1. Over the years extensive research has been conducted by many by Psychologists and Scientists who sought to identify the ways in which we learn. As a result several theories have become documented each with different perspectives the main ones being behaviourism, neo-behaviourism, constructivism and humanism but there are some who have a different view on these theories. Minton (2002) identified that “the history of education is littered with failed theories even those that were the result of years and years of research” (pg213). What is common among all the theories presented is that learning takes place in stages, in different pace and time and in different ways. The aim of this paper is to analyse some of the factors which can affect learning and achievement and how these theories can be applied to inclusive learning.
1.1 Analyse the factors that can affect learning and achievement. There are many factors that affect the learning and achievements of students. These factors may be considered a barrier to some individuals but the same factors can also be a source of inspiration and motivation. Motivation and inspiration may come from anyone within the environment in which they hence factors affecting learning and achievement can either be personal or external. Parents influence children’s careers choices both intentionally and unintentionally. Similarly students may be just as inspired by role models and peers outside of the home.
External factors affecting learning and achievement can be look at from many different angles. If students live in an area where there is a high rate of crime or are issues of gangs and anti social behaviour then this can cause emotional and psychological disturbance and unsettlement which can affect students’ ability to focus on learning and achievement. External factors can also be extended to include poverty and deprivation as this can limit individuals to learning opportunities. Depending on the postcodes in which student lives this again can also be a significant factor as to whether the level of learning and achievement can be achieved especially in some cases where the educational establishments may not have the level of resources or facilities, or having suitably trained teachers to teach students. The family environment and background are also key factors which can affect learning and achievement which can be seen from different angles.
First of all the family structure and support of one or both parents of a student at home can be hugely influential factor. According to the Office of National Statistics publication released on October 31, 2013 there are nearly 1.9 million lone parents with dependent. The single parent charity Gingerbread, report this figure to be as high as 3 million children living in a single parent household and 43 percent of single parents are social housing tenants (gingerbread.org.uk). There can be very little doubt that there is a relationship between the household and family structure and its influence on learning and achievements for students but as previously mentioned for some this may be a barrier to some but for others it can be a source of motivation and inspiration. Research suggests “children intact families tend to have a greater academic achievement and educational attainment and are less likely to exhibit behavioural problems at school.
Their parents tend to be more involved in their school activities and have higher expectation for them. It was further stated that individuals from intact families completed on average more years of schooling and were more likely to graduate from High School, attend College and complete college compared to peers raised in blended or single parent families.” (Family Facts.Org). Other factors also include those children who are under the care of the local in foster care or foster homes or those who have been taken away from their birth parents. A high percentage of these children may have suffered from abuse and neglect which can affect their social and psychological well being as well as their perception and esteem. The relevance and importance of this cannot not be over emphasised. It has been well documented that how one perceives themselves, their confidence and esteem can have a direct influence on their education success as is their abilities to effectively communicate with others.
Personal factors may include a disability or learning difficulties such as dyslexia or generic inheritance. Learning difficulties could be a specific difficulty in one or more areas of development particularly if needs are not assessed and being provisions made to cater for. Students with dyslexia may exhibit some tendencies like slow reading or writing speed, tendency to misread or possessing a short concentration span and more. Student’s reaction to dyslexia may be varied as they may become frustrated and irritated by the effects however may be minimised if the problem is identified quickly in the initial assessment stage so that it is included in the planning of lessons. It is essential for Teachers to be able to identify the signs of dyslexia as sometimes the students themselves may not always be aware of this issue.
Although it may be a barrier for some many students have benefitted from some good support from both Teachers and Institutions. The effect of dyslexia causes barriers to students learning and development not just from an educational standpoint but can also affect their social well being as they may have difficulties organising work and other aspects of their lives. This may be particularly true for mature students, some of whom will have had very negative experiences of education earlier in life and may experience more negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and low self esteem. They may have difficulties in multitasking, difficulties in carting out instruction or may get lost easily, or may mix up dates for important appointments or meetings. Other personal factors also include issues pertaining to physical and psychological health. For example students who are hyperactive tend to find concentration difficult which may also be a barrier not just to their own learning and development but also that of other learners.
1.2 Explain how theories and principles of learning and communication can be applied to enable inclusive learning and teaching. As teaching professionals it is critical that a flexible and open minded approach to teaching be embraced and adopted for learning to be achieved. Not only do we need to be flexible with our teaching styles but also need to apply the same principle in delivering lessons and creating a suitable environment for achievements to be obtained. This is necessary because students learn in different ways and forms. The vark learning styles theory was based on research which was undertaken by Neil Flemming in 1987 and is one of the more popular tools used to identify how students learn and are characterised as being either audio, visual or kinaesthetic learner. Auditory learners learn best by hearing information and are normally good at remembering what was said which an extremely useful component in the communication process is.
Visual learners learn best through the written word and absorb information by reading information by reading books or taking notes. Some lessons may require students to work in groups where they can interact with their peers and express themselves and some activities may also require them to work on their own. This has been theorised by Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. The principle of this theory is based on the belief that what students learn with the help of others exceeds what they can learn on their own and highlights the parallels between these important factors of group work and its benefits in students learning from each other where the strong supports the weak. One could argue that this would create a suitable learning environment where all students develop new skills as through this inclusion and interaction of peers it was possible to educate those who are so called uneducable.
