimotor stage is birth to age two. It is defined as the period when infants “think” by means of their senses and motor actions. As every new parent will attest, infants continually touch, manipulate, look, listen to, and even bite and chew objects. According to Piaget, these actions allow them to learn about the world and are crucial to their early cognitive development. The infant’s actions allow the child to represent (or construct simple concepts of) objects and events. A toy animal may be just a confusing array of sensations at first, but by looking, feeling, and manipulating it repeatedly, the child gradually organises her sensations and actions into a stable concept. The representation acquires a permanence lacking in the individual experiences of the object, which are constantly changing. As the representation is stable, the child “knows”, or at least believes, that toy animal exists even if the actual toy animal is temporarily out of sight. In one experiment, Piaget simply hid an object (like a toy animal) under a blanket. He found that doing so consistently prompts older infants (18-24 months) to search for the object, but fails to prompt younger infants (less than six months) to do so. “Something” motivates the search by the older infant even without the benefit of much language, and the “something” is presumed to be a permanent concept or representation of the object. The Preoperational Stage In the preoperational stage from age two to seven, children use their new ability to represent objects in a wide variety of activities, but they do not yet do it in ways that are organised or fully logical. One of the most obvious examples of this kind of cognition is dramatic play, the improvised make-believe of preschool children . Example: Ashley holds a plastic banana to her ear and says: “Hello, Mom? Can you be sure to bring me my baby doll? OK!” Then she hangs up the banana and pours tea for Jeremy into an invisible cup. Jeremy giggles at the sight of all of this and exclaims: “Ringing! Oh Ashley, the phone is ringing again! You better answer it.” And on it goes. In a way, children immersed in make-believe play seem “mentally insane” as they do not appear to be thinking realistically. But they are not truly insane because they have not really taken leave of their senses. At some level, Ashley and Jeremy always know that the banana is still a banana and not really a telephone; they are merely representing it as a telephone. They are thinking on two levels at once - - one imaginative and - the other realistic. This dual processing of experience makes dramatic play an early example of metacognition, or reflecting on and monitoring of thinking itself. Metacognition is a highly desirable skill for success in school, one that teachers often encourage (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; Paley, 2005). Partly for this reason, teachers of young children (both pre-school and early school years) often make time and space in their classrooms for dramatic play, and sometimes even participate in it themselves to help develop the play further. The Concrete Operational Stage As children continue into formal schooling, they become able to represent ideas and events more flexibly and logically. Their rules of thinking still seem very basic by adult standards and usually operate unconsciously. These rules allow children to solve problems more systematically than before, and children at this stage can be successful with many academic tasks. In the concrete operational stage from age seven to eleven a child may unconsciously follow the rule: “If nothing is added or taken away, then the amount of something stays the same.” This simple principle helps children to understand certain arithmetic tasks, such as in adding or subtracting zero from a number, as well as to do certain classroom science experiments, such as ones involving judgments of the amounts of liquids when mixed. Piaget called this period the concrete operational stage because children mentally “operate” on concrete objects and events. They are not yet able, however, to operate (or think) systematically about representations of objects or events. Manipulating representations is a more abstract skill that develops later, during adolescence. Concrete operational thinking differs from preoperational thinking in two ways: 1. Reversibility 2. Decentration Each of these elements renders children more skilled as students. 1) Reversibility is the ability to think about the steps of a process in any order. Example (reversibility): Imagine a simple science experiment, such as one that explores why objects sink or float by having a child place an assortment of objects in a basin of water. Both the preoperational and concrete operational child can recall and describe the steps in this experiment, but only the concrete operational child can recall them in any order. This skill is very helpful on any task involving multiple steps - a common feature of tasks in the classroom. Example (reversibility): In teaching new vocabulary from a story, a teacher might tell students: “First make a list of words in the story that you do not know" . "Then find and write down their definitions". These directions involve repeatedly remembering to move back and forth between a second step and a first "Finally, get a friend to test you on your list”. This is a task that concrete operational students find easy, but that preoperational children often forget to do or find confusing. If the younger children are to do this task reliably, they may need external prompts, such as having the teacher remind them periodically to go back to the story to look for more unknown words. 2) The other new feature of thinking during the concrete operational stage is decentration. This is the ability to focus on more than one feature of a problem at a time. There are hints of decentration in preschool children’s dramatic play, which requires being aware on two levels at once - knowing that a banana can be both a banana and a “telephone”. But the decentration of the concrete operational stage is more deliberate and conscious than pre-schoolers’ make-believe. Now the child can attend to two things at once quite purposely. Example (decentration): Suppose a teacher gives students a sheet with an assortment of subtraction problems on it, and ask them to do this: “Find all of the problems that involve two-digit subtraction and borrowing’ from the next column. Circle and solve only those problems.” Following these instructions is quite possible for a concrete operational student because the student can attend to the two subtasks simultaneously: finding the two-digit problems and identifying which actually involve borrowing. In real classroom tasks, reversibility and decentration often happen together simultaneously. A well-known example of joint presence is Piaget’s experiments with conservation, the belief that an amount or quantity stays the same even if it changes apparent size or shape. Overall, the development of concrete operational skills support students in doing many basic academic tasks. In a sense these types of skills make ordinary day-to-day schoolwork possible. Example (reversibility and decentration): Imagine two identical balls made of clay. Any child, whether preoperational or concrete operational, will agree that the two balls have the same amount of clay in them simply because they look the same. But if one ball is squished into a long, thin “hot dog”, the preoperational child is likely to say that the amount of that ball has changed - either because it is longer or because it is thinner, but at any rate because it now looks different. The concrete operational child will not make this mistake, thanks to new cognitive skills of reversibility and decentration: for him or her, the amount is the same because “you could squish it back into a ball again” (reversibility) and because “it may be longer, but it is also thinner” (decentration). Piaget would say the concrete operational child “has conservation of quantity”. The Formal Operational Stage In the last of the Piagetian stages, the child, aged 11 and beyond, becomes able to reason not only about tangible objects and events, but also about hypothetical or abstract ones. Hence it has the name formal operational stage - the period when the individual can “operate” on “forms” or representations. With students at this level, the teacher can pose hypothetical problems: What if the world had never discovered oil? What if the first European explorers had settled first in California instead of on the East Coast of the United States? To answer such questions, students must use hypothetical reasoning, meaning that they must manipulate ideas that vary in several ways at once, and do so entirely in their minds. The hypothetical reasoning that concerned Piaget primarily involved scientific problems. His studies of formal operational thinking therefore often look like problems that teachers pose in science classes with older students. Example: A student is presented with a simple pendulum, to which different amounts of weight can be hung (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958). The experimenter asks: “What determines how fast the pendulum swings: the length of the string holding it, the weight attached to it, or the distance that it is pulled to the side?” The hypothetical reasoning that concerned Piaget requires facility at manipulating mental representations of the relevant objects and actions. These are precisely the skills that defines formal operations. As one might suspect, students with an ability to think hypothetically have an advantage in many kinds of school work: by definition, they require relatively few “props” to solve problems. The student is not allowed to solve this problem by trial-and-error using the materials, but must reason a way to the solution mentally. To do so systematically, she must imagine varying each factor separately, while also imagining the other factors that are held constant. In this sense they can in principle be more self-directed than students who rely only on concrete operations - certainly a desirable quality in the opinion of most teachers. It must be noted that formal operational thinking is desirable but not sufficient for school success, and that it is far from being the only way that students achieve educational success. Formal thinking skills do not insure that a student is motivated or well-behaved, or does it guarantee other desirable skills, such as ability at sports, music or art. The fourth stage in Piaget’s theory is really about a particular kind of formal thinking, the kind needed to solve scientific problems and devise scientific experiments. Since many people do not normally deal with such problems in the normal course of their lives, it should be no surprise that research finds that many people never achieve or use formal thinking fully or consistently, or that they use it only in selected areas with which they are very familiar (Case & Okomato, 1996). For teachers, the limitations of Piaget's ideas suggest a need for additional theories about development - ones that focus more directly on the social and interpersonal issues of childhood and adolescence.




