FACTORS INFLUENCING LEARNING
Learning can be defined as a process bringing relatively enduring changes in the behaviour of the learner through experience and learning.
This definition may also reveal that learning process related with a particular teaching-learning situation is mainly centered with two things, namely-
(i) the learner whose behaviour is to be modified
(ii) the type of experience and training available for the modification in the learner's behaviour.
Therefore, the success or failure in the task of learning in a particular teaching-learning situation or environment mainly involves two types of factors, one related with the learner and other with the prevailing learning environment. Therefore, the differences observed in the results of learning or performances exhibited by a group of learners may be surely attributed to the differences present in the learner's themselves or within their learning environment. Consequently the factors influencing learning may be broadly classified as personal (learner related) and environmental (learning facilities and situations) related. The environmental related factors, then can be further categorized as teacher related, content related and process related (sources available to the learners for their learning). As a result the factors influencing learning may be categorized as below :
A. Learner Related Factors
B. Teacher Related Factors
C. Content Related Factors
D. Process Related Factors
Let us discuss now these four types of factors one by one-
Learner Related Factors
The learner is the key Figure in any learning task. He has to learn to bring desired modification in his behaviour. How will he learn or what will he achieve through a particular learning act depends heavily on his own characteristics and way of learning. Such things or factors associated with him can be described as below—
1. Learner's physical and mental health: learning is greatly affected by the learner's physical and mental health maintained by him particularly at the time of learning. A simple headache or stomach ache can play a havoc with the process and products of learning. Children who did not keep up with satisfactory physical health have to suffer adversely in terms of the gain in learning. Similarly, the mental state and health of the learner at the lime of learning become potent factor in deciding the outcome of the learning. A tense, emotionally and mentally disturbed learner cannot be expected to show satisfactory results in learning.
2. Basic potential of the learner: The results achieved by the learner through a process of learning depend heavily upon his basic potential to undergo such learning. Such potential may consist of the following things.
• Learner's innate abilities and capacities for learning a thing.
• Learner's basic potential in terms of general intelligence and specific knowledge, understanding and skills related to particular learning area.
• Learner's basic interests, aptitudes and attitudes related to the learning of a particular thing or area.
3. Level of aspiration and achievement motivation: Learning is greatly influenced by the level of aspiration and nature of achievement motivation possessed by the learner. How can we expect from a learner to achieve a thing for which he has no aspiration? One has to maintain the level of his aspiration and achievement motivation to a reasonable level neither too high causing frustration for non-achievement nor too low so as not to try for things for which he is quite capable. In this way, one's level of aspiration and achievement motivation works significantly towards gains in learning.
4. Goals of life: The philosophy and immediate as well as ultimate goals of one's life affect the process and products of learning. His mode and ways of looking towards the things, his inclination towards the learning in a particular area and patience and persistence maintained for continuing his learning, despite the heavy odds, all depend upon his goals and philosophy of life.
5. Readiness and will power: Learner's readiness and power to learn is a great deciding factor in the results of learning. No power on earth can make a learner learn if he is not ready to learn. Contrarily, if he has a will to learn something then, he will himself find the way for effective learning.
Teacher Related Factors
If the learner stands at one end of (he on-going teaching-learning process us one of the pole then inevitably, it is the teacher who is entrusted to act as the other pole for the desired flow of the leaching-learning activities in the classroom. He is the person who has to play the role of friend, philosopher and guide for initialing, interacting as well as concluding all the activities pertaining lo the classroom journey traveled along with the students of the class. Hence, teacher related factors are bound to play significant role in shaping and directing the teaching-learning process of a classroom or work situation. Lei us here briefly summarize the role of such teacher related factors in the teaching-learning process.
1. Mastery over the subject matter: A teacher should know the art and skill of teaching so that the students are able to realize the stipulated teaching-learning objective in a particular teaching-learning situation. He may know his subject well but for sharing, communicating and interacting various experience related to the learning of the subject, be needs specific teaching skills, art and sciences of his leaching profession. The proficiency and deficiency possessed by a teacher in this regard are quite responsible for turning the teaching-learning process into a big success or a failure.
