Unit 3: Psychology and Learning

3.1              Educational Psychology; relevance and scope for educator


3.2              Basic principles of learning given by Thorndike, Pavlov, Skinner, Bandura, Piaget and Vygotsky

3.3              Learning styles and types of learners

3.4              Socio-cultural factors affecting learning

3.5              Implications for children with special needs










3.1 Educational Psychology; relevance and scope for educator


Educational psychology involves the study of how people learn, including teaching methods, instructional processes, and individual differences in learning. The goal is to understand how people learn and retain new information.

This branch of psychology involves not just the learning process of early childhood and adolescence but includes the social, emotional, and cognitive processes that are involved in learning throughout the entire lifespan.

The field of educational psychology incorporates a number of other disciplines, including developmental psychology, behavioral psychology, and cognitive psychology.

Major Perspectives in Educational Psychology

As with other areas of psychology, researchers within educational psychology tend to take on different perspectives when considering a problem. These perspectives focus on specific factors that influence how a person learns, including learned behaviors, cognition, experiences, and more.

The Behavioral Perspective

This perspective suggests that all behaviors are learned through conditioning. Psychologists who take this perspective rely firmly on the principles of operant conditioning to explain how learning happens.1

For example, teachers might reward learning by giving students tokens that can be exchanged for desirable items such as candy or toys. The behavioral perspective operates on the theory that students will learn when rewarded for "good" behavior and punished for "bad" behavior.

While such methods can be useful in some cases, the behavioral approach has been criticized for failing to account for such things as attitudes, emotions, and intrinsic motivations for learning.

The Developmental Perspective

This focuses on how children acquire new skills and knowledge as they develop. Jean Piaget's famous stages of cognitive development are one example of an important developmental theory looking at how children grow intellectually.

By understanding how children think at different stages of development, educational psychologists can better understand what children are capable of at each point of their growth. This can help educators create instructional methods and materials best aimed at certain age groups.

The Cognitive Perspective

The cognitive approach has become much more widespread in recent decades, mainly because it accounts for how things such as memories, beliefs, emotions, and motivations contribute to the learning process. This theory supports the idea that a person learns as a result of their own motivation, not as a result of external rewards.

Cognitive psychology aims to understand how people think, learn, remember, and process information.

Educational psychologists who take a cognitive perspective are interested in understanding how kids become motivated to learn, how they remember the things that they learn, and how they solve problems, among other things.

The Constructivist Approach

One of the most recent learning theories, this perspective focuses on how we actively construct our knowledge of the world.5 Constructivism tends to account more for the social and cultural influences that impact how we learn.

Those who take the constructivist approach believe that what a person already knows is the biggest influence on how they learn new information. This means that new knowledge can only be added on to and understood in terms of existing knowledge.

This perspective is heavily influenced by the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who proposed ideas such as the zone of proximal development and instructional scaffolding.

Experiential Perspective

This perspective emphasizes that a person's own life experiences influence how they understand new information.6 This method is similar to constructivist and cognitive perspectives in that it takes into consideration the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the learner.

This method allows someone to find personal meaning in what they learn instead of feeling that the information doesn't apply to them.

Most educators understand the important role experience plays in the learning process. A fun-learning environment, with plenty of laughter and respect for the learner's abilities, also fosters an effective experiential learning environment. It is vital that the individual is encouraged to directly involve themselves in the experience, in order that they gain a better understanding of the new knowledge and retain the information for a longer time.


1.     Significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student.

2.     Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at a minimum.

3.     Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low.

4.     Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive.



3.2 Basic principles of learning given by Thorndike, Pavlov, Skinner, Bandura, Piaget and Vygotsky



The learning theory of Thorndike represents the original S-R framework of behavioral psychology: Learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and responses. Such associations or “habits” become strengthened or weakened by the nature and frequency of the S-R pairings. The paradigm for S-R theory was trial and error learning in which certain responses come to dominate others due to rewards. The hallmark of connectionism (like all behavioral theory) was that learning could be adequately explained without refering to any unobservable internal states.

Thorndike’s theory consists of three primary laws: (1) law of effect – responses to a situation which are followed by a rewarding state of affairs will be strengthened and become habitual responses to that situation, (2) law of readiness – a series of responses can be chained together to satisfy some goal which will result in annoyance if blocked, and (3) law of exercise – connections become strengthened with practice and weakened when practice is discontinued. A corollary of the law of effect was that responses that reduce the likelihood of achieving a rewarding state (i.e., punishments, failures) will decrease in strength.






Ivan Pavlov performed an experiment to explain the phenomenon of classical conditioning. He attached a tube with the salivary gland of a dog to measure the amount of saliva. He used to ring a bell (neutral stimulus) and then give food (unconditioned stimulus) to the dog under observation. In the initial days, the dog salivated at food only. But when the experiment was repeated for multiple days, he observed that the dog salivated (conditioned response) at the ring only. In other words, we can say that neutral stimulus (ringing bell) has become a conditioned stimulus.
Another experiment to study the concept of classical conditioning is called Little Albert Experiment. In this experiment, a small baby called Albert’s behavior was observed. He used to give a Fear (UCR) response to Noise (UCS). But when rat (NS) was presented repeatedly after being paired with noise, the appearance of rats also started generating the same response (fear) as that generated by the noise i.e. rat became a conditioned stimulus.

The stages or principles of classical conditioning are acquisition, extinction, Spontaneous recovery, stimulus generalization and Stimulus discrimination. They are explained as follows:

Acquisition: The stage or principle of classical conditioning in which the stimulus under observation starts generating a response similar to the unconditioned response is called Acquisition. This is the initial stage of learning in which responses are established and then strengthened as a result of repeated presentations or experiments e.g. in Pavlov experiment ,the time till the dog starts salivation at ring of bell can be called as the stage of acquisition.

Extinction: If we present conditioned stimulus without the unconditioned stimulus multiple times, the conditioned response starts decreasing till it disappears e.g. it was observed in Pavlov experiment that when ringing bell (conditioned stimulus) was presented without meat (unconditioned stimulus) repeatedly, the response (salivation) started decreasing and eventually it disappeared. This phenomenon is called extinction of a response.

Spontaneous Recovery: A principle or stage of classical conditioning in which a conditioned response, which has been extinguished earlier, reemerges after a long break is called spontaneous recovery e.g.  Pavlov observed that after extinction, when the bell started ringing, the dog salivated at the ring only despite the fact that he did not give any meat to the dog after ringing the bell. Another example is that of a person who has quitted smoking. When in a gathering, he sees people smoking, he feels as if he is smoking.

Stimulus Generalization: A phenomenon in which the stimuli, similar to the conditioned stimulus, starts generating the same response as that generated by conditioned stimulus is called stimulus generalization e.g. we stop at the red traffic lights without bringing their shape or size in consideration. Although the effect is not as intense as the original one but it helps a lot. Greater the similarity, greater is the effect.

Stimulus Discrimination: The principle of classical conditioning in which one can differentiate between two stimuli i.e. one can generate the response and the other cannot, is called stimulus discrimination e.g. the ability to differentiate between phone bell and door bell or neighbor’s dog barking and your dog barking.



Skinner is regarded as the father of Operant Conditioning, but his work was based on Thorndike’s (1898) law of effect. According to this principle, behavior that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated, and behavior followed by unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated.

Skinner introduced a new term into the Law of Effect - Reinforcement. behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e., strengthened); behavior which is not reinforced tends to die out-or be extinguished (i.e., weakened).

Principles of Operant Conditioning:

·      Reinforcement (Central Concept )

·      Punishment

·      Shaping and stimulus generalization and discrimination similar to that in classical conditioning.

Reinforcement (Central Concept ): A phenomenon in which a stimulus increases the chance of repetition of previous behavior is called reinforcement. In Skinner’s experiment, the pressing of lever can be referred to reinforcement.

·       Reinforcer: The phenomenon of reinforcement involves Reinforcer.  Any stimulus that increases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated is called reinforcer e.g. food, bonuses, toys, chocolates, salary etc all are reinforcers. Reinforcer for one person might not be a reinforcer for the other person. It all depends on individual. Reinforcers can be primary which satisfies biological needs, secondary which helps in meeting the primary needs, positive which adds a stimulus to repeat the preceding behavior or negative which removes a particular stimulus to repeat the preceding behavior.  These are explained in detail in article Reinforcement in operant conditioning.
·       Schedules of Reinforcement: The process which involves a particular frequency and timing of reinforcing a desired behavior is known as scheduling of reinforcement. These schedules can be continuous or partial.
Reinforcing the behavior every time it is repeated is called continuous schedule e.g. a child wants to learn first 10 digits and we appreciate him every time for learning a single digit. In other words, we reinforce his behavior after learning every single digit.
When behavior is not reinforced every time it is repeated, we call it partial schedule e.g. it is impossible to praise a child for learning every digit when his target is to learn 100 digits at one time. Partial schedule can be of four types which are explained in article Reinforcement in Operant conditioning.

Punishment: Stimulus that decreases the probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated is called punishment e.g. if we receive a shock for something, there is a very little chance that we repeat that behavior. Removing the shock would be negatively reinforcing it i.e. removal of unpleasant stimulus. Punishment can be of two types; Positive punishment or negative punishment.
Positive Punishment weakens a response or behavior through addition of an unpleasant stimulus e.g. beating a child for misbehaving with elders or spending ten years in jail as a punishment of robbery.
Negative Punishment weakens a response through removal of a Pleasant stimulus e.g. parents may not allow their child to party anymore due to bad academic results, street crimes may discourage us for hangouts till late nights, demoting an employee for his poor performance.

Shaping: Shaping is a process in operant conditioning in which complex behaviors are taught by awarding closer and closer approximations to the desired behavior.  During initial stages, everything related to desired behavior is appreciated, then only the closely related and finally only the desired behavior is awarded e.g. pigeons trained to rescue people lost at sea. Similarly shaping is used in behavior modification, learning alphabets, vocabulary, new language, musical instruments and training of mentally handicapped children. Organization of most of textbooks is based on the principle of shaping.
Stimulus generalization and discrimination are similar to that of classical conditioning.



Albert Bandura is best known, perhaps, for the ‘Bobo doll’ experiment. In this study, researchers abused a doll–both physically and verbally–while pre-school-aged children observed. Later on, the children mimicked the behavior of the researchers, proving Bandura’s hypothesis that children can learn through adults’ behaviors. Bandura’s findings led him to develop what was first termed ‘social learning theory’ in the 1960s.

We can summarize the latest edition of Bandura’s social cognitive/learning theory by focusing on the following four principles:

·       Attention: An observer pays attention to particular social behaviors. Their ability to pay attention depends on their accessibility to what is being observed, the relevance of the behaviors, the complexity of the behaviors, the perceived value of the behaviors, and the observer’s own cognitive abilities and preconceptions.

The learner needs to pay attention. If he or she is distracted, it will probably affect the quality of learning. Being focused on the task at hand becomes the first step for retaining the information and getting to acquire the knowledge. In this way, the behaviour that we are trying to imitate has to grab our attention, so that no external factors become distractions.

·       Retention: An observer retains the sequence of behaviors and consequences, which they can retrieve for future imitations of the behaviors.

How much do you remember from what you have observed in order to reproduce it? This is what retention is based on, on how well that behaviour is remembered. It is important to have a good memory of the behaviour we are trying to imitate that we can refer to.

·       Production: An observer repeats the behavior in a different social context and receives feedback from other observers, which they can use to adjust how they perform the behaviors in future contexts.

All of the steps above bring us to this final one, the reproduction of the behaviour/task that we have observed. After having observed, paid attention to and remembered the behaviour/task, we should be able to perform it ourselves. However, following all these steps will not guarantee the correct reproduction of the behaviour since other factors may influence the performance, such as the limitation of our physical ability. Imagine an 85 year old woman who watches a young boy doing parkour; she may be able to observe and theoretically learn how it is done, but because of her physical state, she may not be able to do it herself.

·       Motivation: An observer is motivated to repeat the behaviors based on the social responses and consequences they receive when they imitate a behavior.

Of course, reproduction of the behaviour/task would not be possible without the will to do it. Motivation could be considered one of the most important principles of the social learning theory; all of the rest rely on it. Here, both reinforcement and punishment play an essential role. If the observer does not see a favourable outcome of the behaviour he or she is paying attention to, he or she will not be motivated towards imitating it.

Now that we have seen how Bandura's theory works, and in order to conclude, let's see how it can be applied to the real world, or, more concretely, to the world of education. There is no doubt that the social learning theory is highly beneficial for the educational field since teachers can provide students with positive role models for them to follow in a motivational environment. Another concept that comes from the social learning theory and which also becomes key in the learning of the students is self-efficacy. The concept, which basically means the belief in one's abilities, is highly regarded by Bandura, who says:

“In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.”

