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    Human Development in The Classroom

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    I need help with the information on each question and examples to prepare for writing a paper:

    1. Analyzing the importance of understanding the stages of human development in the classroom.

    2. Analyze some of the problems that might result from a teacher's lack of such understanding.

    3. Focusing on one stage ( early childhood), include a discussion of teacher behaviors that would promote students' thinking abilities, behaviors that would help students achieve greater success, and behaviors that would promote the social and emotional well-being of the individual student as well as improve the classroom environment for children in that stage.

    4. Include classroom practices and materials that you feel promote diversity and equity within the educational experience.

    Please focus on the early childhood like kindergarten. Thank you.

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    Solution Preview

    Please see response below. Briefly, it addresses each question through discussion, theory and illustrative application examples, which you can consider for your final copy. Please see three supplementary articles as well.


    1. I need help with the information and examples to prepare for writing a paper. Please focus on the early childhood like kindergarten.

    a. Analyzing the importance of understanding the stages of human development in the classroom.

    The best approach to teaching kindergarten is to use various approaches in delivery.

    Three influential developmental theories (and related teacher's strategies) to consider for your paper are Erickson (psychosocial development) (see chart of stages at http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/affsys/erikson.html), Piaget (cognitive development) (attached) and Vygotsky (social interaction influences learning) (see http://tip.psychology.org/vygotsky.html) has also been influential as a learning theory that is often compared to Piaget (biology influences learning ability).

    Jean Piaget: Background

    Jean Piaget is a Swiss Psychologist who began to study intellectual development. His Cognitive Theory is influential in both education and psychology fields. He was a biologist and interested in how organisms adapt to the environment through a process of equibration e.g., a biological drive to obtain balance between schemes and the environment (e.g. the person uses the processes of assimilation or accommodation to adapt to the environment). He called this ability to adapt as intelligence. Piaget studied children and noticed that the child's thinking was qualitatively different in different stages of development. This is important for teachers to understand for learning environment, lesson planning and teaching strategies designed as a function of developmental stage of the child.

    According to Piaget, assimilation is the process of using or transforming the environment so it can be places in existing cognitive structures e.g., infant used a sucking motion of a smaller bottle, to suck on a larger bottle. Accommodation is the process of changing cognitive structures in order to accept something from the environment e.g., the infant modifies the sucking motion from a pacifier to accommodate that of sucking on a bottle. As schemes become more complex (e.g., responsible for more complex behaviour), they are termed structures. As one's structures become more complex, they are organized in hierarchal manner (e.g., from general to specific). These concepts progress through the stages of development.

    Specifically, Piaget proposed that the thinking process would develop through each of the stages until a child can think logically. Understanding cognitive development helps teachers in classroom arrange appropriate lessons and learning environments. An instructor should assess a child's current level of maturity before beginning the instructional design process. It is also important for the teach the teacher to develop developmentally based teaching strategies. Content is also impacted by the developmental stage of the child. For example, advocates of a constructivism approach (Piaget) suggest that educators first consider the knowledge and experiences students bring with them to the learning task. The school curriculum should then be built so that students can expand and develop this knowledge and experience by connecting them to new learning. (Also see http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~bwilson/construct.html).

    Let's look at some illustrative examples of application of these theories to classroom situations and teaching strategies. Although you mentioned kindergarten, I include other stages as well.

    ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1: Application of Piaget's Cognitive Stages to the Classroom

    Much of your teaching depends on cognitive abilities -- sharing information with your students and looking for signs that the information is understood. As a result, you should understand cognitive stages. Child psychologist Jean Piaget described the mechanism by which the mind processes new information. He said that a person understands whatever information fits into his established view of the world (assimilation). When information does not fit, the person must re-examine and adjust his thinking to accommodate the new information (accommodation). Piaget described four stages of cognitive development and relates them to a person's ability to understand and assimilate new information.

    1. Sensorimotor: (birth to about age 2) During this stage, the child learns about himself and his environment through motor and reflex actions. Thought derives from sensation and movement. The child learns that he is separate from his environment and that aspects of his environment -- his parents or favourite toy -- continue to exist even though they may be outside the reach of his senses.

    E.g. Teaching for a child in this stage should be geared to the sensorimotor system. You can modify behavior by using the senses: a frown, a stern or soothing voice -- all serve as appropriate techniques http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/piaget.htm).

