Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written assignment.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Analysis of Learning and Development Theories

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 4020 words Published: 26th Jul 2019

Reference this

Issue 1

Many beginning teachers find that catering for the particular characteristics and learning needs of students from disadvantaged and low socio-economic backgrounds to be a real challenge. 

Identify the issue and provide a summary of its relevance to beginning teachers

Students from low socioeconomic households, who are Indigenous Australians, from rural or remote communities or from a refugee or asylum seeker background are more likely to be disadvantaged in Australia’s education system (TFA, 2017). While all students have the capacity to succeed at schools, external factors such as those listed above, can create barriers that prevent students from receiving the quality education we should expect for all Australian children.

Get Help With Your Assignment

If you need assistance with writing your assignment, our professional assignment writing service is here to help!

Assignment Writing Service

Pre-service and beginning teachers often have limited knowledge of the circumstances of low SES and/or ethnic minority students. Teaching is largely a Caucasian, middle-class profession (Lampert, Burnett, & Lebhers, 2016), meaning that low SES and ethnic minority students are taught by teachers whose backgrounds differ greatly to their own. If teachers do not recognize and reflect on this difference, it can regularly result in deficit attitudes (Lazar, 2012). A deficit attitude is where teachers identify student dysfunction as the primary reason for students’ educational and social problems (Amatea, Cholewa, & Mixon, 2012).

High attrition rates of teachers also hinder the ability of schools to provide quality education. “Attrition rates are highest for schools serving low income, minority students” (Scheopner, 2010). Therefore beginning teachers who are placed in such schools, have less opportunity to seek advice from teachers who have been at the school for an extended period of time. This reduces the amount of support beginning teachers in this context can access, and increases the difficulty of teaching disadvantaged students.

Learning and human development theories

The importance of teacher-student communication in learner’s achievements is strongly emphasized in Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory. According to Vygotsky, learning is achieved through social interaction. As a result of this, a child “develops not just as an individual, but as a member of a particular society and culture” (Krause, Duchesne, & Bochnier, 2012). The theory describes teaching as much more than simply the presentation of information, but rather places importance on communication and the co-construction of knowledge (Verenikina, 2008). Therefore teaching in schools is strongly influenced by the social and cultural context, and relies on the interaction between the teacher and the student.

As teachers in Australia often comes from a different social and cultural context to that of low SES and/or ethnic minority students, teachers may not understand the reasons for why students struggle with, or are not interested in particular concepts. In reality this may be due to reasons such as a lack of time to learn the material, due to having to work part-time to support the family, or care for other family members. Or it may be that the information being taught is not considered important, or differs to what is taught in a student’s own culture. If the teacher views this through a deficit lens (Lazar, 2012), this may affect the teacher-student relationship. As indicated by Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory, this relationship is critical in the construction of knowledge for the student, and so if this is affected, it may negatively affect the student’s learning outcomes.

Implications for Beginning Teachers

It is tempting for teachers to believe that the education system is meritocratic, and that if disadvantaged students work hard enough they will succeed. Teachers need to recognize that they come from a position of power, and they need to reflect on the difference between their social and cultural background and that of their students.

Devlin, Kift, Nelson, SMith, and McKay (2012) came up with some key advice for teaching students from low SES backgrounds. This includes getting to know and respecting your students and families. Some students might be more time poor than others due to part-time work, or fulfilling a caring role at home. Families from low SES backgrounds face more barriers to involvement in the school, including non-flexible work, transportation problems and a lack of resources (Hill & Taylor, 2004). Without understanding the student and their family it would be simple to assume that either the student or the family do not care about their schooling.

Devlin et al. also emphasize the importance of being a reflective practitioner. This requires acting on your own reflections, and on those from peers and feedback from students. This is necessary to continuously improve beginning teacher’s practice. Beginning teacher also need to ask themselves what different resources they might need to assist in scaffolding the learning of low SES and/or ethnic minority students.

Issue 2

Using ICT effectively in the classroom. 

Identify the issue and provide a summary of its relevance to beginning teachers

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) includes computers, the Internet, radios, televisions and projectors among others. As ICT continues to rapidly advance, it is important to educate students in ICT skills, in order for them to be able to use, develop, and process information and technology (Dawkins, 2008). Because of this necessity of ICT literacy in today’s world, ICT is designated as one of the seven general capabilities set out by the Melbourne Declaration. The general capabilities “encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century” (School Curriculum and Standards Authority, 2017).

