What Makes a Successful Learner?

As used in the research question barriers to learning, is used as a term to describe why learners don’t encounter learning success compared to others. H. Howell (2007) suggests that learning barriers is a phrase used to indicate special attention which symbolize a medical or deficit approach to educational complications and finding difficulties within a learner. Howell further argues that learning complications may come from a number of factors, namely intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Barriers to Learning

Sensory, physical and neurological impairments, psycho-social disturbance and differing intellectual ability are some factors that fall under intrinsic barriers.

Factors that emerge outside the learner are called extrinsic barriers, however these factors influence the affected students learning. Extrinsic barriers in most cases is influenced by social ,economic context and cultural factors. When the learners mother tongue is not used in the school they attend due to constitute barriers this may also affect the learner and thus fall under extrinsic barriers. The most common factor is societal issues such as impoverishment and inadequate safety in the community, and thus resulting in the learner not utilizing their learning experience.

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These learning obstacles are comprehended as resulting from perplexing interaction of students in their specific situation or surroundings, and in most cases, this include the reality of impairments of disability, social financial constraints and broader societal issues including values. D. Feldman, P. Gordon and H. Snyman (2001) suggests that learning barriers that learners face is different based on their families and thus should be treated differently.

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According to M.F Giangreco (1997) , C, R Morgan and M,A Demchak (1998) those learners that experience barriers in learning should be placed in their neighboring schools “special schools” and be taught alongside other learners who experience similar problems to theirs. These inclusive regular classrooms represent diverse learning needs and appropriate support for all learners. M. Rouse and L. Florian (1996) suggests that educators should avoid grasping only the knowledge and understanding of barriers that learners face, however practice learner inclusion, for instance if a learner has difficulties seeing, the teacher should make further efforts or try to put the learner in the front row seat of a classroom setting, also the school should cater for people with physical disabilities such as creating ramps that would assist them from getting from one place to another.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Barriers to Learning Examples

Neurological Conditions

There are many disabilities that affect learners, some may last for a limited period whereas others can be lifelong. Disabilities are bound to affect a certain part of the body and for some the entire body. According to T. Alexander (2004) perceptual difficulties is on of the many symptoms of a learner with physical difficulties of neurological conditions, Alexander further argues that many learners have difficulties with receiving information by seeing and hearing, while others may be able to see or hear however they may have problems processing the information they receive. Reading and writing is one of the many difficulties caused by neurological conditions.

Speech and communication difficulties is also one of the many difficulties experiences by learners who have neurological conditions. Learners that cannot communicate effectively through speech, that stammer or have other speech and language problem are among those who are deaf or that require hearing aids to hear.

Sensory Impairments

When one senses such as sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness no longer normal, this is considered as sensory impairments. For instance, people that use glasses to read or see have sight impairments and those that have hearing aids or have problem with hearing are considered to have hearing impairments. A most common difficulty that learners face is conductive hearing loss, this is when the sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer or middle ears, however in most cases this can be corrected through medicine or surgery. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by ear wax, fluid in the middle ear or ear infection.


When a person doesn’t possess income or have enough material possessions for their needs this is called poverty. Political or economic and social elements are factors associated with poverty. In simple terms poverty is when individuals cannot meet minimum level or living standards compared to others. T. Pogge (2005) argues that regardless of a high and growing global average income, many people will still be affected by long severe poverty, this will then result to complications such as social exclusion, illiteracy, ill health, dependency and effective enslavements. J.B Gunn and G.J Duncan (1997) suggests that although many investigations have reported the relationship between family and poverty and learner’s well-being, accomplishment and conduct, not many measure the impacts of the depth and duration of poverty on children’s, and many neglect to adjust for other family characteristics, for instance, schooling, female headship and mothers age, that may represent a great part of correlation between poverty and child outcomes.

Inflexible curriculum

To first know what is a inflexible curriculum, one needs to know what is a curriculum or a flexible curriculum. The content and lessons taught in a school or in a specific course or program is known as a curriculum. This term also refers to the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, which may include the learning standards or learning objectives learners are expected to meet. Many studies show that an inflexible curriculum is a curriculum that cannot be changed to benefit teachers or learners needs, also a inflexible curriculum doesn’t allow learners to find their own strengths and interests or change defection if need be or needed so, further more and inflexible curriculum cannot be twisted to allow students to expand a sort of in disciplinary perspectives needed to address the key topics that address current problems facing society in the 21st century. E.J Jelsing and N. Lachman (2007) conducted research on the flexibility of a curriculum and the results were astonishing, Lachman and Jelsing suggests that despite the fact that different components of a flexible curriculum don’t appear to affect satisfaction and perceived learning, it does in fact promote patient-centered, creative thinkers and compassionate leaders.

How the Above Intrinsic and Extrinsic Barriers to Learning affect Learning

Students who suffer from neurological conditions are most likely to be sick more often which will result in them staying at home and missing out on school work. Illness can be triggered by daily stress experienced by the learner and in most cases caused by flashing or flicking lights such as on computer screens or through presentations, this can result in epilepsy which can harm the learner for life. Studies show that neurological conditions can trigger bullying as learners who have neurological conditions are sometimes called “not normal”, and when bullying is in motion its more likely that the effected student will withdraw from daily activities and behavior patterns will be noticeable which also hinders learning.
W. Dunn (1997) suggests that if a learner has sensory impairments he/she may not be able to learn about his surroundings or environment and in most cases the affected learner may appear unresponsive or clumsy. Dunn further argues that sensory impairments effect the learner’s behavior patterns and response to daily activities, this is because people are beings with interest and have behavioral patterns to support their performance needs. Senses are considered a major factor that spawn motivation to act. Studies also show that areas of development can be affected by loss of vision. Sensory impairments affect the learner’s social lifestyle as children’s who are affected are not able to pick up on non-verbal clues and in most cases they unable to make eye contact and may appear disinterested.

E. Jenson (2013) argues that poverty plays a major role in learners progress, Jenson further looks at different studies that suggests that a person’s intelligence is linked to their health, this is because if a learner is poor, he/she won’t have money to buy their medication which will result in growing diseases such as ear infections and hearing loss issues. Jenson also argues that nutrition plays an important role as well, learners who are raised in a poor family are most likely to be exposed to food with lower nutritional value. If the learner has poor nutritional breakfast this affects their grey matter mass in the learner’s brain. D. Walker, C. Greenwood, B. Hart and J, Carta(1994) argues that learners who are raised in low socio-economic conditions typically have a lesser vocabulary than average class learners, this raises their risk of academic failure.

Implications of this for Education within the South African Context

Since South Africa is such a diverse nation with learners that require special needs, a new constitution was drawn that highlights respect for the rights of all, this entails an inclusive approach to education which indirectly means that learners are entitled to appropriate education, previously in South Africa there wasn’t a system that catered for all learners. Students with a wide assortment of special education needs were found in many classrooms, however the difference is learners today are recognized as having the right to access the curriculum at which is appropriate for their learning needs. The nature of the curriculum and roles of teachers, parents and communities in the education of all learners is one of many few implications in the South African context.

In conclusion barriers do not only reside with the learner but factors such as socio-environmental issues are also a great concern. The above essay gives the two barriers namely intrinsic and extrinsic, which causes difficulties for learners in school, however implications have been introduced within the South African context to assist those learners in needs.

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What Makes a Successful Learner?. (2020, Sep 12). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/what-makes-a-successful-learner-essay

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