Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

The Definition of Learning and a Consideration

This week we focused on Schunk’s widely accepted definition of learning: ‘…an enduring change in behavior, or in the capacity to behave in a given fashion [resulting] from practice or other forms of experience.’

I agree with this definition but find it doesn’t relate enough to my daily work as a kindergarten teacher so I’d like to explore it more. Can learning be described as the ability to consider and apply a new idea or behavior?  Right now I’m in the midst of teaching English phonics to 4-year-olds.   Did the child who struggles to remember that /p/ makes the puh sound fail to learn today?

As a kindergarten teacher, much of the learning experiences I expose my students to would classify as social rather than academic, such as sharing, respect to others when speaking, and manners.  Based on the number of reminders I issue on any given day, I’d say these lessons have not yet resulted in any enduring change in behavior.  Most kids need to revisit these concepts frequently but that doesn’t mean they haven’t learned or understood the ideas being presented.

Learning at this young age is an ongoing, cumulative process of receiving ideas and applying them in daily life that will ultimately lead to an enduring change in behavior.

I enjoyed reading about the different types of educational research (descriptive, correlational, experimental).  I realized that a lot of my thinking about students is similar to correlational observation.  I have two classes but their abilities vary significantly.  The students in the first class (A) are much more confident and competent speakers than the students of B class.  By way of classroom arrangement, I have more frequent casual interactions with the A class students.  I’ve begun to wonder if the B class students are simply more introverted, or would they speak English more often and comfortably if they had those few extra moments with a native English speaker?

It is inevitable that one group of students will see me slightly more than the other.  I’m considering making myself more physically available to the ‘weaker’ class next year. Is this fair?  It’s certainly not ideal, but every other aspect of my teaching and lessons is comparable and I’d like to discover if the little bit of extra time I have in the mornings and late afternoons would be better spent in the physical company of the quieter students.


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