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The Effects of Social and Emotional Behavior on Learning
Throughout life, the development of social and emotional skills play a key role in one’s ability to function at home, school or within the community. These skills reflect the understanding of others feelings, regulating one’s own behaviors and feelings, getting along with others, and establishing relationships, and are important to a child developing skills such as cooperation, following directions, self-control, and paying attention (Cohen, 2005). However, when young children face challenges in a social, emotional,and behavioral context it can impact their success in school as well as with relationships (Bell and Wolfe, 2004).
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The focus of this paper is in reviewing the literature, documented demographics, and performance data for Muskegon Heights Public Academy as a possible pathway in explaining the effects of the issue of social and emotional behaviors on student learning within this school. Taking from the theoretical perspectives of Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, and Howard Gardner’s proposed model of multiple intelligences, I intend to present these theorist’s approaches of intelligence and how they relate to educational psychology. In addition, I plan to provide examples from the literature of how human intelligence may affect social and emotional behavior and student’s potentials in learning abilities.
In reviewing the demographics and performance data of Muskegon Heights Public Academy, relevant information may project an insight for teachers to understand the effects of mental activity and various types of intelligences that may play a significant role in student’s adapting, and shaping real – world environments to think critically, problem solve, and set and accomplish meaningful goals.
Social and emotional development encircles a vast array of interrelated areas such as social interaction, emotional awareness, and self-regulation, which can affect progress in many other areas of development (Cherry, 2018). Learning to manage these characteristics can be challenging for some children as these skills are a foundation for developing one’s personality as well as providing a basis for future enthusiasms toward building relationships, transitions, confidences, and enhancing a love for learning. Importance lies in the development of a positive self, and children often demonstrate this through their own unique way of responsiveness to situations as well as their surroundings.
In a rapidly changing and diverse world in which we live, the development of social and emotional skills may not be recognized or at the forefront of a teacher’s mind (Magliano, 2017). However, research shows that these skills are crucial for children to develop and manage to become successful socially, emotionally, and academically.
Through a vast array of research, an awareness of psychological findings can broaden the scope of understanding in the approach of teaching and learning to enrich the objectives of school curriculum (Ramkumar, 2019). For example, Erik Erikson’s theory of development suggests, “…there is a connection between present patterns of thinking and feeling, and earlier resolved or unresolved developmental issues” (Ramkumar, 2019, para. 4). His theory of stages are relevant to education as educators identify with consistently meeting the needs of a child, encouraging initiatives, gaining competence, and building relationships that channel social communication. In this respect, teachers have the ability to observe and respond to students that are appropriate for that child.
Theories of intelligence are vast, and often take on the perspectives of many viewpoints. A typical dictionary may reflect the definition of the ability to acquire and apply knowledge whereas other researchers may define intelligence through the measurement of tests. Additionally, others may reflect their theories on cognitive research, which reconceptualizes what intelligence entails. Regardless of how one may view intelligence, importance lies in understanding how theory can relate to and be applied in teaching and learning. For example, taking from the theoretical perspective of Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, his “…view revolves around the concepts of analytical, practical, and creative aspects of the mind (Wilson, 2019, para. 3). Sternberg projects his view of measuring intelligence through a philosophical lens of not only how much ability one has but also how one may use those abilities. In this respect, sternberg believed that things like personality, age, gender, culture, and schooling should be considered when measuring intelliegence. In addition, he suggests that individuals, “…combine and use aspects of all three (e.g. analytical, practical, and creative) components of intelligence” (para. 12). In this respect, this theory suggests intelligence is used to accomplish certain goals, and apply certain intellectual skills, which would apply to students in the classroom.
Key Functions in Each Aspect of Intelligence (Sternberg, 1977)
Howard Gardner’s proposed model of multiple intelligences. Expanding from the theoretical view of Sternberg, Garder’s research in the field of learning reflects the ideas of individuals have different ways of learning, and use different intelligences in the process. Through this perspective, gardner proposes that “we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representations, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals and an understanding of ourselves” (Herdon, 2018, para. 5). In this respect, gardner believes that the differences should define how people are educated. His research suggests schools expecting everyone to learn the same material the same way and not adhere to the differences will adversely affect student achievement in learning. He additionally proposed nine intelligences of which can be strenthen or weakened:
● Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence: Well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words.
● Mathematical-Logical Intelligence: The ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and the capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns.
● Musical Intelligence: The ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timbre.
● Visual-Spatial Intelligence: The capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly.
● Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: The ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully.
● Interpersonal Intelligence: The capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.
● Intrapersonal Intelligence: The capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes.
● Naturalist Intelligence: The ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature.
● Existential Intelligence: The sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why we die and how we got here (Herdon, 2018).
Teachers may believe that teaching a variety of learning styles is a losing battle, however, with the use of multimedia the process can be much easier and effective as teachers learn the diverse style of their students. Additionally, teachers need to pay attention to all intelligences as all of them are important to the learning process, however, one is not expected to teach in all ways. It is just good to know what is available to determine the paths that will be the most effective.
Demographics and Performance
According to the most current demographics data for Muskegon Heights (2017), Muskegon heights population is 10, 792. The average family size is 3.4% in comparison to other ares within the city of Muskegon with 86% of unwed woman who have given birth. This number reflects in woman from the ages of 15-50 or 5.2%. The Muskegon Heights area’s income level is 2.6%, making this a low-income or poverty level city.
In looking at the performance data for the Muskegon Heights Public Academy findings show that for 7th to 12th grade there are 386 students enrolled, with 95.9% being African American, 1.6% Caucasian, and 2.7% being of other races (CollegeSimply, 2019).
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Absenteeism is a major problem within the area with 42% of students not coming to school with an additional 19% who have dropped out of school. This can have a major affect on graduation rates or the potential for students to obtain employment.
Standardized testing for Muskegon Heights students reflects in 6% proficiency. Although not one in favor of standardized tests, this data shows that there is a problem somewhere. These tests most often do not show what a child truly knows, and with this in mind the social, emotional, and behavioral factors can play a key role in the scores that students obtain.
State Standardized Test Performance
1 OUT OF 10
Rank: 555th in Michigan
Students at Muskegon Heights Academy scored an average 6% of students proficient for math and reading as tested by the Michican Department of Education. Performance is significantly lower than the state high school median of 38% proficiency and places the school’s test performance in the bottom 1.8% of Michigan high schools.
Test Proficiency By Gender
5% or less*
6% to 9%*
5% or less*
5% or less*
With the brief summary of demographics and performance data alone, one can see that within a poverty level area, the number of single parent families can be cause for concern of academic achievement levels. Many students come to school from home environments where there isonly one parent, who struggles to make ends meet and provide the best for the children. However, this in many cases is not always enough. This can cause many different attitudes and behaviors among children, and affect their daily requirements at school. Parents who have to work often leave the children in control of many of the family responsibilities, which has them reaching outside the box into more adult roles.
This can also affect the performance levels of students. Some students come to school tired from staying up with siblings, hungry because there is not enough food or working to help meet family needs. This can have an adverse affect on one’s learning or enthusiasm to learn at all. In this respect teachers have to be observant, and recognize the things that students come to school with. Some parents did not graduate or have a difficult time with reading or doing math and cannot help their children. Frustration for a child who wants to do well and finds many closed doors often gives up, becomes challenging through their behaviors, and struggles with socially and emotional development.
This paper focused on the effects social, emotional, and behavioral aspects of children can effect their learning, and identifying how theory can relate to education. Social and emotional development encircles a vast array of interrelated areas such as social interaction, emotional awareness, and self-regulation, which can affect progress in many other areas of development. Learning to manage these characteristics can be challenging for some children, and the frustrations they experience often are overlooked or misguided through a lack of understanding. In a rapidly changing and diverse world in which we live, the development of social and emotional skills may not be recognized or at the forefront of a teacher’s mind,
however, research shows that these skills are crucial for children to develop and manage to become successful socially, emotionally, and academically.
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