Saturday, January 30, 2010

Introduction: What does it take to be an effective teacher in the year 2010 and beyond?

Times are changing rapidly and as such, the effective teacher of today needs to continuously evolve; new teaching considerations need to be reflected upon and constantly assessed as the affects of globalization, environmental issues and new technologies, change the shape of society and in-turn the classroom. The students of today will have to be flexible, creative, techno-savvy, preferably multilingual and open-minded. School leavers will need to be adaptive to new situations, with the average number of jobs for today’s graduate being 16 (Yahoo! HotJobs & Robert Half International, 2007, p. 10). The teacher of today is preparing students for jobs that currently don’t exist and for a futuristic society with infinite potential. As such the teachers’ role of maximising learning and preparing students as the citizens of tomorrow has never been so important or exciting as today.

This video provides a good summary of the rapidly changing times:

The aim of this blogspot is to provide new teachers with an overview of what it takes to be an effective teacher in today’s environment and the future. The topics in this blog will highlight the various teaching and learning theories available, whilst also considering the impact of classroom management, student motivation, teaching for assessment and reflective practice in the classroom. Each topic covered in this blog cannot “provide a complete picture of learning and its implications for teaching” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 247), but provides a working knowledge base for the effective teacher to understand and consider when making decisions in his or her classroom.

At the end of each topic in this blog, comments have been added as points of discussion and you can find a crossword to check your understanding. Right click on the link and select “Open link in new tab”, so you can go back to the text for reference.


Eggen & Kauchak P. & Kauchak D. (2010). Educational psychology: Windows on Classrooms (8th. Ed.). French's Forest: Pearson.

Yahoo! HotJobs & Robert Half International, 2007, as retrieved 30th January 2010.

Cognitive Development

There are two schools of thought in regards to cognitive development. One is Piaget's theory, here it is believed children are self-motivated individuals who, on their own, explore, form ideas, and test ideas with their experiences (Eggen 2010).

The other is described as a Sociocultural theory of development, this view emphasizes the role of language and social and cultural influences on a developing child's mind(Vygotsky, 1978, 1986).

Piaget (Piaget Theory) Equilibrium is a cognitive state, in which we can explain new experiences by calling on students as explorers who were naturally curious of their surroundings and were constantly attempting to make sense of their environment.

Piaget’s theory surmises that development occurs by reaching a state of equilibrium, the state of our existing knowledge. It is the process of making sense of our experiences. Our drive for trying to form an understanding when we encounter something that is inconsistent or contradicts what we already know, think or believe causes a state of disequilibrium which the learner then drives to eliminate, thus allowing the learner to once again reach a state of equilibrium. To make sense of our experiences and reach equilibrium, people create schemes (Eggen 2010). Schemes are mental operations that are organised patterns of behaviour or thoughts that allow us to make sense of our environment. The process of creating and using schemes to make sense of our experiences is called organisation (Eggen 2010). Organisation is the process of logically systemising schemes in order to make sense of our experiences. Maintaining equilibrium is done through the process of adaption. Adaption is the process of adjusting schemes and experiences to each other to maintain equilibrium (Eggen 2010). This is achieved through two processes, accomodation and assimilation. Accommodation is a form of adaption whereby an individual modifies an existing scheme in order to create a new one in response to experience (Eggen 2010). Assimilation is a form of adaption whereby an individual incorporates an experience from the environment into an already existing scheme.

Piaget’s Stages of Development
Piaget states four stages of development that describe a child’s way of thinking in each.

Sensorimotor 0-2years of age

  • Development is through sense and motor activities
  • Child recognises permanence of hidden objects
  • Child is goal directed

Pre operational 2-7years

  • A rapid increase in child’s language
  • Thoughts are perception based
  • Child is egocentric(believes others view the world the same as them)
  • Lack of conservation (concept that children believe the amount of the same substance stays the same regardless of whether it is manipulated, changed in appearance/shape or divided.

Concrete operational (7-11years)

  • Logical thinking begins
  • Child is less influenced by perception, centralism, irreversibility and egocentrism
  • Operational thinking is only limited to objects that are present or that children have previously experiences directly or concretely

Formal operational (11 years-onwards)

  • Children are able to generalise and engage in mental trial and error
  • Children think abstractly, systematically and hypothetically

Applying Piaget to the classroom today and in the future:
Provide concrete experiences that represent abstract concepts and principals(Eggen 2010).
Use social interaction to help students verbalise and refine their understanding(Eggen 2010).
Use explorable microworlds, virtual reality or stimulated learning environments to display knowledge and allow the learner to gain and understanding of how things work repairing misconception(Snowman 2009).
Use the web so learner can discuss and debate with peers thus fostering cognitive conflict and causing disequilibrium (Snowman 2009).

Lev Vygotsky- Sociocultural view of Cognitive Development
Vygotsky believes that social interactions are the key factor in shaping one’s learning. In the sociocultural view, cognitive development emerges more so out of a child’s social interactions with those around them such as with parents, teachers and peers. Vygotsky believed that children gain significantly from the knowledge and conceptional tools handed down to them by those who were more intellectually advanced, whether they are the same age peers, older children or adults (Snowman 2009).

The most important psychological tool and central to Vygotsky’s view is language. Language is important as it’s used as a tool for intellectual activities by:

  • A way to pass knowledge
  • To think and problem solve
  • To regulate and reflect on thinking
  • To plan

Zone of Proximal Development Children benefit from interaction with a more knowledgeable sources and benefit more so when they are working in their zone of proximal development. This is where tasks cannot be accomplished alone by the learner, but can be completed with the assistance of others. Scaffolding Scaffolding is the assistance given to the child, to accomplish a task when they are unable to do so on their own. Modeling, thinking aloud, asking leading questions, adapting instructional material and using prompts and cues are all forms of instructional scaffolding (Eggen 2010). Vygotsky believes scaffolding fosters a master-novice apprenticeship that allows the child to learn. Applying Vygotsky in the classroom today and in the future;

  • Use meaningful and authentic tasks when organising themes for your instruction (Eggen 2010).
  • Provide scaffolding.
  • Encourage student interaction.
  • Use computers to support skills and strategies for the learner by using expert peers or collaborative partners (Snowman 2009).
  • Use computers to link learners to more knowledgeable peers experts thus fostering the master-novice apprenticeship and allowing scaffolding for the students learning Snowman 2009).



Eggen, P & Kauchak, D, (2010), Educational Psychology, Windows on Classrooms, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearsons

O'Donnell, A, (2009), Educational Psychology:a reflection for action, Australia, John Wiley

Snowman, J, (2009), Psychology applied to teaching, Milton Qld, John Wiley viewed January 30 2010

Behaviourism – a Learning Theory

The behaviourist theory explains learning as a result of behavioural changes directly connected to stimuli or experiences. It can be divided into classical conditioning and operant conditioning (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Overview - Differences between classical and operant conditioning:

(Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)

Classical conditioning:

You might have heard about Pavlov’s dog experiments – watch this video to remember:

So we now know that dogs can learn an involuntary reaction to a conditioned stimulus. Research states that this theory applies for humans as well, so how can classical conditioning be used in the classroom? Classical conditioning evokes involuntary emotional or physiological responses (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010), so it can be used to make the classroom “an emotionally safe environment” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 177).

The following example is based on Chapter 6, Eggen & Kauchak (2010):

A teacher greets her students warmly when they come into her classroom (unconditioned stimulus), which makes them feel welcome and liked (unconditioned response). After a while, her students connect walking into the classroom (conditioned stimulus) with feeling good (conditioned response), and that enhances a good learning atmosphere.

Operant conditioning:

B.F. Skinner conducted many laboratory experiments, and by inventing the Skinnerbox (which you can see in the video), he proved that pigeons and rats were able to learn. According to Skinner, behaviour in animals and humans can be predicted and controlled (Skinner, 1953, as cited by Delprato & Midgley, 1992), and behaviour can be increased, decreased or shaped by using reinforcement and punishment (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Operant conditioning in the classroom is mainly used as a “classroom management tool” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 167), and the focus has moved from eliminating unwanted behaviour to “shaping desired behaviour” (Brophy, 1999, p. 45).

To increase wanted behaviour, for example sitting quietly in class (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010), either positive or negative reinforcement can be used.

Positive reinforcement: The student is presented with a stimulus after the behaviour occurs, e.g. praise or a token that can later be traded for privileges (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010; Simply Psychology, n.d.).

Negative reinforcement: An aversive stimulus is avoided or removed, for example when a teacher says, “Please sit quietly for the while I collect these tests". If you don’t, we’ll have lunch break 5 minutes later” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Waiting for lunch is an aversive stimulus, and the students will want to avoid it and therefore behave.

To gradually shape wanted behaviour, the teacher can at first reinforce any behaviour that slightly resembles the one desired, then only behaviour that is very similar, and later only the wanted behaviour is reinforced.

To decrease unwanted behaviour, behaviourists use punishment. There are two different forms, removal punishment and presentation punishment.

Removal punishment: A positive stimulus is removed, for example a token (mentioned above).

Presentation punishment: An aversive stimulus is added. This could be as simple as the teacher making a “Shhhh” sound and putting a finger to her lips (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Regarding the solving of tasks individually in class, a teacher can't reinforce 20 to 30 students at the same time, which would be important for behaviourist learning. So B.F. Skinner also invented a teaching machine, which gave the students instant feedback (State University, n.d.). It was used mostly for mathematical problems and spelling, but in the technological times we live in computer games and programs can be a great learning tool for every subject. They show the learner straight away whether or not his answer was right, they allow repetition and exploration. To learn vocabulary, instead of using the flash card system, children can explore virtual worlds on the computer, click on objects, and when they type in the right word they are reinforced immediately, for example by little games that get activated when a minimum of right words is entered.



Brophy, J. (1999). Beyond behaviorism: Changing the classroom management paradigm. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from Curtin University of Technology Library E-Reserve.

Delprato, D., & Midgley, B. (1992). Some fundamentals of B. F. Skinner’s behaviourism. American Psychologist, 47(12), 1507-1520. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from Curtin University of Technology Library E-Reserve.

Eggen, P. & Kauchak, D. (2009). Educational Psychology – Windows on classrooms (8th ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education

Learning Innovations & Academic Development Department at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada (n.d.). Classical conditioning. Retrieved January 10, from

Simply Psychology (n.d.). Behaviour Therapy. Retrieved January 24, 2010, from

State University (n.d.). B. F. Skinner (1904–1990) - Behavioral Analysis, Social Service, Educational Reform. Retrieved January 29, 2010, from

TeachertubeSS (n.d.). B. F. Skinner. Retrieved January 12 from

Social Cognitive Theory

Social cognitive theory (SCT) is widely credited to the work conducted by psychologist Albert Bandura (1977, 1986, 1997, 2001, 2002). Bandura’s theory is based on the premise that learning occurs through experience and that new behaviours can be learned by observing and imitating a model (Snowman 2009).

Social cognitive theory is the explanation of how people learn to become self-regulated learners through observation, imitation and modelling of others behaviours, characteristics and attitudes and the direct outcome of these (vicarious experience).

Learning is achieved through the interrelation between three factors, those being personal characteristics, behavioural patterns and environmental factors. The process of these interacting is called the triadic reciprocal causation (Snowman 2009).

Personal factors include mental and emotional factors and self-efficacy which is the belief in one’s ability to successfully accomplish a task.
Behavioural patterns include self evaluation and observation
Environmental factors include expectations, reinforcement and punishment

Modeling is “a general term that refers to behavioural, cognitive, and affective changes deriving from observing one or more models”(Schunk, 2004, p88). Modeling consists of three types of effects with those being: observational learning, inhibitory and disinhibitory effects and response facilitation.

Observational learning is the learning of behavior

Response facilitation no new behaviours are being learnt instead the likelihood of performing a previously learned behaviour is increased or decreased. An example of this is a lone person starts clapping at a performance, this encourages others around to join in. People already know how to clap but the observed person "facilitated" others' behaviour (Eggen 2010).

Inhibitory and disinhibitory effects is when a models behaviour serves as a discriminative stimulus for the observer (O’Donnell 2009). Changing inhibitions involves unacceptable social behaviour (Eggen 2010).

Modeling allows the learning of new behaviour, the facilitation of existing behaviours, allows for inhibitions to be changed and promotes the arousal of emotions.

Self-Regulated Learning
Self-regulated learners regulate their actions, cognitions, beliefs and motivations by selecting their own approach to learning and processing information (Shin, 1998). Self-regulated learners take responsibility for their own educational development by setting task specific goals, self monitoring progress and adjusting goals and strategies.

Social Cognitive Theory in your classroom
• Model positive behaviour for your students. Remember you are constantly being observed and as such you should be aware as to how you can impact on their behaviour.
• Use modelling techniques regulary.
• Encourage students in modeling roles.
• Build a foundation for self-regulated learning in the early years and include the development of self-regulated learning skills in lesson plans and goals.
• Use guest role models.

Social Cognitive Theory in the future.
• In the virtual classroom video clips can be used to apply SCT. Video clips can help the learner model desirable behaviour via the demonstration of others.
• Developed technology may be deployed to support self-regulated learning (Schraw, Crippen & Hartley 2006). For example White and Frederiksen (2005) have developed a learning environment to facilitate the process of student inquiry. The software has a community in which a series of advisors ‘live’ on Inquiry Island and are there to support and scaffold as students progressively learn. This program can help the process of modeling when the teacher does not have sufficient time.
• Interactive online educational programs that allow extensive repetitive practice and feedback allow the learner to gain confidence and mastery allowing learners to achieve self-efficacy.


Eggen, P & Kauchak, D, (2010), Educational Psychology, Windows on classrooms, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson l, A, (2009), Educational Psychology:a reflection for action, Australia, John Wiley
Shin, M (1998) Promoting student's self-regulation ability:Guidelines for instructional design. Education technology, 38(1)38-44

Schraw, Crippen & Hartley, (2006), Promoting self-regulation in science education. Metacognition as part of a broader perspective on learning: Research in science education, 36-(1-2) 111-139

Schunk (2004), Learning theories: An educational perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson Educational Inc

Snowman, J (2009), Psychology applied to teaching, Milton Qld, John Wiley

White B & Frederiksen, J (2005), A theoretical framework and approach for fostering metacognitive development, Educational Psychologist, 211-223

Cognitive Learning Theory - and its teaching implications

Cognitive learning theory explains the process of learning by describing how we acquire, organise and use knowledge (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The theory focuses on internal mental activities to understand how people learn and emphasizes that students are active in the learning process through efforts to mentally organise and store knowledge (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

As outlined by Eggen & Kauchak (2010) Cognitive learning theories are based on the following principles:

Learning and development depend on learners experiences.
Learners are mentally active in their attempts to make sense of those experiences.
Learners construct knowledge in the process of developing an understanding of their experiences. Learners do not record knowledge.
Knowledge that is constructed depends on knowledge that learners already possess.
Learning is enhanced in a social environment.

It is interesting to note that both cognitive learning theorists and constructivists agree on the principles that learning is: dependent on past experiences and knowledge, that learners construct knowledge and that learning is enhanced in a social environment (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Central to the theory of Cognitive learning is how information is processed internally; as such, the rest of this blog topic will cover how the human memory works and the teaching implications of this for the effective teacher.

Various theorists, such as R. Atkinson & Shiffron (1968, as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) have utilised an allegory of a computer to illustrate how the human memory works, often described within the context of information processing theory, which as described by Eggen & Kauchak (p 198, 2010) is “how information enters our memory system, is organised and finally stored”.