Cognitive Development - Lesson Summary


One of the most widely known perspectives about cognitive development is the cognitive stage theory of a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget. Piaget's stages of Cognitive Development: In Piaget’s theory, the sensorimotor stage is birth to age two. It is defined as the period when infants “think” by means of their senses and motor actions. Stability object permanence is a belief that objects exist whether or not they are actually present and it is a major achievement of sensorimotor development. In the preoperational stage from age two to seven, children use their new ability to represent objects in a wide variety of activities, but they do not yet do it in ways that are organised or fully logical. One of the most obvious examples of this kind of cognition is dramatic play, the improvised make-believe of preschool children. This dual processing of experience makes dramatic play an early example of metacognition, or reflecting on and monitoring of thinking itself. Concrete operational thinking differs from preoperational thinking in two ways: Reversibility is the ability to think about the steps of a process in any order. Decentration is the ability to focus on more than one feature of a problem at a time. In the formal operational stage, the child, aged 11 and beyond, becomes able to reason not only about tangible objects and events, but also about hypothetical or abstract ones




Social Development - Learning Outcomes


After completing this module you will be able to:

  • Define social development
  • List three main areas of classroom life that changes in social development affect
  • List four theorists that researched the area of social development
  • Discuss Erikson's eight stage model of social development
  • Provide everyday examples of the different stages of Erikson's model of social development
  • List three strategies that teachers can use to minimise role confusion in students
  • Compare and contrast Maslow's theory with the theories of Erikson and Piaget
  • Differentiate between deficit needs and being needs
  • List characteristics of a self-actualising individual




Introduction to Social Development


Social development refers to the long-term changes in relationships and interactions involving self, peers, and family. It includes positive changes, such as: - How friendships develop, and negative changes, such as: - Aggression or bullying The social developments that are most obviously relevant to classroom life fall into three main areas: 1. Changes in self-concept and in relationships among students and teachers 2. Changes in basic needs or personal motives 3. Changes in sense of rights and responsibilities As with cognitive development, each of these areas has a broad, well-known theory (and theorist). This theory provides a framework for thinking about how the area relates to teaching. The table below outlines the theories and theorists referred to in this module. Their theories are not the only ones related to the social development of students, and their ideas are often debated by other researchers. But their accounts do explain much about social development that is relevant to teaching and education. Erik Erikson’s Theory Like Piaget, Erik Erikson developed a theory of social development that relies on stages, except that Erikson thought of stages as a series of psychological or social crises - turning points in a person’s relationships and feelings about himself or herself (Erikson, 1963, 1980). Each crisis consists of a dilemma or choice that carries both advantages and risks, but in which one choice or alternative is normally considered more desirable or “healthy”. How one crisis is resolved affects how later crises are resolved. The resolution also helps to create an individual’s developing personality. Erikson proposed eight crises that extend from birth through old age: Crises of infants and pre-schoolers: trust, autonomy, and initiative Almost from the day they are born, infants face a crisis (in Erikson’s sense) about trust and mistrust. They are happiest if they can eat, sleep and excrete according to their own physiological schedules, regardless of whether their schedules are convenient for the caregiver (often the mother).Unfortunately, though, a young infant is in no position to control or influence a mother’s care giving or scheduling needs; so the baby faces a dilemma about how much to trust or mistrust the mother’s helpfulness. It is as if the baby asks, “If I demand food (or sleep or a clean diaper) now, will my mother actually be able to help me meet this need?”Hopefully, between the two of them, mother and child resolve this choice in favour of the baby's trust: the mother proves herself at least “good enough” in her attentiveness, and the baby risks trusting mother's motivation and skill at care giving. Almost as soon as this crisis is resolved, however, a new one develops over the issue of autonomy and shame. The child may now trust his or her caregiver, but the very trust contributes to a desire to assert autonomy by taking care of basic personal needs, such as feeding, toileting, or dressing. Given the child’s lack of experience in these activities, however, self-care is risky at first - the toddler may feed (or toilet or dress) clumsily and ineffectively. The child’s caregiver risks overprotecting the child and criticising his early efforts unnecessarily and therefore causing the child to feel shame for even trying. Hopefully, as with the earlier crisis of trust, the new crisis gets resolved in favour of autonomy through the combined efforts of the child to exercise autonomy and of the care giver to support the child’s efforts. Eventually, about the time a child is of preschool age, the autonomy exercised during the previous period becomes more elaborate, extended, and focused on objects and people other than the child and basic physical needs. Example: The child at a day care centre may now undertake to build the “biggest city in the world” out of all available unit blocks-even if other children want some of the blocks for themselves. The child’s projects and desires create a new crisis of initiative and guilt, because the child soon realises that acting on impulses or desires can sometimes have negative effects on others - more blocks for the child may mean fewer for someone else. As with the crisis over autonomy, caregivers have to support the child’s initiatives where possible, but also not make the child feel guilty just for desiring to have or to do something that affects others' welfare. By limiting behaviour where necessary but not limiting internal feelings, the child can develop a lasting ability to take initiative. Expressed in Erikson’s terms, the crisis is then resolved in favour of initiative. Even though only the last of these three crises overlaps with the school years, all three relate to issues faced by students of any age, and even by their teachers, e.g. a child or youth who is fundamentally mistrustful has a serious problem in coping with school life. As a student, it is essential for your long-term survival to believe that teachers and school officials have your best interests at heart, and that they are not imposing assignments or making rules, “just for the heck of it.” Even though students are not infants any more, teachers function like Erikson’s caregiving parents in that they need to prove worthy of students’ trust through their initial flexibility and attentiveness. Parallels from the classroom also exist for the crises of autonomy and of initiative. To learn effectively, students need to make choices and undertake academic initiatives at least some of the time, even though not every choice or initiative may be practical or desirable. Teachers need to make true choices and initiatives possible, and refrain from criticising, even accidentally, a choice or intention behind an initiative even if the teacher privately believes that it is “bound to fail”. Support for choices and initiative should be focused on providing resources and on guiding the student’s efforts toward more likely success. In these ways teachers function like parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers in Erikson’s theory of development, regardless of the age of their students. The crisis of childhood: industry and inferiority Once into formal schooling, the child is faced for the first time with becoming competent and worthy in the eyes of the world at large, or more precisely in the eyes of classmates and teachers. The child must develop skills that require effort that is sustained and somewhat focused. The challenge creates the crisis of industry and inferiority. Example: To be respected by teachers, the child must learn to read and to behave like a “true student”. To be respected by peers, he must learn to cooperate and to be friendly, among other things. There are risks involved in working on these skills and qualities, because there can be no guarantee of success with them in advance. If the child does succeed, therefore, he experiences the satisfaction of a job well done and of skills well learned - a feeling that Erikson called industry. If not, however, the child risks feeling lasting inferiority compared to others. Teachers therefore have a direct, explicit role in helping students to resolve this crisis in favour of industry or success. They can set realistic academic goals for students and then provide materials and assistance for students to reach their goals. Teachers can also express their confidence that students can in fact meet their goals if and when the students get discouraged, and avoid hinting (even accidentally) that a student is simply a “loser”. Paradoxically, these strategies will work best if the teacher is also tolerant of less-than-perfect performance by students. Too much emphasis on perfection can undermine some students’ confidence - foster Erikson’s inferiority - by making academic goals seem beyond reach. The crisis of adolescence: identity and role confusion As the child develops lasting talents and attitudes as a result of the crisis of industry, he begins to face new questions: - What do all the talents and attitudes add up to be? - Who is the “me” embedded in this profile of qualities? These questions are the crisis of identity and role confusion. Defining identity is riskier than it may appear for a person simply because some talents and attitudes may be poorly developed, and some even may be undesirable in the eyes of others. Still others may be valuable but fail to be noticed by other people. The result is that who a person wants to be may not be the same as who she is in actual fact, or the same as who other people want her to be. In Erikson's terms, role confusion is the result. Teachers can minimise role confusion in a number of ways.