2. Personality trails and behaviour of the teacher: A teacher as a leader has lo lead his students in the teaching-learning process through the magnetic influence and incredible impression left on the minds of the students on the basis of his personality trails and behaviour. He is a role model for his students. His actions, behaviour pattern and personality trails carry a great meaning lo his students for being imitated and brought into practice. Therefore, much of the task regarding desirable behaviour modification, an essential large) meant for any teaching-learning act. is very much influenced by the types of personality traits and behaviour pattern demonstrated by the teacher in his action and behaviour in the classroom and work situations. Moreover, how he behaves with his students during the various types of activities and interactions carried out in the leaching-learning process also prove a decisive factor in finalizing the teacher learning outcomes.
3. Level of adjustment and menial health of the teacher: How adjusted a teacher feels in his personal and professional life and the slate and level of mental health maintained by the teacher carries much weight in influencing his behaviour and effectiveness needed for the effective control and management of the leaching-learning process. A teacher possessing poor menial health and lack of adjustment in his personal and professional life may prove total failure in the realization of teaching-learning objectives, whereas a teacher possessing good menial health and adjustment may prove an ideal image to his students and boon (o the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process.
4. Type of discipline and interaction maintained by the teacher: A teacher who is a good disciplinarian (democratic and persuasive) and believe in providing due interactive roles to his students in the teaching-learning process brings more positive and belter teaching-learning outcomes in comparison to the teachers who arc poor in terms of maintaining discipline (autocratic or lethargic) and arc in the habit of providing unidirectional flow of communication by discouraging any initiative and interaction from his students.
Content Related Factors
In a teaching-learning process, one thing that is shared most between the learner and the teacher is the contents of the subject matter. Desired instructional objectives and educational aims can be effectively achieved only on the basis of the quality of these contents or learning experiences shared during the process of leaching-learning. Poor contents lead lo poor teaching and inadequate or sometimes no learning while contents rich in the desired learning experiences suited to the nature, interest and ability of the learner always pay rich dividend in terms of the realization of set teaching-learning objectives. In brief the factors related to contents influencing teaching-learning may be broadly divided into three main categories named and discussed as below.
1. Nature of the contents or leaning experiences: Teaching-learning process is influenced by the nature of the contents, subject matter or learning experiences shared in the process. Whether the nature of the content material or learning experience provided in a teaching-learning process is formal or informal, incidental or organized, direct or indirect, proves quite a potent factor in influencing the process and products of teaching-learning.
2. Selection of the contents or learning experiences: Proper attention. lime and energy employed for the desired selection of the contents or learning experiences best suited for the realization of the teaching-learning objectives in a particular teaching-learning situation always proves decisive in influencing the process and products of teaching-learning. Therefore, it is always advisable to select content material or the learning experiences on the basis of the desired principles like principle of child centeredness, principle of activity, criterion of activity, age, grade and experiences of the learners etc.
3. Organization of the channels or learning experiences: Selected contents or learning experiences need better organization for the effective sharing among the learners and teacher. A belter organization will be more convenient and provide strength to the learners and teacher for the better realization of the stipulated teaching-learning objectives. Therefore, the methods like logical v/s psychological, spiral vs concentric, criterion of difficulty level, correlation etc. should he properly employed for the effective organization of the contents or learning experiences.
Process Related Factors
Teaching-learning output can always be better realized in terms of the stipulated leaching-learning objectives if the factors related to the process of leaching-learning are better planned, organized and executed in a proper way. Such process related factors have been explained as under:
1. Methodology adopted for teaching-learning experiences: In teaching-learning, much depends upon the methods, techniques and approaches employed for the leaching and learning of the selected contents and learning experiences. Let us weigh the truth of this statement from various angles.
(a) Linking of the new learning with the past: The quality of the result in teaching-learning depends much on the abilities of the teacher and the learner u> link the present new learning with the past experiences of the learner. Past experience help the learner to assimilate and understand the new learning by providing success as well as cementing force for this purpose.