There you have it; if we motivate students and help them build their self-efficacy, they will approach the challenges in a better light and will be encouraged to keep growing. And, although self-belief does not always ensure success, it surely adds more ballots to the lottery.



Piaget was a psychological constructivist: in his view, learning proceeded by 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.

Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.

After observing children closely, Piaget proposed that cognition developed through distinct stages from birth through the end of adolescence. By stages he meant a sequence of thinking patterns with four key features:

1.     They 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 at the beginning of this chapter. Piaget proposed four major stages of cognitive development, and called them (1) sensorimotor intelligence, (2) preoperational thinking, (3) concrete operational thinking, and (4) formal operational thinking. Each stage is correlated with an age period of childhood, but only approximately.

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was based on three main principles which are assimilation, accommodation and equilibration.


A schema describes both the mental and physical actions involved in understanding and knowing. Schemas are categories of knowledge that help us to interpret and understand the world.

In Piaget's view, a schema includes both a category of knowledge and the process of obtaining that knowledge. As experiences happen, this new information is used to modify, add to, or change previously existing schemas.

For example, a child may have a schema about a type of animal, such as a dog. If the child's sole experience has been with small dogs, a child might believe that all dogs are small, furry, and have four legs. Suppose then that the child encounters an enormous dog. The child will take in this new information, modifying the previously existing schema to include these new observations.


The process of taking in new information into our already existing schemas is known as assimilation. The process is somewhat subjective because we tend to modify experiences and information slightly to fit in with our preexisting beliefs. In the example above, seeing a dog and labeling it "dog" is a case of assimilating the animal into the child's dog schema.


Another part of adaptation involves changing or altering our existing schemas in light of new information, a process known as accommodation. Accommodation involves modifying existing schemas, or ideas, as a result of new information or new experiences. New schemas may also be developed during this process.


Piaget believed that all children try to strike a balance between assimilation and accommodation, which is achieved through a mechanism Piaget called equilibration. As children progress through the stages of cognitive development, it is important to maintain a balance between applying previous knowledge (assimilation) and changing behavior to account for new knowledge (accommodation). Equilibration helps explain how children can move from one stage of thought to the next.



Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) was a Russian teacher who is considered a pioneer in learning in social contexts. As a psychologist, he was also the first to examine how our social interactions influence our cognitive growth. He was convinced that learning occurred through interactions with others in our communities: peers, adults, teachers, and other mentors. Vygotsky sought to understand how people learn in a social environment and created a unique theory on social learning. He determined that teachers have the ability to control many factors in an educational setting, including tasks, behaviors, and responses. As a result, he encouraged more interactive activities to promote cognitive growth, such as productive discussions, constructive feedback, and collaboration with others. Vygotsky also stated that culture was a primary determinant of knowledge acquisition. He argued that children learn from the beliefs and attitudes modeled by their culture.

According to Vygotsky’s theory: 

Human action is situated in sociocultural, historical settings, and is mediated by tools and signs. All human actions, including thinking, are mediated by material and symbolic objects (tools and signs) that are culturally constructed and socially used. For example, a verbal explanation of a word meaning, or a procedure for a science experiment, works to mediate (intervene in, influence or change) the student’s thinking. The ways in which students think, solve problems, and use concepts are related to their social and cultural context.  

Students’ development has a social origin. Vygotsky saw new cognitive capabilities for students, particularly higher mental processes such as problem-solving, logic and concept formation, as emerging first in interaction with others before being taken up by the student independently. For example, a teacher may help a student to solve a mathematical word problem by working through a set of questions to identify what they know and what they need to learn. The next time the student encounters a similar problem, he or she runs through the same questions in their mind, and the questions become a tool for the student’s thinking. 

Mediation of various kinds is crucial for human pyschological and social development. All kinds of social processes and cultural resources are used by individuals in their thinking, and schools are a primary source for introducing students to many different mediational means, such as tools and artefacts, symbol systems, and specialised discourse. For example, discipline-specific concepts and language can help students to talk about the phenomena they notice in science, while number grids and squares in mathematics are tools that can help children to see the relationships between numbers more easily. 