    2. Preoperational: (begins about the time the child starts to talk to about age 7) Applying his new knowledge of language, the child begins to use symbols to represent objects. Early in this stage he also personifies objects. He is now better able to think about things and events that aren't immediately present. Oriented to the present, the child has difficulty conceptualizing time. His thinking is influenced by fantasy -- the way he'd like things to be -- and he assumes that others see situations from his viewpoint. He takes in information and then changes it in his mind to fit his ideas.

    E.g. Teaching must take into account the child's vivid fantasies and undeveloped sense of time. Using neutral words, body outlines and equipment a child can touch gives him an active role in learning (http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/piaget.htm).

    Play is the first and most important mode of instruction in Kindergarten (Piaget). By providing an environment in which children are free to play with each other and with a wide range of carefully selected materials, teachers facilitate children's development and learning. The amount of learning is affected by the nature of the materials provided and by the quality of the teacher's involvement in the play activity. Besides providing suitable materials and appropriate conditions for play, the teacher should help children structure and extend their play. In order to be sure the teacher is facilitating development rather than taking initiative away from the children and imposing adult ideas, the teacher needs to begin by observing the children at play. After observing, the teacher adjusts the space available for various play activities, judges the amount of time needed for play to develop, makes decisions about materials, and helps students to set the rules that are needed. Having observed the children, the teacher also decides when joining in the children's play will help extend and develop the play, and when it is appropriate to initiate a new idea or to provide new materials (http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/docs/kindergarten/kindapp.html).

    3. Concrete Operations: (about first grade to early adolescence) During this stage, accommodation increases. The child develops an ability to think abstractly and to make rational judgments about concrete or observable phenomena, which in the past he needed to manipulate physically to understand.

    E.g. In teaching this child, giving him the opportunity to ask questions and to explain things back to you allows him to mentally manipulate information.

    4. Formal Operations: (adolescence) This stage brings cognition to its final form. This person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgments. At his point, he is capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning.

    E.g. Teaching for the adolescent may be wide-ranging because he'll be able to consider many possibilities from several perspectives.

    (Source: http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/piaget.htm).

    Illustrative Example 2: Preoperational Stage (2-7 Years)

    The second stage in Piaget's theory of development coincides the preschool years. Children start to use symbols such as language to represent objects. For instance, the child understands the word "apple" although a real apple is not seen. However, the Preoperational child still learns from concrete evidence while adults can learn in abstract way. The Preoperational child is also unaware of another person's perspective. They exhibit egocentric thought and language.
    Image 1: The Preoperational child lacks the concept of number conservation (see http://coe.sdsu.edu/eet/Articles/piaget/index.htm).

    Here are some limitations of Preoperational thought that the teacher must consider in learning lessons and strategies. To begin with, the Preoperational child lacks the concept of conservation. As shown in Image 1, a child is presented with two rows of apples that contain the same number of apples. While one row is lengthened without any change in the number of apples, the Preoperational child states that the rows are not equivalent. The appearance of the objects gives the wrong impression about them. Children's decisions are dominated by their perceptions. Teachers need to consider this and plan lessons and strategies to meet this stage of developmental learning e.g. teaching must take into account the child's vivid fantasies and undeveloped sense of time. Using neutral words, body outlines and equipment a child can touch gives him an active role in learning. Conservation does not happen simultaneously in all subject areas. Children can understand conservation of numbers around age 5-6, and understand conservation of substance, or mass around age 7-8. Additionally, the Preoperational child is likely to center on only one dimension of an event and ignore other important details. Also, children concentrate more on the static features of an event than on the transformations from one state to another e.g., the teacher plans lessons to tap these skills at the appropriate developmental stage of the child. Last, children in the Preoperational period at times will see some relationships between particular cases while in actuality there is none. For instance, a child might say, "If an apple is red, then a green fruit is not an apple."

    Image 2: The concrete operational is capable of reversible thought only if they operate physical ...

    Solution Summary

    Through theory and examples, this solution assists in analyzing the importance of understanding the stages of human development in the classroom and problems that the teacher might encounter without this understanding. How to deal effectively with diversity and equity in the classroom are also detailed. Concrete examples are provided as well as supplementary articles. References are provided.