Importance of student development and course climate in student learning
Teachers are primarily concerned with fostering the intellectual and creative skills of their students. We should also recognise the fact that students are also social and emotional beings. These dimensions interact within the classroom climate to influence learning and performance.
Suppose we take the age at which students enter into college as an example. They will still be developing the full range of social and emotional skills. During this phase, emotional and social processes are particularly salient. Studies show that social and emotional gains achieved by students in this phase are considerably greater than the intellectual gains. If students do not learn to channel the emotions productively, it can overwhelm their intellect.
As teachers, we cannot control the developmental process of children. However, by understanding it, we can shape the classroom climate in appropriate ways. According to research, classroom climate influences learning and performance. While negative climate hinders learning and performance, positive climate energises students’ learning.
We can look at student development first.
The age between 17 and 22 is a time for many momentous changes. While they make their transition from school to college, students learn to manage the intellectual demands of college. At the same time, they must also learn to live independently, establish new social networks, and manage their finances. They also have to take responsible decisions regarding drugs, alcohol and sexuality.
At this stage of their life, students have to grapple with ideas and experiences that may challenge their existing values. They also have to choose meaningful course to study and start to view themselves as members of a disciplinary field. Once they complete their graduation, they have to decide on jobs or courses to pursue higher studies. They soon face the prospect of being an adult in the real world.
To make it short, apart from the intellectual challenges, students of this age are also dealing with complex social, emotional and practical issues.
Now, we can discuss the ways in which students develop. Most developmental models share a basic conceptual framework. Development is described as a response to intellectual, social or emotional challenges that catalyse students’ growth. Developmental models depict student development in general – they do not necessarily describe the development of individual students because individual students do not develop at the same pace. Their development may not be always in the forward direction. Under some circumstances, development may regress also. In some other cases, a student can be highly developed in one area (for example, intellectual maturity), and less developed in another area (for example, emotional maturity).
Today, we spoke about the basics of development. In the coming episodes, we will discuss more on two major aspects of student development – intellectual development and social identity development. Before that, we will delve into the Chickering model of student development by famous educational researcher Arthur W. Chickering in the next episode.
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