Learning precedes development. Vygotsky saw learning as leading development (rather than being dependent on it). Learning creates the conditions needed for development, so teaching should be aimed at the next stage of a child’s development.  

Cognitive development at any point in time is limited to a particular range known as the zone of proximal development (ZPD). The ZPD describes the learning an individual student is capable of, which is just beyond what he or she can achieve independently (it is ‘proximal’). Students can only learn knowledge and skills that are in their particular ZPD, and will require the support and help of a more capable peer, the teacher or other mediational resources such as dictionaries, number lines and diagrams.  

Scientific concepts are built on, and transform, everyday concepts. Everyday or spontaneous concepts (‘dog’, ‘lizard’) are based on our everyday experience of the world as it appears through our senses, while scientific concepts (‘mammals’, ‘reptiles’) are more systematic, so they can be more easily reflected upon and manipulated. For example, an understanding of the geometric concept of ‘circle’ is based on students’ experiences of coins, wheels, and pizza, but enables a more generalised understanding of the shape. 

Vygotsky’s influence on teaching practice 

Vygotsky’s theory and the idea of the ZPD in particuar have had an impact on a variety of educational practices, including peer tutoring and scaffolding. Vygotsky’s theory can also be considered to have had an impact on key practices such as assessment for learning, while most teachers are aware of capitalising on student’s culture, community and environment as an influence on their learning and development, described here as a ‘funds of knowledge’ approach. 


The aim of scaffolding (which was not Vygotsky’s term) is to offer assistance to ensure that a student is successful in their learning, so it has strong parallels to Vygotsky’s concept of mediation in the ZPD. Rather than adapting the task, scaffolding supports students to complete it in one or more of the following ways:  

·       modelling the thinking or behaviours needed  

·       simplifying the student’s role through intervention  

·       structuring problem-solving by reducing the degrees of freedom 

·       highlighting the critical features of the task  

·       providing a sounding board for students to discuss their ideas 

At the earliest stages of the ZPD a student needs a sequence of simple and precise instructions. They come to understand tasks and directives as a result of performing them under guidance (‘performance before competence’). As they gain understanding, they may only need encouragement or prompts. In the school setting, scaffolding is often understood as the provision of frameworks (such as opening sentences or a series of headings), worked examples, clear performance criteria, or guidelines to help students to structure their learning. It is important to ensure that these more fixed and predetermined scaffolds are specifically responsive to each student’s ZPD as Vygotsky intended.  

Peer tutoring 

Peer tutoring enables more students to be supported to reach a higher level of competence than would be possible if the teacher was the only mediator. Students need to be paired carefully, and may need coaching so that they are able to effectively assist each other. Peer tutoring might also involve students having different roles in the same task. For example, in learning a second language, it might be possible to pair a student who has strengths in vocabulary with a student who has strengths in grammar.  

Funds of knowledge 

A ‘funds of knowledge’ approach to teaching establishes social relationships with families to facilitate an understanding of how students’ home lives can help mediate their learning in the classroom. Funds of knowledge are the strategies, adaptations and knowledge that families develop to assist them in their daily lives, and which can be drawn upon as a basis for learning academic concepts and procedures in the classroom. For example, if teachers learn that a family is involved in the cultivation and gathering of medicinal plants, they might relate these botanical funds of knowledge to the classroom science curriculum.  

Assessment for learning (AfL) 

AfL is a pedagogy in which teachers and students evaluate the student’s current performance together, and agree strategies to address gaps in what they need to know or be doing to perform better. As such it represents an example of the student moving ahead of their current level of performance with the support of a more knowledgeable adult. However, where AfL conversations are constrained within pre-set goals and targets regulated by summative assessment routines and the need to help students to achieve particular grades and outcomes, there may be less overlap with Vygotsky’s concept of ZPD, which is more individual, co-constructed and open to the intentions and motivations of the learner.  

Reciprocal teaching 

Reciprocal teaching is related to the concept of the ZPD. It is used in reading instruction, where a portion of text is read aloud or silently, before a ‘learning leader’ helps the group to comprehend what was read by engaging in specific reading strategies (questioning, clarifying, summarising and predicting). The teacher is the first learning leader and models strategy use, before each student has the responsibility of being learning leader. The aim is for students to monitor their own comprehension and to internalise some strategies for improving comprehension. 