When used effectively, ICT can open up the learning resources and learning opportunities available to students and teachers. However there are a number of barriers to the integration of technology into the classroom. According to Fu (2013), the barriers from a teacher perspective include, but are not limited to:

  • Limited knowledge and experience of ICT in the classroom
  • A lack of in-service training on the use of ICT
  • Difficulty in preventing students using ICT for off-task purposes
  • Uncertainty about the benefits using ICT provides students and teachers alike
  • Technical problems in the classroom

Beginning teachers are particularly susceptible to the first three barriers listed above, as they have limited experience in the classroom, and therefore have observed less integration of ICT in the classroom.

Ertmer (2005) categorized two types of barriers to integration of ICT into the classroom: external (or first-order) barriers, and internal (or second-order) barriers. External barriers include a lack of technologies, training and technical support. When these are not available to teachers, ICT integration becomes impossible. External barriers are being overcome as access to ICT becomes more widespread in secondary schools. However, access to ICT and technical support does not always lead to the effective use of ICT in the classroom (Prestridge, 2012).

Therefore it is necessary to identify the internal barriers preventing ICT integration. Empirical studies have shown the key internal barriers to be the following (Sang, Valcke, Braak, & Tondeur, 2009).

  • Teacher beliefs on the frequency and successful use of ICT in education
  • Teaching self-efficacy
  • Teachers’ attitudes towards computer/ICT

Learning and human development theories

Sang et al. (2009) indicated that beginning teachers with highly constructivist teaching beliefs have greater motivation to implementing ICT into their classrooms. Constructivism focuses on the idea that knowledge is constructed, and the learner is active in this construction (Krause et al., 2012). Learners link new information to previous knowledge and in this way construct new understandings. Constructivism encourages teachers to utilize the prior knowledge students bring to the classroom and assist them in building on this knowledge through experiences.

The key principles of constructivism are as follows (Krause et al., 2012):

  • Learners are active participants in their learning
  • Learners construct and monitor their own learning
  • Social interaction (for example with peers, parents and teachers) is necessary for effective learning
  • Knowledge may differ for each learner, as each individual construct their own meaning within a socio-cultural context

In order to introduce ICT into the classroom effectively, it is important to use ICT in a “learner-centred constructivist environment as opposed to traditional teacher-direction environments” (Prestridge, 2012). While direct instruction may be useful for developing basic ICT skills, students learn most effectively when tasks require them to construct concepts on their own. The role of the teacher in a constructivist classroom is that of a facilitator. The teacher facilitates the classroom culture where collaborative and cooperative learning methods are supported (Nanjappa & Grant, 2003).

Implications for Beginning Teachers

It is important for beginning teachers to recognize the challenges of implementing ICT in the classroom. Given that ICT is one of the general capabilities in the national curriculum, it is necessary for teachers to work on improving students ICT literacy. As indicated above, the use of constructivist methods when integrating technology can be effective. This may include problem-based learning and project-based learning, where learners are more responsible and active in the process of learning (Nanjappa & Grant, 2003).

On a school level, some of the strategies that have been suggested are as follows (Fu, 2013):

  • Offer opportunities for teachers to observe colleagues who use technology effectively
  • Provide professional development to update teachers’ skills with ICT
  • Encourage positive attitudes about integration ICT into instruction
  • Provide adequate technical support

Issue 3

Planning and implementing differentiated instruction

Identify the issue and provide a summary of its relevance to beginning teachers

Beginning teachers often struggle to design learning activities to suit each of the students in their classes. This is because what helps some students learn best, will not work for other students. Differentiation is required in the classroom as students learn at different speeds and in different ways. The issue is that planning, programming and assessing for a wide variety of needs can challenge beginning teachers. When compared to teachers who teach a single lesson plan for all leaners, teachers who differentiate instruction are required to monitor and manage many more learning activities (Tomlinson, 2001). Given the lack of experience beginning teachers possess, they face additional challenges in introducing differentiation to their lessons when compared to more experienced teachers. Long-term teachers have mastered the classroom management basics and do not need to dedicate the same length of time to develop ground rules for behaviour and maintaining these standards.

