Learning Theories Observations

School often becomes a difficult experience for many children, especially during the first years in the classroom. Students need to organize their schedule themselves and be able to concentrate during the lecture. Another problem for many children is interaction with classmates and teachers. New circumstances and people might become a stress for a child and that is why he might not be able to study well. There are two students, who are both 11 years old and whose behavior will be analyzed from different points of view.

The first student who is disruptive in class, has problems with concentration and has learning disabilities is active, so it is might be easier for him to switch from one exercise to another. Quick changes of activities might reduce his inclination to daydreaming. It is possible to suppose that the student is not performing to his potential because he is not interested in the subject and is not motivated. He might be interested in art and humanities that allow students to use their imagination and creative thinking. The behavior of the second student does not cause problems at school, he is trying to perform to and above his potential. He has a more systematic learning style comparing to the first student. He might be interested in science and math.

According to Erikson, each child goes through identification period that includes a set of expectations the society wants from him, which helps him to learn what he wants to be and to do. The first student might be currently going through this stage, because he is not interested in adopting the roles of other significant people like his parents and teachers. This child seems to try creating his own world that fully reflects his personality, and this might be an explanation of daydreaming at school. Erikson writes that childhood is the time where kids try to do things right, to be good and to be responsible. It is also the age of formation of self-confidence. Children learn to cooperate with their classmates and teachers, and need to gain recognition in these groups. The first student has problems with recognition – the teachers are not satisfied by the way he studies. This might lead to the appearance of feelings of inferiority that might harm the student’s development in the future. Apathy, low self-esteem and lack of motivation are among possible results if the child does not develop his interests. There is a possibility that the first student had problems on previous stages of psychological development in the dichotomies trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame and doubt, and initiative vs. guilt. The second student behaves himself according to the main patterns of Erikson’s theory: he is a disciplined student, who does not hesitate to develop his skills and interests. This student does not have problems with communication in the group of mates and he satisfies the teachers’ demands. It is possible to say that the second student has a positive environment for development of his personality and he is growing up as a psychologically healthy individual (Sokol, 2009).

According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, there are two types of intelligence: figurative and operative. The first student, who prefers daydreaming to studying in the classroom, is more likely to have the figurative type of intelligence. The second student, who has no problems in following the system, has an operative type of intelligence. Piaget states that biological mental abilities of different people are equal. The distinction becomes evident only in the process of studying. That is why it is necessary for both teachers and parents of the first student to pay more attention to his classes. Geary and Bjorklund write:

Biologically primary abilities are acquired universally and children typically have high motivation to perform the tasks involving them. In contrast, biologically secondary abilities are culturally determined, and often-tedious repetition and external motivation are necessary for their mastery. From this perspective it is understandable that many children have difficulty with reading and higher mathematics” (Geary, 2000).

The process of studying at school refers mostly to the concrete operational stage of cognitive development that means that all students have to cope with concrete tasks in a concrete way. However, the speed of work in the classroom is the speed of the majority, so both students who are not able to keep up the tempo and those who are too quick, might have problems with the educational process. The first student belongs to the category that is why he even does not try to work in the classroom. Perhaps, the teacher and the parents need to create an individual program for this child, so that he will not have problems at school. It the student is more intelligent than the majority of his classmates, the teacher needs to give him additional exercises. The second student does not have problems with concrete operational tasks, but there is a possibility that his ability for abstract thinking is neglected. That is why it is necessary to give him the exercises that develop creative thinking to avoid possible problems on the formal operational stage, where logical thinking is combined with abstractions (Genovese, 2003).

According to Vygotsky, the zone of proximal development is “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peer” (Shabani, 2010). In other words, it is the current stage of intellectual development of the child and the things he can do without help, and the next level, where the help of adults is needed. Both of the analyzed students have their strong and weak points in cognitive activity. The first student has a developed imagination and much energy. Creativity is the thing that he can do without any help. His weak point is self-organization and systematization. These aspects belong to his zone of proximal development and he might be able to reach these goals with the help of teachers and parents. In a contrary, the second student has no problems with organizing his activity and following the rules. Learning to be more creative is in his zone of proximal development.

According to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological framework, the two students can be described within five systems within the community. They refer to the same macrosystem and microsystem, but the relations in the mesosystem might differ. The first student has problems in establishing positive relationships with teachers. Expsystem experience of these two children can also differ, because they do not share the same surrounding at home. Chronosystem might be very important in understanding the origins of problems the first student has. For example, he might have negative family circumstances that trouble him (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

It is possible to suppose that these two children have different styles of playing, interacting with peers that are similar to their styles of learning. The first student is more active, rush and chaotic. He might be an aggressive player, who does not fear conflicts. The second student is calmer and concentrates, so he is more likely to prefer ingressive games and to have better relations with friends than the first child.

Students need to be supervised in the following important issues. The first student needs to get social skills training and culturally appropriate instructions. There is also a need to improve executive function, find the child’s interests and talk about his behavior using real examples. The second student also needs to pay more attention to his interests. There should be more games in the process of learning and there is a need in bullyproofing. Even though there is no real menace of bullying when he is small, the situation might change in future and the child might need to be confident in his physical abilities. Both of the students have to get parental support, because it is essential thing in educational process.

The impact of teacher’s and parental intervention into the school life of these two children might be serious. Both of the students have problems that they have to cope with. For example, the first student has learning disabilities, he does not performing to potential, and is disruptive in class. He has short attention span and is often off task. He also prefers daydreaming to assisting in the classroom. All these issues have a negative influence on intellectual and psychological development of the child. Problems with cognition can lead to backwardness in future and it will be more difficult to deal with this problem in teenage years. When the child is small and only starts learning, he is more perceptive for behavioral correction. However, the process might be easier and more efficient if the children receive help from adults. This might establish personal relations between students, teachers, and family.


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological Models of Human Development. International Encyclopedia of Education. Retrieved from http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~siegler/35bronfebrenner94.pdf

Genovese, J. D. (2003). Piaget, Pedagogy, and Evolutionary Psychology. Evolutionary Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/ep01127137.pdf

Shabani, K. (2010). Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: Instructional Implications and Teachers’ Professional Development. English Language Teaching. Retrieved from http://people.ucsc.edu/~gwells/Files/Courses_Folder/documents/chaiklin.zpd.pdf

Sokol, J. T. (2009). Identity Development Throughout the Lifetime: An Examination of Eriksonian Theory. Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology. Retrieved from http://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=gjcp

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