Above is an example of an interpretation of a human memory model, the model has 3 major components: Memory Stores, Cognitive Processes and Metacognition. The importance of memory stores for the teacher is in knowing how information is received, filtered and stored and its limitations. The effective teacher needs to be aware that:

Sensory Memory: briefly holds incoming stimuli (sound, taste, touch, visual, smell) until further processing can take place, once meaning is attached it will transfer it to the working memory for processing. If information is not immediately processed it will be lost, as such a teacher needs to present one stimulus at a time, e.g. one question one answer at a time (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Working Memory: is the factory of the memory stores, it is where learners consciously process and construct knowledge (Paas et al., 2004; as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The important consideration for the effective teacher is in its limitations, with studies demonstrating that it can only work with two to three items simultaneously (Sweller et al., 1998, p. 252; as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). As such the effective teacher needs to limit the amount of information presented and/or utilise ways to reduce the cognitive load on the working memory by:

Chunking information - it is recognised that the working memory’s limitations is based on the number of pieces of information being processed not the size of/or complexity of the information being processed, as such by combining separate bits of information into larger meaningful units allows the working memory to process the information (Sweller et al, 1998; as cited Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Achieving Automaticity – when something becomes that familiar you do it without thinking, freeing up the working memory as it does not need to actively process it, e.g. writing with a pen (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Using Distributed Processing - combining visual and verbal explanations assists students in being able to deal with more pieces of information, as different parts of the working memory are used in tandem each reducing the load on the other (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

To maximise the ability of the working memory the effective teacher needs to present information using both visual and verbal methods, and by presenting the information as a whole topic, then breaking it down into smaller bits.

Long-term memory - is thought to have an endless storage potential, the issue for teachers is that if the information is not stored correctly then the learner is not able to retrieve it. The effective teacher needs to be able to present the information in a format that capitalises on the strengths of long-term memory, such as:

Make it personal: It is known that when people have strong emotional ties to an event they are more likely to remember it (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The effective teacher can capitalize on this by personalising the content or by creating an emotional impact, e.g. when learning about animals by taking the students to the zoo, the teacher is both personalising and creating emotional ties to the information (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Make it meaningful: information should be taught as interconnected ideas this makes the information more meaningful and reduces the load on the working memory (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Do it without thinking: students need to obtain automaticity on how to perform tasks (procedural knowledge) and need to be allowed time to practice to be able to achieve this, it is also important that this occurs in real-life context as it is known to benefit learning (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

To facilitate storage of information into long-term memory the effective teacher should present the whole topic, attempt to personally or emotionally involve the learners for example through drawing on individual experiences or including excursions, and allow students time to be able to practice procedural knowledge to automaticity.

The Process
The issue for the effective teacher is that the learning process occurs internally, as such teaching strategies need to be implemented to ensure that cognitive activity is occcuring (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).
As outlined by Eggen et al, the cognitive process requires:
  • Learners to actively focus on the incoming stimulus.
  • Meaning to be attached to the incoming stimulus.
  • Information to be encoded correctly for later retrieval.
A framework of teaching strategies that encourage cognitive processing are provided in the following flowchart. (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)

The effective teacher needs to focus on achieving and maintaining attention. As learners develop, managing attention becomes easier as older students are better able to filter distracting stimuli and are more aware of conditions that assist with maintaining attention (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010), e.g. sitting up the front of the class or consciously focusing on what the teacher is saying. This is known as being metacognitive, to assist students in achieving metacognition the effective teacher should model this behaviour, for example; using statements such as, I need the radio off at home to be able study, or I need to make sure that I have had a good nights sleep to be able to concentrate in class (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

To facilitate the theory of Cognitive learning, the effective teacher's classroom would need to encompass the following teaching strategies as outlined by Eggen & Kauchak (2010), an example has been provided to illustrate this theory in practice:

  • Gain attention and check for prior knowledge.
    Classroom Example, if studying the human anatomy the class could start with the students forming groups, sketching an outline of a students body onto butcher paper and then attempting to draw organs on the sketch based on the students prior knowledge. This activity gains attention and allows the teacher to uncover prior knowledge and any misconceptions.
  • Ask questions.
    To ensure that the information is being perceived correctly, throughout the class, ask questions to clarify understanding, get students to explain and illustrate understanding of human anatomy through drawing it on the butcher paper.
  • Present information both visually and verbally.
    In this example, through utilising the drawing to represent the anatomy and discussing the activity this has been achieved.
  • Help students encode information into long-term memory.
    As the students are actively involved in the activity of drawing the anatomy this increases the likelihood of meaningful connections being made.
  • Model Metacognition.
    The effective teacher in this example could model metacognition by suggesting that when she tries to remember where organs belong, she thinks of personal experiences such as when she visits the doctor and the doctor checks her heart rate.

As described in the example the impact of employing cognitive learning theory in the classroom does not require much effort, what it does require is planning of how the lesson will be presented to maximise cognitive activity, and questioning and modelling techniques which once a certain level of experience is achieved will become an automatic process. Technology will enhance the teachers ability to gain and maintain attention, through the internet and new media the effective teacher will be able grab the students attention exciting and enthusing the learner with the possibilities that knowledge can bring. Moving into tomorrow's classroom the difficulty for the effective teacher will be in managing students attention from the distractions of personal technology, mobile phones and ipods; technology that is banned (thankfully) in many classrooms of today.



