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Educational Psychology, Case Study Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1785

Case Study

Introduction

Educational psychology is one of the most developed sub-fields of psychology. The discipline attempts to explain the individual character, especially when seen in an academic setting. Educational psychology has been adopted by a number of teachers in their attempt to solve the problems faced by their students. These problems range from attitudinal to disciplinary cases.

Lev Vygotsky has been one of the major contributors to the field of educational psychology. Being a professional teacher helped develop his ideas based on his practical experience. His works revolve around the idea of social, cultural and historical processes that determine an individual’s character.

The paper takes a case study to explain the theories of educational psychology, using the scenario provided as a basis to understand and solve the problems faced by the teacher in real life cases.

Case Study

While teaching French at the high school level as an occasional replacement teacher, I was pleased in my expectations for discipline in the classroom. A majority of the students were committed to learning. However, in one of the grade nine classes, I noticed an increase in the level of conflict between a small group of students who also did not stay focused during the French class, and a few individuals. On a regular basis, I noticed a barrage of verbal abuse targeted at another student who was very quiet and nice.

Another scenario involved a girl who was bullied for not acting like the rest. The popular culture involved emulating teen actors and pop stars. A large number of the students carried video-supported electronic gadgets to the class. The students bullied and victimised any student who did not identify with the popular culture in the school.

Analysis

The two cases discussed above happen in many schools, a problem that many teachers have to encounter for the sake of their students. The paper adopts the educational psychology perspective advanced by Lev Vygotsky to solve the problem. The paper discusses the theories advocated by Lev Vygotsky and attempts to use the case study provided to explain these theories to provide a solution.

Understanding the problem

The first step involves identifying the kind of personality problem affecting the students. The cases involve identification with popular culture and the victimisation of students who do not belong to such groups. They point to attitudinal problems, where some students have a positive attitude about particular popular culture, and despise the students who do not share similar sentiments.

Lev Vygotsky stressed on the importance of social interaction and the contribution of the historical dimension to the psychological development in children (Vygotsky 5). Taking this theory as the basis of defining the problem, the teacher can place the root of the problem on the social and cultural background of the students.

The bullying that occurred in the French class can be explained on the premises of the social, historical and cultural theory of psychological development. This is where students develop their mental functions based on the socialisation they receive within the confines of their social and cultural setting. This is the case of identifying with renowned media personalities such as musicians.

Vygotsky explains that man is characterized by a primary socialisation aspect (Vigotsky 10), which can be seen in the students attempt to identify with popular media personalities. This has a close resemblance to Henri Wallon’s explanation of the human being as genetically social (Wallon 34).

This is unlike Vygotsky who never associated the individual’s psychological character as genetically determined. Today, however, to some extent the idea of the human character as genetically determined, has gained much prominence amongst many educational psychologists.

Theoretical analysis led Vygotsky to advance some ideas on the effect of socialisation on the child and adopted them in advancing the theory of child development. He asserts (Vygotsky 11):

A child undertakes tasks through the mediation of the adult. Everything in the behaviour of the child is based in social relations. Therefore, the realities of the child are from the start based on social relations, where the newborn could be said to be in the highest degree a social being.

To rephrase the idea, certain types of higher psychological functions could not take shape and emerge in the growth process without the assistance of socialisation process. Vygotsky gives emphasis on the importance of socialisation in determining individual character.

The students attempt to identify with media people and teenage stars; can be seen within the framework of this theory of sociability. The popular culture at the time could be geared towards identifying with popular musicians and actors, and any person who went against the grain, could be seen as not belonging to that group.

In his analysis of the influence of cultural values in an individual’s development, Vygotsky put forward various arguments. He sensitised on the cultural aspects that would subsequently control the mental processes and change the human behaviour. These include the various instruments and techniques including innovations that people adopt and turn towards themselves so as to influence their own psychological functions. This explains the case of students carrying video-supported gadgets to class in order to be close to their perceived idols.

