Impact of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Cultural Differences on Student Learning
To a large extent individuals’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as inherent cognitive abilities, define their personalities, behaviors, and decision making. These factors also affect the process of learning across the lifespan. Therefore, every teacher must consider all possible differences in students and differentiate lessons according to children’s specific needs and interests to facilitate the academic performance and achieve better results.
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From the sociological perspective on human thought and cognition, individuals are largely influenced by social and cultural contexts where they are placed. Not only do those contexts determine the manner of human relationships but also define how emotions are elicited and expressed, and how different events and phenomena are interpreted and dealt with in various situations. In other words, both children and adults act based on their perceptions of the world, which they gradually develop during the course of interaction with their environments. Moreover, it is worth noticing that social-cultural and psychological domains of human cognition and behavior are deeply interrelated. It means that they may affect each other significantly and lead to changes in the performance of distinct activities.
The assumptions described above have a few implications for each teacher to consider. First of all, they indicate that each student may have different values and perceptions of the world, and consequently respond to anything that happens at school and in the classroom in his or her individual way. Thus, not a single instructional activity will be accepted and seen by multiculturally diverse children similarly. Moreover, some of those instructional practices may even be entirely inappropriate for particular students. Therefore, an educator must have a culturally sensitive approach to the curricula design and selection of materials to avoid being disrespectful and to meet students’ interests.
Secondly, it is valid to presume that when children’s differences are not taken into account in the classroom, they may feel left out, disengaged, and unmotivated to learn. An obvious example of such a situation is the neglect of a student whose linguistic skills are underdeveloped, and whose mother tongue differs from the language spoken by the rest of the classmates. When such student is not provided with a sufficient amount of scaffolding materials and his/her engagement in the whole-class practice is not supported by various appropriate differentiation strategies, his/her academic development can be significantly delayed. Moreover, in this situation, linguistic differences of the learner or rather the lack of their consideration may also adversely impact his/her psycho-emotional well-being, and self-esteem. In their turn, such negative effects can have a prolonged detrimental influence on the child’s behavioral and cognitive development at later stages in life.
Overall, individual differences substantially influence students behaviors and learning processes as well. As it was suggested in the essay, the consideration of different factors affecting children’s preferences, motivations, and learning engagement may boost the classroom performance, while the neglect of cultural and cognitive aspects of personality can create barriers to students’ academic success. Thus, the differentiation of instructional practices and learning activities is of tremendous importance. Various differentiation strategies such as peer-mediated tutoring, grouping, spontaneous language use, etc. contribute to the creation of a friendly and inclusive atmosphere in the classroom. They can encourage all students regardless of their cultural and linguistic characteristics for self-expression and help them be more involved in group activities resulting in better learning and behavioral outcomes.
Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCCT) Standards
The CCCT standards are specifically designed to help teachers to develop and implement right strategies to meet the learning and developmental needs of modern students. It is possible to say that each CCCT standard represents a professional ideal, which every educator must strive to attain. The standards outlined in Domain 2 − “Classroom Environment, Student Engagement and Commitment to Learning” − are probably the most significant in terms of the classroom management. They are of great professional value because they may help improve the overall quality of teacher-student and peer interactions and foster better academic outcomes.
The standards 2.1-2.5 are related to the creation of an inclusive classroom environment, implementation of accountable and culturally-sensitive instruction, promotion of learning engagement, development of social skills and behaviors conducive to greater productivity in students, and achievement of greater class management efficiency. Firstly, it means that along with a profound content knowledge, an educator should be able to comprehend developmental needs of diverse students to design relevant, differentiated curricula. It means that a teacher should be respectful to all students, their cultural identities, and previous social backgrounds.
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Secondly, the CCCT standards imply that educators can play a large role in fostering favorable social changes by performing according to high-standard ethical principles of professional conduct and being responsible for the accomplishment of professional tasks in a liable manner. By working in such a way, teachers may positively influence students with whom they interact on a daily basis by providing a good behavioral example to them. To achieve this, a teacher will always support equality in the classroom by differentiating lessons and creating inclusive learning contexts while working in a highly diverse student community. All students should have equal access to educational practices aimed at the improvement of their language and cognitive skills and knowledge development, and teachers need to raise own competence in order to meet their needs and provide them with equal opportunities for academic self-realization.
The implementation of the CCCP standards in practice also means the stimulation of student engagement, which is directly related to the quality of instruction. Thus, along with being flexible and cohesive, instructional practices should be diversified, deliberate, and intensive. It is possible to say that when a teacher has a strong sense of professional purpose, he/she becomes able to engage students in the learning process more quickly because, in this way, the educator can clearly convey to students what exactly he/she tries to accomplish and what should be done in the class. To ensure that learners are not bored, teachers may use such instructional strategies as asking engaging and challenging questions about students’ experiences to involve them in the discussion, or using different instructional materials, and activities. By diversifying instructional components according to students’ needs and promoting class collaboration, an educator may achieve better outcomes in practicing target skills without losing students’ attention.
In conclusion, it is worth noticing that a learner’s brain always searches for meaning, and looks for meaningful patterns and connections between constructs throughout the process of education. It means that people tend to evaluate information through their subjective perceptions and pay greater attention to the things they find personally significant. Therefore, the awareness of students’ interests, characters, and multicultural backgrounds; the development of a collaborative, supportive environment; the stimulation of positive perceptions of self, individual abilities, and curriculum content in students can help teachers add more meaning to the learning process and motivate learners to participate in instructional activities. The CCCT standards may guide educators in choosing a holistic approach to instruction and classroom management by multiple constructive means. They suggest a way to avoid negative emotions in the classroom and to maintain productive and positive student behavior.