There are many different ways people develop and construct knowledge. Different kids go through different developmental changes at different times so as a result it’s our jobs as teachers to appeal to all students. Piaget does a great job of outlining these different stages of development. Piaget figured out that students develop cognitively as they grow just like how they grow psychically. So he created four stages of development. The first stage is from the years 0-2 and during this stage he said children develop sensorimotor skills. This means during this age gap children gather information about the world trough sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The next stage is the preoperational stage which happens between the ages 2-7. During this stage children start to engage in pretend play and they start to understand symbols. Next we have the concrete operational stage, this occurs between the ages of 7-11. During this stage kids begin to understand mathematics and form the ability to understand sizes and portions “water in glass experiment”. Last from the ages 12 and up children enter the formal operational stage. During this stage kids are able to reason about different concepts and moral reasoning is believed to be developed during this stage. However I feel that one of the biggest impacts on a student’s learning is the classroom environment. Luckily this is something we can control as teachers. However it can be a challenging to find what forms of discipline your students respond best. As they go through different stages of development teachers must also adapt and use different types of reinforces. One of the most effective ways to influence all aged student’s behavior according to (Alper and Heward 1997, p. 277; Alber and Heward, 2000) “the systematic application of praise and attention may be the most powerful motivational and classroom management tool available to teachers”. By carefully selecting when to give attention and praise to students we influence them to behave properly. By being selective once praise is given it has an even stronger impact on your students. This concept is the same way inflation works with currency. If you just constantly print out and give people hundred dollar bills eventually it won’t be worth anything. This is because if everyone has hundreds of dollars available to them it won’t carry the same value it once had. So as a teacher you have to be extremely selective when you give out both negative and positive reinforcement so it will have significance when you use it. Although teacher reinforcement can be very effective in your classroom you must find other meaningful reinforces in order to further impact students behavior. This is where the response cost theory comes into play. As described by Walker, Shea, and Bauer (2004) “For certain infractions of the rules, people must lose some reinforcer-money, time, privileges”. Teacher reinforcement is great but if a student is behaving badly you need to have fair and meaningful punishments prepared to combat this behavior. The best way to find meaningful punishments is to observe what your students enjoy to do in their free time. However there are some cautions you should be aware of before you give out a punishment however. Students must be fully aware of the classroom rules and the repercussions of breaking one of these rules. Another important thing we must understand as teachers is that just giving out a punishment ineffective. This is because “It tells students what to stop doing (often they knew that already), but it does not teach them what to do instead (Kazdin, 2008). This is a crucial aspect in changing a student’s behavior because it teaches them what they can do to avoid getting in trouble again. Hopefully by reading this post you will be able to grasp a better knowledge on how to effectively impact your student’s behavior inside your classroom. If you are able to use some of the methods listed above you should be able to maintain the best possible learning environment for your class.
All information was taken out of our Educational Psychology book citation is below.
Anita Woolfolk, Alber, Heward, Walker, Shea, Bauer, and Kazdin. (2014). Educational Psychology 12 Edition.