Eggen & Kauchak P. & Kauchak D. (2010). Educational psychology: windows on classrooms (8th. Ed.). French's Forest: Pearson. as retrieved 26th January, 2010. as retrieved 24th January, 2010.

Constructivism – a theory of learning and its teaching implications

Constructivism has revolutionised the classroom through the theory’s understanding that learners construct their own knowledge rather than information being transferred verbatim (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010), or as Charles Gragg (1940) eloquently stated “Wisdom can’t be told”. This understanding has transformed the classroom from a one way communication process between the teacher and students to an open dialogue that promotes interaction and makes students’ thinking open and visible (Bransford et al., 2000; Donovan & Bransford, 2005; as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The constructivist teacher does not tell her students she asks them and in doing so creates an environment that encourages active involvement, a known factor in increasing learning and retention (Eggen et al). A theory encapsulated by the Chinese proverb;

“Tell me and I’ll forget
Show me and I may remember
Involve me and I’ll understand”

Whilst constructivism is currently the dominant approach to learning in Australia (Fetherston, 2006), how will the effective teacher utilise this theory within the learning environment of tomorrow? This blog topic aims to provide an overview of constructivism, and how this fits within the classroom and the effective teacher of the future.

Within the constructivist camp there are varying viewpoints of knowledge construction, the two main viewpoints are:

Cognitive constructivism grounded by Piaget’s work focuses on individual internal constructions of knowledge (Greeno, Collins & Resnick, 1996; Meter & Stevens, 2000; Nuthall, 1999a; as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). It is based on the understanding that learning is dependent upon student maturation and individual experiences with learning occurring through the processes of Assimilation, Accommodation, Disequilibration and Equilibration taking place (Fetherston, 2006). Social interaction is involved in the process but as an instigator that causes individual cognitive conflict (disequilibrium) (Palincsar, 1998; as cited by Eggen et al), forcing the student to either assimilate or accommodate to regain equilibrium (Fetherston).

Social constructivism a view founded on Vygotsky’s (1978) work who as Fetherston (2006 p.157) described, viewed knowledge as a process that “evolves through cognitive conflict and social negotiation”, and is based on learners first constructing knowledge in a social context before they appropriate and internalise it; social constructivism is the most influential theory in schools of today (J.Martin, 2006; as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Cognitive constructivism causes some issues for the effective teacher, as its belief of individualised knowledge construction limits the teachers’ role within the classroom. In comparison social constructivism suggests teachers question the traditional methodologies of teaching, such as how to specify and prepare learning activities, how to conduct lessons and how to create assessments that can be individually assessed. Social constructivism promotes the teacher’s role as a facilitator who cultivates interactive social environments; that foster real life learning opportunities that allow learners to personalise, exchange, collaborate and construct their own knowledge (Fleming & Alexander, 2001; R. Anderson et al., 2001 Meter & Stevens, 2000; as cited by Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

As outlined by Eggen & Kauchak (2010, p. 230), despite the varying viewpoints, all constructivists agree that, “Learners construct knowledge, rather than record, knowledge” and most agree on the four following characteristics;

Learners construct knowledge that makes sense to them.

New learning depends on current understanding.

Social interaction facilitates learning.

The most meaningful learning occurs within real-world tasks.

The implications of constructivism challenges the teachers role within the classroom, but research suggests that the effort is beneficial as it has been demonstrated that instruction based on constructivist learning theory can increase learning for all students (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).
In creating an effective classroom based on the theory of constructivism the effective teacher would:

Provide learners with a variety of examples and representations of content that encompasses all the information required to understand the topic in varying formats. E.g. Slides, games, simulations, DVDs, newspapers, computer programmes.

Uncover students pre-existing ideas, concepts and understandings. An integral process to highlight any misconceptions from past experiences.

Allow students to play and experiment with ideas, to create, to reflect and work out their own understandings. Provide access to books, internet, facilitate teacher and peer interaction, place expert students into novice groups to scaffold learning.

Utilise effective collaborative learning that creates high levels of interaction and peer learning. Design activities that allow for interaction.

Use problem based learning based on real world examples. E.g. Use case studies that can be owned by the student, provide authentic learning activities e.g. for understanding currency set up classroom stalls with sellers and buyers.

Use scaffolding techniques within the individual’s zone of proximal development (refer to Cognitive Development blog for definition). Match the task to the student so that it lies within their ‘zone’.

Promote learning with assessment. Get students to demonstrate understanding through interactive concrete examples. Create an assessment dialogue such as using white boards or hand signals from the class to assess ongoing learning. Use formative and summative evaluation. (Fetherston, 2006; Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

In considering the classroom and the students of the future constructivism and technology will work alongside one another facilitating information exchange, collaboration, scaffolding and social interaction.

Teaching for assessment will be easier with the dialogue of formative feedback being an instaneous communication process from student to teacher. The theory will not be limited to the confines of the physical classroom but through virtual learning centres with collaboration taking place through blogs (such as this), video links, forums and you tube which will help scaffold learning exponentially as the world shares its knowledge through real life real time web cams and ilectures instantly routed to the student at home, work or school. As with all changes come opportunities and threats and as such the teacher of tomorrow will need to be aware of and educate students on reliability of information sourced from the internet to avoid the high risk of misconceptions occurring (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).


Eggen P. & Kauchak D. (2010). Educational psychology: windows on classrooms (8th. Ed.). French's Forest: Pearson.

Fetherston, 2006, T. (2006). Becoming an effective teacher. Sydney: Thompson.


"Motivation is the process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained" (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010 p.284).

Students are generally motivated to participate and learn based on two overriding factors, that is, they are either influenced extrinsically, through the aspiration to engage in an activity based on receiving a benefit or reward or, intrinsically motivated, which is based on the desire to succeed for one's own satisfaction. Intrinsic motivation is well regarded in the context of education, as it focuses on the students own motivation to learn and takes away the need for external factors to influence students actions (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). Both motivators have a place within a classroom environment and the use of both will assist in providing the inspiration required to motivate individual students who all have differing needs.

Theoretical views vary in how students are best motivated, below is a brief outline of each theory.

Behaviourist Theory

Motivation occurs based on what the student has experienced in the past, hence students in a classroom environment will best respond to rewards and benefits provided by the teacher in response to their behaviour or result (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
Cognitive and Social Cognitive

People want to understand the world around them, thus students have a natural tendency to want to learn more about that which they do not currently comprehend. Tapping into students thirst for knowledge by frequently introducing new and challenging concepts will complement this theory (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
Sociocultural Theory

Students thrive in group learning situations and will engage in activities that they would not normally do without support of their peers. Students work together to achieve success as opposed to being in competition. Working in small groups and allowing students to interact throughout lessons will encourage student participation (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

Humanistic Theory

Students aim to become “self-actualised”, meaning that they become all they can be and fulfil their full potential. Students who are determined to excel will take the opportunity to engage in any challenging learning experience and it is important that teachers foster their students desire to succeed (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

In order to be an effective motivator it is essential to understand the many areas which may contribute to students' motivation levels.

Key factors include;

Students’ needs: students require good nutrition and sufficient sleep in order to concentrate and perform well in class. Students also want to be competent within society, they need to feel they are in control of their surroundings and can effectively relate to other students within their environment (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

Students’ beliefs: students have preconceived expectations for their actions based on previous experience and their own beliefs of their capabilities, this will have a large impact on their motivation, as too will their individual goals such as wanting to complete or improve on tasks (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

Students' emotions: many students will have preference or gain an immediate satisfaction from a subject or topic whilst being influenced by how a subject or activity makes them feel (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

In considering these factors teachers should strive to provide a supportive classroom environment, which values diversity and promotes the inclusion of all students.

Tips for success in the classroom

  • Children enjoy using new technologies. With the internet providing students with a gateway to the world, incorporating new technologies into the classroom will ensure lessons are varied, challenging and enjoyable.
  • Appreciate students desire to be in control of their own learning, involve them in the process, value their thoughts, feelings and feedback (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). Remember that each student is an individual with varying driving forces; get to know your students and what it is that makes them want to learn (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
  • Make each learning experience both challenging and unique and relate it back to student’s real life experiences, remember that students learn better when they are offered new and engaging activities (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
  • Acknowledge that no student will be 100% motivated all of the time, motivation is contextual and you may see great changes from one end of the spectrum to the other in just one student alone, be supportive and assist them in finding a connection with each topic or activity (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
  • Ensure you, as the teacher remain motivated and project enthusiasm, as you cannot expect students to be engaged in activities that you yourself have no interest in (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
  • Incorporating gentle physical fitness and movement into lesson plans will refresh and invigorate students, this is particularly useful in the afternoons when students may become lethargic and unfocused (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

It is clearly evident that students are individuals, who are all motivated in many different ways. In order to be successful, teachers must take the time to get to know each student on a personal level and in doing so, will gain the knowledge required to inspire students to succeed and reach their full potential.



Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (2010). Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms. New Jersey: Pearson.

Schooling Issues Digest: Student Motivation and Engagement. Australian Government

Australian Government: Employment and Workplace Relations.
Retrieved 12th January 2010 from link

Classroom Management

Classroom management is one of the most important aspects of a teacher’s career. It is the main cause of teacher burn-out and job dissatisfaction (Everston & Weinstein, 2006, as cited in Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p.353), which establishes its importance as an aspect of teaching that must be addressed. Classroom Management is the cause of great concern for all teachers, in particular novice teachers. To be an effective teacher it is vital that one’s ability to keep a classroom that is “orderly and focused on learning, in which students feel physically and emotionally safe and where the daily routines, learning activities, and standards for appropriate behaviour are all designed to promote learning” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 352) is well developed.

Classroom management can be described as the actions teachers take to create an environment that supports and facilitates both academic and social-emotional learning (Everston and Weinstein as cited in Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 4). Its complexity as a task is undeniable, due to the unpredictable nature of the classroom and its dynamic structure, yet its goals are most certainly achievable. For the effective teacher reaching these goals is a vital concern.

These primary goals as recognised by (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) are:


Classroom Management and the Effective Teacher
Image of Classroom Management (Components of the ITC Classroom Management Program).
It is a teachers aim to help her students develop socially and emotionally. This can be achieved by creating an environment that promotes safety and positive attitudes. Student’s who feel safe and accepted are more motivated to learn in turn reducing the chances of disruption.


