Indiana University Northwest
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School of Education

School of Education

Initial Programs Additional Information

Learning and Development

Reflective Professionals (Agents of Change) understands how children learn, selecting and using the best classroom practices from various theories of learning and development. In addition, the teacher acknowledges and attends to special needs students and diverse learning styles.

Knowledge Base

The faculty embraces the need for a knowledge base grounded in learning and developmental theory. Everything teachers do is impacted by the developmental and learning levels of their students (Bigge, 1982). A teacher who does not acknowledge these individual differences in day-to-day decisions is behaving blindly. The faculty strongly believes that the use of principles and theories of human learning, development, and behavior that can help beginning teachers make informed instructional decisions in the classroom is essential.

According to Ormrod (2003), Educators should “keep in mind that no single theoretical orientation gives a complete picture of how people learn.” In other words, the vast majority of teachers cannot be neatly categorized as behaviorists, humanists, or cognitive theorists. They are, rather, eclectic, selecting and adapting what they regard as the better features of each system. Moreover, planning for instruction involves decision-making regarding the systematic use of selected techniques, methods, and strategies to create a dynamic interface between the curriculum and the students (Kindsvatter, et. al., 1988). The instructional strategies we choose will inevitably depend on the particular students we will be teaching (Ormrod, 2003). The practices teachers adopt may include exploring different perspectives and research findings on how students develop through the school years, how students differ from one another in ways that affect their classroom performance, how they learn most effectively, what things motivate them, and how their learning and achievement can best be measured and evaluated.

Finally, the SOE faculty recognize their professional responsibility for engaging in and supporting appropriate professional practices that “emphasize the continuity of relationships among the physical, cognitive, and affective realms of development” (Papalia et al., 1998). As learning is social in nature, the faculty believes that educators who are aware of and use differences in language, values, cultural norms, and behavior styles to enrich instruction can help students from diverse settings become successful learners (Guild, 1994). When students from various culture groups interact regularly, and particularly when they come together as equals, work towards a common goal, and see themselves as members of the same “team,” they are more likely to accept one another’s differences – and perhaps even value them (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1999; Oskamp, 2000; Ramsey, 1995). Many factors influence what and how well our students are likely to learn and remember classroom material. Naturally, students will differ considerably with regard to these factors. They will have unique knowledge bases on which to draw, and they will elaborate differently on the ideas we present (Grant & Gomez, 1996). Students with differing cognitive styles, special educational needs, and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds approach the task of learning in disparate fashions.; Helping such students learn requires familiarity with learning and development theory.

  • This theme mirrors INTASC Principle 2: The teacher understands how children learn and develop, and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development. It is also related to Principle 4 which focuses on instructional strategies and development of critical thinking, and Principle 5 that promotes an understanding of motivation and creating learning environments.