Personal factors, like personality and social skills, impact a student’s success and ability to learn. This lesson outlines factors that affect student learning and success and details how they impact learning.
How Students Learn
Not too long ago, teachers prepared lessons, taught them, and tested students without putting much thought into who their students were or what worked – or didn’t work – for them. A teacher’s responsibility was to teach and a student’s to learn. Teachers weren’t necessarily aware that children have different factors that impact their ability to learn and succeed in school, or even that they could modify instruction to ensure student learning.
These days, though, educators know how important it is to have a solid understanding of how children learn. How do they know? To keep in touch with student’s as learners, they need to:
- Observe students at work
- Listen to how students solve problems and add to discussions
- Watch students as they interact with their peers
- Notice what subjects interest them
By noticing these things, teachers gain a deep insight into personal factors that impact student learning. Personal factors are behaviors or beliefs specific to a student, like interests and personality. By knowing and understanding a student’s personal factors, a teacher can design instruction to ensure success.
Because we’re all unique individuals, we each have a special learner profile, or a set of descriptions about who we are as learners. The term is broad and includes things like cultural background, gender, and personality. If you want to learn how to roast a duck, it might make sense for you to look up a recipe and read about it.
For others, they would be better off watching a video or working with a friend. Some may even prefer to take a class. Our personal factors impact how we learn best and create our learner profile, kind of like a fingerprint of us as learners.
Factors Affecting Learning
As you have seen, we’re each unique learners.
Why is that so? As we grow and develop, many things impact us and affect our view of the world. All of us experienced education in some way and learned what worked best for us. Teachers need to keep these aspects in mind as they plan lessons and learning experiences. If you know a student learns best by talking things out with others, providing that experience means that student has a greater chance of learning.What are some factors that affect student learning? When teachers observe their students, they’re likely to notice differences including personality patterns, ways students sense and perceive themselves as learners, social interaction skills, and interest in the subjects. Let’s take a closer look at these.
Maggie is an elementary school teacher with a diverse group of students. She has Isabelle, an outspoken student who is always ready to learn. Kate is more withdrawn and quiet, and rarely raises her had or plays with other students. Ben is mature for his age and is sensitive to his peers’ emotions, while Harry struggles with paying attention and seems to view school as a thing to get through.
Finally, Olivia is in constant motion and wants to touch and experience life.Each of these students has a different personality profile, individual characteristic aspects that make each of them unique. Maggie is in touch with her students, focusing on what keeps their attention, how they function emotionally, and what they value. She knows what works for Isabelle may not work for Kate. During center time, for example, Maggie makes sure she provides learning experiences that support Isabelle’s need for social interaction as well as Kate’s need to work by herself. She makes sure Olivia has plenty of materials to interact with, and keeps a special eye on Harry so she can redirect him if necessary.
Another factor that impacts a student’s ability to learn and succeed in school is their student perception, or the way they sense and perceive their role as learners.
Maggie often has to redirect Harry when he gets off task, but rarely does so for Ben. Harry may begin perceiving this and conclude that he is a ‘bad’ student, or that school isn’t fair. Ben, on the other hand, may perceive the situation differently, finding it easy to do what is necessary and building confidence in his school experience. Which student is more likely to succeed?How children see the world around them, including their experiences in school, affects their learning. Harry is making important connections between his behavior and the outcomes, like that when he gets up to get a new pencil, he gets in trouble, but when Ben gets up, ‘he’ doesn’t.
The truth may be that this is Harry’s fifth trip to get a new pencil, but Harry may not be able to see that.Maggie is sensitive to her students’ growing perceptions of themselves in relation to their surroundings. She recognizes that Harry is developing a negative perception and works hard to combat this. She provides many opportunities for him to find success, like entrusting him to deliver a message to another teacher and carrying the ball basket to recess.
Social Interaction and Subject Interest
Finally, students’ ability to learn is impacted by social interactions and subject interest.
Social interactions are behaviors and practices children have with their peers. Think back to Kate, Isabelle, and Olivia. Kate is an independent learner who works best by herself. Isabelle and Olivia, however, much prefer their group work. Maggie needs to plan experiences that allow her students a variety of options for success, like independent and collaborative experiences.
Her students’ interest in subject matter is another factor that affects their learning. If Olivia is very interested in science and can’t stop reading about the stars and moon, she’ll likely do better on the space unit than Ben, who loves to read and isn’t much interested in science. A student’s natural interest increases that student’s success rate, so Maggie works to make each topic exciting and engaging and tries to broaden her students’ interests.
Students are unique individuals with specific learner profiles, things that make them distinctive as students. Teachers can tune in to their student’s learner profile by keeping a close eye on students while they work, interact with peers, and solve problems.
Many personal factors, things about a student’s personality, affect a student’s ability to learn. For example, students have different personality patterns, perceptions of school and themselves in that world, social interaction skills, and subject interest. When a teacher keeps these factors in mind, they will be able to design instruction and activities to support all students.