Students who feel they have a sense of ownership of rules and responsibilities in the classroom are more likely to obey the rules because the rules makes sense instead of obeying the rules because of the treat of punishment for breaking them (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). As students develop socially and emotionally, so does their sense of responsibility. By allowing students to be involved in the development of classroom rules and procedures allows them to take ownership of these rules, promoting this development.


One of the most important aspects of classroom management is being able to effectively use time in the classroom to achieve academic learning. Maximising time available consists of avoiding disruptions and the establishment, implementation and consistent use of well developed and understood routines and procedures. An example of this is how better discipline can be expected when books and papers are passed out and collected efficiently (Edwards & Watts, 2004)

To reach these goals and create a productive learning environment an effective teacher will commit to extensive planning of tasks and lessons.
An effective teacher will plan for the following;

• Developmental differences in students learning
• Delivery of clear instruction
• Classroom organization (including organization of materials, lessons, routines and transition from lesson to lesson)
• Allowing establishment, implementation and consistent use of rules and procedures
• Being mindful of how they will begin the school year

An effective teacher would also consider the following when planning for their class
Physical Factors
• Adequate and suitable lighting in the classroom, including natural light
• Positioning of seating that promotes a sense of belonginess and equality
• Having a clean and organised classroom
• Allows for each individual students space
• Mindful of temperature
Psychological Factors
• Establishment of positive class rules that include students input
• Ensuring the learning environment is safe, secure and accessible
• Develop relationships with students and parents that promotes trust, respect and confidentiality
• Ensure students feel they belong
Pedagogical Factors
• Create lessons that are fun, exciting, meaningful and relatable to students
• Have a thorough understanding of what is being taught and why it is important
• Plan lessons, ensure they are structured but also allow room for discussion
• Display students work to promote belongingness and self worth
• Be a role model for students
Social Factors
• Encouragement of group activity and student participation
• Provide positive feedback to students and encouragement
• Offer positive rewards to promote motivation and good behaviour
• Encourage extra-curricular activities
• Awareness of student’s friendship groups and student’s hierarchy.
• Awareness of level and means of student’s social networking. Eg – bullying over the internet through social networking sites such as myspace and facebook.

Secondly teachers will communicate with parents and care-givers. This is vitally important as students’ home environments can have a powerful effect on both learning and classroom management, so parents need to be involved in their children’s academic life as much as possible (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). A strong and positive parent-teacher relationship has many benefits for the teacher, students and parents.

Students are more likely to complete homework and assignment, it increases attendance rates, promotes positive attitudes and behaviours, it allows parents to feel they are involved in their child’s learning and allows them to still feel they have some control and input on their child’s development. As a teacher, this relationship can help ensure that the learning is being continued from the classroom into the home environment. The teacher-parent relationship can be seen as a team, working towards the further development of a child academically, emotionally and socially.

Successful classroom management can go a long way towards preventing discipline problems. It is far better to prevent discipline problems than to solve them when they occur (Edwards & Watts, 2004). While it is ideal to always prevent disruptions, it is unrealistic to think that a teacher would be able to prevent all problems, no matter how much planning they implement or how well established their relationship with parents and students are. The effective teacher will be able to intervene when misbehaviour occurs.

(Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) and Kounin (1970) (as cited in Brophy, 1999, p. 47) listed behaviours of the effective manager to include;

Withitness - see video below
Overlapping - This can be described as a teachers ability to multi-task. It like withitness, looks at a teachers ability to teach and prevent misbehaviour at the same time
Signal contiguity and momentum in lessons - A teacher must be prepared to accept that sometimes the unexpected or unplanned will happen, and she must be able to go with the flow and keep the lesson moving on. Her ability to move on from one topic to the next is important, the transitions must be smooth and quick to avoid misbehaviour.
Challenge and variety in assignments - Students need to be motivated to learn and providing them with assignments based on their zones of proximal development, can be slightly challenging as well as rewarding. Variety is also important, as to appeal to all students in the class. Variety is important for assessment, as some students excel at different styles of assessment for example, essays compared to oral examinations. Variety also allows students to work individually or in groups, use different mediums for presentation and methods for research. It helps prepare them for real life activities.
Preserve student dignity - Teachers should never use put-downs, hurtful, embarrassing or criticising mannerisms too students. This can have a negative impact on their self-esteem, confidence and self-worth.
Be consistent - Consistency is central to cognitive learning theory - people want their expeirences to make sense (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Students should be able to make sense of the teachers actions, for example one student who is punished for the same action as another student who is not punished is not demonstrating consistency.
Follow through - as a teacher if you make a commitment to your students in the classroom it) is important to follow through on that commitment. For example, consequences for broken rules should always be applied.
Keep interventions brief - The less time spent on interventions means more time spent on learning.
Avoid Arguments - Arguments can create students to resent the teacher, and can lead to major incident. An effective teacher will always strive to avoid arguments in the classroom and rather talk to the student after class as to not disturb the lesson

Kounin showed that effective managers succeed not so much because they are good at handling disruption when it occurs, but because they are good at preventing disruption from occurring in the first place (Brophy, 1999). Both Kounin and Eggen recognised withitness as a vital behaviour of the effective manager.

These principles are essential for intervention in the classroom, using them will ensure that the intervention is acknowledged and accepted by students.

There are two main ways a teacher can intervene in her classroom. Firstly Cognitive Interventions can be utilised. These interventions are based on the premise that understanding is the core of cognitive approaches (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). If the intervention makes sense the students is more likely to accept the intervention.
Three cognitive intervention strategies are:

1. Verbal-non verbal congruence
Teachers verbal messages need to match the messages their body language is sending to enable students to understand what they are trying to communicate.
2. I-messages
I-messages are powerful tools that when used correctly can generate the receiver to understand the feelings and effects their behaviour has on the sender.
3. Logical consequences
These are consequences that relate directly to the action, punishment to fit the crime. Students are able to create a link between their actions and the consequences that follow (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010).

Finally the second intervention method is behavioural interventions, which if all else has failed can be effective.
The following are behavioural intervention strategies:
1. Praise desired behaviour
2. Ignore inappropriate behaviour
3. Use indirect cues
4. Use desists
5. Apply consequences

In the classroom of tomorrow, classroom management is made even harder for the novice teacher as technology now causes greater distractions from the lessons than ever before. Technology such as iphone’s or ipods and social networking sites such as facebook and twitter play an important role in young people’s lives. Ensuring that the use of this technology is kept out of the classroom, unless being used for learning is now a new reality for the teacher of tomorrow.
Being able to effectively manage a classroom will mean teachers will have to display a higher level of withitness, as the opportunity for distractions and disruptions grows with the advancement of technology. Classroom management examines the classroom from a holistic perspective, every conversation and action that occurs in the class, why it is happening and the teacher’s ability to be aware of all that is occurring, often simultaneously.

Classroom management is a skill that takes time and practice to development. There are many various theories and styles of classroom management that once examined can help any teacher develop their own personal style. Good classroom management methods are essential for any teacher, without these skills it would become almost impossible to achieve the maximum potential for academic success.



Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (2010). Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms. New Jersey: Pearson.

Brophy, J. (1999). Perspectives of Classroom Management. In H. J. Freiberg (Ed.), Beyond Behaviourism: Changing the Classroom Management paradigm (pp. 47). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon

Edwards, C.H. and Watts, V. (2004). Classroom Discipline and Management an Australasian Perspective. Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Assessment and Reporting

Classroom assessment is done in order to monitor and improve student performances and increase the effectiveness of lesson plans, including the content and method of delivery (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

Historically, student assessments incorporated mostly end of topic exams, with an emphasis on determining the quantity of information learnt. More recently there has been a shift in the focus of assessment towards “assessment for learning” as opposed to the traditional “assessment of learning” (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). The benefit of using this approach is that the results obtained are centred on capturing students existing understanding with a view to implementing strategies to increase knowledge and skill levels.

Assessing students’ knowledge is generally achieved by gathering information using formative and summative assessments. Formative assessment is the evaluation of students’ knowledge, with the aim to determine what gaps are present in the student’s existing comprehension, this information is used to structure future lesson plans so that they best achieve desired learning outcomes (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). Summative assessment is done with a view to determining students post lesson comprehension. Both assessments may use either informal or formal assessments and in some cases a combination of both (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

Informal assessments generally encompass a number of appraisal strategies completed within the classroom, including; adhoc observations of student performances, participation during lessons and throughout group work. Informal assessment is an important step in the teaching process as it allows teachers to determine students’ comprehension levels and develop specifically targeted lesson plans (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). Informal assessment however, should be used as a guide only, as results gathered can be somewhat ambiguous and making judgements based on one incident can be misleading, hence a more formal assessment should be made prior to making significant decisions based on the data gathered (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

Formal assessment on the other hand is a much more controlled process, which is effective in gathering more accurate information pertaining to a student’s level of understanding. Formal assessments entail more structured methods of measurement and typically have both positive and negative aspects, for ease of review some of the more popular strategies and there attributes have been outlined in the table below (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

(Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).

All government schools within Australia use the Outcomes and Standards Framework with a view to, assess and evaluate each child’s progress and implement improvement strategies and monitor performance of each school as a whole. In order for assessment to be a beneficial process it should, assist in establishing student current knowledge levels, improve students’ learning and increase the effectiveness of teaching practices (The Department of Education and Training 2010).. Western Australia’s Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Policy provide the following guidelines for reporting of assessment outcomes;

a) Results are written in plain English, are easy to read by parents and guardians
b) Compare results to that of other students when using standard testing
c) Include an assessment of each students achievements
d) Use the A, B, C, D, E point scale (The Department of Education and Training 2010).

(Department of Training and Education, 2010)

With the implementation of standardised testing throughout Australia, the method of school based assessment and reporting has changed substantially. Students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 undergo testing in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy. It is the aim of the National Assessment Program (NAPLAN), to provide comprehensive information on how students and schools compare throughout the nation. This data is feedback to students, teachers and parents and will now be available, as of today, on the My School website which has been developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).



Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (2010). Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms. New Jersey: Pearson.

National Assessment Program. Literacy and Numeracy.
Retrieved January 22nd 2010,

The Department of Education and Training, (2010). Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting. Perth: Government of Western Australia.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, (2010). My School.
Retrieved January 28th 2010,