Dialogic teaching  

Vygotsky’s theory has been used to inspire a focus on interactive and collaborative organisations of teaching and learning that encourage students to learn from social interactions with peers and with the teacher. Dialogic teaching focuses on the co-construction of knowledge in social settings where students learn to use specific reasoning and argumentation strategies particular to specific domains of knowledge and to verbally elaborate, compare and discuss their developing concepts.  



3.3 Learning styles and types of learners


Psychologists and educators have developed many theories of learning and identified an array of learning styles. Some learning style theories concentrate on the sensory pathways that students use to learn. Other theories focus on the physical environment in which learning takes place. Still others emphasize social interaction as it relates to learning.

While this section highlights some of the characteristics of learning styles, the emphasis is on understanding that individual differences and preferences play an important role in learning. Adding diversity to your teaching will accommodate the learning styles of your students and make your teaching more exciting and enjoyable.

Print learners

Print learners prefer to see the data in print preferably printed in words. When introducing course concepts or the steps of a process, print learners like to read about the information and then study an illustration or other visual aid. Visual learners also benefit from seeing assignments in print.

When presenting key terms and concepts, refer to the textbook and use the textbook examples. Print learners can later go back and study the material.

Consider using handouts and study sheets. Students can also make their own study sheets. Word games can help print learners grasp key terms and concepts.

Visual learners

Visual learners need to ‘see’ the concept. One way for learners to see the idea is through visualization. Discuss basic concepts using an overhead transparency or the board. In addition, ask students to make a mental picture before you write a descriptive phrase or idea on the transparency or board.

Visual aids are particularly important to visual learners. Today’s textbooks are filled with images. For some students, these images are the key to learning; for others, they offer reinforcement. In addition to the visual images in the textbook, overhead transparencies, videotapes, slides, and presentation graphics can all be used to help students visualize concepts and skills. Web sites with rich multimedia components can be used effectively to demonstrate processes or explore concepts.

Demonstrations allow visual learners to see what you are doing as you do it. Manipulatives provide visual cues for all learners, but are particularly helpful to visual learners. Visual learners also benefit from seeing assignments in print.

Videotape a demonstration and offer the tape as a study aid.

Make a point of focusing on charts, diagrams, graphs, illustrations, maps, photographs, and tables while explaining a concept.

Write assignments on the board and remind students to write them in their planners.

Create graphic organizers the help understand the key content of the lesson.


Auditory learners

Auditory learners learn best by hearing. Auditory learners who read a textbook lesson benefit from spoken reinforcement of key ideas. Consider asking other teachers, guest speakers, and family members to address your class. Ask students to summarize their reading as part of discussion activities. Read directions for assignments aloud and be sure to tell auditory learners the steps involved in a new process or procedure.

Develop a vocabulary activity patterned after a spelling bee. This kind of activity offers the added benefits of social interaction, competition, and movement.

Identify steps through lecture or a taped tutorial.

Have students recite steps to each other in pairs or in small groups. In a group of three, for example, each student should get the opportunity to explain the procedure to the other two students. Through this process, each student in the group will explain the procedure once and hear the procedure twice.

Use student oral presentations to help summarize or reinforce key, concept understanding.

Tactile learners

Tactile learners learn best by touching or handling objects. By fourth grade, tactile learners appreciate learning activities that use fine motor skills including writing. Manipulatives are particularly important to tactile learners. They also benefit from participating in hands-on activities, role playing, and creating displays. Tactile learners remember what they did and how they did it; they do not necessarily remember what they saw others do or what they heard.

After demonstrating a procedure to the class, have a student repeat the demonstration. Allow other students to coach the demonstrator.

When activities include taking on roles, repeat the activity until each student has a chance to play each role.

Kinesthetic learners

Kinesthetic learners achieve best by taking an active part in classroom instruction. Motion is an important part of kinesthetic learning including motion that is not specific to the learning process. Simply allowing students to move about the classroom can be particularly helpful to kinesthetic learners. For example, walking to the board to work a problem involves the motions required to walk and write.

Design activities that require students to move from station to station within the room.

During some activities, allow students to move about the room to use certain resources for example, a dictionary, pencil sharpener, or sink.

Allow students to use technology tools that are available in the classroom to complete assignments.



