How we learn and develop are intertwined, with skills and hobbies shaping our interests throughout our lives. During childhood, our ability to learn improves as we develop, and various theories have attempted to explain the effects of learning on development. Let's consider Dweck's Mindset Theory and Willingham's Learning Theory, which attempt to understand learning and development.
- We will start off by looking at development influences on learning examples; this will include examples of the effect of learning disability on child development, the effect of sensory development disorder on learning and the effects of learning difficulties on child development.
- We will delve into Dweck's Mindset theory, exploring the various concepts and examining the theory.
- Then, we will move along to discuss the Willingham learning theory and the effects of learning on development.
Learning can affect how you develop, freepik.com/pch.vector
Development influences on learning examples
Multiple factors can affect an individual's ability to learn.
Effect of learning disability on child development:
An example of a learning disability that is common in children is dyscalculia, characterised by difficulty in understanding numbers. Children diagnosed with dyscalculia have difficulties with learning and processing numerical information; they may have difficulties in learning mathematics.
Effect of learning difficulty on child development:
Some infants develop speech skills later than other children. These children may have developed difficulties with following instructions, literacy and language skills
Effect of sensory development disorder on learning:
Children with sensory development disorder can get easily overwhelmed by stimuli. For example, if children are learning by reading a book they may get overwhelmed by too much information, contrasting colours and pictures. This can cause confusion and distress for children and make learning difficult.
This shows that children with sensory development disorder may need to use tools tailored for them to support their learning.
Theories that explain how developmental factors can influence learning
Theories have been proposed to explain how developmental factors can influence learning.
Dweck's theory proposes that situational factors and events, such as passing exams or encouragement, can affect learning. Encouragement such as praising people can help adjust mindsets from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset; this can positively affect learning.
Additionally, Willingham argued that how information is learned can improve students learning. This happens when the context of what type of information needs to be learned is considered.
Dweck's Mindset Theory of learning: fixed mindset and growth mindset
Some developmental psychologists such as Dweck argue that mindset plays an important role in learning. For instance, the type of mindset that someone has can determine if someone will make an effort to learn and improve their skills or understanding.
Dweck proposed two types of mindsets. These mindsets have an effect on ability and effort.
- Fixed mindset
Intelligence is fixed, this means that the individual thinks their intelligence and skills cannot be improved
- Growth mindset
Individuals think that their intelligence and skills can be developed through effort
According to Dweck, people can have a fixed or growth mindset, freepik.com/pch.vector
Dweck stated that people can have different types of mindsets in terms of different skills or aspects of themself.
A student may think that they cannot improve their art skills because it does not come naturally to them (fixed mindset) but think that they can do better in mathematics by practising and studying harder (growth mindset).
People's mindsets are not fixed; they can change. This may be due to the outcome of an event (situational factor) or due to someone encouraging or praising them.
Someone may have failed an exam after studying hard. After the event, the person began to think that they will fail no matter how hard they try. This is an example of someone changing from a growth to a fixed mindset.
Mindset, praise and self-efficacy
Some factors can have an effect or change a mindset such as praise and self-efficacy.
Dweck proposed that praise can have an effect on students' mindset and learning. She described that there are types of praise.
- Person praise is one of the types of praise proposed by Dweck, this occurs when a student prefers to be praised for an attribute such as their intelligence. People with a preference for this type of praise tend to mostly believe that success and failure is due to factors other than themself, such as luck. These people can be considered to have an external locus of control.
- The second type of praise proposed by Dweck is process praise, this occurs when an individual prefers to be praised for the effort that they have made. People with a preference for this type of praise tend to mostly believe that success and failure is due to their own effort. These people can be considered to have an internal locus of control; this means that they believe the results obtained are a result of internal forces.
People who receive or prefer personal praise are more likely to fixate on results. They may believe that their success is determined by external forces such as luck. Whereas people who receive more process praise are more likely to focus on understanding the process and forming strategies to learn new things.
People with a preference for process praise are more likely to try and learn information compared to people with a preference for personal praise.