  • Diverse Role Model.
    • One is to offer students lots of diverse role models By identifying models in students’ reading materials or by inviting diverse guests to school. The point of these strategies would be to express a key idea: that there are many ways to be respected, successful, and satisfied with life.
  • Identity development
    • Another way to support students’ identity development is to be alert to students’ confusions about their futures, and refer them to counsellors or other services outside school that can help sort these out.
  • Changes in students’ goals and priorities
    • A third strategy is to tolerate changes in students’ goals and priorities - sudden changes in extra-curricular activities or in personal plans after graduation. Since students are still trying roles out, discouraging experimentation may not be in students’ best interests.
The crises of adulthood: intimacy, generativity, and integrity Beyond the school years, according to Erikson, individuals continue social development by facing additional crises. Example: Young adults face a crisis of intimacy and isolation. This crisis is about the risk of establishing close relationships with a select number of others. Whether the relationships are heterosexual, homosexual, or not sexual at all, their defining qualities are depth and sustainability. Without them, an individual risks feeling isolated. Assuming that a person resolves this crisis in favour of intimacy, however, he then faces a crisis about generativity and stagnation. This crisis is characteristic of most of adulthood, and not surprisingly therefore is about caring for or making a contribution to society, and especially to its younger generation.
  • Generativity
    • Generativity is about making life productive and creative so that it matters to others. One obvious way for some to achieve this feeling is by raising children, but there are also many other ways to contribute to the welfare of others. .
  • Stagnation
    • ​​​​​​​The alternative to generativity is stagnation which is self-absorption, and ceasing to be a productive member of society.​​​​​​​
The final crisis is about integrity and despair, and is characteristically felt during the final years of life. At the end of life, a person is likely to review the past and to ask whether it has been lived as well as possible, even if it was clearly not lived perfectly. Since personal history can no longer be altered at the end of life, it is important to make peace with what actually happened and to forgive oneself and others for mistakes that may have been made. The alternative to integrity is despair, or depression from believing not only that one’s life was lived badly, but also that there is no longer any hope of correcting past mistakes. Even though Erikson conceives of these crises as primarily concerns of adulthood, there are precursors of them during the school years: Intimacy Intimacy is a concern of many children and youth in that they often desire, but do not always find, lasting relationships with others (Beidel, 2005; Zimbardo & Radl, 1999). Personal Isolation Personal isolation is a particular risk for students with disabilities, as well as for students whose cultural or racial backgrounds differ from classmates’ or the teacher’s. Generativity Generativity feeling helpful to others and to the young. This is needed not only by many adults, but also by many children and youth; when given the opportunity as part of their school program, they frequently welcome a chance to be of authentic service to others as part of their school programs (Eyler & Giles, 1999; Kay, 2003). Integrity Integrity taking responsibility for your personal past, “warts and all”, is often a felt need for anyone, young or old, who has lived long enough to have a past on which to look. Even children and youth have a past in this sense, though their pasts are of course shorter than persons who are older. Abraham Maslow’s Theory Abraham Maslow's theory frames personal needs or motives as a hierarchy, meaning that basic or “lower-level” needs have to be satisfied before higher-level needs become important or motivating. Compared to the stage models of Piaget and Erikson, Maslow’s hierarchy is only loosely “developmental”, in that Maslow was not concerned with tracking universal, irreversible changes across the life span. Maslow's stages are universal, but they are not irreversible; earlier stages sometimes reappear later in life, in which case they must be satisfied again before later stages can redevelop. Like the theories of Piaget and Erikson, Maslow’s is a rather broad “story”, one that has less to say about the effects of a person’s culture, language, or economic level, than about what we all have in common. In its original version, Maslow’s theory distinguishes two types of needs: • Deficit needs • Being needs The table below summarises the two levels and their sublevels. Deficit needs: getting the basic necessities of life Deficit needs are the basic requirements of physical and emotional well-being. Initially they are physiological needs, e.g. food, sleep, clothing, and the like. Without these, nothing else matters, and especially nothing very “elevated” or self-fulfilling. A student who is not getting enough to eat is not going to feel much interest in learning. Deficit needs are prior to being needs, not in the sense of happening earlier in life, but in that deficit needs must be satisfied before being needs can be addressed. As pointed out, deficit needs can reappear at any age, depending on circumstances. If that happens, they must be satisfied again before a person’s attention can shift back to “higher” needs. Among students, in fact, deficit needs are likely to return chronically to those whose families lack economic or social resources or who live with the stresses associated with poverty (Payne, 2005). Once physiological needs are met, however, safety and security needs become important. The person looks for stability and protection, and welcomes a bit of structure and limits if they provide these conditions. Example: A child from an abusive family may be getting enough to eat, but may worry chronically about personal safety. In school, the student may appreciate a well-organised classroom with rules that insures personal safety and predictability, whether or not the classroom provides much in the way of real learning. After physiological and safety needs are met, love and belonging needs emerge. The person turns attention to: - being a friend - making friends - cultivating positive personal relationships in general In the classroom, a student motivated at this level may make approval from peers or teachers into a top priority. He may be provided for materially and find the classroom and family life safe enough, but still miss a key ingredient in life - love. If such a student (or anyone else) eventually does find love and belonging, however, then his or her motivation shifts again, this time to esteem needs. Now the concern is with gaining recognition and respect - and even more importantly, gaining self-respect. A student at this level may be unusually concerned with achievement, for example, though only if the achievement is visible or public enough to earn public recognition. Being needs: becoming the best that you can be Being needs are desires to become fulfilled as a person, or to be the best person that you can possibly be. They include: - Cognitive needs: a desire for knowledge and understanding. - Aesthetic needs: an appreciation of beauty and order. - Self-actualisation needs: a desire for fulfilment of one’s potential. Being needs emerge only after all of a person’s deficit needs have been largely met. Unlike deficit needs, being needs cause more being needs; they do not disappear once they are met, but create a desire for even more satisfaction of the same type, e.g. a thirst for knowledge leads to further thirst for knowledge. Partly because being needs are lasting and permanent once they appear, Maslow sometimes treated them as less hierarchical than deficit needs, and instead grouped cognitive, aesthetic, and self-actualisation needs into the single category self-actualisation needs. People who are motivated by self-actualisation have a variety of positive qualities, which Maslow went to some lengths to identify and describe (Maslow, 1976). He argues that self-actualising individuals: - Are ethical - Are humble - Are creative - Are spontaneous - Accept themselves as well as others - Have a sense of humour, but do not use it against others - Value deep personal relationships with others, but also value solitude Maslow felt that true self-actualisation is rare. It is especially unusual among young people, who have not yet lived long enough to satisfy earlier, deficit-based needs. In a way this last point is discouraging news for teachers, who apparently must spend their lives providing as best they can for students still immersed in deficit needs. Teachers, it seems, have little hope of ever meeting a student with fully fledged being needs. Taken less literally, though, Maslow’s hierarchy is still useful for thinking about students’ motives. Most teachers would argue that students, young though they are, can display positive qualities similar to the ones described in Maslow’s self-actualising person. As annoying students may sometimes be, there are also moments when they show care and respect for others and moments when they show spontaneity, humility, or a sound ethical sense. Self-actualisation is an appropriate way to think about these moments - the times when students are at their best. At the same time, of course, students sometimes also have deficit needs. Keeping in mind the entire hierarchy outlined by Maslow can therefore deepen teachers' understanding of the full humanity of students.




