Socio-Emotional Development and Motivation (Anthea Holczer)

The definition of motivation is  “[it’s] an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains behavior” (Woolfolk, Winne, Perry p. 399). There are two forms of motivation: intrinsic, and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is where we look for challenges and find overcoming the challenge rewarding; incentives are unnecessary as accomplishing the task is reward enough.  Extrinsic motivation on the other hand, is motivation created by external factors therefore rewards or punishments are given to create a desired outcome. Intrinsic motivation is by far the best motivational tool, but both forms have their place within the classroom. The teacher should encourage intrinsic motivation, and ensure that extrinsic rewards encourage learning.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, state that survival, safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self actualization, are what motivates us; we need to achieve each state before we can complete the next level in the hierarchy. Maslow’s theory although highly criticized, is a good way of understanding students as it incorporates students physical, emotional, and intellectual needs while demonstrating the interconnection of these needs on the individual. Belonging to a social group helps to promote self esteem which is important for everyone, and once this level on the hierarchy is achieved self actualization can be striven for.

Self determination in the classroom is an exciting concept. Self determination plus autonomy increases interest and curiosity from the students. The students have the authority to make real choices, which allows them to feel empowered to achieve their own educational goals. The students feel engaged, confident and competent when learning new things hence stimulating high intrinsic motivation.


Having motivated students who want to learn and are engaged is what teachers strive for. Rewards of stickers, sitting in the teachers’ chair, and feeding the class pet have its place within the classroom, but motivating the students intrinsically is key.

I always thought that motivation was the driving force for success, but I’ve come to realize that although motivation is important we need to have self discipline and volition. Volition is the follow through, and without it nothing is accomplished no matter how much drive and ambition you might have. Teachers need to show that they care about the children’s interests; students will be emotionally engaged in school, and strive for success.

Should teachers explain the difference between rewards and incentives to their students? Will the students respond differently to a reward or incentive?


Woolfolk, Winne, Perry. Educational Psychology. Ed 6th. New Jersey, USA. Pearson Education Inc., 2016.


Biological and Cognitive Development (Anthea Holczer)

Play is integral to a child’s development. Play stimulates the child’s brain which allows cognitive growth. Play allows the child to experiment and try out new strategies in a safe environment; the child also learns motor skills, social skills, and how-to problem solve.  When elementary school children play they learn many skills: how to cooperate with each other to achieve a common goal, social etiquette of winning and loosing, and negotiation when someone has bent the rules in their favor. It has been shown that exercise is important for cognitive development as it “enhance[s] development of specific mental processes” (Woolfolk, Winne, Perry. p. 67).

Once we have managed to store information into our long-term memory it will stay there. This information is available as long as we have the correct cues to retrieve the material. To install knowledge into long term memory the teacher needs to: ensure student engagement with learning projects, have frequent reviews using different learning techniques, tests, and give elaborate feedback. It is also important for the teacher have high standards of the students, as they will respond to the teachers’ expectations.

Elaboration is an important teaching tool. Elaboration “add[s] meaning to new information by connecting with already existing knowledge” (Woolfolk, Winne, Perry. p. 280). Students elaborate when they put learned concepts into their own words, when they create their own examples from the material, explain the lesson to a friend, draw their own diagrams of the material taught, and apply the information to a new problem.

Connections  made:

As attention is selective, it’s important to have a variety of tools ready to keep the students focused. I have seen teachers use several different tools for gaining attention: switching off the lights, the sound of windchimes, asking interesting questions, and clapping out a rhythm which the students have to copy. I now understand why each tool was effective at refocusing the students and gaining their attention. It’s good to have several methods ready to use.

It is important to make each lesson meaningful; new information needs to be related to things students already know, new ideas need to be well organized, and connections between new material and old needs to be clearly defined. This is why teachers relate new topics to the students’ own experiences and build from there.


How do we know that there are no limits to the amount of information the brain can store in long-term memory?


Woolfolk, Winne, Perry. Educational Psychology. Ed 6th. New Jersey, USA. Pearson Education Inc., 2016.

Foundational Theories of Human Development and Child Resilience

Three things I learned

The brain is ever changing and is shaped by activity. The activity of manipulating objects, and mentally thinking things through helps to build knowledge. The brain can be restructured and reorganized through classroom teachings which allows students to learn and grasp new concepts. All students learn in different ways, but with literacy they all need help as it’s a complex skill that uses the entire brain. If students are not challenged or the class material is too difficult student learning will suffer. It is important for the teacher to present information that is “just right”, for everyone to learn.

Vygotsky, was a Russian phycologist who believed that learning came from social interactions. He believed that social interactions create cognitive structures in the brain which aid the development of thought processes. When a child has shared activities with an individual, mental processes are stimulated; the child then internalizes the activity and it creates new cognitive development.

Vygotsky also believed that private speech, which is talking to yourself, also aids cognitive development. Private speech teaches children self-regulation, as it allows them to verbally problem solve and think through the situation, they can then make their own conclusions. As the child matures private speech changes from speaking verbally, to whispering, to internal dialog. It is suggested that children should be encouraged to use private speech in school to help them problem solve.

Two connections I made

Resilient classrooms allow students to set goals, have self control, believe in their own ability and encourage behavioral self-control. The teacher who engages the student with helpful feedback is contributing to cognitive development through Vygotsky’s Sociocultural perspective. The teacher recognizes the strengths of each student and reinforces those strengths in a positive manner which reinforces the students’ belief in their own ability.

When students have behavioral self-control, a safe and orderly learning environment for all students is created. When children can regulate their emotions stress levels in the class are reduced, the classroom environment is positive and the students become motivated and determined to achieve their goals.

1 Question I still have

Both Piaget and Vygotsky put emphasis on speech believing speech enables cognitive development. What happens to a child’s development if they cannot speak or use sign language? We have autistic children who don’t speak, where does their cognitive development fall within Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories?