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Studying how people learn is a very vast aspect which has allowed major interest in the development of learning. Some common names on who have done research in these sectors are Jean Piaget and B.F.Skinner and Erik Erikson. Their studies are focused on the stages of human development, process which can affect the development, social and emotional needs and their cognitive ability which will be implied in my case study for my student, Susan. Through these theories I would like to understand Susan's learning ability and developmental stages that she is experiencing. In adaptation to these stages and theories, I will be reasoning on how these ideas can assist Susan's progress. Alongside with this, I will be adapting different scaffolding and differentiation strategies for the student's commitment to learning.
Susan who is currently seven years old is studying in Bukit Timah Primary. She is in her middle childhood (6 - 10) and has multiple disabilities. She has been identified as having low fine motor skills, speech delay, Dyspraxia (Sensory Integration Disorder) and suspected Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Susan has a very short attention span which has made the parents consider on her exemption from Mother Tongue language (Chinese). She has a very supportive family who are always on the move to cater to her needs. Susan is currently getting help from AWWA and an occupational therapist.
Problem #1: Communication
Considering her speech delay, Susan has trouble expressing her feelings, and reading non - verbal cues which at times leads to difficulties in between peers. This disability of hers has discouraged her questioning ability when in doubt. In group work, Susan is unable to clearly convey her thoughts and ideas effectively verbally. This condition affects her learning significantly.
In terms of her academics, Susan is facing difficulties in learning. She requires constant supervision. If not provided guidance, Susan gets distracted and starts to chew on her paper. Beside this, she has low fine motor -skills which give her difficulty in forming words and letters causing her to write untidily. Along with all this, her inconsistency of writing has caused her skills in copying letters or words in an unorganized manner. When unfocused, she starts to scribble on her paper without understanding the text.
Personal Needs (Erikson Theory and Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Reasoning)
Susan falls under the stage of Autonomy vs. Shame of Erikson's Eight Life - Span stages (Eggen, P., & Kauchak, D, 2010). This is because, at home, the mother illustrates pinching action as a way to show love. As such, Susan adopts the same method with her peers in the school. She feels that it is not wrong to display such an action. However, this has caused her friends to move away from her as they feel that this is a form of physical aggression.
Under the same stage, Susan is also able to apologize based on her mistakes. As Susan has been thought from her teachers and parents that when she makes a mistake and if she feels that it is wrong, she has to apologize immediately. This is illustrated in the Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Reasoning, falling under Level II Conventional Ethics, of stage 3: Interpersonal Harmony where it shows that the person makes decision based on society's ethical view leading to a consideration of feelings of others. (Eggen et al, 2010).
Social and Emotional Needs (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)
Due to her speech delay and lack in communication skills, Susan has a very low self-esteem (Self - worth) in terms of her social needs. She is unable to approach her friends and is usually very shy. For example during her lunch break, Susan avoids purchasing food from the school canteen or sitting with her friends and usually brings food from home. This discourages any form of conversations as she is afraid she will make mistakes which will encourage her to be in shame.
Susan strongly desires acceptance, attention and worthiness of respect from her friends and teachers. This can be supported by Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs under Deficiency needs for Belonging and relatedness which is falls under need for self - determination (Eggen et al.).
Self & Motivation to learn (Extrinsic Motivation)
Susan is in Extrinsic Motivation (Eggen et al.). The reason for this is that Susan works strongly on external factors. Extrinsic motivation drives Susan to do things for rewards or pressure rather than for the fun of it. For example, when Susan is assigned to do work individually or in group and the teacher mentions that the first three pupils to complete his/her work will receive a sticker, Susan starts to work at a faster speed to obtain the reward. In effect, this motivation can change Susan's aspiration to achieve better than her peers into work.
Cognitive Ability (Piaget's Theory)
Susan's lacks some cognitive ability. This includes Problem-solving skills, Attention and Reading, Linguistic and verbal conception. However, she is able to accommodate to her memory and visual comprehension
In terms of memory, Susan is able to memories basic concepts which are explained to her to meet her understanding. For example if you teach Susan a passage in the morning and if you ask her about it in the afternoon, she is able to recall about the passage and explain more about it.
Problem solving skills involves her inability to solve problems. For instance when she faces a question which she does not know how to do, she gets very irritated and gives up easily.
As mentioned earlier, Susan is unable to focus on her work for an extensive period of time since she has a very short attention span, affective her academics considerably.