As there is a tend towards not streaming students within schools, teachers end up with a wide range of abilities in their classrooms. Teachers have a large number of students each week, and often lack the time to prepared detailed and differentiated lessons. Teachers can be overburdened and only have time to teach each lesson in one way (UNESCO, 2004). Hence, teaching a mixed-ability classroom is a “difficult and complex issue for today’s educators” (Dixon, Yssel, McConnell, & Hardin, 2014).

Learning and human development theories

Les Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory included the zone of proximal development (ZPD). This is the area in which a child cannot successfully function by themself, but can succeed with adult scaffolding. Vygotsky argued that teaching should be focused on the zone of proximal development, as it is the area where new learning takes place (Krause et al., 2012). The teacher’s role is to plan the lesson to push the students into their zone of proximal development (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). Full time beginning teachers likely teach upwards of 100 students. In order to differentiate, it is necessary for teachers to first identify the zone of proximal development for each of their students. If they are successful in achieving this, they then need to design the learning activities to account for the different students in each of their classes. Hence why differentiating can be such a challenge for beginning teachers who are still getting a grasp on classroom management and meeting their students for the first time.

Albert Bandura introduced his ‘social learning theory’ in 1977. This recognized the contribution of personal factors to the learning process (Krause et al., 2012). Bandura introduced the concept of self-efficacy, an individual’s belief in their capacity to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments. When applied to teachers, self-efficacy describes the teacher’s judgement of their ability to achieve desired outcomes in student engagement and learning (Dixon et al., 2014). While beginning teachers will likely have been introduced to the concept and some strategies for differentiation in their teacher training, they may not implement these in the classroom. If beginning teachers lack self-efficacy, they may not believe that they can adjust a lesson for different groups of learners (Dixon et al., 2014).

Implications for Beginning Teachers

When differentiating, teachers can modify the methods of presentation, practice, and assessment. The method of presentation refers to how new information is provided to students. In differentiation, each student is taught the same curriculum, but the content may be quantitatively or qualitatively different (Levy, 2008). The method of practice refers to what learning activities are used by students to form their own understandings of the content. The learning activities beginning teachers’ use must address differing students’ abilities, learning styles and interests. When considering differentiation, it is important to view assessment as more of a tool than a test. Pre-assessment allows teachers to identify students’ prior knowledge, and therefore their zone of proximal development. As new concepts are taught, it is important to include formative assessments in order to determine how the learning process is going.

Issue 4

Improving students’ metacognition skills

Identify the issue and provide a summary of its relevance to beginning teachers

Metacognition means thinking about one’s own thinking. It refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Extensive research has shown the significance of metacognition in students’ academic and personal development (Joseph, 2009). While students’ ineffective learning strategies are linked to poor metacognition, it is reassuring that research also shows that metacognitive awareness can be taught. Instruction focused on metacognition enables students to gain greater insight into their own learning strategies (Joseph, 2009).

Most beginning teachers have well-developed metacognitive skills (Joseph, 2009), as they are constantly looking to improve by reflecting on the lessons they deliver and asking:

  • Did the students understand my explanations?
  • How could I better present the information?
  • Was I able to assess if the students learnt the concepts?

However, it can be difficult to find time to teach metacognitive awareness to students. Teaching time is limited, and there is often pressure to get through presenting the content outlined in the curriculum.

While students stand to gain from learning about metacognitive processing, teachers may face difficulty in teaching metacognition strategies. Students commonly do not welcome metacognitive training if they have previously been only taught to retain factual information. Students need to be taught that metacognitive procedures for learning are at least as important as content knowledge (Sternberg, 1998). Appropriate metacognitive training should be linked to content being studied in the classroom as a way for students to recognize the value it provides (Cubukcu, 2009).

Learning and human development theories

The Information-Processing Model is a way of explaining how thinking processes operate. The multistore model of information processing is shown in the image below. The model shows how information is processed and stored in three sections of memory (Krause et al., 2012):

  • The sensory memory, through which we first perceive information
  • The short-term/working memory, which can only remember information for a short amount of time
  • The long-term memory, which holds information permanently

The multistore model of information processing (Krause et al., 2012)

The processes that move information between these compartments of memory are critical, and require an executive control system to oversee these processes. Metacognition is an executive control process that monitors and regulates our thought processes. As we cannot process all information to the same depth, we need an ‘executive’ function to oversee the process of encoding, transforming, processing, storing, retrieving and utilizing information (Krause et al., 2012).