3.4 Socio-cultural factors affecting learning


The Indian cultural tradition is unique. The notions of dharma (normative order), karma (personal moral commitment] and jati (caste) as the hierarchical principles of social stratification are basic to Indian culture. A certain level of configuration of these elements and consensus have brought about persistence and equilibrium in Indian society, and hence no major breakdown has taken place in its culture. It is said that the change is in the cultural system and not of the system. In other words, basic cultural and social values and norms still continue with some modifications.

Diversity is reflected in thousands of caste groups, each having its own rituals, rites, rules and customs. It can be seen in terms of linguistic, religious and other ethnic variations. The styles of life differ from region to region and vary even between different castes and religious groups within the same village. Some rulers made conscious efforts to ensure unity in diversity.

By 'social diversity', we mean co-existence of different social groups within a given geo-political setting or in simpler terms, differentiation of society into groups. Other terms such as, 'plurality', 'multiculturalism', 'social differentiation' etc. are also interchangeably used to explain this feature. The diversity may be both functional and dysfunctional for a society depending on its composition. The question that may arise at this stage is 'how much pluralist a society can become without losing its organic unity?' Despite divisions of groups, an underlying unity runs through the whole Indian social system. In order to understand the nature of social diversity in India, it is important to understand the nature of group identities that form the diversity.

Types of Social Diversity on the basis of:

Language: Language is one of the main markers of group solidarity in any society.

Religion: Religion is an important binding force of social integration among individuals and groups.

Caste: Caste is a system of social relations. It is an important feature of Indian society based on endogamy, hierarchy, occupational association, purity and pollution, and inscriptive status.

Tribe: Tribal people are other important socio-cultural groups in India

Gender: Gender is a form of socio-biological difference between man and woman.

India is a land of diversities. Its diversity is expressed in terms of language, religion, caste, tribes and gender. The diversity is a result of both internal differentiation and external influence. The processes of differentiation and unification have been going on simultaneously. The groups that have been differentiated on one social marker may be seen united on others. For instance, the groups which are divided on religious lines such as the Hindu, the Muslims etc. are united in terms of languages, gender etc. Thus 'unity' amidst diversity' prevails in the Indian society. However the balance between diversity and unity is delicate and fraught with several problems. One needs to analyze the power relations between diverse groups.



3.5 Implications for children with special needs


There are many different beliefs about how people learn. Within schools, these theories are applied by teachers to maximize the experience of students. By applying an applicable theory that is prevalent to the students, the teachers can help students to retain pertinent information. This applies to how learning theories and special education can work together.

In special education classrooms, teachers need to apply these learning theories, so that students in SPED classrooms can get the most out of their learning. Some of the theories that apply to special education classrooms are: Gestalt, Connection Theory, L. Atincronbsch and R. Snow, Component Display Theory, Gagne’s Conditions of Learning, Cognitive Load Theory, and Sign Learning Theory.

The Gestalt theory is good because it encompasses grouping, which may make it easier for students. It is important to remember, however, that some connections may need to be made for students both verbally and in application because all of the students in an SPED class may not be able to connect the dots independently. The Cognitive Load theory and Sign Learning theory discuss this thought of simplifying and perhaps drawing lines to fully help students learn. A way to help connect the dots for some special education students is the Connection theory. It is based on the students learning from the cause-effect relationship of stimuli and response. Component Display Theory and Conditions of Learning are based on including a variety of elements to learn from both verbal and hands-on. They also discuss a similar structure that is helpful to follow during the learning process.

Taking all of these learning theories into account, the instructor can teach lessons based on how the students will learn the information the best. This seems to interfere with the beliefs of inclusive school settings. Since special needs children are different and learn differently, a traditional teacher may not be directing her lessons at this minority group. One of the mothers I currently work with wants to only have her child in inclusive classrooms. She has even fought a private school to allow for this. It is because her daughter is doing great at learning from peer example, something that the inclusive environment is best for. However, this does not mean that the teacher will be as well prepared to teacher her daughter. This seems to be the most difficult part of learning theory, clumping the kids into one or two categories, when in fact each are so individualized.

NBPTS, the National Board for Professional Standards, encourages teachers to discover their own belief in teaching theories. This helps to provide self-awareness of the teachers. By providing a structure for teachers to be reflective, it can help to assess the teachers’ job at teaching and reaching their students, which in turn helps improve the overall educational environment.