As for her linguistic and verbal conception, Susan has difficulties, reading, understanding text or non- literal text until further explained. When provided a new passage, Susan needs time to decode the content and at times require the teacher's assistance.
Lastly, Susan is able to process visual comprehension. Susan has the capability of recognizing. For example when she looks into the mirror, she is able to infer that the reflection shown is hers.
In relation to all this ability, Susan's stage of development falls under the preoperational (2-7) stage of Piaget's stages of cognitive development. (Eggen et al). This is so as she is less egocentric in terms of her social aspect which relates to her apologizing when in wrong. She is very strong in focusing her attention on one idea rather than alternatives. Susan easily believes in stories due to her interest in stories told by her teacher. She only focuses on simple do's and don't imposed by her teachers.
Multiple intelligence theory
Multiple Intelligences is not solely focused on one type theory. However, each person can have all the seven intelligence. For instance for Susan, enjoys listening to stories which accommodate to the Linguistic Intelligence. She also caters to the Spatial Intelligence as she has the ability of day dreaming consecutively. In support to the Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence, Susan exhibit signs of moving, twitching, tapping or fidgeting while seated for a long period of time. In support to that, Susan has the tendency of putting her hands all over something that she has seen. Lastly, for Musical Intelligence, Susan is very sensitive to environment noises and can detect a certain sound from across the room.
Susan's teacher should focus on some of this scaffolding skills to help her in her conversational and academics to enhance her confidence and self -esteem (Eggen et al.).In order to accommodate to Susan's academic issue, her teacher can help her to link the common situation that she is aware of with new data provided. This could either be verbal or non verbal interaction and modeling behaviors. These scaffolds can ensure enthusiasm in the task given to Susan.
Simplifying the task could further help Susan achieve reachable goals. When given a worksheet to work on, the teacher can give some guidelines, reduce perplexity, clarify the rationale, integrate assessment and provide opinion for future learning.
Alongside with this, the teacher can also reduce frustration over Susan as this encourages her to express herself better and builds her self -confidence and self esteem in asking questions when she is doubt. Beside this, Susan should also be provided with models, cues, prompts, hints, partial solutions, think -aloud modeling and direct instruction. Questions can also be used as part of scaffolding to resolve a problem or complete a task. This level of questioning can be increased based on the Susan's responses. However, if responds is very general and wrong, intrusive verbal prompts can be implied in the scaffold.
Her desire for communication and academics could be further catered by engaging Susan in buddy system or small group. During this, research work or concrete examples can be used to encourage her learning ability. This allows her to extend her cognition level. With her active role in her social interaction, Susan can build constructive understanding of the concept through capable peers. This factor helps in the aid of better friendship which caters to her to have high self esteem in making friends.
In addition to improving Susan's cognitive abilities, scaffolding instruction in the context of classroom learning and student research delivers efficiency and creates momentum
The teacher can use Scaffolding to motivate Susan's ability to learn. Another is that it can reduce the learner frustration. This is extremely important in the case of Susan, who can become frustrated very easily then blackout and say no to contribute in further learning during that particular setting.
Teachers have to understand that every child learns differently. As for Susan, her teachers can emphasis on multiple options to cultivate the student to absorb the information. This can employed from Susan's multiple intelligence or expression to allow her to make sense of the topic. This can be done via musical lessons, drama, storytelling or usage of concrete ideas. This can be adopted in small groups or individualized.
Together with this, she can encourage flexible grouping as Susan is weak in her academics and help Susan think at different level of complexity by designing activities. This allows her to solve the situation if she comes across it again. Research and discussion can also used to cultivate understanding of the key ideas. This could be further adopted when teacher gets the whole class to review on the concept. This process in return can cater to her social needs and her confidence in terms of her learning.
If there is a case where Susan starts to struggle, the teacher has to find her strength which she can to tackle in instead of focusing solely on her areas of difficulty. Encourage the learning of big ideas and key concepts. Her teacher has to provide a friendly approach to allow the student gain acceptance and achieve his full potential.
Susan and her teacher have to assign important goals and find ways to use scaffolding to achieve those goals. Lastly, the teacher has to continuously let Susan know that she believes in her and reinforce the smallest success.
In conclusion, the teacher can adapt more teaching strategies or theories which will encourage her learning. Some possible approach will be in terms of her environment. Her teacher can ensure that Susan sits as close to the teacher so that she can help Susan when she is in need or confused. There are many approaches which can be used and it all depends on the student needs and how the student learns. This could be in terms of his interest and goals.