Conversely there may be some who could then argue that the theory may not be as beneficial to some students and may in fact be holding back their development. In contrast the Piaget theory suggest that development comes before learning and hence since we were all born with the ability to learn, learning could be more difficult later unless if there is little or no exposure to the suitable learning environment from a young age. Piaget further suggests that learning must wait until students are ready. Vygotsky argued, “Learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organised, specifically human psychological function, In other words, social learning tends to precede development” (SS).
I interpret this statement mean that Vygotsky was of the view that education is an individual process and everyone learns at their own rate, when they are ready to learn, regardless of age. 3.1 Analyse ways in which minimum core elements can be demonstrated in applying theories and principles for planning and enabling inclusive learning and teaching The minimum core elements are considered as one of the basic skills and knowledge required in being able to deliver effective lessons as a Teacher irrespective of the area of specialism. Possessing the knowledge, understanding and personal skills in English, Numeracy and ICT provides us with the platform to be able show and demonstrate theories and principles to facilitate their learning. “Improving these skills will enable you to effectively fulfil your role as a professional teacher, it’s about being able to develop these skills in your students” (Ann Gravels).
For some Teachers it may be necessary to attend classes to get their core elements up to the required standard through refresher courses or some may need to sit Exams. As an Employability and Business subject tutor to adult learners I often use several different ways to integrate the minimum core elements into lessons. As an example in delivering lessons on team stage development I put learners in groups to under pin the concept of teamwork. I also use this to reinforce their understanding of the objectives and also to differentiate learners based on their abilities. For the particular task I provide each member of the group with a hand out of the instruction and ask random individuals to read portions of the instruction and the task that is required.
I also ask random individuals to count the number of full stops at various sections which provides the opportunity to practice numeracy. I may chose to set the groups an objective to build a particular structure using the resources provided in 45minutes. The objective also gives them the opportunity to count the number of resources needed to construct the tower. This activity also includes the opportunity for them to practice speaking and communicating with others and to be able to use numeracy in working out how much time is needed in each section to complete the task.
4.1 Analyse how own application of theories and principles of learning and communication impact on inclusive learning and teaching Recognising how our students learn is a vital part of a teacher’s role. Assessment therefore is an essential part of the teaching and learning process. It helps us as teacher/ trainers to plan and provide support for learners used with the individual learning plan and the lesson plans. It is integral to managers for monitoring of performance, curriculum planning and evaluation our own teaching. Most importantly, assessments help to track progression, measure achievement and provide feedback to learners.
In doing so, learners can make changes to their learning and improve the quality of their work. As Wilson (2009) .p 266 states “it is the process of checking that learning has occurred. It is the way teachers know whether or not they have been effective in their sessions”. Assessments can be categorised as part of the key stages of learning, the assessments I use in my teaching includes Initial assessments which is used before the start or at the beginning of the course, and is one of the most important assessment method. Ineffective initial assessment can affect the entire learner journey if not correctly assessed. Formative assessments are classed as ongoing or continuing assessment, and used throughout the course at set intervals.
These assessments are both formal and informal and utilised to check if learning has taken place as a result of my teaching and to evidence learner progression. Summative assessment takes place at the end of a course or learning programme. It checks that learning has taken place and is a formal method of assessment. Learners are tested for evidence of skills and knowledge the end result if successful is a certificate. Assessments I use include observations, worksheets, exams, tests and directed questioning. .
Self assessment is the evaluation and reflection of own performance, differentiation is evident as each assessment is individual and specific to the learner. The learner takes ownership and is responsibility for own learning. Assessments are conducted during tutorials or at the end of a topic or class session. This is done through written records, questionnaires, action plans and ILPs. Advantages of self assessment; information from is used to record details of progression and helps reflection. Learners develop the habit of recording details of their own progress. During peer assessment learners gather ideas and information from each other. It is inclusive learning; individuals work together to formulate feedback which aids reflection.
4.2 Evaluate strengths and areas for improvement in own application of theories and principles of inclusive learning and teaching Possessing over 20 years experience in commercial business before I started Teaching Business related subject as well as my abilities to engage learners in stimulating discussions has been my stronger areas as a Teacher. I am able to apply and use real life examples and or experiences and relate them to lessons and use this means as an inclusive tool for learning. I am also able to adapt my lessons and teaching styles to different levels, am a good communicator and possess good classroom management skills. I was recently observed and strengths were highlighted as very experienced and knowledgeable it was suggested that my recap and lesson summary needed to be more effective and was introduced to a technique call the flipped classroom model.
The Flipped Classroom model basically involves encouraging students to prepare for the next lesson by stating what will be taught. Thus the class becomes a dynamic environment in which students elaborate on what they have already studied. Another area where development was suggested was that there has to be more ‘Teacher intervention’, set tasks and then go round to individually student ensuring that there are achieving their personal targets and complement the learners on their progress using ‘Directed questions the develop the learning process and using a feedback sheet at the end of lessons.
4.3 Engage in professional development opportunities to improve own application of theories and principles of learning and communication to inclusive learning and teaching