Therefore, the psychological development of a person cannot be reduced singularly to the changes taking place within the individual. It is also a growth that is capable of taking different forms: the creation of external aids that can be used to initiate the production of internal psychological changes (Schaffer 25). Therefore, besides the instruments that human beings have innovated throughout the course of history, and use to exercise control over objects, in this case external reality, there exists other tools that, when directed internally, can be applied to master, control and develop their own capabilities. All these cultural tools are extensions of man according to Schaffer (64).

The problem, therefore, based on the works of Vygotsky, can be understood within the realms of socialisation. In this case the group can be said to adhere to popular culture, which idolises musicians and other star personalities. Students who do not belong to such groups are considered as not belonging, hence may be victims of hatred, which is reflected in bullying and other forms victimisation.

Solving the Problem

Having identified the root of the problem, the same theories can be applied to provide a solution to the problem. The problem in this case has been identified as being attitudinal, and led to a disciplinary case; therefore, the solution should factor in a change of the attitude of the students. An attempt to solve the problem using other methods would probably fail or be short-term.

Having understood the problem as being internalised and a result of socialisation, the teacher should enlist the intervention of key persons in the students’ lives. The sources of the problem, in this case the musicians and teenage stars, can be effectively used to change the attitudes held by the students. Other important actors in shaping the students character such as parents and teachers should also be enlisted. The method should involve dialogue sessions and organized talks to the students, and parents should follow up on the development of their children.

The strength of this method lies in its emphasis on changing the popular culture held by the students, especially their reaction to those perceived as not belonging. The expectation is that the students can be socialised in a different perspective, to be accommodative of the diversity that exists between them and appreciate the differences.

In addition to the organized talks with some of the idolised people who could sway the beliefs held by the students, it is important for the teacher to organize trips for the students. These trips could take the students to other areas. The emphasis here is to make the students see and learn from other students.

Another perspective that can be effectively adopted is on the importance of education in shaping students behaviour. This can be achieved by having guest speakers to give talks on the challenges faced by adolescents, and interact with the students. The guest speakers should be selected from people who are held in high esteem by the students, therefore, would have a profound influence on the students.

Finally the teacher can adopt the use of disciplinary measures by punishing students who do not change their behaviour after the adoption of these intervention measures. The disciplinary cases are aimed enforcing attitudinal change among the students. The teacher can adopt measures such as, suspending students found abusing or victimising other students; confiscating electronic gadgets from the students among others.

Once the teacher adopts these measures, the result will be a change in the students’ behaviour and attitudes towards other students. Based within the confines of Vygotsky’s theory of educational psychology, the students will have been socialised to new behaviour. This approach should be encouraged in schools, since it is one of the holistic approaches in educational psychology.

Conclusion

Lev Vygotsky was an influential scholar in the field of educational psychology. Much as he was no trained in psychology, he spent more than a decade developing his ideas on educational psychology published after his death (Vygotsky 2). Being prominent in the field of education and a teacher for a long time, Vygotsky was able to come up with perspectives on educational psychology that revolutionized the discipline. He based most of his ideas on the social, historical and cultural perspectives, asserting that these played a fundamental role in shaping the human personality.

Students usually have a lot of influence when in school, especially when socialising with students from other areas. Popular culture takes root, since the students are of a young age that is easily impressed with popular values, such as the pop culture that happened in my French class. Teachers need to have a proper understanding of these values and the role of socialisation in order to understand student behaviour. This will be key to the teachers’ ability to solve problems affecting students, as happened in the French class.

Lev Vygotsky provides guidance on understanding the role of socialisation in understanding the students’ personality. In addition, he talks of the importance of education in shaping this personality. This is crucial for teachers, to help them cope with the problems their students face in class. This will also help the teachers shape the personality of the students to make them responsible adults in the future.

The strength of the educational psychology advanced by Lev Vygotsky lies on his ideas based on socialisation and the influence of culture in determining the individual character of the students, at the same time understanding the external factors such as peer influence found in the group dynamics. This is unlike some scholars who base their theories on the influence of genetics in determining behaviour.

Works Cited

Schaffer, H. The Growth of Sociability. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1971.

Vygotsky, L.S.L. Educational psychology. Florida: CRC Press, 1997.

Wallon, H. (1959). The role of others and self-awareness. Paris: Enfance, 1959.

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