(b) Correlating the learning in one area to the other: Correlation facilitates the task of teaching-learning as il allows maximum transfer of training or learning from one area to another. Accordingly, one can expect good results in learning if learning experiences arc given in view of seeking correlation—(i) among the different subjects or areas, (ii) within the branches or experiences or experiences of the same area and (iii) with the real life happenings and situations.
(c) Utilization of maximum number of senses: Senses are said to be the gateway of knowledge und consequently the results in teaching-learning arc very much influenced by the nature and type of the utilization of one's senses for the acquisition of learning experiences. A learner who learns through the utilization of his maximum senses like sense of sight, hearing, (ouch, smell, tastes and also tries to learn by doing the things himself always reach at an advantageous point.
(d) Provision of drill work, revision und practice: Review and practice always brings good results in the achievements of student's learning. A learner who makes use of sufficient drill work, practice work, revision and review of his learning can be expected to harvest a good yield in terms of its good retention, reproduction and utilization at the proper time.
(e) Provision of proper feedback and reinforcement: The teaching-learning yields arc much dependent upon the nature and quality of the feedback and reinforcement provided to the learner in his learning task. One must be acquainted with the progress of his learning in terms of his strengths and weaknesses and remedial action, if needed, may be taken at the proper time. The knowledge of the results and progress may work well for providing immediate reinforcement to the learner. In addition, the learning process can be suitably designed if we take due care for the planning of proper reinforcement technique in the shape of approval of the learning response. Nodding of the head, smiling, saying good-bye. etc. bring a magic in terms of learner's interest and achievement.
(f) The selection of the suitable learning methods und leaching: There are sufficient methods and a number of good techniques available for the teaching and learning of different subjects and areas of experiences. The results in leaching-learning are always influenced by the nature and quality of the methods and techniques employed for the teaching and learning of a particular content, subject matter or learning experiences like those given below—
(i) Whether or not methods and techniques are helpful in learning at memory, understanding or reflective level?
(ii) Whether or not these are teacher-dominated, learner-centered or allow useful teacher-pupil interaction?
(iii) Is it possible to proceed on the path of self learning through them?
2. Teaching-learning environment and resources: I lie learner is helped by the available resources and environment available for bringing desirable changes in his behaviour. How effectively will such changes be introduced in his behaviour depend much of the equality and management of these resources. Such things and factors affecting teaching-learning process may he listed as below—
(a) The socio-emotional climate available in the institution in the shape of teacher-pupil relationships, pupil-pupil relationships and school-staff relationships etc.
(b) The availability of appropriate learning material and facilities in terms of teaching-learning aids, textbooks, library and laboratory facilities, project work. etc.
(c) The proper conducive environment and learning situation, like those given below—
(i) Proper seating arrangement
(ii) Calm and peaceful environment
(iii) Management and control of the factors leading to distraction
(iv) Cooperative and competitive group situations
(v) Congenial learning environment at home
(vi) Provision of proper change, rest and recreation
(vii) Provision of opportunity for creativity and self-expression
In this way the process and products of teaching-learning are said to be influenced by the personal factors associated with the learner and teachers and the external factors (like type of content material and their proper delivery to the learner) lying within the teaching-learning environment.
STRATEGIES FOR ENHANCING LEARNING:
Current cognitive theories of learning point to the important role students' thought processes play in learning. Students need to be mentally active processors of information if learning is to occur. In these formulations, several criteria must be met if learning is to occur. First, students must attend to information to be learned. Second, students must create an understanding of the material by creating or identifying relationships amongst the to-be-learned ideas. Third, students need to relate new ideas to prior knowledge. Fourth, students need to understand that learning requires mental effort - good learners are strategic and poor learners are not, and that strategy use is the means by which learning occurs.
When students attend to information, try to see how new ideas relate to each other, or try to relate new information to prior knowledge they are engaged in strategy use. A strategy is a mental event carried out by the learner to achieve some desired goal (such as remembering some fact).