Moreover, if people are praised then this can encourage people to change their mindset from fixed to growing; this is so that they can continuously be praised (this is an example of positive reinforcement). Praising people can develop individuals' self-efficacy and have a positive effect on learning
Positive reinforcement is a type of reinforcement that encourages people to continue a behaviour
Individuals' self-efficacy can also affect mindsets.
Self-efficacy is a person's belief in their ability to do well at something. A person may believe that they can study hard until their exam and this will lead them to pass their exams.
People with high self-efficacy are more likely to have growth mindsets
- this means that these people are more likely to have a positive attitude toward learning because they believe they can succeed
People with low self-efficacy are more likely to have fixed mindsets
- this means that these people are more likely to have a negative attitude toward learning because they do not believe they can do well
People with high self-efficacy are more likely to challenge themselves which is an important task that people should do to improve their learning. Whereas, people with low self-efficacy are less likely to do this.
Gunderson et al. (2013)
Gundersone et al. (2013) found that praising a child's efforts in learning encourages a motivated learning framework, whereas rising a child's inherent abilities encourages a more fixed mindset learning framework.
Gunderson et al. (2013) demonstrate how the role of praise aids affects the effort children tend to put into learning, supporting Dweck's theory. Praise affects effort mindsets.
Learning has also been linked to the creation of new neuronal pathways, as well as stabilising existing pathways, showing how learning affects the brain.
Willingham's learning theory and the effects of learning on development
Willingham's learning theory focuses on how factual knowledge precedes skill, in that children in school need facts to base their learning. Previous knowledge accelerates this process, and it is quite similar to the growth mindset proposed by Dweck, as Willingham stressed how practice and effort are important to the learning process. Willingham also believed children learn differently depending on age, similar to Piaget's stages of development.
Research has noted that there are different types of learning styles.
Learning styles is the type of method that people use to learn new information.
There are different types of learning styles:
- Visualisers - learn new information better when visually presented, for example, people may learn better when information is shown as pictures and diagrams.
- Verbalisers - learn new information better when verbally presented. These individuals may learn better by writing the information down.
Other theories have proposed that students learn better when they are taught with their preferred learning style.
Visual learners may learn better when using revision books that have a lot of pictures and diagrams.
However, Willingham criticised these learning style theories because:
- Research has shown that teaching in a preferred learning style has no effect on exam results
- It is not useful in educational settings. pupils are required to learn in-depth meanings and processes to achieve good grades in school. However, if students only use their preferred learning style then it is unlikely that they will be able to learn in-depth information.
Instead, Willingham argued that a student's ability to learn new information should not be dependent on a preferred learning style but rather the ability to store information in memory. Willingham proposed that for teachers to support pupils learning, how information is learned (learning style) should be dependent on the type of information that is being learned.
For example, when learning about the structure of neurons a good way to learn this is by showing a diagram of neurons with labels of what each part of the neuron is called
Learning in-depth can be done in certain ways, flaticon.com/premium-icon
Willingham also stated that through practice people develop skills. If skills or knowledge is practised enough then it can move from the short- to the long-term memory store. As the long-term memory store has an unlimited capacity and duration (there is no limit and for how long information can be stored) skills need to be practised so that it can be moved along to this store. These skills if practised long enough can last a lifetime.
- Knowledgeable people such as teachers and parents can help improve children's cognitive, physical and social development by helping them practice.
The Effects of Learning on Development - Key takeaways
- How we learn and develop are intertwined, with skills and hobbies shaping our interests throughout our lives. During childhood our ability to learn new things improves.
- Research has found that developmental factors, such as learning difficulties, can have an effect on learning abilities.
- Theories have been proposed to explain how developmental factors can influence learning include Dweck's theory and Willinham's learning theory.
- Dweck's theory proposes that mindsets people hold affect learning abilities. These mindsets can be influenced by situational factors and events such as passing exams, praise and an individual's self-efficacy. Dweck proposed two types of mindsets: fixed and growth.
- Willingham argued that students' ability to learn new information should not be dependent on their preferred learning style but rather the ability to store information in memory. Facts precede skill, and practice and effort are important.
- For teachers to support pupils learning, how information is learned (learning style) should be dependent on the type of information that is being learned.