Social Development - Lesson Summary


The main points from this module are as follows: Social development refers to the long-term changes in relationships and interactions involving self, peers, and family. The social developments that are most obviously relevant to classroom life fall into three main areas: 1. Changes in self-concept and in relationships among students and teachers 2. Changes in basic needs or personal motives 3. Changes in sense of rights and responsibilities Erik Erikson developed a theory of social development that relies on stages; a series of psychological or social crises - turning points in a person’s relationships and feelings about himself or herself (Erikson, 1963, 1980). Teachers can minimise role confusion in a number of ways: 1. One is to offer students lots of diverse role models. 2. Another way to support students’ identity development is to be alert to students’ confusions about their futures. 3. A third strategy is to tolerate changes in students’ goals and priorities. Maslow’s theory distinguishes two types of needs: • Deficit needs • Being needs Deficit needs are the basic requirements of physical and emotional well-being. Being needs are desires to become fulfilled as a person, or to be the best person that you can possibly be.




Student Diversity - Learning Outcomes


After completing this module you will be able to:

  • Provide an everyday example of individual learning styles in students
  • Distinguish between field dependence and field independence
  • Distinguish between the two cognitive styles of impulsivity and reflectivity
  • List two ways that teachers can use knowledge of students' cognitive styles
  • List the eight types of intelligence as outlined by Howard Gardner