Implications for Beginning Teachers

It is important for beginning teachers to recognize that improving students’ metacognition will help them understand student learning and in turn improve their own teaching. This is because improved student metacognition allows students to think reflectively on the lessons delivered, and provide valuable feedback to the teacher (Joseph, 2009). For example, this could take the form of, what explanations were effective and what concepts require further detail.

Beginning teachers can use a range of strategies to enhance metacognition. The following strategies help students to become aware of the way in which they think (Papaleontiou-Louca, 2003):

  • Encourage students to think aloud
  • When asking students for an answer, also ask them for their procedure of thought and the strategy they followed
  • Teach problem solving strategies and ask students when they would be useful


Amatea, E. S., Cholewa, B., & Mixon, K. A. (2012). Influencing Preservice Teachers’ Attitudes About Working With Low-Income and/or Ethnic Minority Families. Urban Education, 47(4), 801-834.

Cubukcu, F. (2009). Metacognition in the classroom. Paper presented at the Wolrd Conference on Educational Sciences 2009.

Dawkins, P. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Melbourne: Ministerial Council on Education, Employmnet, Training and Youth Affairs.

Devlin, M., Kift, S., Nelson, K., SMith, L., & McKay, J. (2012). Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: Practical advice for teaching staff: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

Dixon, F. A., Yssel, N., McConnell, J. M., & Hardin, T. (2014). Differentiated Instruction, Professional Development and Teacher Efficacy. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 37(2), 111-127.

Ertmer, P. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quedt for technology integration. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53(4), 25-40.

Fu, J. S. (2013). ICT in Education: A Critical Literature Review and Its Implications. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 9(1), 112-125.

Hill, N. E., & Taylor, L. C. (2004). Parental School Involvement and Children’s Academic Achievement. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(4), 161-164.

Joseph, N. (2009). Metacognition needed: Teaching Middle and High School Students to develop Strategic Learning Skills. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 54(2), 99-103.

Krause, K., Duchesne, S., & Bochnier, S. (2012). Educational Psychology for Learning and Teaching (4th ed.): Cengage Learning Australia.

Lampert, J., Burnett, B. M., & Lebhers, S. (2016). ‘More like the kids than the other teachers’: One working-class pre-service teacher’s experiences in a middle-class profession. Teaching and Teacher Education, 58, 35-42.

Lazar, A. (2012). The possibilities and challenges of developing teachers’ social justice beliefs. Online Yearbook of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, 33-40.

Levy, H. M. (2008). Meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction: Helping every child reach and exceed standards. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 81(4), 161-164.

Nanjappa, A., & Grant, M. M. (2003). Constructing on Constructivism: The Role of Technology. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 2(1), 38-56.

Papaleontiou-Louca, E. (2003). The Concept and Instruction of Metacognition. Teacher Development, 7(1).

Prestridge, S. (2012). The beliefs behind the teacher that influences their ICT practices. Computers and Education, 58(1), 449-458.

Sang, G., Valcke, M., Braak, J., & Tondeur, J. (2009). Student teachers’ thinking processes and ICT integration: Predictors of prospective teaching behaviours with educational technology. Computers and Education.

Scheopner, A. J. (2010). Irreconcilable differences: Teacher attrition in public and catholic schools. Educational Research Review, 5(3), 261-277.

School Curriculum and Standards Authority. (2017). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability. from https://k10outline.scsa.wa.edu.au/home/p-10-curriculum/general-capabilities-over/information-and-communication-technology-ict-capability/introduction

Sternberg, R. J. (1998). Metacognition, abilities, and developing expertise: What makes an expert student? Instructional Science, 26, 127-140.

TFA. (2017). Breaking The Cycle: A snapshot of educational disadvantage in Australia: Teach For Australia.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms: ASCD.

Tomlinson, C. A., & Allan, S. D. (2000). Leadership for Differentiating Schools & Classrooms: ASCD.

UNESCO. (2004). Changing Teaching Practices – Using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’ diversity. France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Verenikina, I. (2008). Scaffolding and learning: its role in nurturing new learners Learning and the learner: exploring learning for new times: University of Wollongong.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this assignment and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: