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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners

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Professor Emerita, University of Northern Colorado


ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Boston Columbus Indianapolis New York San Francisco Upper Saddle River Amsterdam Cape Town Dubai London Madrid Milan Munich Paris Montreal Toronto Delhi Mexico City São Paulo Sydney Hong Kong Seoul Singapore Taipei Tokyo

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

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Credits and acknowledgments for materials borrowed from other sources and reproduced, with permission, in this textbook appear on appropriate page within text. Photo Credits: Moodboard Premium / Glow Images, p. 2; Losevsky Photo and Video /, p. 18; © Monkey Business / Fotolia, pp. 54, 422; © Infoto / Fotolia, p. 90; Jim Carter / Photo Researches, Inc., p. 96; Fotosearch / Glow Images, p. 118; michaeljung / Fotolia, p. 154; © Jacek Chabraszewski / Fotolia, p. 194; © Ian Shaw / Alamy, p. 226; Monashee Frantz / Glow Images, p. 264; © Jamie Wilson / Fotolia, p. 289; © Jim Cummins / CORBIS / Glow Images, p. 298; David Mager / Pearson Learning Group, p. 300; © Greatstock Photographic Library / Alamy, p. 332; © Will Hart / PhotoEdit, p. 357; © Gabe Palmer / Alamy, p. 374; © Alexander Raths / Fotolia, p. 380; Jeffrey Ormrod, p. 425; © Blend Images / Alamy, pp. 439, 460, 504; Gabe Palmer / CORBIS, p. 489; © Jeff Greenberg / Alamy; Rex Interstock / Stock Connection, p. 531. All video stills are from Pearson Education videos. Every effort has been made to provide accurate and current Internet information in this book. However, the Internet and information posted on it are constantly changing, so it is inevitable that some of the Internet addresses listed in this textbook will change. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected by Copyright and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. To obtain permission(s) to use material from this work, please submit a written request to Pearson Education, Inc., Permissions Department, One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 or you may fax your request to 201‐236‐3290.

Library of Congress Cataloging‐in‐Publication Data Ormrod, Jeanne Ellis. Educational psychology : developing learners / Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. — Eighth edition. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-13-297442-4 ISBN-10: 0-13-297442-8 1. Educational psychology. 2. Teaching. 3. Learning. 4. Classroom management. I. Title. LB1051.O66 2014 370.15—dc23 2012040629

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN 10: 0‐13‐297442‐8 ISBN 13: 978‐0‐13‐297442‐4

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

To Olivia whose curiosity and good humor are daily reminders of the importance of education and the joy of life

ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

About the Author
JEANNE ELLIS ORMROD received her A.B. in psychology from Brown University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in educational psychology from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned licensure in school psychology through postdoctoral work at Temple University and the University of Colorado at Boulder and has worked as a middle school geography teacher and school psychologist. She was Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Northern Colorado until 1998, when she moved east to return to her native New England. She has published numerous research articles on cognition and memory, cognitive development, and giftedness but is probably best known for this book and four others: Human Learning (currently in its sixth edition); Essentials of Educational Psychology (currently in its third edition); Child Development and Education (co‐authored with Teresa McDevitt, currently in its fifth edition); and Practical Research (co‐authored with Paul Leedy, currently in its tenth edition). She has also recently published a non‐textbook for a broad audience: Our Minds, Our Memories: Enhancing Thinking and Learning at All Ages. With her three children now grown and out on their own, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Richard.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

New to This Edition
This eighth edition of Educational Psychology: Developing Learners retains features that have made it so popular with both instructors and students—for example, its engaging writing style and emphasis on classroom applications—but has significantly increased coverage in three areas: Social, cultural, and academic contexts of learning: Users of previous editions will notice a new Chapter 8, “Learning and Cognition in Context,” which draws heavily from contemporary contextual theories as it describes the multiple contexts (e.g., immediate physical and social environment, culture and society) that directly and/or indirectly affect classroom learning and achievement. This new chapter also includes a section on academic content domains as specific contexts in which thinking and learning may be uniquely situated. Neuropsychology and brain development and its relevance to classroom practice: Findings from research are updated in numerous places throughout the book, but this increased emphasis is most obvious in the addition of five new “Applying Brain Research” boxes in Chapters 2, 3, 6, 10, and 11. Technological innovations and their classroom applications: Recent innovations in technology are included in many chapters but are especially apparent in the sections “Technology and Peer Relationships” (Chapter 3); “Technological Innovations,” including a subsection on fostering students’ technological literacy (Chapter 8); “Creating a Class Website to Share Goals and Facilitate Communication throughout the School Year,” “Using Instructional Websites,” “Using Technology to Individualize Instruction,” “Using Computer Simulations and Games,” “Conducting Technology‐Based Collaborative Learning Activities” (all in Chapter 12); and “Using Digital Technologies in Classroom Assessments” (Chapter 14).
Provide ongoing intellectual stimulation. Encourage physical exercise. is enhancement of the functioning of the central executive—that

Encourage students to get plenty of sleep.


, has also been updated and expanded, with many new illustrative videos plus several Simulation exercises related to classroom management. I’m probably most excited about the fact that the book itself is now available not only in paper but also in an electronic form that can be read on various electronic devices. Electronic versions of the book will enable readers to connect directly to illustrative videos and other supportive pedagogical aids in . Chapter 7 into Chapter 6, now called “Learning, Cognition, and Memory” but also moved some of it into the new Chapter 8. Meanwhile, the “old” Chapter 8, “Complex Cognitive Processes,” is now Chapter 7. Throughout the book, I have, as always, updated the content to reflect advances in theory, research, and classroom practices. Especially noteworthy additions and changes to this edition include the following: Every chapter: All chapters are now written to stand alone and so can be read in whatever order an instructor prefers; cross‐references to other chapters appear in margin notes rather than within the running text. Each chapter now begins with four to six Learning Outcomes that are revisited in a final “What Have You Learned?” summary section. Also, the “Developmental Trends” tables that appear in most chapters now have an “Example” column to

ISBN 1-256-96292-9


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Preface Chapter 1: New opening case study illustrating action research; revisions to the OOPS test items to reflect common misconceptions about the brain and technology; new discussions of quasi‐experimental and mixed‐methods research; an additional study‐strategy recommendation that I’m hoping will encourage occasional conceptual change in my readers. Chapter 2: Expansion of section on Bronfenbrenner’s theory to include the idea of the environment as a dynamic system; new “Applying Brain Research” feature “Taking Developmental Changes in the Brain into Account”; expansion of the section on Vygotsky’s theory to include the concept of appropriation; new section contrasting Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories. Chapter 3: New discussions of effortful control, mirror neurons, and cheating; new “Applying Brain Research” feature “Understanding and Addressing Adolescent Risk Taking”; new “Experiencing Firsthand” exercise on bullying. Chapter 4: New discussion of verbal assertiveness in the section on cultural and ethnic differences; new “Experience with Technology” subsection in the section on gender differences; additional recommendations for creating a culturally inclusive classroom and addressing students’ stereotypes and prejudices. Chapter 5: New sections on “Developmental Views of Intelligence” and “Intelligence and the Brain”; increased focus on assistive technologies for students with disabilities; new recommendation regarding addressing gifted students’ emotional needs. Chapter 6: Inclusion of the section on misconceptions and conceptual change that was in the “old” Chapter 7; addition of contextual theories to Table 6.1; new discussion of cognitive load as a key term. Chapter 7 (Chapter 8 in the seventh edition): Section on problem solving reorganized around a general model of problem solving; new discussion of metacognitive processes in creativity. Chapter 8 (new chapter): Explicit focus on the various broad contexts that both shape and situate learning and cognition; new section on assumptions of contextual theories (including situated learning, distributed cognition, social construction, and sociocultural theory as key terms), with a new “Principles/Assumptions” table; sections on the important roles of social interactions with both more experienced individuals and equal‐ability peers, as well as a section on communities of learners (all adapted from the “old” Chapter 7); new section on cultures as contexts, including discussions of worldviews and communities of practice; new section on society and technology as contexts, including authentic activities (moved from the “old” Chapter 7) and technological innovations; new section on content domains (literacy, math, science, social studies) as contexts, with a new “Developmental Trends” table on reading development. Chapter 9: Inclusion of operant conditioning as a key term (it was replaced with the broader term instrumental conditioning in the seventh edition), with a discussion of how operant conditioning is essentially the “reinforcement” half of instrumental conditioning; new discussion of schoolwide positive behavior support. Chapter 10: Broadened definition of modeling to include verbal instructions (in keeping with Bandura’s use of the term); addition of outcome expectations and coping model as key terms; addition of a learner’s current emotional state as a factor influencing self‐efficacy; broadened view of co‐regulated learning to include collaboration with peers; new “Applying Brain Research” feature “Understanding and Accommodating Individual Differences in Self‐Regulation”; new recommendations and examples added to both “Into the Classroom” features. Chapter 11: Revamped introductory section to include three general principles of motivation; new “Contextual Theories” row in Table 11.1 to replace and subsume the “Sociocultural Theories” row of the seventh edition; additions of doing‐just‐enough goals, long‐term life goals, and boredom as important factors in motivation and/or affect; revision of “TARGET” mnemonic to seven “TARGETS” principles (including “social support”). Chapter 12: Reorganization of the chapter, now with a “General Principles” section at the beginning and later discussions of instructional strategies divided into “Teacher‐Directed” and “Learner‐Directed” sections; new figure illustrating the general nature of backward design (Figure 12.2); new discussions of the Common Core standards, Wiggins and Mction (e.g., class discussion boards and chat rooms, educational video games).

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Preface Chapter 13: Discussion of arranging a classroom to monitor and support students’ use of individual laptops or computer tablets; discussion of schoolwide positive behavior support ditional mechanism for communicating with parents (appropriate only when parents have knowledge of and access to the Internet, of course). Chapter 14: Reorganization of the chapter to give more prominence and visibility to formative assessment and use of rubrics (the terms formative evaluation and summative evaluation now changed to formative assessment and summative assessment to be in keeping with current usage); addition of response to intervention and curriculum‐based measurement as key terms; new “Comments” column added to Table 14.2 to address considerations regarding formative versus summative assessments (contemporary literature on formative assessment hasn’t focused much on RSVP characteristics, so much of this column is my own perspective on the topic); new section on “Using Digital Technologies in Classroom Assessments.” Chapter 15: New discussions of normal curve equivalent (NCE) scores and the issue of addressing late and missing assignments in determination of final grades; updated discussions


My Rationale for the Book
As teachers, we play critical roles in the lives of children and adolescents. Some of us help them learn to read and write. Some of us help them understand their physical and social worlds through explorations of science, mathematics, geography, history, or literature. Some of us help them express themselves through physical movement, the visual arts, or music. But regardless of the subject matter we teach, we help the generation that follows us to become knowledgeable, self‐ confident, and productive citizens. In my mind, teaching is the most rewarding profession we could possibly choose. Yet it’s often a challenging profession as well. Students don’t always come to us ready or eager to learn classroom subject matter. How can we help them develop the knowledge and skills they need to become productive adults? What strategies can we use to motivate them? What tasks and instructional materials are appropriate for children at different developmental levels? Over the years, researchers and practitioners have worked together to answer such questions. We’re in the fortunate position of being able to benefit from the many insights that such experts offer. How children and adolescents learn and think, how they change as they grow and develop, why they do the things they do, how they’re often very different from one another—our understanding of all these things has innumerable implications for classroom practice and, ultimately, for the lives of young people. I’ve written this textbook in much the same way that I’ve taught my college classes. Because I want the field of educational psychology to captivate you the way it has captivated me, I’ve tried to make the book interesting, meaningful, and thought‐provoking as well as informative. I have a definite philosophy about how future teachers can best learn and apply educational psychology, and this philosophy has guided me as I’ve written all eight editions of the book. In particular, I believe that human learners of all ages actively construct their own understandings of what they read in textbooks—an idea reflected in the puzzle‐piece motif you’ll see throughout the book.

Helping My Readers Learn and Apply Educational Psychology
You can gain much more from your study of educational psychology when you:
ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Preface I’ve incorporated numerous features into the book to help you do all these things. I hope that you’ll learn a great deal from what educational psychology has to offer, not only about the students you may be teaching but also about yourself—a human being who continues to learn and develop even as an adult.

Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology and Their Educational Implications
Influence of cognitive processes


EXAMPLE mammal, ask

Behavior as a reflection of cognitive processes

Selectivity about what is learned things for them to learn. Also help them

Scarlet Letter,

Construction of meanings and understandings

Are the three drawings shown here different rotations of the same object, or do they represent two or more different objects?

Rather than superficially explore every aspect of educational psychology, this book zeroes in on fundamental concepts and principles that have broad applicability to classroom practice. Throughout the book, core concepts appear in boldfaced blue font. Core principles are clearly identified in sections labeled “Basic Principles” or “Basic Assumptions” and then often summarized in “Principles/Assumptions” tables. Each table includes educational implications and concrete examples.


Object A

Object B

Object C

A central goal of this book has always been to help my readers discover more about themselves as thinkers and learners. Thus I include “Experiencing Firsthand” exercises throughout the book—exercises that illustrate such diverse concepts as constructive processes, working memory, sense of self, social cognition, ethnic stereotyping, and confidentiality in assessment. All of these exercises are designed to do exactly what their name implies: help my readers observe principles of educational psychology in themselves.

FIGURE 6.7 This drawing by 9‐year‐old Trisha effectively illustrates the water cycle.

Throughout the book I continually urge my readers to look closely at and try to make sense of what children and adolescents do and say. Each chapter begins with a “Case Study” that situates chapter content in a real-life scenario. I also make frequent use of real artifacts from children’s journals and school assignments to illustrate concepts and principles in action. Examining Developmental Trends Unique to this book is a focus on children’s development in almost every chapter. For example, Chapters 2 through 4 and 6 through summarize age-typical characteristics at four grade levels offer suggested classroom strategies for each level.

Typical Long‐Term Memory Storage Processes at Different Grade Levels


experiences. W


to herself a couple of times




Into the Classroom
Conducting Authentic Activities
Simplify the task sufficiently to be appropriate for students’ age levels and cognitive abilities.
At a school in Seattle, Washington, students in kindergarten and the first and second grades work cooperatively with researchers to monitor dog “poop” along a nature trail in an important watershed area. Once every two months, the students and several adult volunteers count and map the various dog deposits they find on the trail and within seven feet to either side. Midway through the school near the trail and continue their bimonthly monitoring in order to determine whether the dispensers and bags have any effect. Not only do the students gain an awareness of the harmful effects of pollution on natural resources, but they also gain confidence in their ability to have a positive impact on the health of their local environment. at the local grocery store. Using the list, the food pyramid, and a budget of $30, students must plan a healthful breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a family of four for one day.

Encourage students to experiment with new ideas and strategies. and animals indigenous to their area. The students work in groups of two or three to create informational displays about several species for the city museum. Their teacher helps each group brainstorm ideas about how it might effectively portray a particular plant or animal for the general public.

Choose a task that requires students to integrate and apply what they’ve learned in two or more subject areas. various printed materials (announcements, programs, banners, etc.) for activities and performances throughout their school. Students interview for various jobs in the company, make sales calls to solicit business from other classes, design customer order forms, edit and proofread their work, and conduct customer satisfaction surveys.

Communicate high expectations for students’ performance but provide enough scaffolding to ensure students’ success.
All 92 eighth graders at a middle school are required to contribute in are members of the cast, whereas others are involved in scenery construction, costume design, or lighting. Faculty members supervise each aspect of the project and provide guidance and assistance as needed, but the students are largely responsible for the quality of the production. As students from different social groups work with one another, social barriers and ill feelings between popular and unpopular students begin to break down. By opening night the class has acquired a sense of cohesiveness and overall class spirit



t th t th



l b


Throughout this text, psychological concepts and principles are consistently applied to classroom practice. I also provide “Into the Classroom” and “Creating a Productive Classroom Environment” boxes that suggest and illustrate strategies related to particular areas of concern for teachers. This book is consistently praised for its emphasis on application, application, application. Throughout the book I identify suggested strategies—within the text, in tables, and in the margins—with apple icons that look like this:

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Preface Helping You Prepare for Licensure All chapters end with “Practice for Your Licensure Exam” exercises designed to resemble the kinds of case-study questions that appear on many teacher licensure tests. Students can complete these exercises on . Building Your Teaching Skills At the end of each chapter, readers can apply chapter content and build their teaching to complete scafskills by going to the new folded exercises.


Practice for Your Licensure Exam
Cooperative Learning Project
One Monday morning Ms. Mihara begins the unit “Customs in Other Lands” in her fourth-grade class. She asks students to choose two or three students with whom they would like to work to study a particular country. After the students have assembled into six small groups, she assigns each group a country: Australia, Colombia, Ireland, Greece, Japan, or South Africa. She tells the students, “Today we’ll go to the school library, where your group can find information on the customs of your country and check out materials you think will be useful. Every day over the next two weeks you’ll have time to work with your group. A week from Friday, each group will give an oral report to the class.” During the next few class sessions, Ms. Mihara runs into many more problems than she anticipated. She realizes that the high achievers have gotten together to form two of the groups, and many socially oriented, “popular” students have flocked to two others. The remaining two groups are comprised of whichever students were left over. Some groups get to work immediately on their task, others spend their group time joking and sharing gossip, and still others are neither academically nor socially productive. As the unit progresses, Ms. Mihara hears more and more complaints from students about their task: “Janet and I are doing all the work; Karen and Mary Kay aren’t helping at all,” “Eugene thinks he can boss the rest of us around because we’re studying Ireland and he’s Irish,” “We’re spending all this time but just can’t seem to get anywhere!” And the group reports at the end of the unit differ markedly in quality: Some are carefully planned and informative, whereas others are disorganized and have little substance. “So much for this cooperative learning stuff,” Ms. Mihara mumbles to herself. “If I want students to learn something, I’ll just have to teach it to them myself.”

Classroom applications are by no means limited to the book itself! , a valuable online resource that includes media and other materials to help instructors bring educational psychology to life and to help students come to a deep and applied understanding of this content, can be found at I alert you to many of its resources in margin notes, as follows:
Knowledge about fishing enhances children’s ability to separate and control variables in a fishing problem. Contrast 10‐year‐old Kent (an experienced fisherman) with 14‐year‐old Alicia (who has never fished) in “Cognitive Development: Middle Childhood” Adolescence.”

management issues , where they can In addition, at the end of each chapter, readers are directed to self-assess their knowledge of chapter concepts by taking a pretest, extend their knowledge by completing one or more scaffolded exercises, and apply what they’ve learned in a new case study by completing the “Practice for Your Licensure Exam” exercise. In Preparing Teachers for a Changing World, Linda Darling-Hammond and her colleagues point out that grounding teacher education in real classrooms—among real teachers and students and among actual examples of students’ and teachers’ work—is an important, and perhaps even an essential, part of training teachers for the complexities of teaching in today’s classrooms. is an online learning solution that provides contextualized interactive exercises, simulations, and other resources designed to help readers develop the knowledge and skills that are built around essenteachers need. All of the activities and exercises in tial learning outcomes for teachers and are mapped to professional teaching standards. Utilizing classroom video, authentic student and teacher artifacts, case studies, and other resources and offer readers a unique and assessments, the scaffolded learning experiences in valuable education tool. For each topic covered in the course, readers will find most or all of the following features and resources. Advanced Data and Performance Reporting Aligned to National Standards Advanced data and performance reporting helps educators quickly identify gaps in student learning and gauge and address individual and classroom performance. Educators easily see the connection between coursework, concept mastery, and national teaching standards with highly visual views of performance reports. Data and assessments align directly to national teaching standards, including InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Standards, and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and support reporting for state and accreditation requirements. Assignments and Activities Designed to enhance understanding of concepts covered in class, these assignable exercises show concepts in action (through videos, cases, and/or student and teacher artifacts). They help readers deepen content knowledge and synthesize and apply concepts and strategies read about in the book. For example, “Understanding Research” exercises (just one possible type of “Assignments and Activities” exercise) provide summaries of real research articles and present questions for readers to respond to that help them apply research-based information to educational psychology and classroom practice. (Correct answers for these assignments are available to the instructor only.)

Classroom rules are more likely to be effective when students are involved in creating and evaluating them. Explore effective strategies in the simulation “Creating Classroom Behavioral Expectations.”

perspectives of learning in a

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Preface Building Teaching Skills and Dispositions These learning units help readers practice and strengthen skills that are essential to effective teaching. After presenting the steps involved in a core teaching process, readers are given an opportunity to practice applying this skill via videos, student and teacher artifacts, and/or case studies of authentic classrooms. Providing multiple opportunities to practice a single teaching concept, each activity encourages a deeper understanding and application of concepts, as well as the use of critical thinking skills. After practice, students take a quiz that is reported to the instructor gradebook and performance reporting features of . IRIS Center Resources The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University (http://iris.peabody, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), develops training-enhancement materials for preservice and practicing teachers. The Center works with experts from across the country to create challenge-based interactive modules, case study units, and podcasts that provide research-validated course information about working with students in inclusive settings. In your we have integrated this content where appropriate. Simulations in Classroom Management One of the most difficult challenges facing teachers today is how to balance classroom instruction with classroom management. These interactive cases focus on the classroom management issues teachers most frequently encounter on a daily basis. Each simulation presents a challenge scenario at the beginning and then offers a series of choices to solve each challenge. Along the way, readers receive mentor feedback on their choices and have the opportunity to make better choices if necessary. After completing each simulation, readers will have a clear understanding of how to address these common classroom management issues and will be better equipped to handle them in the classroom. is easy to use and integrate into both assignments and courses. Download the correlation guide (see the “Ancillary Materials” section of this preface) which connects chapter sections with appropriate assignable exercises on . Additional Course Resources Lesson Plan Builder is an effective and easy-to-use tool that readers can use to create, update, and share quality lesson plans. The software also makes it easy to integrate state content standards into any lesson plan. exam by giving them access to state test requirements, overviews of what tests cover, and sample test items. The Certification and Licensure section includes the following: State Certification Test Requirements: Here, you can click on a state and will then be taken to a list of state certification tests. Licensure Exams you need to take in order to find:

National Evaluation Series™ by Pearson: Here, readers can see the tests in the NES, learn what is covered on each exam, and access sample test items with descriptions and rationales of correct answers. Readers can also purchase interactive online tutorials developed by Pearson Evaluation Systems and the Pearson Teacher Education and Development group. ETS Online Praxis Tutorials: Here, readers can purchase interactive online tutorials developed by ETS and by the Pearson Teacher Education and Development group. Tutorials are available for the Praxis I exams and for select Praxis II exams.
ISBN 1-256-96292-9

conBook-Specific Resources The “Book-Specific Resources” section of tains useful materials organized by book chapter rather than by topic. The “Book-Specific Resources” section offers the following resources:

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Preface Study Plan A Study Plan offers readers a chance to assess their current level of content mastery, receive individualized study material to help bolster it, and take another assessment to confirm improvement. It consists of the following components: Chapter Learning Outcomes give readers targets to shoot for as they read and study. Pretests allow readers to assess mastery of the content. These assessments are mapped to chapter “Learning Outcomes.” Not only do these pretests provide overall scores for each Learning Outcome but they also explain why responses to particular items are correct or incorrect. After readers have completed this pretest, they are given a report showing which Learning Outcomes they appear to have troubles with. Review, Practice, and Enrichment provides an individualized set of study materials to work with to develop mastery of certain “Learning Outcomes.” This consists of excerpts of chapter material to reread and activities to complete based on media assets (video, simulations, cases, etc.) or vignettes that help scaffold and develop content knowledge. If readers wish, they may access the Review, Practice, and Enrichment material relevant to a Learning Outcome, even if they have mastered that outcome as demonstrated in the pretest report. Posttests present unique questions to assess the same important concepts as the items in the pretest. Readers receive results on this assessment as well and can see if their level of mastery has changed. Other book-specific resources include: Flashcards help readers review the core concepts and principles within each chapter. Focus Questions help guide the reading of chapter content. Common Beliefs and Misconceptions About Educational Psychology help alert readers to typical misunderstandings in educational psychology classes. Video Examples, referenced by margin notes in every chapter, provide concrete illustrations of various concepts and principles illustrated in each chapter. Supplementary Readings related to chapter concepts give readers an opportunity to explore certain topics in more depth—for example, the ecological systems perspective of child development (Chapter 2), the evolution of learning theories (Chapter 6), and programmed instruction and computer-assisted instruction (Chapter 12). Practice for Your Licensure Exam” exercise resembles the kinds of questions that appear on many teacher licensure tests. The same chapter-ending exercise is also located on . Once on , readers can complete the exercise while receiving hints that scaffold their efforts to make correct responses. Readers can also compare their responses to the expert feedback provided. Visit for a demonstration of this exciting new online teaching resource.


It is now possible for instructors to customize textbooks by selecting portions of this book and perhaps combining them with portions of other Pearson Education books. Instructors should contact their local Pearson sales representative for information on how to customize their textbook.

Ancillary Materials
The following resources are available for instructors to download on educators. Instructors can enter the author or title of this book, select this particular edition of the book, and then click on the “Resources” tab to log in and download textbook supplements.
ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Instructor’s Resource Manual (0-13-297783-4) An Instructor’s Resource Manual includes suggestions for learning activities, additional “Experiencing Firsthand” exercises, supplementary lectures, case study analyses, discussion topics, group activities, and additional media resources.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Preface PowerPoint) Slides (0-13-297784-2 The PowerPoint) slides include key concept summarizations, diagrams, and other graphic aids to enhance learning. They are designed to help students understand, organize, and remember core concepts and theories. Test Bank (0-13-297793-1) I’ve personally written many of the test questions in the Test Bank that accompanies the book; Test Bank co-author Karen Zabrucky added new ones to reflect the many updates to this eighth edition. Some items (lower-level questions) simply ask students to identify or explain concepts and principles they have learned. But many others (higher-level questions) ask students to apply those same concepts and principles to specific classroom situations—that is, to actual student behaviors and teaching strategies. Ultimately, it is these higherlevel questions that assess students’ ability to use principles of educational psychology in their own teaching practice. TestGen (0-13-297792-3) TestGen is a powerful test generator available exclusively from Pearson Education publishers. You install TestGen on your personal computer (Windows or Macintosh) and create your own tests for classroom testing and for other specialized delivery options, such as over a local area network or on the web. A test bank, which is also called a Test Item File (TIF), typically contains a large set of test items, organized by chapter and ready for your use in creating a test, based on the associated textbook material. Assessments—including equations, graphs, and scientific notation—may be created for both print or testing online. The tests can be downloaded in the following formats: TestGen Testbank file—PC TestGen Testbank file—MAC TestGen Testbank—Blackboard CE/Vista (WebCT) TIF Angel Test Bank (zip) D2L Test Bank (zip) Moodle Test Bank Sakai Test Bank (zip) Correlation Guide (0-13-296512-7) This guide connects chapter sec. tions with appropriate assignable exercises on

Case Studies: Applying Educational Psychology (2nd ed.) Many instructors use Ormrod and McGuire’s Case Studies cludes 48 real cases involving students and classrooms ranging from preschool to high school. It illustrates concepts and principles in many areas of educational psychology, including child and adolescent development, learning and cognition, motivation, classroom management, instructional practices, and assessment. Artifact Case Studies: Interpreting Children’s Work and Teachers’ Classroom Strategies Another possible supplement to the book is my Artifact Case Studies book (0-13114671-8). The artifact cases in this supplement offer work samples and instructional materials that cover a broad range of topics, including literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and art. Every artifact case includes background information and questions to consider as readers examine the artifact. Instructors should contact their local Pearson sales representative to order a copy of this book. Simulations in Educational Psychology and Research (version 2.1) This CD-ROM (0-13-113717-4) features five interactive psychological/educational experiments, along with exercises and readings that can help students explore the research components and procedures connected to the experiments. Qualitative and quantitative designs are included. Instructors should contact their local Pearson sales representative to order a copy of these simulations.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Although I’m listed as the sole author of this textbook, I’ve been fortunate to have had a great deal of help in writing it. First and foremost, this book wouldn’t be what it is today without a longterm partnership with my editor, Kevin Davis. Kevin first came on board as developmental editor Pearson, has continued to stand by my side through several promotions. Kevin hasn’t penned the words, but his influence permeates every page, and with each new edition he has insisted that I stretch my knowledge and skills in ways I never imagined and didn’t think were possible. I thank Kevin for his inspiration, guidance, friendship, and undying dedication to the quality of teacher education. Paul Smith took over Kevin’s role as editor for the seventh edition to help make this book the very best that it could be. I’m deeply appreciative of Paul’s professional advice, emotional support, and indefatigable sense of humor. I continue to be indebted to Christie Robb, developmental editor, for the seventh and eighth editions. Christie has always “been there” for me, generously dropping what she’s doing at a moment’s notice to provide counsel or assistance. She’s kept me on course—no doubt about it—whenever I’ve gone astray from my mission, and her guidance about both the big picture and many, many nitty-gritty details have been invariably on target. Four previous developmental editors have left footprints on the book as well. Linda Peterson helped shape many of the book’s pedagogical features in the first and second editions. Linda Bishop and Julie Peters brought fresh perspectives and creative ideas to the third and fourth editions, respectively, as did Autumn Benson for the fifth and sixth editions. All of these women kept me upbeat and on-task throughout my arduous, year-long writing efforts. Fortunately, I can continue to work with Autumn in her role as Senior Media Producer. For this eighth edition of the book, people at the production end of things have gone far beyond the call of duty. Turning a lengthy textbook manuscript into an actual book is a complex endeavor under any circumstances, but the task of creating an e-book as well as a paper book has presented challenges beyond any that we all could have imagined. Kerry Rubadue ably and patiently coordinated the production effort at Pearson’s end. Kay Banning was, as always, delightfully compulsive in creating the indexes. But most importantly, I must thank Lynda Griffiths, who painstakingly copyedited my words, double-checked every reference (possibly the world’s most thankless job), and then steered the manuscript through several rounds of page proofs until the layout was logically and pedagogically sound. Amazingly, Lynda kept her good humor throughout the whole process—even during eleventh-hour crises—and yet also found time to “oooh” and “aaah” in response to the many pictures of Olivia I sent her way. And, of course, I must thank Joanna Sabella and her colleagues in Pearson’s marketing department, who have always been skillful in getting out the word about a new edition. Without their help, my books wouldn’t have much of an impact on the field of educational psychology—a field about which I’m deeply passionate. In addition to the folks at Pearson Education and Jouve, several colleagues across the country have provided assistance with various ancillary materials. Karen Zabrucky at Georgia State has graciously taken on the task of updating the test bank to be in line with this new edition. Audrey Ambrosino, also at George State, is updating the instructor’s resource manual, PowerPoint) slides, and correlation guide for the book. Joanne Rojas at the University of Kentucky has lended . Gail her expertise to the Book-Specific Resources and Study Plans sections of Gottfried and several people at the University of Nebraska’s Center for Instructional Innovation— especially Roger Bruning, Christy A. Horn, Katherine Smith, and Jeremy J. Sydik—have created . Vern Jones of Lewis and Clark College many of the interactive features now on wrote the engaging new interactive simulations related to classroom management. To all these individuals, I must say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” In this multimedia age, writing any textbook and its accompanying materials must truly be a team effort. Many other colleagues have strengthened the book itself by reviewing one or more of its previous versions. Reviewers for the first seven editions were Jane Abraham, Virginia Tech University; Joyce Alexander, Indiana University; Eric Anderman, University of Kentucky; Linda M. Anderson, Michigan State University; Margaret D. Anderson, SUNY–Cortland; J. C. Bar-

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Preface ton, Tennessee Technical University; Timothy A. Bender, Southwest Missouri State University; Stephen L. Benton, Kansas State University; Kathryn J. Biacindo, California State University– Fresno; Barbara Bishop, Eastern New Mexico University; Karen L. Block, University of Pittsburgh; Phyllis Blumenfeld, University of Michigan; Robert Braswell, Winthrop College; Kathy Brown, University of Central Oklahoma; Randy L. Brown, University of Central Oklahoma; Kay S. Bull, Oklahoma State University; Margaret W. Cohen, University of Missouri–St. Louis; Theodore Coladarci, University of Maine; Sharon Cordell, Roane State Community College; Roberta Corrigan, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; Richard D. Craig, Towson State University; José Cruz, Jr., The Ohio State University; Peggy Dettmer, Kansas State University; Joan Dixon, Gonzaga University; Leland K. Doebler, University of Montevallo; Catherine Emilhovich, SUNY–Buffalo; Joanne B. Engel, Oregon State University; Kathy Farber, Bowling Green State University; William R. Fisk, Clemson University; Victoria Fleming, Miami University of Ohio; M. Arthur Garmon, Western Michigan University; Roberta J. Garza, Pan American University–Brownsville; Mary Gauvain, University of California–Riverside; Cheryl Greenberg, University of North Carolina–Greensboro; Richard Hamilton, University of Houston; Jennifer Mistretta Hampston, Youngstown State University; Arthur Hernandez, University of Texas–San Antonio; Heather Higgins, University of North Carolina–Greensboro; Frederick C. Howe, Buffalo State College; Peggy Hsieh, University of Texas–San Antonio; Dinah Jackson, University of Northern Colorado; Janina M. Jolley, Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Caroline Kaczala, Cleveland State University; CarolAnne M. Kardash, University of Missouri–Columbia; Pamela Kidder-Ashley, Appalachian State University; Kenneth Kiewra, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Nancy F. Knapp, University of Georgia; Mary Lou Koran, University of Florida; Randy Lennon, University of Northern Colorado; Susan C. Losh, Florida State University; Pamela Manners, Troy State University; Hermine H. Marshall, San Francisco State University; Teresa McDevitt, University of Northern Colorado; Sharon McNeely, Northeastern Illinois University; Michael Meloth, University of Colorado–Boulder; Kelly S. Mix, Michigan State University; Bruce P. Mortenson, Louisiana State University; Janet Moursund, University of Oregon; P. Karen Murphy, The Pennsylvania State University; Gary A. Negin, California State University; Joe Olmi, The University of Southern Mississippi; Helena Osana, Concordia University; James Persinger, Emporia State University; Judy Pierce, Western Kentucky University; James R. Pullen, Central Missouri State University; Gary F. Render, University of Wyoming; Robert S. Ristow, Western Illinois University; Jeff Sandoz, University of Louisiana—Lafayette; Rolando Santos, California State University–Los Angeles; Gregg Schraw, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Dale H. Schunk, University of North Carolina–Greensboro; Mark Seng, University of Texas; Glenn E. Snelbecker, Temple University; Johnna Shapiro, University of California–Davis; Kenneth Springer, Southern Methodist University; Harry L. Steger, Boise State University; Bruce Torff, Hofstra University; Ann Turnbull, University of Kansas; Julianne C. Turner, University of Notre Dame; Enedina Vazquez, New Mexico State University; Alice A. Walker, SUNY–Cortland; Mary Wellman, Rhode Island College; Jane A. Wolfle, Bowling Green State University; and Karen Zabrucky, Georgia State University. Coming on board for the eighth edition were these reviewers, who offered many helpful suggestions now reflected in the book: Cindy Ballantyne, Northern Arizona University; Angela Bloomquist, California University of Pennsylvania; Gregory Braswell, Illinois State University; David Yun Dai, SUNY–University at Albany; Kellah Edens, University of South Carolina; Sister Nancy Gilchriest, St. Joseph’s College; Nathan Gonyea, SUNY–Oneonta; Ken Hay, Indiana University; Howard Lloyd, University of Kentucky; Traci Van Prooyen, Heartland Community College; Courtney Vorell, Minnesota School of Business; and Ya-Shu Yang, University of Nebraska– Lincoln. Some of my own students and teacher interns—especially Jenny Bressler, Kathryn Broadhead, Ryan Francoeur, Gerry Holly, Shelly Lamb, Michele Minichiello, Kim Sandman, Melissa Tillman, Nick Valente, and Brian Zottoli—have agreed to let me use their interviews, essays, and experiences as examples. Teachers and administrators at schools both home and abroad (including two of my own children, now teachers themselves) have allowed me to share their strategies with my readers; I thank Liz Birnam, Berneen Bratt, Don Burger, Tom Carroll, Barbara Dee, Jackie Filion, Tina Ormrod Fox, Sarah Gagnon, Dinah Jackson, Sheila Johnson, Don Lafferty, Carol Lincoln, Gary MacDonald, Sharon McManus, Linda Mengers, Mark Nichols, Susan O’Byrne, Jeff Ormrod, Ann Reilly, and Gwen Ross.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Preface Many young people, too, deserve thanks for letting me use their work. In particular, I acknowledge the contributions of the following present and former students: Andrew and Katie Belcher; Noah and Shea Davis; Zachary Derr; Amaryth, Andrew, and Anthony Gass; Ben and Darcy Geraud; Dana Gogolin; Colin Hedges; Erin Islo; Charlotte Jeppsen; Laura Linton; Michael McShane; Frederik Meissner; Meghan Milligan; Alex, Jeff, and Tina Ormrod; Patrick Paddock; Isabelle Peters; Ian Rhoads; David and Laura Riordan; Corey and Trisha Ross; Ashton and Haley Russo; Alex and Connor Sheehan; Matt and Melinda Shump; Andrew Teplitz; Emma Thompson; Grace Tober; Grant Valentine; and Geoff Wuehrmann. Last but certainly not least, I must thank my husband and children, who have for many years forgiven my countless hours spent either buried in my books and journals or else glued to my computer. Without their continuing support and understanding of what has, for me, become an enduring passion, this book would never have seen the light of day. J. E. O.


ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Brief Contents
Teaching and Educational Psychology 2

Cognitive and Linguistic Development 18 Personal and Social Development 54 Group Differences 90 Individual Differences and Special Educational Needs 118

2 3 4 5

Learning, Cognition, and Memory 154 Complex Cognitive Processes 194 Learning and Cognition in Context 226 Behaviorist Views of Learning 264 Social Cognitive Views of Learning 298 Motivation and Affect 332

6 7 8 9 10 11

Instructional Strategies 380 Creating a Productive Learning Environment 422 Classroom Assessment Strategies 460 Summarizing Students’ Achievement and Abilities 504
Describing Associations with Correlation Coefficients A-1 Determining Reliability and Predictive Validity B-1
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12 13 14 15
Appendix A: Appendix B: Appendix C: xvi Matching Book and Learning and Teaching Tests C-1

Content to the Praxis® Principles of

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Special Topics xxiii

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development 36 Vygotsky’s Basic Assumptions 37 Critiquing Vygotsky’s Theory 40 Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Vygotsky’s Theory 40 Contemporary Extensions and Applications of Vygotsky’s Theory 41 Contrasting Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories 44 Language Development 45 Theoretical Issues Regarding Language Development 45 Diversity in Language Development 47 Second‐Language Learning and English Language Learners 48 What Have You Learned? 51 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Stones Lesson 52


Teaching and Educational Psychology 2

Case Study: The “No D” Policy 3 Teaching as Evidence‐Based Practice 4 Understanding and Interpreting Research Findings 6 Quantitative Research 6 Qualitative Research 8 Interpreting Research Results: A Cautionary Note 10 From Research to Practice: The Importance of Theories 11 Collecting Data and Drawing Conclusions about Your Own Students 11 Assessing Students’ Achievements and Behaviors 12 Conducting Action Research 12 Developing as a Teacher 13 Strategies for Studying and Learning Effectively 14 What Have You Learned? 15 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: New Software 16


Personal and Social Development 54
Temperament 56

Case Study: Hidden Treasure 55 Personality Development 55 Environmental Influences on Personality Development 56 The “Big Five” Personality Traits 59 Temperament, Personality, and Goodness of Fit 60 Development of a Sense of Self 60 Factors Influencing Sense of Self 61 Developmental Changes in Sense of Self 62 Diversity in Sense of Self 65 Development of Peer Relationships and Interpersonal Understandings 67 Roles of Peers in Children’s Development 67 Characteristics of Peer Relationships 68 Social Cognition 71 Aggression 73 Technology and Peer Relationships 75 Diversity in Peer Relationships and Social Cognition 76 Promoting Healthy Peer Relationships 76 Moral and Prosocial Development 79 Developmental Trends in Morality and Prosocial Behavior 79 Factors Influencing Moral and Prosocial Development 83 Diversity in Moral and Prosocial Development 84 Encouraging Moral and Prosocial Development in the Classroom 85




Cognitive and Linguistic Development 18
The Multiple Layers of Environmental Influence: Bronfenbrenner’s Theory 21

Cases Study: Apple Tarts 19 General Principles of Human Development 20

Role of the Brain in Learning and Development 22 Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development 25 Piaget’s Basic Assumptions 26 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development 29 Critiquing Piaget’s Theory 33
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Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Piaget’s Theory 33 Contemporary Extensions and Applications of Piaget’s Theory 34


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Students with Social or Behavioral Problems 140 Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 140 Autism Spectrum Disorders 142 General Recommendations 143 Students with General Delays in Cognitive and Social Functioning 144 Intellectual Disabilities 144 Students with Physical or Sensory Challenges 146 Physical and Health Impairments 146 Visual Impairments 146 Hearing Loss 147 General Recommendations 148 Students with Advanced Cognitive Development 149 Giftedness 149 Considering Diversity When Identifying and Addressing Special Needs 150 General Recommendations for Working with Students Who Have Special Needs 151 What Have You Learned? 152 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Quiet Amy 153

What Have You Learned? 87 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: The Scarlet Letter 88


Group Differences 90
Navigating Different Cultures at Home and at School 93 Examples of Cultural and Ethnic Diversity 94 Creating a Culturally Inclusive Classroom Environment 99

Case Study: Why Jack Wasn’t in School 91 Cultural and Ethnic Differences 92

Gender Differences 103 Research Findings Regarding Gender Differences 103 Origins of Gender Differences 106 Making Appropriate Accommodations for Gender Differences 108 Socioeconomic Differences 109 Challenges Associated with Poverty 110 Fostering Resilience 112 Working with Homeless Students 113 Students at Risk 113 Characteristics of Students at Risk 113 Why Students Drop Out 114 Supporting Students at Risk 114 What Have You Learned? 116 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: The Active and the Passive 116



Individual Differences and Special Educational Needs 118
Theoretical Perspectives of Intelligence 120 Measuring Intelligence 124 Nature and Nurture in the Development of Intelligence 125 Cultural and Ethnic Diversity in Intelligence 126 Being Smart about Intelligence and IQ Scores 127



Case Study: Tim 119 Intelligence 119

Learning, Cognition, and Memory 154

Case Study: Bones 155 Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology 156 A Model of Human Memory 159 The Nature of the Sensory Register 161 Moving Information to Working Memory: The Role of Attention 161 The Nature of Working (Short‐Term) Memory 162 Moving Information to Long‐Term Memory: Connecting New Information with Prior Knowledge 163 The Nature of Long‐Term Memory 164 Learning, Memory, and the Brain 164 Critiquing the Three‐Component Model 165 Long‐Term Memory Storage 166 How Knowledge Can Be Organized 166 How Declarative Knowledge Is Learned 169
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Cognitive Styles and Dispositions 128 Educating Students with Special Needs in General Education Classrooms 130 Public Law 94‐142: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 131 Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Inclusion 132 Identifying Students’ Special Needs: Response to Intervention and People‐First Language 133 Students with Specific Cognitive or Academic Difficulties 134 Learning Disabilities 135 Attention‐Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 137 Speech and Communication Disorders 138 General Recommendations 139

How Procedural Knowledge Is Learned 173 Roles of Prior Knowledge and Working Memory in Long‐Term Memory Storage 175

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Encouraging a Meaningful Learning Set and Conceptual Understanding 177 Using Mnemonics in the Absence of Relevant Prior Knowledge 177 When Knowledge Construction Goes Awray: Addressing Learners’ Misconceptions 179 Obstacles to Conceptual Change 181 Promoting Conceptual Change 181 Long‐Term Memory Retrieval 183 Factors Affecting Retrieval 184 Why Learners Sometimes Forget 187 Diversity in Cognitive Processes 189 Facilitating Cognitive Processing in Students with Special Needs 190 What Have You Learned? 192 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Vision Unit 193 Social Interactions as Contexts 230 Interactions with More Advanced Individuals 230 Interactions with Peers 231 Creating a Community of Learners 232 Cultures as Contexts 234 Schemas, Scripts, and Worldviews as Aspects of Culture 234 Communities of Practice as Aspects of Culture 236 Society and Technology as Contexts 237 Authentic Activities 238 Technological Innovations 239 Academic Content Domains as Contexts 242 Literacy 243 Mathematics 251 Science 253 Social Studies 256 Taking Student Diversity into Account 260 What Have You Learned? 262



Complex Cognitive Processes 194
Effective Learning Strategies 196 Factors Affecting Strategy Use 201 Diversity, Disabilities, and Exceptional Abilities in Metacognition 204

Practice for Your Licensure Exam: The Birth of a Nation 263

Case Study: Taking Over 195 Metacognition and Learning Strategies 196


Behaviorist Views of Learning 264

Case Study: The Attention Getter 265 Basic Assumptions of Behaviorism 265 Building on Existing Stimulus–Response Associations: Classical Conditioning 267 Classical Conditioning of Involuntary Emotional Responses 268 Common Phenomena in Classical Conditioning 269 Addressing Counterproductive Emotional Responses 270 Learning from Consequences: Instrumental Conditioning 270 Contrasting Classical Conditioning and Instrumental Conditioning 271 The Various Forms That Reinforcement Can Take 271 The Various Forms That Punishment Can Take 277 Strategies for Encouraging Productive Behaviors 280 Using Reinforcement Effectively 280 Shaping New Behaviors 284 Bringing Antecedent Stimuli and Responses into the Picture 285 Strategies for Discouraging Undesirable Behaviors 287 Creating Conditions for Extinction 287 Cueing Inappropriate Behaviors 287 Reinforcing Incompatible Behaviors 287 Using Punishment When Necessary 288 Addressing Especially Difficult Classroom Behaviors 290 Applied Behavior Analysis 290 Functional Analysis and Positive Behavior Support 290

Transfer 206 Factors Affecting Transfer 207 Problem Solving 210 Problem Encoding 211 Problem‐Solving Strategies: Algorithms and Heuristics 213 Working Memory and Problem Solving 214 Metacognition in Problem Solving 214 Using Computer Technology to Teach Problem‐Solving Skills 215 Creativity 216 Fostering Creativity 217 Critical Thinking 219 Fostering Critical Thinking 221 Diversity in Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Other Complex Cognitive Processes 222 Accommodating Students with Special Needs 223 What Have You Learned? 223 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Interview with Charlie 225

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Learning and Cognition in Context 226

Case Study: It’s All in How You Look at Things 227 Basic Assumptions of Contextual Theories 228

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Teacher Attributions and Expectations 360 Diversity in Cognitive and Sociocultural Factors Affecting Motivation 364 A TARGETS Mnemonic for Remembering Motivational Strategies 366 Affect and Its Effects 366 How Affect and Motivation Are Interrelated 366 How Affect Is Related to Learning and Cognition 370 Anxiety in the Classroom 370 Diversity in Affect 375 What Have You Learned? 377 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: When “Perfect” Isn’t Good Enough 378

Diversity in Student Behaviors and Reactions to Consequences 292 Accommodating Students with Special Needs 293 Strengths and Potential Limitations of Behaviorist Approaches 293 What Have You Learned? 295 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Hostile Helen 296


Social Cognitive Views of Learning 298

Case Study: Parlez‐vous Français? 299 Basic Assumptions of Social Cognitive Theory 299 The Social Cognitive View of Reinforcement and Punishment 301 Modeling 304 Behaviors and Skills That Can Be Learned through Modeling 304 Characteristics of Effective Models 306 Essential Conditions for Successful Modeling 307 Self‐Efficacy 308 How Self‐Efficacy Affects Behavior and Cognition 310 Factors in the Development of Self‐Efficacy 311 Teacher Self‐Efficacy 313 Self‐Regulation 314 Self‐Regulated Behavior 315 Self‐Regulated Learning 320 Self‐Regulated Problem Solving 322 Diversity in Self‐Regulation 323 Revisiting Reciprocal Causation 325 Comparing Theoretical Perspectives of Learning 328 What Have You Learned? 329 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Teacher’s Lament 330




Instructional Strategies 380

Case Study: Oregon Trail 381 General Principles That Can Guide Instruction 382 Planning for Instruction 385 Identifying the Goals of Instruction 385 Conducting a Task Analysis 388 Developing a Lesson Plan 390 Creating a Class Website to Share Goals and Facilitate Communication throughout the School Year 391 Teacher‐Directed Instructional Strategies 391 Presenting New Material through Traditional Expository Methods: Lectures and Textbooks 392 Asking Questions and Giving Feedback 392 Providing Practice through In‐Class Assignments 394 Giving Homework 395 Conducting Direct Instruction 396 Promoting Mastery 397 Using Instructional Websites 399 Using Technology to Individualize Instruction 400 Learner‐Directed Instructional Strategies 401 Stimulating and Guiding Class Discussions 401 Conducting Reciprocal Teaching Sessions 403 Conducting Discovery and Inquiry Activities 405 Using Computer Simulations and Games 407 Conducting Cooperative Learning Activities 408 Structuring Peer Tutoring Sessions 412 Conducting Technology‐Based Collaborative Learning Activities 414
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Motivation and Affect 332

Case Study: Passing Algebra 333 The Nature of Motivation 334 Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Motivation 336 Basic Human Needs 337 Arousal 337 Competence and Self‐Worth 338 Self‐Determination 339 Relatedness 342 Universality and Diversity in Basic Needs 343 A Possible Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s Theory 344 Cognitive and Sociocultural Factors in Motivation 345 Interests 345 Expectancies and Values 347 Goals 349 Attributions 355

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Taking Instructional Goals and Student Diversity into Account 415 Considering Group Differences 417 Accommodating Students with Special Needs 417 What Have You Learned? 419 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Cooperative Learning Project 420 Evaluating the Quality of Instruction 465 Diagnosing Learning and Performance Problems 465 Promoting Learning 466


Enhancing Learning through Formative Assessments and Other Assessment Practices 468 Including Students in the Assessment Process 470 Important Qualities of Good Assessments 471 Reliability 471 Standardization 473 Validity 473 Practicality 478 Assessing Learning and Performance Both Informally and Formally 479 Informally Observing Students’ Behaviors 479 Using Paper–Pencil Assessments 481 Using Performance Assessments 489 Additional Considerations in Formal Assessment 494 Using Digital Technologies in Classroom Assessments 498 Taking Student Diversity into Account in Classroom Assessments 500 Accommodating Group Differences 500 Accommodating Students with Special Needs 500 What Have You Learned? 502 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Pick and Choose 503


Creating a Productive Learning Environment 422

Case Study: A Contagious Situation 423 Creating a Setting Conducive to Learning 423 Arranging the Classroom 425 Establishing and Maintaining Productive Teacher–Student Relationships 426 Creating an Effective Psychological Climate 428 Setting Limits 430 Planning Activities That Keep Students on Task 433 Monitoring What Students Are Doing 435 Modifying Instructional Strategies 436 Taking Developmental Differences into Account 436 Taking Individual and Group Differences into Account 436 Expanding the Sense of Community Beyond the Classroom 439 Working with Other Faculty Members 439 Working with the Community at Large 441 Working with Parents 441 Dealing with Misbehaviors 446 Ignoring Certain Behaviors 446 Cueing Students 447 Discussing Problems Privately with Students 447 Teaching Self‐Regulation Skills 449 Conferring with Parents 449 Conducting Planned, Systematic Interventions 451 Taking Students’ Cultural Backgrounds into Account 452 Addressing Aggression and Violence at School 454 A Three‐Level Approach 455 Addressing Gang‐Related Problems 456 What Have You Learned? 458 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: The Good Buddy 459


Summarizing Students’ Achievement and Abilities 504

Case Study: B in History 505 Summarizing the Results of a Single Assessment 505 Raw Scores 506 Criterion‐Referenced Scores 506 Norm‐Referenced Scores 506 Using Criterion‐Referenced versus Norm‐Referenced Scores in the Classroom 511 Determining Final Class Grades 512 Considering—Or Not Considering—Other Factors in Grading 515 Including Students in the Grading Process 516 Using Portfolios 516 Types and Purposes of Portfolios 517 Benefits and Limitations of Portfolios 518 Helping Students Construct Portfolios 519 Standardized Tests 519 Types of Standardized Tests 519 Individual versus Group Administration of Standardized Tests 522 Guidelines for Choosing and Using Standardized Tests 523 Interpreting Standardized Test Scores 524

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Classroom Assessment Strategies 460

Case Study: The Math Test 461 The Many Forms and Purposes of Assessment 462 Guiding Instructional Decision Making 464 Determining What Students Have Learned from Instruction 464

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Communicating Assessment Results to Students and Parents 537 What Have You Learned? 539 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Can Johnny Read 540
Appendix A: Describing Associations with Correlation Coefficients A-1 Appendix B: Determining Reliability and Predictive Validity B-1 Content to the Appendix C: Matching Book and Praxis® Principles of Learning and Teaching Tests C-1 Glossary G-1 References R-1 Name Index N-1 Subject Index S-1

High‐Stakes Testing and Accountability 527 The U.S. No Child Left Behind Act 528 Problems with High‐Stakes Testing 529 Productive Steps Forward in High‐Stakes Testing 530 Taking Student Diversity into Account 531 Cultural Bias in Test Content 532 Cultural and Ethnic Differences 533 Language Differences and English Language Learners 533 Accommodating Students with Special Needs 534 Confidentiality and Communication about Assessment Results 535

ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Special Topics
Ormrod’s Own Psychological Survey (OOPS test, Items 1 and 3) 4 Case Study: Apple Tarts 19 General Principles of Human Development 20 The Multiple Layers of Environmental Influence: Bronfenbrenner’s Theory 21 Role of the Brain in Learning and Development 22 Applying Brain Research: Taking Developmental Changes in the Brain into Account 25 Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development 25 Piaget’s Basic Assumptions 26 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development 29 Table 2.1 Compare/Contrast: Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development 29 Critiquing Piaget’s Theory 33 Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Piaget’s Theory 33 Contemporary Extensions and Applications of Piaget’s Theory 34 Into the Classroom: Applying Piaget’s Theory 35 Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development 36 Vygotsky’s Basic Assumptions 37 Critiquing Vygotsky’s Theory 40 Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Vygotsky’s Theory 40 Contemporary Extensions and Applications of Vygotsky’s Theory 41 Into the Classroom: Applying Vygotsky’s Theory 41 Contrasting Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories 44 Language Development 45 Theoretical Issues Regarding Language Development 45 Developmental Trends: Examples of Linguistic Characteristics and Abilities at Different Grade Levels 46 Diversity in Language Development 47 Second‐Language Learning and English Language Learners 48 Into the Classroom: Working with English Language Learners 50 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Stones Lesson 52 Case Study: Hidden Treasure 55 Personality Development 55
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Creating a Productive Classroom Environment: Accommodating Students’ Diverse Temperaments and Personality Traits 59 Temperament, Personality, and Goodness of Fit 60 Development of a Sense of Self 60 Factors Influencing Sense of Self 61 Developmental Changes in Sense of Self 62 Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development 62 Applying Brain Research: Understanding and Addressing Adolescent Risk Taking 64 Diversity in Sense of Self 65 Developmental Trends: Sense of Self at Different Grade Levels 66 Development of Peer Relationships and Interpersonal Understandings 67 Roles of Peers in Children’s Development 67 Characteristics of Peer Relationships 68 Social Cognition 71 Aggression 73 Technology and Peer Relationships 75 Diversity in Peer Relationships and Social Cognition 76 Promoting Healthy Peer Relationships 76 Creating a Productive Classroom Environment: Encouraging Positive Interactions among Diverse Individuals and Groups 77 Moral and Prosocial Development 79 Developmental Trends in Morality and Prosocial Behavior 79 Table 3.2 Developmental Trends: Moral Reasoning and Prosocial Behavior at Different Grade Levels 80 Table 3.3 Compare/Contrast: Kohlberg’s Three Levels and Six Stages of Moral Reasoning 82 Factors Influencing Moral and Prosocial Behavior 83 Diversity in Moral and Prosocial Development 84 Encouraging Moral and Prosocial Development in the Classroom 85 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: The Scarlet Letter 88 Origins of Gender Differences 106 Table 4.1 Developmental Trends: Gender‐Related Characteristics at Different Grade Levels 107 Developmental Views of Intelligence 123 Nature and Nurture in the Development of Intelligence 125 Developmental Trends in Storage Processes for Declarative Information 173 Table 6.4 Developmental Trends: Typical Long‐Term Memory Storage Processes at Different Grade Levels 174 Table 7.1 Developmental Trends: Metacognition at Different Grade Levels 197

Temperament 56 Environmental Influences on Personality Development 56 The “Big Five” Personality Traits 59


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Special Topics
Autism Spectrum Disorders 142 Learning, Memory, and the Brain 164 Applying Brain Research: Enhancing Students’ Brain Functioning 165 Basic Assumptions of Contextual Theories 228 Applying Brain Research: Understanding and Accommodating Individual Differences in Self‐Regulation 324 Applying Brain Research: Understanding How and Why Emotions Influence Learning 369

Table 7.2 Students in Inclusive Settings: Promoting Metacognitive Development in Students with Special Educational Needs 205 Table 8.3 Developmental Trends: Typical Reading Skills at Different Grade Levels 246 Looking at Reinforcement from a Developmental Perspective 275 Table 9.2 Developmental Trends: Effective Reinforcers at Different Grade Levels 276 Factors in the Development of Self‐Efficacy 311 Table 10.2 Developmental Trends: Self‐Regulation at Different Grade Levels 316 Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Motivation 336 Expectancies and Values 347 Internalizing Values of One’s Social and Cultural Groups 348 Developmental Trends in Achievement Goals 350 Long‐Term Life Goals 353 Developmental Trends in Attributions 357 Mastery Orientation versus Learned Helplessness 358 Table 11.3 Developmental Trends: Motivation at Different Grade Levels 359 A Multiple Whammy: Making the Transition to a Secondary School Format 372 Table 11.6 Developmental Trends: Affect at Different Grade Levels 373 Into the Classroom: Easing the Transition to Middle and Secondary School 375 Table 12.1 Developmental Trends: Examples of How You Might Align Classroom Goals, Objectives, and Instructional Strategies with State Standards at Different Grade Levels 386 Taking Developmental Differences into Account 436 Table 13.1 Developmental Trends: Effective Classroom Management at Different Grade Levels 437 Table 14.1 Developmental Trends: Examples of How You Might Align Classroom Assessments with State Standards and Classroom Goals, Objectives, and Instruction at Different Grade Levels 474 Table 15.3 Developmental Trends: Characteristics Affecting Standardized Test Performance at Different Grade Levels 525

The Multiple Layers of Environmental Influence: Bronfenbrenner’s Theory 21 Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Piaget’s Theory 33 Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Vygotsky’s Theory 40 Diversity in Language Development 47 Second‐Language Learning and English Language Learners 48 Into the Classroom: Working with English Language Learners 50 Case Study: Hidden Treasure 55 Cultural Expectations and Socialization 58 Diversity in Sense of Self 65 Diversity in Peer Relationships and Social Cognition 76 Creating a Productive Classroom Environment: Encouraging Positive Interactions among Diverse Individuals and Groups 77 Diversity in Moral and Prosocial Development 84 Case Study: Why Jack Wasn’t in School 91 Cultural and Ethnic Differences 92 Navigating Different Cultures at Home and at School 93 Examples of Cultural and Ethnic Diversity 94 Creating a Culturally Inclusive Classroom Environment 99 Into the Classroom: Addressing Students’ Stereotypes and Prejudices 102 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: The Active and the Passive 116 Cultural and Ethnic Diversity in Intelligence 126 Being Smart about Intelligence and IQ Scores 127 Considering Diversity When Identifying and Addressing Special Needs 150 Diversity In Cognitive Processes 189 Diversity, Disabilities, and Exceptional Abilities in Metacognition 204 Diversity In Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Other Complex Thinking Processes 222 Case Study: It’s All in How You Look at Things 227
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Ormrod’s Own Psychological Survey (OOPS test, Item 2) 3 Role of the Brain In Learning and Development 22 Applying Brain Research: Taking Developmental Changes in the Brain into Account 25 Applying Brain Research: Understanding and Addressing Adolescent Risk Taking 64 Challenges Associated with Poverty 110 Intelligence and the Brain 126

Cultures as Contexts 234 Schemas, Scripts, and Worldviews as Aspects of Culture 234 Communities of Practice as Aspects of Culture 236 Diversity in Student Behaviors and Reactions to Consequences 292

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Special Topics
Diversity in Self‐Regulation 323 Universality and Diversity in Basic Needs 343 Internalizing Values of One’s Social and Cultural Groups 348 Diversity in Cognitive and Sociocultural Factors Affecting Motivation 364 Diversity in Affect 375 Considering Group Differences 417 Taking Individual and Group Differences into Account 436 Working with the Community at Large 441 Getting Parents Involved in School Activities 444 Considering Cultural Differences When Working with Parents 445 Taking Students’ Cultural Backgrounds into Account 452 Teaching Testwiseness 494 Keeping Test Anxiety in Check 495 Accommodating Group Differences 500 Cultural Bias in Test Content 532 Cultural and Ethnic Differences 533 Language Differences and English Language Learners 533 A Multiple Whammy: Making the Transition to a Secondary School Format 327 Diversity in Affect 375 Socioeconomic Differences (in affect) 376 Considering Group Differences 417 Taking Individual and Group Differences into Account 436 Socioeconomic Differences (implications for classroom management) 439 Encouraging Reluctant Parents 444 Conducting Planned, Systematic Interventions 451 Addressing Aggression and Violence at School 454 A Three‐Level Approach 455 Addressing Gang‐Related Problems 456 Early Warning Signs of Possible Violent Behavior 457 Addressing Gang‐Related Problems 456 RSVP Characteristics of Informal Assessments (see section on validity) 480 Problems with High‐Stakes Testing 527


Gangs 69 Popularity and Social Isolation 70 Aggression 73 Socioeconomic Differences 109 Challenges Associated with Poverty 110 Fostering Resilience 112 Working with Homeless Students 113 Students at Risk 113 Characteristics of Students at Risk 113 Why Students Drop Out 114 Supporting Students at Risk 114 Into the Classroom: Engaging Students at Risk in the Academic Curriculum 115 Learning Disabilities 135 Attention‐Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 137 Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 140 Considering Diversity When Identifying and Addressing Special Needs 150 Case Study: The Attention Getter 265 Addressing Especially Difficult Classroom Behaviors 290 Functional Analysis and Positive Behavior Support 290 Practice for Your Licensure Exam: Hostile Helen 296 Promoting Self‐Regulation in Students at Risk 323 Revisiting Reciprocal Causation 326
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Ormrod’s Own Psychological Survey (OOPS test, Item 7) 3 Technology and Peer Relationships 75 Experience with Technology (gender differences) 105 Adapting Instruction (for students with ADHD) 138 Adapting Instruction (for students with speech and communication disorders) 139 Adapting Instruction (for students with visual impairments) 147 Adapting Instruction (for students with hearing loss) 148 General Recommendations (for students with physical or sensory challenges) 148 General Recommendations for Working with Students Who Have Special Needs 151 Using Computer Technology to Teach Problem‐Solving Skills 215 Technological Innovations 239 Technology in Learning and Instruction 240 Technological Literacy 250 Creating a Class Website to Share Goals and Facilitate Communication throughout the School Year 391 Providing Practice through In‐Class Assignments (see discussion of computer tools) 394 Using Instructional Websites 399 Using Technology to Individualize Instruction 400 Using Computer Simulations and Games 407 Conducting Technology‐Based Collaborative Learning Activities 414 Class Websites 443 Using Digital Technologies in Classroom Assessments 498 Individual versus Group Administration of Standardized Tests 522

Compare/Contrast: Mutual Influences (Reciprocal Causation) among Environment, Behavior, and Person 327 Diversity in Cognitive and Sociocultural Factors Affecting Motivation 364 Socioeconomic Differences (in motivation) 365

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Teaching and Educational Psychology

1.1: 1.2: 1.3: Explain the importance of research in classroom decision making. Draw appropriate conclusions from different types of research studies. Describe several strategies for collecting information about your own students. 1.4: 1.5: Plan long‐term strategies for gaining expertise as a teacher. Use effective strategies when you read and study.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Anne Smith is a ninth‐grade English teacher with 10 years of teaching experience, and by all accounts she is an excellent teacher. Even so, in previous years many of her students haven’t invested much time or energy in their writing assignments and seemingly haven’t been bothered by the Cs and Ds they’ve eventually earned in her classes. In an effort to more fully engage this year’s students in their schoolwork, Ms. Smith begins fall semester by initiating two new policies. First, to pass her course, students must earn at least a C; she won’t give anyone a final grade of D. Second, students will have multiple opportunities to revise and resubmit assignments; she’ll give whatever feedback students need— and, if necessary, one‐on‐one instruction—to help them improve their work. She solicits students’ questions and concerns about the new policies, gains their agreement to “try something new,” and engages them in a discussion of specific, concrete characteristics of A‐quality, B‐quality, and C‐quality work. Then, as the semester progresses, she regularly administers brief surveys to get students’ feedback about her innovations, asking such questions as “How is the ‘no D’ working for you?” “Do you think your grade is an accurate reflection of your learning?” and “Any suggestions?” Students’ responses on the surveys are overwhelmingly positive. Students mention noticeable improvements in the quality of their writing and increasingly report that they believe themselves to be in control of both their learning and their grades. Furthermore, they begin to see their teacher in a new light—“as one who will help them achieve their best work, not as one who just gives out grades . . . as a coach encouraging them along the long race of learning.” Final course grades also confirm the value of the new policies: A much higher percentage of students earn grades of C or better than has been true in past years. (Action research project described in A. K. Smith, 2009.)

they also work hard to help students master the information and skills. In the case study just presented, what various strategies does Ms. Smith use to foster her students’ writing development?

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Teaching other people—especially teaching the generation that will follow you into the adult world—can be one of the most rewarding professions on the planet. It can also be a very challenging profession. Certainly effective teaching involves presenting a topic or skill in such a way that students can understand and master it. Yet it involves many other things as well. For instance, teachers must motivate students to want to learn the subject matter, must help students recognize what true mastery involves, and—in order to appropriately individualize instruction—must assess where each student currently is in his or her learning and development. And, in general, effective teachers create an environment in which students believe that if they work hard and have reasonable support, they can achieve at high levels. In the opening case study, Anne Smith does all of these things. Mastering the multifaceted nature of teaching takes time and practice, of course. But it also takes knowledge about human learning and motivation, developmental trends, individual and group differences, and effective classroom practices. Such topics are the domain of educational psychology. This book will help you understand children and adolescents—how they learn and develop, how they’re likely to be similar to but also different from one another, what topics and activities are apt to engage them in the classroom, and so on. It will also give you a toolbox of strategies for planning and carrying out instruction, creating an environment that keeps students motivated and on task, and assessing students’ progress and achievement.

educational psychology
Academic discipline that (1) systematically studies the nature of learning, child development, motivation, and related topics and (2) applies its research findings to the identification and development of effective classroom practices.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Teaching as Evidence‐Based Practice Understanding and Interpreting Research Findings
Quantitative Research Qualitative Research Interpreting Research Results: A Cautionary Note From Research to Practice: The Importance of Theories

Teaching as Evidence‐Based Practice
You yourself have been a student for many years now, and in the process you’ve undoubtedly learned a great deal about how children change over time and about how teachers can foster their learning and development. But exactly how much do you know? To help you find out, I’ve developed a short pretest, Ormrod’s Own Psychological Survey (OOPS).

Collecting Data and Drawing Conclusions about Your Own Students
Assessing Students’ Achievements and Behaviors Conducting Action Research

Decide whether each of the following statements is true or false. True/False ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ ________ 1. Children most effectively acquire new knowledge and skills in the first three years of life. 2. Some children are predominantly left‐brain thinkers, whereas others are predominantly right‐brain thinkers. 3. Children’s personalities are largely the result of their home environments. 4. The best way to learn and remember a new fact is to repeat it over and over. 5. Students often misjudge how much they know about a topic. 6. Anxiety sometimes helps students learn and perform more successfully in the classroom. 7. Playing video games interferes with children’s cognitive development. 8. The ways in which teachers assess students’ learning influence what and how students actually learn.

Developing as a Teacher Strategies for Studying and Learning Effectively

Now let’s see how well you did on the OOPS. Following are the answers, along with an explanation for each one. 1. Children most effectively acquire new knowledge and skills in the first three years of life. FALSE. As brain researchers have discovered, neurons in the human brain spontaneously generate many new interconnections (synapses) in the first two or three years of life. Then, beginning in the preschool years, synapses that aren’t used gradually begin to disintegrate—a process known as synaptic pruning. Some educators have interpreted these developmental processes as an indication that the first three years of life are the most important ones for learning new skills, but nothing could be further from the truth! Synaptic pruning plays a beneficial role in children’s cognitive development, in part by eliminating unproductive and counterproductive responses and thereby making thinking and behavior more efficient. Furthermore, the human brain continues to develop in important ways throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, enabling the acquisition of increasingly sophisticated thought processes—and therefore it enables increasingly effective learning—with age (Haier, 2001; Luna & Sweeney, 2004; Steinberg, 2009). 2. Some children are predominantly left‐brain thinkers, whereas others are predominantly right‐brain thinkers. FALSE. With the development of new medical technologies in recent years, researchers have learned a great deal about how the human brain works and which parts of it specialize in which aspects of human thinking. The two halves, or hemispheres, of the brain do seem to have somewhat

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Teaching as Evidence‐Based Practice different specialties, but they continually communicate and collaborate in tackling even the simplest of daily tasks. Practically speaking, there is no such thing as left‐brain or right‐brain thinking (Bressler, 2002; M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007). 3. Children’s personalities are largely the result of their home environments. FALSE. Certainly children’s home environments mold their behaviors to some extent. But heredity also has a significant impact. From Day 1, infants are noticeably different in the extent to which they’re calm or fussy, shy or outgoing, fearful or adventurous, and so on. Such differences in temperament appear to have their roots in biology and genetics, and they persist throughout the childhood years and into adulthood (Kagan & Snidman, 2007; Keogh, 2003; Rothbart, 2011). 4. The best way to learn and remember a new fact is to repeat it over and over. FALSE. Although repeating information numerous times is better than doing nothing at all, repetition of specific facts is a relatively ineffective way to learn. Students learn information more easily and remember it longer when they relate it to things they already know. One especially effective strategy is elaboration: using prior knowledge to expand or embellish on a new idea in some way, perhaps by drawing inferences from a historical fact, identifying new examples of a scientific concept, or thinking of situations in which a mathematical procedure might be helpful (J. R. Anderson, 2005; Graesser & Bower, 1990). 5. Students often misjudge how much they know about a topic. TRUE. Contrary to popular opinion, students are usually not the best judges of what they do and don’t know. For example, many students think that if they’ve spent a long time studying a textbook chapter, they must know its contents very well. Yet if they’ve spent most of their study time inefficiently—perhaps by “reading” while thinking about something else altogether or by mindlessly copying definitions— they may know far less than they think they do (N. J. Stone, 2000; Thiede, Griffin, Wiley, & Redford, 2009). 6. Anxiety sometimes helps students learn and perform more successfully in the classroom. TRUE. Many people think that anxiety is always a bad thing. In fact, a little bit of anxiety can actually improve learning and performance, especially when students perceive a task to be something they can accomplish with reasonable effort. For instance, a small, manageable amount of anxiety can spur students to complete their work carefully and to study for tests (Cassady, 2010b; N. E. Perry, Turner, & Meyer, 2006; Shipman & Shipman, 1985). 7. Playing video games interferes with children’s cognitive development. FALSE—or more accurately, NOT NECESSARILY. A great deal of time spent playing video games instead of reading, doing homework, and engaging in other school‐related activities can definitely interfere with children’s long‐term academic success. But some video games can be powerful tools for promoting important cognitive abilities and life skills. For example, practice in using a joystick to quickly move people or animals on a computer screen can significantly enhance young children’s ability to focus and maintain their attention—an ability that then transfers to many other situations and tasks (M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007). And increasingly, educational technologists have been designing highly motivating video games that simulate real‐world problems and foster complex problem‐solving skills (e.g., Barab, Gresalfi, & Ingram‐Goble, 2010; Gee, 2010). 8. The ways in which teachers assess students’ learning influence what and how students actually learn. TRUE. What and how students learn depend, in part, on how they expect their learning to be assessed. For example, students typically spend more time studying the things they think will be on a test than the things they think the test won’t cover, and they’re more likely to pull class material into an integrated, meaningful whole if they expect assessment activities to require such integration (N. Frederiksen, 1984b; Lundeberg & Fox, 1991). We see this principle in action in the opening case study: Anne Smith’s “No D” and multiple‐submission policies encourage students to seek feedback about their work, benefit from their mistakes, and enhance their writing skills. How many of the OOPS items did you answer correctly? Did some of the false items seem convincing enough that you marked them true? Did one or more of the true items contradict certain beliefs you had? If either of these was the case, you’re hardly alone. College students often agree with statements that seem obvious but are, in fact, completely wrong (Gage, 1991; Lennon, Ormrod, Burger, & Warren, 1990).


The brain’s structure, functioning, and development are discussed in Chapter 2 and in Applying Brain Research features throughout the book.

Chapter 3 discusses temperament and personality development.

Chapter 6 discusses elaboration and its implications for instructional practice.

Chapter 7 describes this illusion of knowing in more detail.

Chapter 11 explores anxiety’s effects in different situations.

Chapter 3 describes potential adverse effects of violent video games on children’s aggression. Chapter 12 explores potential benefits of appropriately designed video games.

Chapter 14 and Chapter 15 explore numerous ways in which assessment practices affect students’ learning.

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elaboration Cognitive process in which learners embellish on new information based on what they already know.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER It’s easy to be persuaded by common sense and assume that what seems logical must be true. Yet common sense and logic don’t always give us the real scoop about how people actually learn and develop, nor do they always give us accurate information about how best to help students succeed in the classroom. Instead, our knowledge about learning and instruction must come from a more objective source of information—that is, from systematic research. As professionals, teachers are decision makers who must choose among many, many possible strategies for helping students learn and develop. Certainly teaching is an art to some degree: Effective teachers are creative and innovative, and they add many imaginative touches to enhance the things they do in the classroom. But that art must be based on a firm foundation of research findings both about how human beings learn and about how teachers can help them learn effectively; in other words, it must be based on the science of learning and the science of instruction. Ultimately, good teaching involves evidence‐based practices—the use of instructional methods and other classroom strategies that research has consistently shown to bring about significant gains in students’ development and academic achievement.

Effective teachers are passionate about what they do. Watch the many “Why I Teach” videos in .

Understanding and Interpreting Research Findings
Historically, most research related to learning, development, and educational practice has been quantitative research; that is, it has involved collecting data that either take the form of numbers or can easily be converted into numbers. These numbers are tabulated and usually statistically analyzed to determine underlying trends and other patterns in the data. For example, we’re apt to get quantitative information from students’ performance on achievement tests, students’ responses to rating‐scale questionnaires, and school district records of students’ attendance and dropout rates. In recent years, educational researchers have also made considerable use of qualitative research, in which they examine complex phenomena that can’t easily be reduced to numerical values. For example, a qualitative research study might involve lengthy interviews in which students describe their hopes for the future, a detailed case study of interpersonal relationships within a tight‐knit clique of teenage girls, or in‐depth observations of particular teachers who create distinctly different psychological “climates” in their classrooms. To a considerable degree, the research study described at the beginning of the chapter is a quantitative one: Anne Smith tabulates students’ responses to various survey questions and computes the percentages of various final class grades. But when she collects the completed surveys, she also looks closely at students’ specific comments and suggestions—qualitative information. Not all research on learning and instruction is good research, of course. Furthermore, people sometimes draw inappropriate conclusions from even the best of research studies. It’s important, therefore, that teachers understand what various kinds of research studies can and cannot tell us about learning and instruction.

evidence‐based practice
Instructional method or other classroom strategy that research has consistently shown to bring about significant gains in students’ development and/or academic achievement.

quantitative research Research yielding information that is inherently numerical in nature or can easily be reduced to numbers. qualitative research Research yielding information that cannot easily be reduced to numbers; typically involves an in‐depth examination of a complex phenomenon. descriptive study Research study that enables researchers to draw conclusions about the current state of affairs regarding an issue but not about correlation or cause–and–effect relationships. correlational study Research study that explores possible associations among two or more variables. correlation Extent to which two variables are associated, such that when one variable increases, the other either increases or decreases somewhat predictably.

Quantitative research studies vary widely in nature, but you might think of them as falling into four general categories: descriptive, correlational, experimental, and quasi‐experimental. These categories yield different kinds of information and warrant different kinds of conclusions. DESCRIPTIVE STUDIES A descriptive study does exactly what its name implies: It describes a situation. Descriptive studies might give us information about the characteristics of students, teachers, or schools. They might also provide information about how often certain events or behaviors occur. In general, descriptive studies enable us to draw conclusions about the way things are—the current state of affairs. CORRELATIONAL STUDIES A correlational study explores possible associations among two or more variables. For instance, it might tell us how closely various human characteristics are associated with one another, or it might give us information about the consistency with which certain human behaviors occur in conjunction with certain environmental conditions. In general, correlational studies enable us to draw conclusions about correlation: the extent to which two characteristics or phenomena

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Understanding and Interpreting Research Findings tend to be found together or to change together. Two variables are correlated when one tends to increase as the other increases (a positive correlation) or when one tends to decrease as the other increases (a negative correlation). Correlations are often described numerically with a statistic known as a correlation coefficient. Sometimes correlational studies involve comparing two or more groups that differ with respect to a particular characteristic, such as age, gender, or background.1 For example, a correlational study might compare the average achievement test scores of boys and girls, or it might investigate whether young children who have had considerable exposure to reading materials at home learn to read more quickly at school than children without such exposure. Any correlation between two variables allows us to make predictions about one variable if we know the status of the other. For example, if we find that 15‐year‐olds are more capable of abstract thought than 10‐year‐olds—in other words, if age and abstract thinking ability are correlated—we can predict that high school students will benefit more from an abstract discussion of democratic government than fourth graders will. And if we find that children learn to read more easily if they’ve had many previous experiences with books at home, we might take proactive steps to enhance the early literacy skills of children without such experiences. In general, although correlational studies demonstrate that an association exists, they can never tell us for certain why it exists. They don’t tell us what specific factors—previous experiences, personality, motivation, or perhaps other things we haven’t thought of—are the cause of the association we see. In other words, correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. EXPERIMENTAL AND QUASI‐EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES Descriptive and correlational studies describe things as they exist or have previously existed naturally in the environment. In contrast, an experimental study is a study in which the researcher intentionally changes, or manipulates, one or more aspects of the environment (called independent variables) and then measures the effects of such changes on something else. In educational research the “something else” being affected (called the dependent variable) is often some aspect of student behavior—perhaps end‐of‐semester grades, persistence in trying to solve difficult math problems, or ability to interact appropriately with peers. In a good experiment a researcher separates and controls variables, testing the possible effects of one independent variable while holding all other potentially influential variables constant. Some experimental studies involve giving a single group of individuals two or more distinct treatments and comparing the specific effects of each treatment. Other experimental studies involve two or more groups that are treated differently. The following are examples. to two different groups of students. (Instructional method is the independent variable.) The researcher then assesses the students’ reading ability (the dependent variable) and compares the average performances of the two groups. woodworking skills. (Amount of practice is the independent variable.) The researcher subsequently scores the quality of each student’s woodworking project (the dependent variable) and compares the average quality scores of the three groups. improve their study skills. The researcher gives another group either no instruction or, better still, instruction in subject matter unrelated to study skills. (Presence or absence of instruction in study skills is the independent variable.) The researcher later assesses the students’ study skills and obtains their grade point averages (two dependent variables) to see whether the program had an effect. Each of these examples includes one or more treatment groups, which are recipients of a planned intervention. The third example also includes a control group, which receives either no intervention or a placebo intervention that is unlikely to affect the dependent variable(s) in question.
ISBN 1-256-96292-9


Correlation coefficients are described in Appendix A.

experimental study Research study that involves both (1) the manipulation of one variable to determine its possible effect on another variable and (2) control of additional variables that might potentially have an impact on the outcome; allows conclusions about cause–and–effect relationships. treatment group Group of people in a research study who are given a particular experimental intervention (e.g., a particular method of instruction). control group Group of people in a research study who are given either no intervention or a placebo treatment that is unlikely to have an effect on the dependent variable.


Such group‐comparison studies are sometimes called causal‐comparative studies. However, as B. Johnson (2001) has pointed out, this label may mislead us to believe that such studies reveal cause–and–effect relationships, when in fact they do not.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER In many experimental studies, participants are assigned to groups randomly—for instance, by drawing names out of a hat. Such random assignment is apt to yield groups that are, on average, roughly equivalent on other variables (e.g., ability levels, personality characteristics, motivation) that might affect the dependent variable. Random assignment to groups isn’t always possible or practical, however, especially in research studies conducted in actual schools and classrooms. For example, when studying the potential benefits of a new teaching technique or therapeutic intervention, a researcher may not be able to completely control which students receive the experimental treatment and which do not, or a particular treatment or intervention may have important benefits for all students. In such situations, researchers often conduct a quasi‐experimental study, in which they take into account but do not complete control other influential factors. The following are examples. identifies a comparable high school without such a program to serve as a control group. The researcher obtains achievement test data for students at both schools both before and after the program’s implementation. Ideally, the average test scores for the two high schools will be the same before the program begins but different after its implementation. (Such an approach is known as a pretest–posttest study.) the playground. The researchers present the instructional intervention to first graders one week, second graders the following week, and kindergartners and third graders the week after that. The researchers monitor students’ playground behavior before, during, and after the intervention to determine whether each grade‐level group’s risky playground behavior decreases immediately after its intervention. (Such an approach is known as a multiple‐baselines study; study described is by Heck, Collins, & Peterson, 2001.) When researchers conduct such quasi‐experimental studies, they don’t control for all potentially influential variables and so can’t completely rule out alternative explanations for the results they obtain. For instance, in the after‐school homework program example, possibly the school getting the new homework program—but only that school—has simultaneously begun to use more effective instructional methods, and those methods are the reason for any increase in achievement scores. And in the playground safety example, perhaps certain other things coincidentally happened in the four classrooms during their respective safety‐instructions weeks, and those things were the true cause of children’s behavior improvement. When carefully designed and conducted, experimental studies and, to a lesser degree, quasi‐experimental studies enable us to draw conclusions about causation—about why behaviors occur. Yet for practical or ethical reasons, many important questions in education don’t easily lend themselves to experimental manipulation and tight control of other potentially influential variables. For instance, although we might reasonably hypothesize that children can better master difficult math concepts if they receive individual tutoring, most public school systems can’t afford such a luxury, and it would be unfair to provide tutoring for some students and deny it to a control group of other, equally needy students. And, of course, it would be highly unethical to study the effects of aggression by intentionally placing some children in a violent environment. Some important educational questions, then, can be addressed only with descriptive or correlational studies, even though such studies can’t help us pin down precise cause–and–effect relationships. Columns 2, 3, and 4 of Table 1.1 contrast descriptive, correlational, and experimental and quasi‐experimental studies and give examples of the kinds of questions each type of study might address.

quasi‐experimental study Research study that involves the manipulation of one variable to determine its possible effect on another variable, but without total control of additional variables that might have an impact on the outcome.

Rather than address questions related to quantity—questions regarding how much, how many, or how frequently—researchers sometimes want to look in depth at the nature of certain characteristics or behaviors. Imagine, for example, that a researcher wants to find out what kinds of study strategies high‐achieving students tend to use. One approach would be simply to ask the students questions such as “What things do you do to help you remember what you read in your textbooks?” and “How do you prepare for tests in your classes?” Students’ responses to such open‐ended questions are apt to go in many different directions, sometimes focusing on various

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Understanding and Interpreting Research Findings


Descriptive Studies
General Nature and Purposes state of affairs regarding a real‐world issue or problem.

QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH STUDIES Correlational Studies characteristics, behaviors, and/ or environmental conditions. variable, given knowledge of the degree or quantity of another variable. experimental manipulations are unethical or impossible.

Experimental and Quasi‐Experimental Studies
(independent) variable in order to observe its possible effect on another (dependent) variable. tions for observed outcomes (especially in carefully controlled experimental studies). and–effect relationships. alternative explanations for observed outcomes (especially true for quasi‐experimental studies). laboratory conditions that don’t resemble real‐life learning environments (true for many tightly controlled experimental studies).

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH STUDIES multifaceted nature of human behavior, especially in real‐world social settings.

Limitations (1) predictions about one variable based on another variable or (2) conclusions about cause–and–effect relationships. cause–and–effect relationships.

dictions or conclusions about cause–and–effect relationships.

Examples of Questions That Might Be Addressed

gender stereotypes in popular children’s literature? sive behaviors occur in schools, and with what frequencies?


produces greater gains in reading comprehension?

achieving students say they do “in their heads” when they read and study their textbooks? characterize high schools in which members of various adolescent gangs interact congenially and respectfully? ers’ instructional practices change when their jobs and salaries depend on their students’ scores on statewide or national achievement tests?

aggressive at school if they often see violence at home or in their neighborhoods?

in reducing aggressive behavior—reinforcing appropriate behavior, punishing aggressive behavior, or a combination of both?

students performed on a recent national achievement test?

class grades correlated with their scores on achievement tests?

multiple choice vs. essay tests) encourage students to study in different ways?

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

behaviors (e.g., taking notes, working on practice problems) and at other times focusing on various mental processes (e.g., trying to make sense of a passage, generating new examples of concepts). Although it might be possible to categorize students’ responses and count those falling into each category (thereby obtaining some quantitative data), the researcher may also want to preserve the multifaceted qualities of students’ responses by reporting lengthy excerpts from the interviews. Qualitative research is often used to explore the complex nature of human behavior in social settings—perhaps in particular social groups, classrooms, schools, or cultures. For instance, in‐depth qualitative studies have contributed in important ways to our knowledge of school characteristics that affect the academic and social success of students from diverse backgrounds (e.g., Hemmings, 2004; Ladson‐Billings, 1995b; Ogbu, 2003). The right‐most column of Table 1.1 presents examples of questions that might best be answered by qualitative research. Ultimately, you shouldn’t think of quantitative and qualitative research as an either‐or situation. Like Anne Smith in the opening case study, many educational researchers effectively combine elements of both quantitative and qualitative research in what is known as a

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER mixed‐methods study. For example, in a study described in the American Educational Research Journal in 1999, researchers Melissa Roderick and Eric Camburn tracked more than 27,000 students’ academic progress as they made the transition from small elementary or middle schools to much larger high schools in the Chicago public school system. Many students showed a sharp decline in academic achievement in ninth grade, their first year of high school. More than 40% of first‐semester ninth graders (males especially) failed at least one course, and students who achieved at low levels early in their high school career were more likely to drop out before graduation. Such troubling findings are examples of quantitative data, but the researchers also obtained qualitative information that can help us understand the data. For instance, they described a student named Anna, who had done well in her neighborhood K–8 school and seemingly had the basic skills she needed to successfully tackle a high school curriculum. Unfortunately, Anna was overwhelmed by the new demands that her ninth‐grade classes placed on her, and her first‐semester final grades included several Ds and an F. In an interview with one of the researchers, she gave the following explanation:

mixed‐methods study Research study that includes elements of both quantitative and qualitative research.

[In geography, the teacher] said the reason why I got a lower grade is ’cause I missed one assignment and I had to do a report, and I forgot that one. [In English,] I got a C . . . ’cause we were supposed to keep a journal, and I keep on forgetting it ’cause I don’t have a locker. Well I do, but my locker partner she lets her cousins use it, and I lost my two books there. . . . I would forget to buy a notebook, and then I would have them on separate pieces of paper, and I would lose them. [And, in biology,] the reason I failed was because I lost my folder . . . it had everything I needed, and I had to do it again, and, by the time I had to turn in the new folder, I did, but he said it was too late . . . . (Roderick & Camburn, 1999, p. 305)

Additionally, the interview revealed Anna’s perception of most school faculty members as being uncaring, inattentive to students’ difficulties, and inflexible in evaluating students’ achievement. If Anna’s behaviors, experiences, and perceptions are common ones—and apparently they are—they point to the need for greater faculty support as students make the transition from a close‐knit elementary or K–8 school to a more impersonal high school environment. This support might not only be emotional but also academic—for instance, including instruction and guidance in organizational skills and effective study habits. We must be careful in drawing such inferences, however. Qualitative data are essentially descriptive in nature. Just as is true for a descriptive quantitative study, a qualitative study tells us how things are rather than what causes what. Any hypotheses about cause–and–effect relationships are only that—hypotheses—that ideally should be tested with experimental, quantitative studies.

Whenever we look at the results of a research study, we can determine that a particular condition or intervention has led to a particular outcome—that is, there is a cause–and–effect relationship between the two—only if we’ve eliminated all other possible explanations for the results we’ve observed. As an example, imagine that Hometown School District wants to find out which of two reading programs, Reading Is Great (RIG) or Reading and You (RAY), leads to better reading in third grade. The district asks each of its third‐grade teachers to choose one of these two reading programs and use it throughout the school year. The district then compares the end‐of‐year achievement test scores of students in the RIG and RAY classrooms and finds that RIG students have substantially higher reading comprehension scores than RAY students. We might quickly jump to the conclusion that RIG promotes better reading comprehension than RAY—in other words, that a cause–and–effect relationship exists between the instructional method and reading comprehension. But is this really so? Not necessarily. The fact is, the school district hasn’t eliminated all other possible explanations for the difference in students’ reading comprehension scores. Remember, the third‐grade teachers personally selected the instructional program they used. Were the teachers who chose RIG different in some way from those who chose RAY? For instance, were RIG teachers more open‐minded and enthusiastic about using innovative methods, did they have higher expectations for their students, or did they devote more class time to reading? Or, perhaps, did the RIG teachers have students who were, on average, better readers to begin with? If the RIG and RAY

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Collecting Data and Drawing Conclusions about Your Own Students classrooms were different from each other in any of these ways—or perhaps different in some other way we haven’t thought of—then the district hasn’t eliminated alternative explanations for why the RIG students have acquired better reading skills than the RAY students. A better way to study the causal influence of a reading program on reading comprehension would be to randomly assign third‐grade classes to the RIG and RAY programs, thereby making the two groups similar (on average) in terms of student abilities and teacher characteristics. Be careful that you don’t jump too quickly to conclusions about what factors are affecting students’ learning, development, and behavior in particular research studies. Scrutinize research reports carefully, always with these questions in mind: Have the researchers separated and controlled variables that might have an influence on the outcome? Have they ruled out other possible explanations for their results? Only when the answers to these questions are undeniably yes and yes should you draw a conclusion about a cause–and–effect relationship.


Draw conclusions about cause– and–effect relationships only when other possible explanations for an outcome have been eliminated.

Some research studies have obvious, direct implications for educational practice. Other studies contribute to educational practice indirectly through the theories that researchers develop to integrate and explain their findings. In these theories, researchers typically speculate about the underlying (and often unobservable) mechanisms involved in thinking, learning, development, motivation, or some other aspect of human functioning. By giving us ideas about such underlying mechanisms, theories can ultimately help us create learning environments that facilitate students’ learning and achievement to the greatest extent possible. Let’s take an example. One prominent theory of how people learn—information processing theory—proposes that attention is an essential ingredient in the learning process. More specifically, if a learner pays attention to new information, the information moves from the first component of the human memory system (the sensory register) to the second component (working memory). If the learner doesn’t pay attention, the information disappears from the memory system; in the words of a common expression, the information “goes in one ear and out the other.” The importance of attention in information processing theory suggests that strategies that capture and maintain students’ attention—perhaps presenting interesting reading materials or intriguing real‐world problems—are apt to enhance students’ learning and achievement. Psychological theories are rarely, if ever, set in stone. Instead, they’re continually expanded and modified as additional data come to light, and in some cases one theory may be abandoned in favor of another that better explains a particular phenomenon. Furthermore, different theories focus on different aspects of human functioning, and psychologists haven’t yet pulled them together into a single mega‐theory that adequately accounts for all the diverse phenomena and experiences that comprise human existence. Although current theories related to thinking, learning, development, motivation, and behavior will inevitably change in the future, they can be quite useful even in their unfinished forms. They help us integrate thousands of research studies into concise understandings of how children typically learn and develop, and they enable us to draw inferences and make predictions about how students are apt to perform and achieve in particular classroom situations. In general, theories help us to both explain and predict human behavior, thereby giving us numerous ideas about how best to promote students’ academic and social success at school.

Chapter 6 describes information processing theory in depth.

Collecting Data and Drawing Conclusions about Your Own Students
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Certainly the collection and interpretation of data aren’t restricted only to highly trained researchers who work in universities and research laboratories. In fact, practicing teachers continually collect and interpret data about their own students through formal and informal assessments of students’ written work and classroom behaviors. Furthermore, many teachers plan and conduct their own research to help them better understand their students and schools—a process known as action research.

theory Integrated set of concepts and principles developed to explain a particular phenomenon.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



FIGURE 1.1 Seven‐year‐old Justin’s story “The Pet Who Came to Dinner”


Use assessment results to form hypotheses—but not to draw hard‐and‐fast conclusions— about students’ current characteristics and abilities and about effective instructional strategies.

Most teachers regularly assess what their students know and can do, perhaps through assignments, projects, oral presentations, and quizzes. But effective teachers don’t limit themselves only to such formal, planned evaluations. They continually observe their students in a variety of contexts—not only in the classroom but also in the hallways and cafeteria, on the playground, during parent–teacher conferences, and so on—for clues about what students might be thinking, believing, feeling, and learning. Students’ comments, questions, body language, work habits, and interactions with friends and classmates can provide valuable insights into their learning, development, and motivation. To get your feet wet in the process of assessment, read 7‐year‐old Justin’s short story “The Pet Who Came to Dinner,” presented in Figure 1.1. As you read it, consider what you might conclude about Justin’s progress in writing. Consider, too, what inferences you might make about Justin’s family and home life. As you can see, Justin has learned how to spell some words (e.g., dinner, came) but not others (e.g., he spells once as “owans” and started as “stor did”). Overall, he knows which alphabet letters represent which sounds in speech, but he sometimes reverses the letter d so that it looks like a b, and he occasionally leaves out sounds in his word spellings (e.g., his spelling of drink begins with b and omits the n sound). Justin has made some progress in common spelling patterns (e.g., the ‐ing suffix for verbs) and in the use of periods and apostrophes. He has learned to tell a simple story, but he does so merely by listing a series of seemingly unrelated events, and he hasn’t yet learned that the title of a story should appear in a line by itself, centered at the top of the page. Justin’s story offers a few hints about home life as well. For instance, it appears that Justin lives with two parents, and he talks about the pet reading the newspaper (“nuwspapr”), suggesting that reading is a familiar activity in the home. Are such inferences about Justin accurate? Not necessarily. The conclusions we reach about our students are— like the theories that researchers formulate about learning and development—only reasonable guesses based on the evidence at hand. We must think of such conclusions as tentative hypotheses to be tested further, rather than as indisputable facts.

Like Anne Smith in the opening case study, teachers sometimes have questions that existing research findings don’t fully answer. In action research, teachers conduct systematic studies of issues and problems in their own schools, with the goal of seeking more effective strategies in working with students. For instance, an action research project might involve examining the effectiveness of a new teaching technique, seeking students’ opinions on a controversial school policy, or ascertaining reasons why many students rarely complete homework assignments. Any action research study typically involves the following steps (Mills, 2011): 1. Identify an area of focus. The teacher–researcher begins with a problem and gathers preliminary information that might shed light on the problem, perhaps by reading relevant books or journal articles, surfing the Internet, or discussing the issue with colleagues or students. The teacher–researcher then identifies one or more specific questions to address and develops a research plan (data collection techniques, necessary resources, schedule, etc.) for answering those questions. At this point, the teacher also seeks permission from school administrators and any other appropriate authorities to conduct the study. Depending on the nature of the study, parents’ permission may be necessary as well. 2. Collect data. The teacher–researcher collects data relevant to the research questions. Such data might, for example, be obtained from questionnaires, interviews, achievement tests, students’ journals or portfolios, existing school records (e.g., attendance patterns, school suspension rates), observations, or any combination of these. 3. Analyze and interpret the data. The teacher–researcher looks for patterns in the data. Sometimes the analysis involves computing particular statistics (e.g., percentages, averages,

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action research Research conducted by teachers and other school personnel to address issues and problems in their own schools or classrooms.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Developing as a Teacher correlation coefficients)—this would be a quantitative study. At other times, the analysis involves an in‐depth, nonnumerical inspection of the data—this would be a qualitative study. In either case, the teacher–researcher relates the findings to the original research questions. 4. Develop an action plan. The final step distinguishes action research from the more traditional research studies described earlier in the chapter. In particular, the teacher–researcher uses the information collected to take action—for instance, to change instructional strategies, school policies, or the classroom environment. Many colleges and universities now offer courses in action research. You can also find inexpensive paperback books on the topic (e.g., Cochran‐Smith & Lytle, 1993; Craig, 2009; Mills, 2011; A. P. Johnson, 2012). pedagogical content knowledge


Knowledge about effective methods of teaching a specific topic or content area.

Developing as a Teacher
As a beginning teacher, you may initially find your role a bit overwhelming. Virtually any classroom will be one of nonstop action requiring you to be constantly attentive and on your toes, and there will always be a great deal to think about. If you are currently enrolled in a teacher education program, you should think of your program as a very good start on the road to becoming a skillful teacher (Bransford, Darling‐ Hammond, & LePage, 2005; Brouwer & Korthagen, 2005). However, it is only a start. Developing true expertise in any profession, including teaching, takes many years of experience to acquire, but even a single year of teaching experience can make a significant difference (Berliner, 2001; Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2007; Henry, Bastian, & Fortner, 2011). So be patient with yourself, and recognize that occasionally feeling a bit unsure and making mistakes is par for the course. As you gain experience, you’ll gradually become able to make decisions about routine situations and problems quickly and efficiently, giving you the time and energy to think creatively and flexibly about how best to teach classroom subject matter (Borko & Putnam, 1996; Bransford, Derry, Berliner, & Hammerness, 2005; Feldon, 2007). Conducting action research is, of course, one effective way of developing your knowledge and skills as a teacher. But in addition, I offer the following strategies—all of them based on research on teacher effectiveness. Keep up to date on research findings and innovations in education. Additional university coursework and in‐service training sessions at your school are two good ways to increase your teaching effectiveness (Desimone, 2009; Hattie, 2009; McDonald, Robles‐Piña, & Polnick, 2011). In addition, effective teachers typically subscribe to one or more professional journals, and as time allows, they occasionally attend professional conferences in their area. Learn as much as you can about the subject matter you teach. When we look at effective teachers—for example, those who are flexible in their approaches to instruction, help students develop a thorough understanding of classroom topics, and convey obvious enthusiasm for whatever they’re teaching—we typically find teachers who know their subject matter extremely well (Borko & Putnam, 1996; Cochran & Jones, 1998; H. C. Hill et al., 2008). Learn as much as you can about specific strategies for teaching your particular subject matter. In addition to knowing general teaching strategies, it’s helpful to acquire strategies specific to the topic you’re teaching—strategies that are collectively known as pedagogical content knowledge. Effective teachers typically have a large number of strategies for teaching particular topics and skills. Furthermore, they can usually anticipate—and so can also address—the difficulties students will have and the kinds of errors students will make in the process of mastering a skill or body of knowledge (Baumert et al., 2010; Borko & Putnam, 1996; Krauss et al., 2008; L. S. Shulman, 1986). Learn as much as you can about the culture(s) of the community in which you are working. Students are more likely to do well in school when the school curriculum and classroom environment take the students’ cultural backgrounds into account (Brayboy & Searle, 2007; Moje & Hinchman, 2004; Tyler et al., 2008). Reading about various cultures can be helpful, of course. But ideally, you can best inform yourself about students’ cultural beliefs and practices if you participate in local community activities and converse regularly with community members (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; McIntyre, 2010).

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You can find discussions of cultural differences in many chapters of this book, and especially in Chapter 4.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Continually reflect on and critically examine your assumptions, inferences, and teaching practices. In the opening case study, Anne Smith reflects on her students’ performance in previous years and then institutes new assessment policies that she thinks might be more motivating and productive. Like Ms. Smith, effective teachers engage in reflective teaching: They continually examine and critique their assumptions, inferences, and instructional practices, and they regularly adjust their beliefs and strategies in the face of new evidence (Hammerness, Darling‐ Hammond, & Bransford, 2005; T. Hogan, Rabinowitz, & Craven, 2003; Larrivee, 2006). Communicate and collaborate with colleagues. Effective teachers rarely work in isolation. Instead, they frequently communicate with colleagues in their own school district, across the nation, and, often, in other countries. Furthermore, they regularly coordinate their efforts to enhance students’ learning and personal well‐being at a schoolwide level (Bransford, Darling‐Hammond, et al., 2005; Raudenbush, 2009). Teacher lounges, e‐mail, Internet websites, and blogs—all of these can potentially offer ideas for lesson plans and instructional activities on a wide range of topics. One helpful resource is, an online community of educators from around the world. You should also look at the websites of professional organizations related to your field; websites for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (www.nctm. org) and the National Council for the Social Studies ( are just two of the many possibilities. Keep in mind, too, that even the most masterful of teachers had to begin their teaching careers as novices, and they probably entered their first classroom with the same concerns and uncertainties that you may initially have. Most experienced teachers are happy to offer you advice and support during challenging times. In fact, they’re apt to be flattered that you’re asking them! Believe that you can make a difference in students’ lives. In general, human beings achieve at higher levels in their endeavors when they have high self‐efficacy—that is, when they believe they are capable of executing certain behaviors or reaching certain goals. Students are more likely to try to learn something if they believe they can learn it—in other words, if they have high self‐efficacy. But as a teacher, you, too, must have high self‐efficacy. Believing that you can be a good teacher will give you confidence to try new strategies and help you persist in the face of occasional setbacks. Students who achieve at high levels are apt to be those whose teachers have confidence that, as teachers, they can make a genuine difference as they work both individually in their classrooms and collectively with their colleagues (J. A. Langer, 2000; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2008; Tschannen‐Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). Ultimately, what teachers do in the classroom matters for students, not only in the short term but for years to come (Hattie, 2009; Konstantopoulos & Chung, 2011).

reflective teaching Regular, ongoing examination and critique of one’s assumptions and instructional strategies, and revision of them as necessary to enhance students’ learning and development. self‐efficacy Belief that one is capable of executing certain behaviors or reaching certain goals.

Chapter 10 discusses the nature and effects of self‐efficacy.

Strategies for Studying and Learning Effectively
You’ll learn much more about effective learning and study strategies in upcoming chapters, especially in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.

As you learn more about educational psychology—and especially as you learn about the nature of human thinking and learning—you’ll gain many insights into how you can help students more effectively master classroom subject matter. I hope you’ll also gain insights into how you yourself can better learn and remember course material. For now, I suggest five general strategies. Relate what you read to your existing knowledge and prior experiences. For example, connect new concepts and principles with memorable childhood events, previous coursework, or your general knowledge about human beings and their behavior. In general, people learn and remember things more easily and effectively when they engage in meaningful learning—that is, when they connect new information and ideas to things they’ve previously learned. Actively consider how some new information might contradict your existing beliefs. As the earlier OOPS test may have shown you, some of what you currently “know” and believe may be sort‐of‐but‐not‐quite accurate or even out‐and‐out inaccurate. People’s existing beliefs can occasionally wreak havoc with new learning. For example, many students in teacher education classes reject research findings that appear to be inconsistent with their personal beliefs and experiences (Darling‐Hammond, 2006; Gregoire, 2003; Richardson, 2003).

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Strategies for Studying and Learning Effectively As you read about and study educational psychology, then, think about how some ideas and research findings might actually contradict and discredit your prior “knowledge.” When you encounter puzzling or seemingly “wrong” ideas and findings, I hope you’ll keep an open mind and, in particular, consider how and why they might have some validity and worth. Ideally, effective learners undergo conceptual change: They revise their existing notions to accommodate new and discrepant information. Tie abstract concepts and principles to concrete examples. Children become increasingly able to think about abstract ideas as they get older, but people of all ages can more readily understand and remember abstract information when they tie it to concrete objects and events. Short examples and lengthier case studies that involve real children and teachers, videos that depict classrooms in action, Experiencing Firsthand exercises such as my OOPS test—all of these can enhance your understanding and memory of new concepts and help you recognize them when you see them in your own work with children and adolescents. Elaborate on what you read, going beyond it and adding to it. Earlier in the chapter I mentioned that the process of elaboration—using prior knowledge to embellish on new information— enhances learning and memory of the information. So try to think beyond the information you read. Draw inferences from the ideas presented. Generate new examples of concepts. Identify your own educational applications of various principles of learning, development, and motivation. Periodically check yourself to make sure you remember and understand what you have read. There are times when even the most diligent students don’t concentrate on what they’re reading— when they’re actually thinking about something else as their eyes go down the page. So stop once in a while (perhaps once every two or three pages) to make sure you have really learned and understood the things you’ve been reading. Try to summarize the material. Ask yourself questions about it. Make sure everything makes sense to you. Tackle the “Practice for Your Licensure Exam” exercises that appear at the end of each chapter. Check your mastery of various concepts by doing . activities and taking quizzes in When all is said and done, your goal in studying educational psychology isn’t to memorize enough facts that you can get good grades on tests and quizzes. Instead, your goal is to become the best teacher—and also the best learner—you can possibly be. As you look forward to your entry into the teaching profession, I urge you to be confident that with time, practice, a solid understanding of how children and adolescents learn and develop, a large toolkit of instructional strategies, and every student’s best interests at heart, you can truly make a significant difference in young people’s lives.


Chapter 6 explores meaningful learning and conceptual change in greater depth.

Chapter 2 discusses the development of abstract thinking and other significant cognitive advancements during the school years.

For additional strategies, read “Study Tips.”

1 What Have You Learned?
The beginning of the chapter lists five learning outcomes—five general things you should accomplish—while reading and studying this chapter. Let’s return now to these outcomes and identify key points related to each one. ■ 1.1: Explain the importance of research in classroom decision making. As teachers, we must make countless daily decisions about how to interact with, instruct, and guide students in our classrooms. Although we can sometimes use simple common sense in making these decisions, such “sense” may occasionally lead us to draw unwarranted, even inaccurate, conclusions. We are most likely to make good decisions—those that maximize students’ learning and development over the long run—when we base them on contemporary research findings and on theoretical syntheses of those findings.
Evaluate your knowledge related to this learning outcome in .

■ 1.2: Draw appropriate conclusions from different types of research studies. Knowledge of findings from both quantitative and qualitative research can greatly enhance our teaching effectiveness, but different kinds of studies are appropriate for different kinds of issues and conclusions. Qualitative studies and descriptive quantitative studies can yield a great deal of information about how things are at the present time. Correlational quantitative studies enable conclusions about what variables are associated with what other variables. But only carefully controlled experimental studies—and, to a lesser extent, quasi‐experimental studies—yield dependable conclusions about what causes what.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

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■ 1.3: Describe several strategies for collecting information about your own students. To be effective teachers, we must

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER colleagues and community members, and, of course, our own action research.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

regularly collect data about our students, sometimes by giving them preplanned assignments or quizzes and sometimes by observing them “on the fly” as they act and interact in class, on the playground, and elsewhere. In addition, we may often find it helpful to conduct action research in order to address questions about our own particular students or about local issues and concerns.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 1.4: Plan long‐term strategies for gaining expertise as a teacher. Truly effective teachers are also life‐long learners. To maximize our development as teachers, we must think critically and reflectively about our assumptions, beliefs, and classroom strategies. We must also continue to modify what we think and do as we acquire new information related to our profession. Such information can come from a variety of sources, including formal coursework, in‐service training sessions, professional journals and conferences, Internet websites, consultation with

■ 1.5: Use effective strategies when you read and study. Successful learning is active, strategic learning. A few simple strategies can greatly enhance your learning and memory of what you read and study. In particular, I urge you to (1) connect new concepts and principles to things you already know; (2) reconsider your existing beliefs when new information potentially discredits them; (3) tie abstract ideas to concrete examples; (4) embellish (elaborate) on the concepts and principles you learn, perhaps by drawing inferences or thinking of potential applications; and (5) regularly check yourself to make sure you understand and can remember what you’ve read—for instance, by summarizing it or asking yourself questions about it.
Evaluate your knowledge related to this learning outcome in .

Practice for Your Licensure Exam
New Software
High school math teacher Mr. Gualtieri begins his class one Monday with an important announcement: “Our school has just purchased a new instructional software program for the school’s computer lab. This program, called Problem‐Excel, will give you practice in applying the mathematical concepts and procedures we’ll be studying this year. I strongly encourage you to stay after school once or twice a week to get extra practice with the software whenever you’re having trouble with the assignments I give you.” Mr. Gualtieri is firmly convinced that the new instructional software will help his students better understand and apply mathematics. To test his hypothesis, he keeps a record of which students report to the computer lab after school and which students do not. He then looks at how well the two groups of students perform on his next classroom test. Much to his surprise, he discovers that, on average, the students who have stayed after school to use the computer software have earned lower scores than those who have not used the software. “How can this be?” he puzzles. “Is the computer software actually doing more harm than good?”
1. Constructed‐response question:

A. Explain why Mr. Gualtieri cannot draw a conclusion about a cause–and–effect relationship from the evidence he has. Base your response on principles of educational research. B. Identify another plausible explanation for the results Mr. Gualtieri has obtained.
2. Multiple‐choice question:

Which one of the following results would provide the most convincing evidence that the Problem‐Excel software enhances students’ mathematics achievement? a. Ten high schools in New York City purchase Problem‐ Excel and make it available to their students. Students at these high schools get higher mathematics achievement test scores than students at ten other high schools that have not purchased the software. b. A high school purchases Problem‐Excel, but only four of the eight math teachers at the school decide to have their students use it. The students of these four teachers score at higher levels on a mathematics achievement test than the students of the other four teachers. c. All tenth graders at a large high school take a mathematics achievement test in September. At some point during the next two months, each student spends 20 hours working with Problem‐Excel. The students all take the same math achievement test again in December and, on

Mr. Gualtieri wonders whether the computer software is actually hurting, rather than helping, his students. Assume that the software has been carefully designed by an experienced educator. Assume, too, that Mr. Gualtieri’s classroom test is a good measure of how well his students have learned the material they’ve been studying.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Strategies for Studying and Learning Effectively average, get substantially higher scores than they did in September. d. Students at a high school are randomly assigned to two groups. One group works with Problem‐Excel, and the other group works with a software program called


Write‐Away, designed to teach better writing skills. The Problem‐Excel group scores higher than the Write‐ Away group on a subsequent mathematics achievement test.

PRAXIS Go to Appendix C, “Matching Book and to the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Tests,” to discover sections of this chapter that may be especially applicable to the Praxis tests.

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Cognitive and Linguistic Development

2.1: Describe four principles portraying the general nature of child development and the roles of both heredity and environment in guiding it. Explain how the brain and its development influence children’s learning and thinking. Apply Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to classroom practice. 2.4: 2.5: Apply Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development to classroom practice. Describe developmental changes in language during the school years, and explain how you might adapt instruction to children with diverse language abilities and needs.

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2.2: 2.3:

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Ms. Lombard’s fourth‐grade class has learned how to add and subtract fractions but has not yet studied how to divide by fractions. Nevertheless, students are working in small groups to tackle the following problem, which requires dividing 20 by 3/4: Mom makes small apple tarts, using three‐quarters of an apple for each small tart. She has 20 apples. How many small apple tarts can she make? (J. Hiebert et al., 1997, p. 118) One group has already agreed that Mom can use three‐fourths of each apple to make 20 tarts, with one‐fourth of each apple being left to make additional tarts. Liz: So you’ve got twenty quarters left. Jeanette: Yes, . . . and twenty quarters is equal to five apples, . . . so five apples divided by— Liz: Six, seven, eight. Jeanette: But three‐quarters equals three. Kerri: But she can’t make only three apple tarts! Jeanette: No, you’ve still got twenty. Liz: But you’ve got twenty quarters, if you’ve got twenty quarters you might be right. Jeanette: I’ll show you. Liz: No, I’ve drawn them all here. Kerri: How many quarters have you got? Twenty? Liz: Yes, one quarter makes five apples and out of five apples she can make five tarts which will make that twenty‐five tarts and then she will have, wait, one, two, three, four, five quarters, she’ll have one, two, three, four, five quarters. . . . (J. Hiebert et al., 1997, p. 121) Eventually the group arrives at the correct answer: Mom can make 26 tarts and will have half an apple left over.

students? Why or why not?

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As you undoubtedly know from your own experiences as a student, fractions are more difficult to understand and work with than are whole numbers. But Liz, Jeanette, and Kerri rise to the challenge of the apple‐tarts problem and, in the process, possibly acquire new mathematical understandings and problem‐solving skills. In other words, the task is developmentally appropriate for them. Classroom instruction must take into account the physical, cognitive, personal, and social characteristics and abilities that students at a particular age are likely to have. In this chapter we’ll look at general principles of development and then zero in on children’s cognitive development— that is, developmental changes in thinking, reasoning, and language. As we look at these topics in the pages ahead, we’ll be better able to answer the preceding questions about Ms. Lombard’s apple‐tarts activity.

cognitive development
Development of increasingly sophisticated thinking, reasoning, and language with age.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



General Principles of Human Development
The Multiple Layers of Environmental Influence: Bronfenbrenner’s Theory

General Principles of Human Development
Four general principles characterize children’s physical, cognitive, personal, and social development: The sequence of development is somewhat predictable. Researchers have observed many universals in development; that is, they’ve seen similar patterns in how children change over time despite considerable differences in the environments in which the children grow up. Some of this universality is marked by the acquisition of developmental milestones—new, developmentally more advanced behaviors—in predictable sequences. For example, children typically become capable of using fractions in mathematical problem solving only after they have mastered counting and the use of whole numbers. Children develop at different rates. Not all children reach particular milestones at the same age: Some reach them earlier, some later. Accordingly, we are apt to see considerable diversity in students’ developmental accomplishments at any single grade level. As teachers, we should never jump to conclusions about what individual students can and cannot do based on age alone. For example, although Ms. Lombard’s apple‐tarts problem appears to be developmentally appropriate for some of her students, it might be too advanced for others. Development is often marked by periods of relatively rapid growth (spurts) between periods of slower growth (plateaus). Development doesn’t necessarily proceed at a constant rate. For example, toddlers may speak with a limited vocabulary and one‐word “sentences” for several months, yet sometime around their second birthday their vocabulary expands rapidly and their sentences become longer and longer within just a few weeks. And, of course, after seemingly stalling out height‐wise, many young adolescents undergo an adolescent growth spurt, shooting up several inches within a year or so. Occasionally children even take a temporary step backward, apparently because they’re in the process of overhauling a particular physical or cognitive skill and are about to make a major leap forward (Gershkoff‐Stowe & Thelen, 2004; Morra, Gobbo, Marini, & Sheese, 2008). Some developmental theorists use such patterns of uneven growth and change as evidence of qualitatively distinct periods, or stages, in development. Heredity and environment interact in their effects on development. Virtually all aspects of development are influenced either directly or indirectly by a child’s genetic makeup. For example, soon after birth children begin to show genetic inclinations, or temperaments, that predispose them to respond to physical and social events in certain ways—perhaps to be calm or irritable, outgoing or shy, cheerful or fearful. Not all inherited characteristics appear so early, however. Heredity continues to guide a child’s growth through the process of maturation, a gradual, genetically controlled progression of physical advancements as the child develops. For example, motor skills such as walking, running, and jumping develop primarily as a result of neurological development, increased strength, and increased muscular control— changes that are largely determined by inherited biological “instructions.” Yet environmental factors also make substantial contributions to development. For example, although height and body build are primarily inherited characteristics, good nutrition and regular physical exercise also make a difference. And although children’s behaviors are partly the result of inherited temperaments, the ways in which their environment encourages them to behave are just as influential, sometimes even more so. Historically, many researchers have sought to determine the degree to which various human characteristics are the result of heredity versus environment—a question often referred to as nature versus nurture. But increasingly psychologists

Role of the Brain in Learning and Development Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Piaget’s Basic Assumptions Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development Critiquing Piaget’s Theory Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Piaget’s Theory Contemporary Extensions and Applications of Piaget’s Theory

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Vygotsky’s Basic Assumptions Critiquing Vygotsky’s Theory Considering Diversity from the Perspective of Vygotsky’s Theory Contemporary Extensions and Applications of Vygotsky’s Theory Contrasting Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories

Language Development
Theoretical Issues Regarding Language Development Diversity in Language Development Second‐Language Learning and English Language Learners

Keep in mind that students of any single age show considerable diversity in what they can and cannot do.

Chapter 3 examines temperamental differences in greater depth.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

General Principles of Human Development have come to realize that heredity and environment interact in ways we can probably never disentangle (e.g., Belsky, Bakermans‐Kranenburg, & van IJzendoorn, 2007; Scarr & McCartney, 1983; J. P. Spencer et al., 2009). First and foremost, genes need environmental support in order to do their work. For instance, a child with “tall” genes can grow tall only if good nutrition supports such growth. Furthermore, some genetically driven maturational processes seem to be characterized by sensitive periods, limited time periods during which certain environmental conditions are especially important for normal development (we’ll see examples in the upcoming sections on the brain and language development). In addition, children’s inherited characteristics may lead other people to treat them in particular ways. For instance, a physically attractive child will be accepted more readily by peers than a less attractive one, and a temperamentally hyperactive child may be disciplined more harshly than a quieter one. Finally, children can choose their environments to some extent, especially as they get older, and they’re apt to seek out situations that match their inherited temperaments and abilities. The last point in the preceding paragraph is important enough to repeat: Children can choose their environments to some extent. Children are hardly passive recipients of their environmental legacies. Instead, they actively and intentionally think about and act on their environments, and in doing so they alter their environments—and the effects of those environments—in significant ways (Mareschal et al., 2007; Nettles, Caughy, & O’Campo, 2008; Nuemi, 2008).


universals Similar patterns in how children change and progress over time regardless of their specific environment. developmental milestone
Appearance of a new, more advanced behavior that indicates significant progress in a child’s development.

maturation Occurrence of genetically controlled physical advancements as a child develops.

sensitive period Age range during which a certain aspect of a child’s development is especially susceptible to environmental conditions (you may sometimes see the term critical period). culture Behaviors and belief systems of a long‐standing social group.

As we consider the various ways in which the environment might influence children’s development, we must be careful that we don’t limit our thinking only to children’s immediate surroundings. In fact, as the developmental theorist Urie Bronfenbrenner pointed out, any large society encompasses various “layers” of environment that all have significant impacts on children’s development (Bronfenbrenner, 1989, 2005; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). The most basic level for most children is the family, which can potentially support development in a number of ways—for instance, by providing good nutrition, encouraging physical exercise, helping with homework, and giving guidance during challenging tasks. Surrounding the family is another layer, the neighborhood and community, which can offer additional support, definitely through its schools (in industrialized societies, at least) and perhaps also through preschools, after‐school homework assistance programs, libraries, museums, zoos, and internships in local businesses. At a still broader level, the state (or province) and country in which children reside influence development through legislation that governs school policy, tax dollars that flow back to local schools, agencies and professional groups that offer information and training in new teaching strategies, and so on. Figure 2.1 illustrates the kinds of environmental influences that the different layers might involve. Permeating and impacting all of these layers is a child’s culture—the behaviors and belief systems that characterize one or more long‐standing social groups of which the child is a member. Culture is pervasive in many aspects of a child’s home environment—for instance, in the behaviors family members encourage, the disciplinary practices parents use, the books children have access to, the television shows they watch, and so on. Culture influences the broader environmental levels as well—for instance, by offering certain outlets for leisure time (e.g., basketball courts, Cinco de Mayo festivals) and by advocating or discouraging certain activities (e.g., seeking a college degree, playing video games). Ultimately, culture is an inside‐the‐head thing as well as an out‐there‐in‐the‐world thing: It provides an overall framework by which a child comes to determine what things are normal and abnormal, true and not true, rational and irrational, good and bad (M. Cole, 2006; Shweder et al., 1998). The various environmental layers interact with one another and with children’s existing characteristics in their influences on children’s development; in the process, they also change one another. For example, a temperamentally hyperactive child might initially elicit stringent disciplinary actions at school (the neighborhood/community layer), but concerned parents (the family layer) might seek out teachers and suggest alternative strategies that effectively channel the child’s behavior into productive activities. And government agencies (the state/ province/country layer) might provide websites that help both parents and teachers better

development in “Physical Development Across Childhood and Adolescence.”

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ecological systems perspectives in “Ecological Systems Perspectives of Child Development.”

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



FIGURE 2.1 Various layers of environmental influences



FAMILY Parenting practices Relationships with siblings and grandparents Nutrition and medical care Educational activities (e.g., bedtime reading, access to computer technology)

Neighborhood resources (e.g., playgrounds, helpful neighbors) Safe or unsafe physical conditions (e.g., pollution, gang activity) Preschools, schools, and after-school programs Diverse learning opportunities (e.g., libraries, museums)

Agencies, professional groups, and Internet websites offering guidance to teachers and families Government-mandated programs Tax dollars flowing back to local communities

foster children’s cognitive development. In general, children’s environments are dynamic systems encompassing mutually influencing variables that are in constant flux (C. D. Lee, 2010; Thelen & Smith, 1998).

Role of the Brain in Learning and Development
One key player in children’s development is, of course, the brain. The human brain is an incredibly complicated organ that includes several trillion cells. About one hundred billion of them are nerve cells, or neurons, that are microscopic in size and interconnected in innumerable ways. Some neurons receive information from the rest of the body, others synthesize and interpret that information, and still others send messages that tell the body how to respond to its present circumstances. Accompanying neurons are perhaps one to five trillion glial cells, which serve a variety of specialized functions that enhance the functioning of neurons or in other ways keep the brain going. Like all cells in living creatures, every neuron has a cell body, which contains its nucleus and is responsible for its general well‐being (see Figure 2.2). But in addition, a neuron has numerous branchlike structures, called dendrites, that receive messages from other neurons. A neuron also

neuron Cell in the brain or another part of the nervous system that transmits information to other cells. glial cell Cell in the brain that supports neurons or general brain functioning.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

FIGURE 2.2 Neurons and their interconnections


Axon Synapse on cell body

Myelin sheath

Cell body

Terminal button

Synapse on dendrite

has an axon, a long, armlike structure that transmits information on to still other neurons. The axon may branch out many times, and the ends of its branches have terminal buttons that contain certain chemical substances (more about these substances in a moment). For some (but not all) neurons, much of the axon has a white, fatty coating called a myelin sheath. When a neuron’s dendrites are stimulated by other neurons (either those in the brain or those extending from other parts of the body), the dendrites become electrically charged. If the total charge reaches a certain level, the neuron fires, sending an electrical impulse along its axon to the terminal buttons. If the axon has a myelin sheath, the impulse travels quite rapidly because it leaps from one gap in the myelin to the next, almost as if it were playing leap frog. If the axon doesn’t have a myelin sheath, the impulse travels more slowly. Curiously, neurons don’t actually touch one another. Instead, they send chemical messages to their neighbors across tiny spaces known as synapses. When an electrical impulse moves along a neuron’s axon, it signals the terminal buttons to release chemicals known as neurotransmitters that travel across the synapses and stimulate neighboring neurons. Any single neuron may have synaptic connections with hundreds or even thousands of other neurons (Goodman & Tessier‐Lavigne, 1997; Lichtman, 2001). With these basics in mind, let’s consider four key points about the brain and its role in cognitive development: Different parts of the brain have different specialties, but they all work closely with one another. Brain structures in the lower and middle parts of the brain specialize in essential physiological processes (e.g., breathing), habitual body movements (e.g., riding a bicycle), and basic perceptual skills (e.g., diverting attention to potentially life‐threatening stimuli). Complex, conscious thinking takes place primarily in the cortex, which rests on the top and sides of the brain like a thick, lumpy toupee (see Figure 2.3). The portion of the cortex located near the forehead, known as the prefrontal cortex, is largely responsible for a wide variety of very human activities, including sustained attention, planning, reasoning, decision making, coordination of complex activities, and inhibition of nonproductive thoughts and behaviors. Other areas of the cortex are actively involved in interpreting visual and auditory information, identifying the spatial characteristics of objects and events, and retaining general knowledge about the world. To some degree, the left and right halves of the cortex—its two hemispheres—also have somewhat distinct specialties. For most people, the left hemisphere takes primary responsibility for language and logical thinking, whereas the right hemisphere is more dominant in visual and spatial tasks (Byrnes, 2001; Ornstein, 1997; Siegel, 2012). Yet contrary to a popular belief, people rarely, if ever, think exclusively in one hemisphere. There’s no such thing as “left‐brain” or “right‐ brain” thinking: The two hemispheres constantly collaborate in day‐to‐day tasks. In fact, learning

synapse Junction between two neurons that allows transmission of messages from one to the other. neurotransmitter Chemical substance through which one neuron sends a message to another. cortex Upper part of the brain; site of complex, conscious thinking processes.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER or thinking about virtually anything, even a fairly simple idea, tends to be distributed across many parts of the brain (Bressler, 2002; Gonsalves & Cohen, 2010; Haxby et al., 2001). Most learning probably involves changes in neurons and synapses. In many instances, learning involves strengthening existing synapses or forming new ones. Sometimes, however, making progress actually involves eliminating synapses. Effective learning requires not only that people think and do certain things but also that they not think and do other things—in other words, that they inhibit tendencies to think or behave in particular ways (Bruer & Greenough, 2001;Lichtman, 2001; Merzenich, 2001). Developmental changes in the brain enable increasingly complex and efficient thought. Neurons begin to form synapses long before a child is born. But shortly after birth the rate of synapse formation increases dramatically. Neurons sprout new dendrites in many directions, and so they come into contact with many of their neighbors, especially in the first two or three years of life. Much of this early synaptogenesis appears to be driven primarily by genetic programming rather than by learning experiences. Thanks to synaptogenesis, children in the elementary grades have many more synapses than adults do (Bruer, 1999; C. A. Nelson, Thomas, & de Haan, 2006). As children encounter different stimuli and experiences in their daily lives, some synapses come in quite handy and are used repeatedly. Others are largely useless, and these gradually fade away through a process known as synaptic pruning, a process that continues throughout the elementary and secondary school years and into adulthood. Synaptic pruning is a good thing—not a bad one—because it eliminates “nuisance” synapses that are inconsistent with typical environmental events and appropriate responses. Synaptic pruning, then, may be Mother Nature’s way of making the brain more efficient (Bruer & Greenough, 2001; Huttenlocher & Dabholkar, 1997; Spear, 2007). Meanwhile, children and adults alike continue to form new synapses in response to their experiences (R. D. Brown & Bjorklund, 1998; Bruer, 1999; O’Boyle & Gill, 1998; Silveri et al., 2006). Another important developmental process in the brain is myelination. When neurons first develop, their axons have no myelin sheath. As they acquire this myelin over time, they fire much more quickly, greatly enhancing the brain’s overall efficiency. Myelination continues throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, especially in the cortex (Lenroot & Giedd, 2007; Merzenich, 2001; Paus et al., 1999). In addition, the onset of puberty is marked by significant changes in hormone levels, which affect the continuing maturation of brain structures and possibly also affect the production and effectiveness of neurotransmitters (Kolb, Gibb, & Robinson, 2003; Shen et al., 2010; E. F. Walker, 2002). Such changes can have an impact on adolescents’ functioning in a variety of areas, including attention, planning, and impulse control. To some degree, adolescents’ abilities to learn and respond appropriately may temporarily decrease until brain functioning restabilizes (McGivern, Andersen, Byrd, Mutter, & Reilly, 2002; Shen et al., 2010; Steinberg, 2009).

FIGURE 2.3 Cortex of the human brain
Prefrontal cortex

synaptogenesis Universal process in early brain development in which many new synapses form spontaneously.

synaptic pruning Universal process in brain development in which many previously formed synapses wither away. myelination Growth of a fatty sheath
(myelin) around the axons of neurons, enabling faster transmission of electrical impulses.

plasticity Ability to reorganize in order to adapt to changing circumstances; term often used in describing the human brain.

The brain remains adaptable throughout life. Some aspects of cognitive development appear to have sensitive periods in which certain kinds of environmental stimulation are crucial. For example, if infants don’t have normal exposure to patterns of light (e.g., if congenital cataracts make them functionally blind), they may soon lose the ability to see normally, and if children don’t hear spoken language until age 5, they may never acquire the language’s subtle grammatical complexities (Bruer, 1999; M. S. C. Thomas & Johnson, 2008). But seeing patterned light and hearing spoken language are normal experiences, not exceptional ones. There is no evidence to indicate that sensitive periods exist for traditional academic subjects such as reading and mathematics. From a physiological standpoint, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself in order to adapt to changing circumstances—that is, its plasticity—persists throughout the life span (Kolb et al., 2003; C. A. Nelson et al., 2006). The early years are important for development, to be sure, but so are the later years. For most topics and skills, there isn’t a single “best” or “only” time to learn (Bruer, 1999; Byrnes & Fox, 1998; Geary, 1998, 2008). The human brain never goes into lockdown mode.

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Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development


Applying Brain Research
Taking Developmental Changes in the Brain into Account
Be careful—many recently published books and articles about “using brain research” and “brain‐based learning” either misrepresent or misapply researchers’ findings about brain development. The following three recommendations are consistent with current knowledge about the brain and how it changes with age. Provide reasonable stimulation for young children; don’t overload them with new information and activities for fear of their “losing synapses.” Some well‐meaning educators have proposed that the proliferation of new synapses in the preschool and early elementary years points to a sensitive period in brain development. Accordingly, they urge us to maximize children’s educational experiences— providing reading instruction, violin lessons, art classes, and so on— during this time period. Before you, too, jump to such a conclusion, consider this point: Although adequate nutrition and everyday forms of stimulation are critical for normal brain development, there is no evidence that jam‐packed, information‐ and skills‐intensive experiences in the early years enhance brain power over the long run (Bruer, 1999; R. A. Thompson & Nelson, 2001). Keep in mind that adolescents’ brains have not yet fully matured. Synaptic pruning and myelination—two developmental processes that enhance the brain’s efficiency—continue throughout adolescence and beyond. Adolescents’ brains are not adult brains, especially in the prefrontal cortex—that part of the brain that controls sustained attention, planning, reasoning, impulse control, and other abilities so important for independent learning and responsible behavior (Steinberg, 2009). Thus, many middle school and high school students need considerable structure and guidance in order to get and keep them on the road to academic success. Be optimistic that students of all ages can acquire a wide variety of new topics and skills. For some content areas—for instance, in music and foreign languages—instruction in the preschool or early elementary years appears to mold the brain somewhat differently P. K. Kuhl et al., 2005). Furthermore, children of differing ages have differing levels of prior knowledge and experience on which to draw as they work to acquire new information and skills. Ultimately, we must keep in mind the plasticity of the human brain: With reasonable effort, practice, and support, human learners of any age can master a great many things.

As researchers gradually pin down how the brain works and develops, they’re also beginning to get clues about how we can best foster children’s and adolescents’ cognitive development; three research‐based recommendations are presented in the Applying Brain Research feature “Taking Developmental Changes in the Brain into Account.” Even so, current knowledge of brain physiology doesn’t yield many specifics about how best to foster students’ learning and cognitive development (Byrnes, 2007; G. A. Miller, 2010; Varma, McCandliss, & Schwartz, 2008). By and large, if we want to understand the nature of human learning and cognitive development, we must look primarily at what psychologists, rather than neurologists, have discovered. Two early theories—those of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky—have been especially influential in molding contemporary views of how children learn and develop.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Do you think of yourself as a logical person? Just how logical are you? Try your logical reasoning abilities in the following exercise.

Take a moment to solve the following three problems: 1. In the margin are 12 wooden beads, 10 brown ones and 2 white ones. Are there more brown beads or more wooden beads? 2. If all children are human beings, And if all human beings are living creatures, Then must all children be living creatures? 3. If all children are basketballs, And if all basketballs are jellybeans, Then must all children be jellybeans?

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CHAPTER You undoubtedly found the first problem quite easy; there are, of course, more wooden beads than brown beads. You may have found the second problem more difficult but probably concluded fairly quickly that, yes, all children must be living creatures. The third problem is a bit tricky: It follows the same line of reasoning as the second, but the logical conclusion—all children must be jellybeans—contradicts what is true in reality. In the early 1920s Swiss biologist Jean Piaget began studying children’s responses to problems of this nature. He used an approach he called the clinical method, in which an adult presents a task or problem and asks a child a series of questions about it, tailoring later questions to the child’s responses to previous ones. For example, let’s look at what happened when a researcher in Piaget’s laboratory presented the wooden beads problem to a 6‐year‐old, whom we’ll call Brian:1 Adult: Brian: Adult: Brian: Adult: Brian: Are there more wooden beads or more brown beads? More brown ones, because there are two white ones. Are the white ones made of wood? Yes. And the brown ones? Yes.

clinical method Procedure in which an adult presents a task or problem and asks a child a series of questions about it, tailoring later questions to the child’s responses to previous ones. class inclusion Recognition that an object simultaneously belongs to a particular category and to one of its subcategories.

Adult: Then are there more brown ones or more wooden ones? Brian: More brown ones. (Piaget, 1952a, pp. 163–164) During further questioning, Brian continues to assert that the brown beads outnumber the wooden beads. In an effort to help him see otherwise, the adult asks him to draw two necklaces, one made of the brown beads and another made of the wooden beads. Brian draws a series of black rings for the brown‐beads necklace; he draws a series of black rings plus two white rings for the wooden‐beads necklace. Adult: Good. Now which will be longer, the one with the brown beads or the one with the wooden beads? Brian: The one with the brown beads. (Piaget, 1952a, p. 164) Piaget suggested that young children such as Brian have trouble with class inclusion tasks in which they must think of an object as simultaneously belonging to a category and to one of its subcategories—in this case, thinking of a bead as being both wooden and brown at the same time. Piaget found that many 4‐ and 5‐year‐olds have difficulty with class inclusion tasks such as the beads problem but that 7‐ and 8‐year‐olds almost always respond to such tasks correctly. He found, too, that 10‐year‐olds have an easier time with logic problems that involve real‐world phenomena (such as categories and subcategories of living creatures) than with problems involving hypothetical and contrary‐to‐fact ideas (such as jellybean children), whereas adolescents can effectively deal with both kinds of problems. Through a wide variety of thought‐provoking questions and tasks, Piaget and his research colleagues discovered a great deal about what and how children think about the world around them (e.g., Inhelder & Piaget, 1958; Piaget, 1929, 1952b, 1959, 1970, 1980). Piaget integrated his findings into a theory of cognitive development that has made major contributions to contemporary understandings of children’s learning and development.

Young children are naturally curious about objects in their environment. For example, watch 2‐year‐old Maddie in “Cognitive Development: Early Childhood.”

Piaget introduced a number of ideas and concepts to describe and explain the changes in logical thinking he observed in children and adolescents: Children are active and motivated learners. Piaget believed that children are naturally curious about their world and actively seek out information to help them make sense of it. They continually experiment with the objects they encounter, manipulating them and observing the effects of their actions.

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Piaget used abbreviations to identify specific children in his studies. In this case he used the letters BRI, but I've given the child a name to allow for easier discussion.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development Children construct rather than absorb knowledge. In their day‐to‐day experiences, children don’t just passively soak up a collection of isolated facts. Instead, they pull their experiences together into an integrated view of how the world operates. For example, by observing that objects always fall down (never up) when released, children begin to construct a basic understanding of gravity. As they interact with family pets, visit farms and zoos, and look at picture books, they develop more complex understandings of animals. Because Piaget proposed that children construct their own beliefs and understandings from their experiences, his theory is sometimes called a constructivist theory or, more generally, constructivism. In Piaget’s terminology, the things children do and know are organized as schemes—groups of similar actions or thoughts that are used repeatedly in response to the environment. Initially, children’s schemes are largely behavioral in nature, but over time they become increasingly mental and, eventually, abstract. For example, an infant may have a putting‐things‐in‐mouth scheme that she applies to a variety of objects, including her thumb, cookies, and toys. A 7‐year‐old may have a scheme for identifying snakes that includes their long, thin bodies, lack of legs, and slithery nature. A 13‐year‐old may have a scheme for what constitutes fashion, allowing him to classify his peers as being either very cool or “total losers.” Over time, children’s schemes are modified with experience, and many become integrated with one another. For instance, children begin to take hierarchical interrelationships into account: They learn that poodles and cocker spaniels are both dogs, that dogs and cats are both animals, and so on. A progressively more organized body of knowledge and thought processes allows children to think in increasingly complex and logical ways. Children continually learn new things through two complementary processes: assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation entails dealing with an object or event in a way that’s consistent with an existing scheme. For example, an infant may assimilate a new teddy bear into her putting‐ things‐in‐mouth scheme. A 7‐year‐old may quickly identify a new slithery creature in the garden as a snake. A 13‐year‐old may readily label a classmate’s clothing as being either quite fashionable or “soooo yesterday.” But sometimes children can’t easily interpret and respond to a new object or event using existing schemes. In these situations one of two forms of accommodation occurs: Children either (1) modify an existing scheme to account for the new object or event or (2) form a new scheme to deal with it. For example, an infant may have to open her mouth wider than usual to accommodate a teddy bear’s fat paw. A 13‐year‐old may have to revise his existing scheme of fashion according to changes in what’s hot and what’s not. A 7‐year‐old who encounters a long, slithery creature with four legs can’t apply the snake scheme (snakes don’t have legs) and thus, after some research, may acquire a new scheme—salamander. Assimilation and accommodation typically work hand in hand as children develop their knowledge and understanding of the world. Children interpret each new event within the context of their existing knowledge (assimilation) but at the same time may modify their knowledge as a result of the new event (accommodation). Accommodation rarely happens without assimilation: Children can benefit from, or accommodate to, new experiences only when they can relate those experiences to their current knowledge and beliefs. Interactions with one’s physical and social environments are essential for cognitive development. According to Piaget, active experimentation with the physical world is critical for cognitive growth. By exploring and manipulating physical objects—fiddling with sand and water, playing games with balls and bats, and the like—children learn the nature of such characteristics as volume and weight, discover principles related to force and gravity, and so on. In Piaget’s view, interaction with other people is equally important. Frequent social interactions—both pleasant (e.g., conversations) and unpleasant (e.g., conflicts about sharing and fair play)—help young children come to realize that different people see things differently and that their own view of the world isn’t necessarily completely accurate or logical. As children get older, discussions and disagreements about complex issues and problems—for instance, the apple‐tarts problem in the opening case study—help them recognize and reexamine inconsistencies in their reasoning. The process of equilibration promotes progression toward increasingly complex thought. Piaget suggested that children are often in a state of equilibrium: They can comfortably interpret and


constructivism Theoretical perspective proposing that learners actively construct (rather than passively absorb) knowledge from their experiences. scheme Organized group of similar actions or thoughts that are used repeatedly in response to the environment. assimilation Process of dealing with an object or event in a way that is consistent with an existing scheme.

accommodation Process of dealing with a new object or event by either modifying an existing scheme or forming a new one.

equilibrium State of being able to address new events with existing schemes.

When introducing a new concept or procedure, show students how it relates to something they already know.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.




An event that contradicts what we currently know and believe about the world creates disequilibrium—a feeling of discomfort that motivates us to try to resolve the contradiction in some way.

Present puzzling phenomena that students cannot easily explain using their existing understandings.

respond to new events using existing schemes. But as children grow older and expand their horizons, they sometimes encounter situations for which their current knowledge and skills are inadequate. Such situations create disequilibrium, a sort of mental discomfort that spurs them to try to make sense of what they’re observing. By replacing, reorganizing, or better integrating certain schemes (i.e., through accommodation), children can better understand and address previously puzzling events. The process of moving from equilibrium to disequilibrium and back to equilibrium again is known as equilibration. In Piaget’s view, equilibration and children’s intrinsic desire to achieve equilibrium promote the development of more complex levels of thought and knowledge. As an example, let’s return to Brian’s responses to the beads problem. Recall that the adult asks Brian to draw two necklaces, one made with the brown beads and one made with the wooden beads. The adult hopes that after Brian draws a brown‐and‐white necklace that is longer than an all‐brown necklace, he will notice that his drawings are inconsistent with his statement that there are more brown beads. The inconsistency might lead Brian to experience disequilibrium, perhaps to the point where he would revise his conclusion. In this case, however, Brian is apparently oblivious to the inconsistency, remains in equilibrium, and thus has no need to revise his thinking. In part as a result of maturational changes in the brain, children think in qualitatively different ways at different ages. Long before researchers knew much about how the brain changes with age, Piaget speculated that it does change in significant ways and that such changes enable more complex thought processes. He suggested that major neurological changes take place when children are about 2 years old, again when they’re 6 or 7, and yet again around puberty. Changes at each of these times allow new abilities to emerge, such that children progress through a sequence of stages that reflect increasingly sophisticated thought. As we’ve seen, the brain does, in fact, continue to develop throughout childhood and adolescence, but whether such changes are specifically related to the cognitive changes Piaget described is still an open question.

disequilibrium State of being unable to address new events with existing schemes; typically accompanied by some mental discomfort.

equilibration Movement from equilibrium to disequilibrium and back to equilibrium, a process that promotes development of more complex thought and understandings.

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Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development


Piaget proposed that as a result of brain maturation, innumerable experiences, and children’s natural desire to make sense of and adapt to their world, cognitive development proceeds through four distinct stages (e.g., Piaget, 1971). Abilities at any one stage are constructed out of the accomplishments of any preceding stages. Thus, the four stages are hierarchical—each one provides a foundation for any subsequent stages—and so children progress through them in a particular order. Table 2.1 summarizes these stages and presents examples of abilities acquired during each one. As you look at the table, keep in mind that many children are apt to be in transition from one stage to the next, displaying characteristics of two adjacent stages at the same time. Furthermore, as children gain abilities associated with more advanced stages, they don’t necessarily leave behind the characteristics they acquired in previous stages. The preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations stages all occur during the school years, and so we’ll look at these three stages more closely.

sensorimotor stage Piaget’s first stage of cognitive development, in which schemes are based largely on behaviors and perceptions.

Piaget’s Four Stages of Cognitive Development

Begins at birth

Schemes are based largely on behaviors and perceptions. Especially in the early part of this stage, children cannot think about things that are not immediately in front of them, and so they focus on what they are doing and seeing at the moment. Thanks in part to their rapidly developing symbolic thinking abilities, children can now think and talk about things beyond their immediate experience. However, they do not yet reason in logical, adultlike ways. Adultlike logic appears but is limited to reasoning about concrete, real‐life situations.

Trial‐and‐error experimentation with physical objects: Exploration and manipulation of objects to determine their properties Object permanence: Realization that objects continue to exist even when removed from view Symbolic thought: Representation of physical objects and events as mental entities (symbols)


Emerges at about age 2

Language: Rapid expansion of vocabulary and grammatical structures Extensive pretend play: Enactment of imaginary scenarios with plots and assigned roles (e.g., mommy, doctor, Superman) Intuitive thought: Some logical thinking (especially after age 4), but based primarily on hunches and intuition rather than on conscious awareness of logical principles Distinction between one’s own and others’ perspectives: Recognition that one’s own thoughts and feelings may be different from those of others and do not necessarily reflect reality Class inclusion: Ability to classify objects as belonging to two or more categories simultaneously Conservation: Realization that amount stays the same if nothing is added or taken away, regardless of alterations in shape or arrangement Logical reasoning about abstract, hypothetical, and contrary‐to‐fact ideas: Ability to draw logical deductions about situations that have no basis in physical reality Proportional reasoning: Conceptual understanding of fractions, percentages, decimals, and ratios Formulation of multiple hypotheses: Ability to identify two or more competing hypotheses about possible cause–and–effect relationships Separation and control of variables: Ability to test hypotheses by manipulating one variable while holding other relevant variables constant Idealism: Ability to envision alternatives to current social and political practices, sometimes with little regard for what is realistically possible under existing circumstances

Concrete Operations

Emerges at about age 6 or 7

Formal Operations

Emerges at about age 11 or 12

are applied to abstract ideas as well as to concrete objects and situations. Many capabilities essential for advanced reasoning in science and mathematics appear.

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CHAPTER PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (AGE 2 UNTIL AGE 6 OR 7) In the early part of the preoperational stage, children’s language skills virtually explode, and the many words in their rapidly increasing vocabularies serve as symbols that enable them to mentally represent and think about a wide variety of objects and events. However, preoperational thought has some definite limitations, especially when compared to the concrete operational thinking that emerges later. For example, Piaget described young children as exhibiting preoperational egocentrism, an inability to view situations from another person’s perspective. Thus, preschoolers may play games together without checking to be sure they’re all playing by the same rules, and they may tell stories in which they leave out details that are critical for listeners’ understanding. Young children’s thinking also tends to be somewhat illogical at times, at least from an adult’s point of view. We’ve already seen how young children have difficulty with class inclusion problems (recall Brian’s insistence that the brown beads outnumber the wooden ones). In addition, they’re apt to have trouble with conservation: They fail to realize that if nothing is added or taken away, the amount of one or more substances or objects must stay the same regardless of changes in shape or arrangement. As illustrations, consider what happens when we present two conservation tasks to 5‐year‐old Nathan:

FIGURE 2.4 Do Glasses A and C contain the same amount of water?

Conservation of liquid: We show Nathan the three glasses in Figure 2.4. We ask him whether Glasses A and B contain the same amount of water, and he replies confidently that they do. We then pour the water from Glass B into Glass C and ask him whether A and C have the same amount. Nathan replies, “No, that glass [pointing to Glass A] has more because it’s taller.” Conservation of number: We next show Nathan two rows of seven pennies each, like so:


B Before


Nathan counts the pennies in each row and agrees that the two rows have the same amount. We spread the second row out, and the pennies now look like this:


B After


When we ask Nathan whether the two rows still have the same number, he replies, “No, this one [pointing to the bottom row] has more because it’s longer.” As children approach the later part of the preoperational stage, perhaps at around age 4 or 5, they show early signs of adultlike logic. For example, they sometimes draw correct conclusions about class inclusion and conservation problems. But they base their reasoning on hunches and intuition rather than on any conscious awareness of underlying logical principles, and thus they can’t yet explain why their conclusions are correct.

preoperational stage Piaget’s second stage of cognitive development, in which children can think about objects and events beyond their immediate view but do not yet reason in logical, adultlike ways. preoperational egocentrism Inability of children in Piaget’s preoperational stage to view situations from another person’s perspective. conservation Recognition that if nothing is added or taken away, amount stays the same regardless of alterations in shape or arrangement.

concrete operations stage Piaget’s third stage of cognitive development, in which adultlike logic appears but is limited to concrete reality.

CONCRETE OPERATIONS STAGE (AGE 6 OR 7 UNTIL AGE 11 OR 12) Piaget proposed that as children enter the concrete operations stage, their thought processes become organized into larger systems of mental processes—operations—that allow them to think more logically than they have previously. They now realize that their own perspectives and feelings aren’t necessarily shared by others and may reflect personal opinions rather than reality. They also exhibit such logical reasoning abilities as class inclusion and conservation. For example, they should readily conclude, as you presumably did in an earlier Experiencing Firsthand exercise, that in a group of brown and white wooden beads, there obviously must be more wooden beads than brown ones. Children continue to refine their newly acquired logical thinking capabilities for several years. For instance, some forms of conservation, such as conservation of liquid and conservation of number, appear at age 6 or 7, whereas other forms emerge later. Consider the problem in Figure 2.5. Using a balance scale, an adult shows a child that two balls of clay have the same weight. One ball is removed from the scale and smashed into a pancake shape. Does the pancake weigh the same as the unsmashed ball, or are the weights different? Children typically don’t achieve conservation of weight—they don’t realize that the flattened pancake weighs the same as the round ball it was earlier—until about age 9 (Morra et al., 2008).

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Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development formal operations stage


FIGURE 2.5 Conservation of weight: Ball A and Ball B initially weigh the same. When Ball B is flattened into a pancake shape, how does its weight now compare with that of Ball A?

Piaget’s fourth and final stage of cognitive development, in which logical reasoning processes are applied to abstract ideas as well as to concrete objects.

A Before


A After


Although students displaying concrete operational thought show many signs of logical thinking, their cognitive development isn’t yet complete. For example, they have trouble understanding abstract ideas, and they may struggle with problems involving fractions and other proportions, as Liz, Jeanette, and Kerri do in the opening case study. FORMAL OPERATIONS STAGE (AGE 11 OR 12 THROUGH ADULTHOOD) Once children acquire abilities characterizing the formal operations stage, they can think about concepts that have little or no basis in concrete reality. Furthermore, they recognize that what is logically valid is different from what is true in the real world. For example, recall the earlier children‐basketballs‐jellybeans problem: If all children are basketballs and if all basketballs are jellybeans, then formal operational thinkers can logically conclude that all children must be jellybeans, even though in the real world children aren’t jellybeans. From Piaget’s perspective, students’ capabilities in mathematics are likely to improve when formal operational thinking develops. Abstract problems, such as mathematical word problems, should become easier to solve. And students should become capable of understanding such concepts as negative number, pi (p), and infinity. For instance, they should now comprehend how temperature can be below zero and how two parallel lines will never touch even if they go on forever. In addition, because students can now understand proportions (see Table 2.1), they can more easily use fractions, decimals, and ratios when solving problems. Scientific reasoning is also likely to improve when students are capable of formal operational thought. Three of the formal operational abilities listed in Table 2.1—reasoning logically about hypothetical ideas, formulating multiple hypotheses, and separating and controlling variables—together allow many adolescents to use the scientific method, in which they test several possible explanations for an observed phenomenon in a systematic manner. As an example, consider the pendulum problem in the following exercise.

Children in Piaget’s concrete operations stage exhibit conservation in their reasoning. For example, listen to 10‐year‐old Kent in “Cognitive Development: Middle Childhood.”

In the absence of other forces, an object suspended by a rope or string—a pendulum—swings at a constant rate. (A yo‐yo and a playground swing are two everyday examples.) Some pendulums swing back and forth rather slowly; others move more quickly. What characteristics of a pendulum determine how quickly it swings? Write down at least three hypotheses about the variable(s) that might affect a pendulum’s oscillation rate. Now gather several small objects of varying weights (e.g., a paperclip, a house key, a heavy bolt) and a piece of string. Tie one of the objects to one end of the string, and set your pendulum in motion. Conduct one or more experiments to test each of your hypotheses. What can you conclude? What variable or variables affect the rate with which a pendulum swings?

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CHAPTER What hypotheses did you generate? Four common ones involve weight of the object, length of the string, force with which the object is pushed, and height from which the object is released. Did you test each of your hypotheses in a systematic fashion? That is, did you separate and control variables, testing one at a time while holding all others constant? For example, if you were testing the hypothesis that weight makes a difference, you might have tried objects of different weights while keeping constant the length of the string, the force with which you pushed each object, and the height from which you released or pushed each one. Similarly, if you hypothesized that length was a critical factor, you might have varied the string length while continuing to use the same object and setting the pendulum in motion in a consistent manner. If you carefully separated and controlled each variable, you should have come to the correct conclusion: Only length affects a pendulum’s oscillation rate. An additional outcome of abstract and hypothetical thinking is the ability to envision how the world might be different from the way it actually is (e.g., see Figure 2.6). In some cases adolescents envision a world that is better than the one they live in, and they exhibit considerable concern and idealism about social and political issues. Some secondary school students devote a great deal of energy to local or global problems, such as water pollution and animal rights. However, they may offer recommendations for change that seem logical but aren’t practical in today’s world. For example, a teenager might argue that racism could disappear overnight if people would just begin to “love one another” or that a nation should eliminate its armed forces and weaponry as a way of moving toward world peace. Piaget proposed that adolescent idealism reflects formal operational egocentrism, an inability to separate one’s own logical abstractions from the perspectives of others and from practical considerations. Only through experience do adolescents eventually begin to temper their optimism with some realism about what is possible in a given time frame and with limited resources.

According to Piaget, students gradually acquire formal reasoning abilities as they progress through adolescence. Observe seventh graders’ difficulty in separating and controlling variables in “Designing Experiments.”

Encourage adolescents to discuss their visions for a better world, but point out instances when their ideals are unrealistic.

FIGURE 2.6 In this excerpt from a comic book he has created, 12‐year‐ old Zach shows an ability to think about contrary‐to‐fact ideas, such as an army of noses (led by Napoleon Nose), a time‐warp trap, and villain Dark Fang’s evil new weapon.

formal operational egocentrism
Inability of adolescents in Piaget’s formal operations stage to separate their own abstract logic from the perspectives of others and from practical considerations.
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Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development


Perhaps Piaget’s greatest contribution to our understanding of cognitive development was the nature of the questions he asked and tried to answer about how children think and reason. In addition, some of his key ideas—for instance, that children construct their own knowledge about the world, that they must relate new experiences to what they already know, and that encountering puzzling phenomena can sometimes spur them to revise their understandings—have stood the test of time. Piaget’s descriptions of processes that propel development—especially assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration—can be frustratingly vague, however (M. Chapman, 1988; diSessa, 2006; Klahr, 2001). And interaction with one’s physical environment, although certainly valuable, may be less critical than Piaget believed. For instance, children with significant physical disabilities, who cannot actively experiment with physical objects, learn a great deal about the world simply by observing what happens around them (Bebko, Burke, Craven, & Sarlo, 1992; Brainerd, 2003). A SECOND LOOK AT PIAGET’S STAGES Piaget’s proposal that cognitive development progresses in stages has sparked a great deal of follow‐up research. In general, this research supports Piaget’s proposed sequence in which different abilities emerge but not necessarily the ages at which they emerge. Piaget probably underestimated the thinking capabilities of preschoolers and elementary school students. For example, under some circumstances preschoolers are capable of class inclusion and conservation, and they have some ability to comprehend abstract and contrary‐to‐fact ideas (S. R. Beck, Robinson, Carroll, & Apperly, 2006; Goswami & Pauen, 2005; McNeil & Uttal, 2009; Rosser, 1994). Many first and second graders can understand and use simple proportions (e.g., 1/2, 1/3, 1/4) if they can relate the proportions to everyday objects and situations (Empson, 1999; Van Dooren, De Bock, Hessels, Janssens, & Verschaffel, 2005). And some older elementary school children can separate and control variables if a task is simplified in some way (Lorch et al., 2010; Metz, 1995; Ruffman, Perner, Olson, & Doherty, 1993). Yet Piaget seems to have overestimated what adolescents can do. Formal operational thinking processes emerge more gradually than he suggested, and even high school students and adults don’t necessarily use them regularly (Flieller, 1999; Kuhn & Franklin, 2006; Morra et al., 2008; Tourniaire & Pulos, 1985). Furthermore, students may demonstrate formal operational thought in one content domain while thinking concretely in another (Lovell, 1979; Tamburrini, 1982). Explicit training and other structured experiences can sometimes help children acquire reasoning abilities sooner than Piaget thought was possible (Brainerd, 2003; Kuhn, 2006). For instance, children as young as age 4 or 5 begin to show conservation after having experience with conservation tasks, especially if they can actively manipulate the task materials and discuss their reasoning with someone who already exhibits conservation (Halford & Andrews, 2006; Siegler & Chen, 2008; Siegler & Lin, 2010). Similarly, instruction with concrete manipulatives can help children grasp the nature of proportions (Fujimura, 2001; Sarama & Clements, 2009). Children ages 10 and 11 can more easily solve logical problems involving hypothetical ideas if they’re taught relevant problem‐solving strategies, and they become increasingly able to separate and control variables when they have numerous experiences that require them to do so (Kuhn & Pease, 2008; S. Lee, 1985; Lorch et al., 2010; Schauble, 1990). In light of all the evidence, does it still make sense to talk about discrete stages of cognitive development? As we’ll see shortly, a few theorists have offered stage‐based theories that may more adequately account for current findings about children’s logical thinking in specific skill areas or content domains. But most theorists now believe that cognitive development can more accurately be described in terms of gradual trends rather than discrete stages. They also suggest—and Piaget himself acknowledged—that the four stages better describe how children and adolescents can think, rather than how they always do think, at any particular age (Flavell, 1994; Halford & Andrews, 2006; Klaczynski, 2001; Tanner & Inhelder, 1960).

Expect that even high school students will sometimes have difficulty with abstract subject matter.

Providing manipulatives often helps fourth graders understand fractions. Observe a fourth‐grade teacher use this approach in “Manipulative Strategies.

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As a researcher working in Switzerland, Piaget conducted his studies with a particular population: Swiss children. However, the course of cognitive development appears to vary somewhat from one cultural group to another, probably because different cultures provide somewhat

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



FIGURE 2.7 What are some possible reasons that Herb is catching more fish than the others?

different experiences (Maynard & Greenfield, 2003; Morra et al., 2008). For example, Mexican children whose families make pottery for a living acquire Herb conservation skills earlier than their peers in other Susan Mexican families—presumably because making pottery requires children to make frequent judgments about needed quantities of clay regardless of its shape (Price‐Williams, Gordon, & Ramirez, 1969). In other cultures, especially in some in which children don’t attend school, conservation and other concrete operaPat tional abilities may appear several years later than they Bill do in Western societies (Artman & Cahan, 1993; Fahrmeier, 1978). Formal operational reasoning skills—for example, reasoning about hypothetical ideas and separating and controlling variables—also vary from culture to culture (Flieller, 1999; Norenzayan, Choi, & Peng, 2007; Rogoff, 2003). Mainstream Western culture actively nurtures these skills through formal instruction in such academic content domains as science, mathematics, literature, and Source: Based on image created by Steven Pulos. Adapted with permission. social studies. In some other cultures, however, such skills may have little relevance to people’s daily lives (M. Cole, 1990; J. G. Miller, 1997; Norenzayan et al., 2007). Even within a single cultural group, logical reasoning abilities vary considerably from one individual to another, in part as a result of differences in background knowledge about particular topics. For instance, adolescents (adults, too) often apply formal operational thought to topics about which they know a great deal yet think concretely about topics with which they’re unfamiliar (Girotto & Light, 1993; M. C. Linn, Clement, Pulos, & Sullivan, 1989; Schliemann & Carraher, 1993). For example, in a study by Pulos and Linn (1981), 13‐year‐olds were shown a picture similar to the one in Figure 2.7 and told, “These four children go fishing every week, and one child, Herb, always catches the most fish. The other children wonder why.” If you look at the picture, you can see that Herb differs from the other children in several ways, including his location, the bait he uses, and the length of his fishing rod. Students who had fished a great deal more effectively separated and controlled variables for this situation than they did for the pendulum problem presented earlier, whereas the reverse was true for students with little or no experience fishing.

Knowledge about fishing enhances children’s ability to separate and control variables in a fishing problem. Contrast 10‐year‐old Kent (an experienced fisherman) with 14‐year‐old Alicia (who has never fished) in “Cognitive Development: Middle Childhood” Adolescence.”

Despite its shortcomings, Piaget’s theory has had considerable influence on present‐day thinking about cognitive development and classroom practice. A few contemporary neo‐Piagetian theories integrate elements of Piaget’s theory with current theories of thinking and learning. Furthermore, educators have found many of Piaget’s ideas quite useful in instructional settings. We’ll examine three of his ideas—his clinical method, his emphasis on the importance of hands‐on experiences, and his concept of disequilibrium—in upcoming sections. The Into the Classroom feature “Applying Piaget’s Theory” offers additional suggestions for translating Piaget’s ideas into classroom practice. NEO‐PIAGETIAN THEORIES Neo‐Piagetian theories echo Piaget’s belief that cognitive development depends somewhat on brain maturation. For instance, some neo‐Piagetian theorists suggest that a component of the human memory system known as working memory is especially important for cognitive development. In particular, working memory is a brain‐based mechanism that enables people to temporarily hold and think about a small amount of new information. Children’s working memory capacity increases with age, and thus their ability to think about several things simultaneously increases as well (Case & Mueller, 2001; Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Lautrey, 1993).

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Chapter 6 looks more closely at the nature of working memory.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development


Into the Classroom
Applying Piaget’s Theory
Use Piaget’s stages as a rough guide to what students at different grade levels can do, but don’t take them too literally.
Knowing from both research and her own experience that 6‐ and 7‐year‐olds can understand simple proportions in familiar situations, a first‐grade teacher asks her students to tackle this problem: “Two children want to share five cupcakes so that each child gets the same amount. Show how much each child can have.” When some of the students decide that each child can have two cupcakes, she points to the fifth cupcake and says, “They want to share this one too. How can they do that?”

Ask students to explain their reasoning about physical phenomena, and challenge illogical explanations.
When learning about pendulums, cooperative groups in a middle school science class conduct experiments with three variables (weight, length, and height from which the pendulum is dropped) to see which variable or variables determine the rate at which a pendulum swings. After a student in one group asserts that weight affects the oscillation rate, her teacher asks a series of questions that eventually lead the student’s group to realize it has simultaneously varied both weight and length in its experiments. (Observe this example in “Designing Experiments.”)

When young children show signs of egocentric thinking, express confusion or explain that others think differently.
A kindergartner asks, “What’s this?” about an object that is out of the teacher’s view. The teacher responds, “What’s what? I can’t see the object you’re looking at.”

Relate abstract and hypothetical ideas to concrete objects and observable events.
To help students understand that even seemingly weightless substances such as air have mass and weight, an eighth‐grade teacher blows up a balloon and places it on one side of a balance scale. She then places an uninflated balloon on the other side of the scale. The inflated balloon tips the scale downward, showing that it weighs more than the uninflated one.
Sources: Empson, 1999, p. 295 (cupcake example); C. L. Smith, 2007 (balloon example).

Draw on adolescents’ idealism to engage them in public service projects and other charitable endeavors.
In a unit on Africa, several students in a ninth‐grade social studies class express their horror about the extreme poverty in which some Africans live. The teacher mentions that a friend is traveling to Rwanda the following month and wants to take several large suitcases full of used children’s clothing to give to an especially poor Rwandan village. Over the next few days the students ask their parents and neighbors for donations and gather many usable items for the teacher’s friend to take.

Neo‐Piagetian theorists reject Piaget’s notion that a single series of stages characterizes children’s overall cognitive development. However, they speculate that cognitive development in specific content domains—for instance, in understanding numbers or spatial relationships— often has a stagelike nature (e.g., Case, 1985; Case & Okamoto, 1996; Fischer & Immordino‐ Yang, 2002). Children’s entry into a particular stage is marked by the acquisition of new abilities, which children practice and gradually master over time. Eventually, they integrate these abilities into more complex structures that mark their transition into a subsequent stage. Thus, as is true in Piaget’s theory, the stages are hierarchical, with each one being constructed out of abilities acquired in the preceding stage. Even in a particular subject area, however, cognitive development isn’t necessarily a single series of stages through which children progress as if they were climbing rungs on a ladder. In some cases development might be better characterized as progression along “multiple strands” of skills that occasionally interconnect, consolidate, or separate in a weblike fashion (Fischer & Daley, 2007; Fischer & Immordino‐Yang, 2002). From this perspective, children may acquire more advanced levels of competence in a particular area through any one of several pathways. For instance, as they become increasingly proficient in reading, children may gradually develop their word decoding skills, their comprehension skills, and so on, and they draw on all of these skills when reading a book. However, the rate at which each of the skills is mastered varies from one child to the next.
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PIAGET’S CLINICAL METHOD AS AN ASSESSMENT TOOL Earlier in the chapter I described Piaget’s clinical method, in which an adult probes children’s thoughts about a particular task or problem through a sequence of individually tailored questions

neo‐Piagetian theory Theoretical perspective that combines elements of Piaget’s theory with more contemporary research and theories and suggests that development in specific content domains is often stagelike in nature.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER (recall the dialogue with Brian about the wooden beads). By presenting a variety of Piagetian tasks involving either concrete or formal operational thinking skills (e.g., conservation or separation and control of variables) and asking students to explain what they’re thinking, we can gain valuable insights into their logical reasoning abilities (e.g., diSessa, 2007). We need not stick to traditional Piagetian reasoning tasks, however. To illustrate, a teacher might present various kinds of maps (e.g., a road map of Pennsylvania, an aerial map of Chicago, a three‐dimensional relief map of a mountainous area) and ask students to interpret what they see. Children in the early elementary grades are apt to interpret maps very concretely, perhaps thinking that lines separating states and countries are actually painted on the earth or that an airport symbolized by a small airplane has only one plane. They might also have difficulty with the scale of a map, perhaps thinking that a line can’t be a road because “it’s not fat enough for two cars to go on” or that a mountain depicted by a bump on a relief map isn’t really a mountain because “it’s not high enough” (Liben & Downs, 1989; Liben & Myers, 2007, p. 202). Understanding the concept of scale in a map requires proportional reasoning—an ability that doesn’t fully emerge until after puberty—and thus it’s hardly surprising that young children will be confused by it. HANDS‐ON EXPERIENCES Piaget suggested that exploration of the physical environment should be largely a child‐initiated and child‐directed effort. Young children can certainly learn a great deal from their informal interactions with sand, water, and other natural substances (Hutt, Tyler, Hutt, & Christopherson, 1989). And in the elementary and secondary school grades, opportunities to manipulate physical objects—or their virtual equivalents on a computer screen—can enhance students’ understanding of basic mathematical and scientific concepts (M. C. Brown, McNeil, & Glenberg, 2009; Lorch et al., 2010; Sarama & Clements, 2009; Sherman & Bisanz, 2009). Researchers are finding, however, that hands‐on experiences are typically more effective when combined with instruction that helps students draw appropriate conclusions from what they observe (Fujimura, 2001; Hardy, Jonen, Möller, & Stern, 2006; R. E. Mayer, 2004). In the absence of teacher guidance and directive questions, students may draw inferences based solely on what they see and feel—for instance, erroneously concluding that a very small piece of Styrofoam must have no weight whatsoever (M. C. Brown et al., 2009; C. L. Smith, 2007). And, of course, they may fail to separate and control variables in their experimentation (Lorch et al., 2010). CREATING DISEQUILIBRIUM: THE VALUE OF SOCIOCOGNITIVE CONFLICT In the opening case study, the girls argue about various ways to solve a problem involving the use of a fraction (3/4) in making apple tarts. When Jeanette offers a seemingly nonproductive idea (“But three‐quarters equals three”), Kerri points out her illogical thinking (“But she can’t make only three apple tarts!”). As noted earlier, interaction with peers helps children realize that others often view the world differently than they do and that their own ideas aren’t always completely logical or accurate. Furthermore, interactions with age‐mates that involve wrestling with contradictory viewpoints—interactions that involve sociocognitive conflict—create disequilibrium that may spur children to reevaluate and possibly revise their current understandings. Whereas children may accept an adult’s ideas without argument, some may be quite willing to disagree with and challenge the ideas of their peers (D. W. Johnson & Johnson, 2009b; Lampert, Rittenhouse, & Crumbaugh, 1996; M. C. Linn, 2008). Ultimately, social interaction—not only with peers but also with adults—is probably even more important for children’s cognitive development than Piaget realized. Lev Vygotsky’s theory, which we turn to now, describes additional ways in which interactions with fellow human beings promote cognitive growth.

sociocognitive conflict Situation in which one encounters and has to wrestle with ideas and viewpoints inconsistent with one’s own.

Probe students’ reasoning about various logical thinking tasks and problems.

Combine hands‐on experiences with age‐appropriate instruction that enables students to draw appropriate conclusions from their observations.

Hands‐on experiences can be quite valuable in helping students understand the nature of the physical world. Watch an effective second‐grade lesson in “Investigating Particles: Part 1.”

Have students wrestle with complex issues and problems in small groups, where they can hear opinions and arguments that might conflict with their own ways of thinking. Monitor such interactions to be sure that they are mutually respectful and socially appropriate.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development
In Piaget’s view, children are largely in control of their own cognitive development; for example, they initiate interactions with objects in their environment and develop self‐constructed understandings of what they observe. In contrast, an early Russian developmentalist, Lev Vygotsky, believed that the adults in any society foster children’s cognitive development in an intentional and somewhat systematic manner. Because Vygotsky emphasized the importance of adult instruction and guidance for promoting cognitive development—and more generally because
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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development he emphasized the influence of social and cultural factors on children’s cognitive growth—his perspective is known as a sociocultural theory. Vygotsky and his students conducted numerous studies of children’s thinking from the 1920s until Vygotsky’s early death from tuberculosis in 1934. Rather than determine the kinds of tasks children could successfully perform on their own (as Piaget did), Vygotsky often examined the kinds of tasks children could complete only with adult assistance. For example, he described two hypothetical children who could, without help, do things that a typical 8‐year‐old might be able to do. He would give each of the children progressively more difficult tasks and offer some help, perhaps asking a leading question or suggesting a reasonable first step. With such assistance, both children could almost invariably tackle more difficult tasks than they could handle on their own. However, the range of tasks that the two children could complete with assistance might be quite different, with one child stretching his or her abilities to succeed at typical 12‐year‐old‐level tasks and the other succeeding only with typical 9‐year‐old‐level tasks (Vygotsky, 1934/1986, p. 187). Western psychologists were largely unfamiliar with Vygotsky’s work until the last few decades of the twentieth century, when his major writings were translated from Russian into English (e.g., Vygotsky, 1978, 1934/1986, 1997). Although Vygotsky never had the chance to develop his theory fully, his views are clearly evident in many contemporary theorists’ discussions of learning and development. In fact, Piaget’s influence has been on the wane in recent years (Bjorklund, 1997), whereas Vygotsky’s influence has become increasingly prominent. sociocultural theory Theoretical


perspective emphasizing the importance of society and culture in promoting learning and development.

cognitive tool Concept, symbol, strategy, procedure, or other culturally constructed mechanism that helps people think about and respond to situations more effectively.

Vygotsky acknowledged that biological factors (e.g., brain maturation) play a role in cognitive development. Children bring certain characteristics and dispositions to the situations they encounter, and their responses vary accordingly. Furthermore, children’s behaviors, which are influenced in part by inherited traits, affect the particular experiences children have (Vygotsky, 1997). However, Vygotsky’s primary focus was on the role of children’s social and cultural environments in fostering cognitive growth—and especially in fostering those complex mental abilities that are unique to human beings as a species. Following are central ideas and concepts in Vygotsky’s theory. Through both informal conversations and formal schooling, adults convey to children the ways in which their culture interprets and responds to the world. Vygotsky proposed that as adults interact with children, they share the meanings they attach to objects, events, and, more generally, human experience. In the process they transform, or mediate, the situations children encounter. Meanings are conveyed through a variety of mechanisms, including language (spoken words, writing, etc.), mathematical symbols, art, music, and so on. Informal conversations are one common mechanism through which adults pass along culturally relevant ways of interpreting situations. But even more important is formal education, through which teachers systematically impart the ideas, concepts, and terminology used in various academic disciplines (Vygotsky, 1934/1986). Although Vygotsky, like Piaget, saw value in allowing children to make some discoveries themselves, he also saw value in having adults pass along the discoveries of previous generations (Vygotsky, 1934/1986). Every culture passes along physical and cognitive tools that make daily living more productive and efficient. Not only do adults teach children specific ways of interpreting experience but they also pass along specific tools that can help children tackle the various tasks and problems they’re apt to face. Some tools, such as scissors, sewing machines, and computers, are physical objects. Others, such as writing systems, maps, and spreadsheets, are partly physical and partly symbolic. Still others, such as the concept of fraction and the process of division (recall the opening case study involving fractions of apples), may have little physical basis at all. In Vygotsky’s view, acquiring tools that are at least partly symbolic or mental in nature—cognitive tools—greatly enhances growing children’s thinking and functioning.
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Show students how various academic disciplines conceptualize the world.

Thought and language become increasingly interdependent in the first few years of life. One very important cognitive tool is language. For us as adults, thought and language are closely interconnected. We often think by using specific words that our language provides. For example, when

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER we think about household pets, our thoughts contain such words as dog and cat. In addition, we usually express our thoughts when we converse with others. In other words, we “speak our minds.” Vygotsky proposed that thought and language are separate functions for infants and young toddlers. In these early years, thinking occurs independently of language, and when language appears, it’s first used primarily as a means of communication rather than as a mechanism of thought. But sometime around age 2, thought and language become intertwined: Children begin to express their thoughts when they speak, and they begin to think in words. When thought and language first merge, children often talk to themselves, a phenomenon known as self‐talk (you may also see the term private speech). Vygotsky suggested that self‐talk serves an important function in cognitive development. By talking to themselves, children learn to guide and direct their own behaviors through difficult tasks and complex maneuvers in much the same way that adults have previously guided them. Self‐talk eventually evolves into inner speech, in which children talk to themselves mentally rather than aloud. They continue to direct themselves verbally through tasks and activities, but others can no longer see and hear them do it (Vygotsky, 1934/1986). In other words, both self‐talk and inner speech help children engage in self‐regulation. Complex mental processes begin as social activities and gradually evolve into internal mental activities that children can use independently. Vygotsky proposed that many complex thought processes have their roots in social interactions. As children discuss objects, events, tasks, and problems with adults and other knowledgeable individuals, they gradually incorporate into their own thinking the ways in which the people around them talk about and interpret the world, and they begin to use the words, concepts, symbols, and strategies—in essence, the cognitive tools—that are commonly used in their culture. The process through which social activities evolve into internal mental activities is called internalization. The progression from self‐talk to inner speech just described illustrates this process: Over time, children gradually internalize adults’ directions so that they are eventually giving themselves the directions. Not all mental processes emerge as children interact with adults; some instead develop as children interact with peers. For example, children frequently argue with one another about a variety of matters—how best to carry out an activity, what games to play, who did what to whom, and so on. According to Vygotsky, having arguments helps children discover that there are often several ways to view the same situation. Eventually, he suggested, children internalize the arguing process, developing the ability to look at a situation from a variety of angles on their own.

Chapter 10 more fully describes the nature and development of self‐regulation.

Clocks are human‐made tools—partly physical and partly symbolic—that enhance our daily functioning both as individuals and as a society. In this excerpt from his “My Day” book, 6‐year‐old David practices using and interpreting analog clocks.

Children appropriate their culture’s tools in their own idiosyncratic manner. Children don’t necessarily internalize exactly what they see and hear in a social context. Rather, they often transform ideas, strategies, and other cognitive tools to suit their own needs and purposes—thus, Vygotsky’s theory has a constructivist element to it. The term appropriation is often used to refer to this process of internalizing but also adapting the ideas and strategies of one’s culture for one’s own use. Children can accomplish more difficult tasks when assisted by more advanced and competent individuals. Vygotsky distinguished between two kinds of abilities that characterize children’s skills at any particular point in development. A child’s actual developmental level is the upper limit of tasks that he or she can perform independently, without help from anyone else. A child’s level of potential development is the upper limit of tasks that he or she can perform with the assistance of a more competent individual. To get a true sense of children’s cognitive development, Vygotsky suggested, we should assess their capabilities not only when performing alone but also when performing with assistance—a strategy that contemporary educators call dynamic assessment.

Give students any guidance they need to successfully accomplish difficult tasks.

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Chapter 14 provides more details about dynamic assessment.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development As mentioned earlier, Vygotsky found that children can typically do more difficult things in collaboration with adults than they can do on their own. For example, they can play more difficult piano pieces when an adult helps them locate some of the notes on the keyboard or provides suggestions about which fingers to use where. They can solve more difficult math problems when their teacher helps them identify critical problem components and potentially fruitful problem‐solving strategies. And they can often read more complex prose in a reading group at school than they’re likely to read independently at home. Challenging tasks promote maximum cognitive growth. The range of tasks that children cannot yet perform independently but can perform with the help and guidance of others is, in Vygotsky’s terminology, the zone of proximal development (ZPD) (see Figure 2.8). A child’s zone of proximal development includes learning and problem‐solving abilities that are just beginning to emerge and develop. Vygotsky proposed that children learn very little from performing tasks they can already do independently. Instead, they develop primarily by attempting tasks they can accomplish only with assistance and support—that is, when they attempt tasks within their zone of proximal development. In a nutshell, it’s the challenges in life, not the easy successes, that promote cognitive development. But whereas challenging tasks are beneficial, impossible tasks, which children can’t do even with considerable structure and guidance, are of no benefit whatsoever (Vygotsky, 1987). A child’s ZPD therefore sets an upper limit on what he or she is cognitively capable of learning. As teachers, then, we should assign some tasks that students can accomplish successfully only with other people’s support. In some instances this support must come from more skilled individuals, such as adults or older students. In other situations, students of equal ability can work together to jointly accomplish difficult assignments—such as the apple‐tarts problem in the opening case study—with each student bringing unique strengths to contribute to the overall effort. Regardless of the nature of the support we provide, we must remember that every student’s ZPD will change over time. As some tasks are mastered, other, more complex ones will appear on the horizon to take their place. In addition, students’ ZPDs may vary considerably in “width.” Some students may, with assistance, be able to stretch several years above their actual (independent) developmental level, whereas others may be able to handle tasks that are only slightly more difficult than what they can currently do on their own. In some instances, students with different zones of proximal development will need individualized tasks and assignments so that they all have challenges that optimally promote their personal cognitive growth. Play allows children to stretch themselves cognitively. As a young child, my son Jeff often played restaurant with his friend Scott. In a corner of our basement, the boys created a restaurant “kitchen” with a toy sink and stove and stocked it with plastic dishes, cooking utensils, and “food” items. They created a separate dining area with child‐sized tables and chairs and made menus for their customers. On one occasion they invited both sets of parents to “dine” at the restaurant,


self‐talk Process of talking to oneself as a way of guiding oneself through a task.

inner speech Process of talking to and guiding oneself mentally rather than aloud.

internalization Process through which a learner gradually incorporates socially based activities into his or her internal cognitive processes. appropriation Process of internalizing but also adapting the cognitive tools of one’s culture for one’s own use. actual developmental level Upper limit of tasks that a learner can successfully perform independently. level of potential development
Upper limit of tasks that a learner can successfully perform with the assistance of a more competent individual.

zone of proximal development (ZPD) Range of tasks that a learner can perform with the help and guidance of others but cannot yet perform independently.

FIGURE 2.8 In Vygotsky’s view, tasks in a child’s zone of proximal development promote maximal learning and cognitive growth.
Actual developmental level Level of potential development

ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT Tasks that a child can successfully accomplish without assistance
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Tasks that a child can accomplish only with some assistance and support

Tasks that a child cannot accomplish even with considerable assistance and support

Increasing task difficulty

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Give students time to explore new activities and roles through play.

taking our orders, serving us our food, and eventually giving us our bills. (Fortunately, they seemed content with the few pennies we paid them for our meals.) In their restaurant play, the two boys took on several adult roles (restaurant manager, waiter, cook) and practiced a variety of adultlike behaviors. In real life such a scenario would, of course, be impossible: Very few young children have the many skills necessary to run a restaurant. Yet the element of make‐believe brought restaurant management within the boys’ reach. In Vygotsky’s words, “In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself ” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 102). Furthermore, as children play, their behaviors must conform to certain standards or expectations. In the early elementary school years, children often act in accordance with how a father, teacher, or waiter would behave. In the organized group games and sports that come later, children must follow specific sets of rules. By adhering to such restrictions on their behavior, children learn to plan ahead, to think before they act, and to engage in self‐restraint—skills critical for successful participation in the adult world (also see Coplan & Arbeau, 2009; A. Diamond, Barnett, Thomas, & Munro, 2007; Pellegrini, 2009).

In Vygotsky’s view, children are more likely to make cognitive advancements when they work on tasks for which they need some support and assistance— that is, when they work within their zone of proximal development. See an example in “Zone of Proximal Development: Cognitive.”

Vygotsky focused more on the processes through which children develop than on the characteristics that children of particular ages are likely to exhibit. He described stages of development but portrayed them in only the most general terms (e.g., see Vygotsky, 1997, pp. 214–216). In addition, Vygotsky’s descriptions of developmental processes were often vague and speculative (Gauvain, 2001; Haenan, 1996; Moran & John‐Steiner, 2003). For such reasons, Vygotsky’s theory has been more difficult for researchers to test and either verify or disprove than has the case for Piaget’s theory. Nevertheless, contemporary theorists and educators have found Vygotsky’s ideas insightful and helpful. Most significantly, his theory points out the many ways in which culture influences cognitive development. A society’s culture ensures that each new generation benefits from the accumulating wisdom of preceding generations. Any culture guides children in certain directions by encouraging them to pay attention to particular stimuli (and not to others) and to engage in particular activities (and not in others). In addition, it provides a lens through which children come to view and interpret their experiences in culturally appropriate ways. We see obvious effects of culture in many of children’s everyday activities—in the books they read, the roles they enact in pretend play, the extracurricular activities they pursue—but we must remember that culture permeates their unobservable thinking processes as well. Furthermore, some research has supported Vygotsky’s views regarding the progression and role of self‐talk and inner speech. The frequency of children’s audible self‐talk decreases during the preschool and early elementary years, but this decrease is at first accompanied by an increase in whispered mumbling and silent lip movements, presumably reflecting a transition to inner speech (Bivens & Berk, 1990; Winsler & Naglieri, 2003). Self‐talk increases when children are performing more challenging tasks, at which they must exert considerable effort to be successful (Berk, 1994; Schimmoeller, 1998). As you undoubtedly know from your own experience, even adults occasionally talk to themselves when they face new challenges!

Vygotsky’s theory leads us to expect greater diversity among children, at least in cognitive development, than Piaget’s theory does. As we’ve seen, children in any single age‐group are likely to have different zones of proximal development: Tasks that are easy for some children may be quite challenging or virtually impossible for others. In addition, to the extent that specific cultural groups pass along unique concepts, ideas, and beliefs, children from different cultural backgrounds will acquire somewhat different knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking. For instance, children are more likely to acquire map‐reading skills if they regularly encounter maps (e.g., of roads, subway systems, and shopping malls) in their community and family life (Liben & Myers, 2007). And children are more apt to have a keen sense of time if cultural activities are tightly regulated by clocks and calendars (K. Nelson, 1996).

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development


The Into the Classroom feature “Applying Vygotsky’s Theory” presents concrete examples of how teachers might make use of Vygotsky’s ideas. In the upcoming sections, we’ll consider several ways in which contemporary theorists and educators have built on the foundation that Vygotsky laid. SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MEANING Contemporary psychologists have elaborated on Vygotsky’s proposal that adults help children attach meaning to the objects and events around them. Often an adult will help a child make sense of the world through a joint discussion of a phenomenon or event they are both experiencing (Feuerstein, Feuerstein, & Falik, 2010; P. K. Murphy, Wilkinson, & Soter, 2011). Such an interaction, sometimes called a mediated learning experience, encourages the child to think about the phenomenon or event in particular ways—to attach labels to it, recognize principles that underlie it, draw certain conclusions from it, and so on. As an example, consider the following exchange, in which a 5‐year‐old boy and his mother are talking about a prehistoric animal exhibit at a natural history museum. Boy: Cool. Wow, look. Look giant teeth. Mom, look at his giant teeth. Mom: He looks like a saber tooth. Do you think he eats meat or plants? Boy: Mom, look at his giant little tooth, look at his teeth in his mouth, so big. Mom: He looks like a saber tooth, doesn’t he. Do you think he eats plants or meat?

mediated learning experience
Discussion between an adult and a child in which the adult helps the child make sense of an event they are mutually experiencing.

Into the Classroom
Applying Vygotsky’s Theory
Provide cognitive tools that students can use in thinking about and tackling new tasks.
A high school chemistry teacher places two equal‐size inflated balloons into two beakers of water, one heated to 25°C and the other heated to 50°C. The students all agree that the balloon placed in the warmer water expands more. “How much more did the law to figure it out.”

gradually withdraw the support as they become more proficient.
An elementary physical education teacher begins a lesson on tumbling by demonstrating forward and backward rolls in slow motion and physically guiding her students through the correct movements. As the students become more skillful, the teacher stands back from the mat and gives verbal feedback about how to improve.

Encourage students to talk themselves through difficult tasks.
As his students work on complex mathematical equations such as this one, x= 2(4*9)2 +3 6

Have students work in small groups to accomplish complex, multifaceted tasks.
A middle school art teacher asks his students to work in groups of four or five to design large murals that depict various ecosystems— rainforest, desert, grassland, tundra, and so on—and the kinds of plant and animal species that live in each one. The groups then paint their murals on the walls of the school corridors.

a junior high school mathematics teacher gives students a mnemonic (Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally) they might repeat to themselves to help them remember the order in which they should perform various operations (parentheses, exponents, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction).

Engage students in adult activities that are common in their culture.
A high school publishes a monthly school newspaper with news articles, editorials, cartoons, announcements of upcoming events, advertisements for local businesses, and classified ads. Students assume various roles, including reporters, cartoonists, editors, proofreaders, photocopiers, marketers, and distributors.

Present some tasks that students can perform successfully only with assistance.
When a fifth‐grade teacher assigns students their first research paper, he breaks the process into several discrete steps and provides a great deal of structure and guidance.
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Give young children time to practice adult roles and behaviors through play.
A kindergarten teacher equips his classroom with many household items (dress‐up clothes, cooking utensils, a toy telephone, etc.) so that students can play house during free‐play time.

Provide sufficient support, or scaffolding, to enable students to perform challenging tasks successfully;

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Boy: Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch. (referring to sharp tooth) Mom: Do you think he eats plants or meat? Boy: Meat. Mom: How come? Boy: Because he has sharp teeth. (growling noises) (Ash, 2002, p. 378) Even without Mom’s assistance, the boy would learn something about saber tooth tigers from his museum visit. Yet Mom helps him make better sense of what he’s seeing than he might do on his own—for instance by using the label saber tooth and connecting tooth characteristics to eating preferences. Notice Mom’s persistence regarding the tooth–food connection: She continues to ask questions about meat versus plants until the boy finally infers, correctly, that the tigers must have been meat eaters. In addition to co‐constructing meanings with adults, children and adolescents often talk among themselves to make sense of their experiences. School provides an ideal setting in which young people can toss around ideas and perhaps reach consensus about how best to interpret and understand a complex issue or problem—perhaps about a challenging math problem involving apple tarts, perhaps about troubling interpersonal dynamics with peers, or perhaps about moral dilemmas with no easy right and wrong answers. Interacting with adults and interacting with peers possibly play somewhat different roles in children’s development. Adults usually have more experience and expertise than age‐mates do, and they tend to be more skillful teachers. Accordingly, adults are often the partners of choice when children are trying to master complex new tasks and procedures (Gauvain, 2001; Radziszewska & Rogoff, 1988). Working with peers has a different set of advantages. First, as mentioned in the earlier discussion of Piaget’s theory, children who hear age‐mates express perspectives quite different from their own may experience sociocognitive conflict that motivates them to overhaul their own understandings. Second, as Vygotsky suggested, peer interactions provide a social context in which children practice and eventually internalize complex cognitive processes, such as effective reading comprehension and argumentation skills (Andriessen, 2006; Chinn, Anderson, & Waggoner, 2001; P. K. Murphy et al., 2011). A third benefit is that children learn valuable social behaviors—including how to plan a joint enterprise and how to coordinate differing roles—when they work on cognitive tasks with their peers (Gauvain, 2001). SCAFFOLDING Recall Vygotsky’s suggestion that children are most likely to benefit from tasks and activities they can successfully accomplish only with the assistance and support of more competent individuals—that is, tasks within their zone of proximal development. Contemporary theorists have identified a variety of techniques—collectively known as scaffolding—that can help students accomplish challenging tasks in instructional contexts. The following are examples. Help students develop a plan for dealing with a complex new task. Demonstrate proper performance in a manner that students can easily imitate. Divide a multifaceted task into several smaller, simpler tasks. Give specific guidelines for accomplishing the task (e.g., see Figure 2.9). Ask questions that encourage students to think about the task in productive ways. Provide a calculator, computer software (word processing program, spreadsheet, etc.), or other technology that makes some aspects of the task easier. Remind students of what their goals are in performing the task (e.g., what a problem solution should look like). Give frequent feedback about how students are progressing. (A. Collins, 2006; Hmelo‐ Silver, 2006; Lajoie & Derry, 1993; Lodewyk & Winne, 2005; P. F. Merrill et al., 1996; Rogoff, 1990; Rosenshine & Meister, 1992; D. Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976) Depending on their particular knowledge and ability levels, different students in any single grade may need different kinds of scaffolding to support their success in a task. As students become more adept at performing a task, scaffolding is ideally modified to nurture newly emerging skills. And over time the scaffolding is gradually phased out—a process known as fading— until students can complete the task entirely on their own.
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scaffolding Support mechanism that helps a learner successfully perform a challenging task (i.e., a task within the learner’s zone of proximal development).

Teacher scaffolding can take a variety of forms. For example, watch “Salamander Investigation.”

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development guided participation A child’s


FIGURE 2.9 High school language arts teacher Jeff Ormrod uses this checklist to scaffold ninth graders’ efforts to write a five‐paragraph essay. Essay Checklist
Use the following checklist each time you write an essay to make sure that you have completed the steps and have every part you need. Introduction

performance of a real‐world adult activity, facilitated by developmentally appropriate adult support.

apprenticeship Mentorship in which a novice works intensively with an expert to learn how to perform complex new skills. cognitive apprenticeship Mentorship in which a teacher and a student work together on a challenging task and the teacher provides guidance in how to think about the task.

Main Body Paragraphs


Source: Excerpt by Jeffrey Ormrod. Copyright © by Jeffrey Ormrod. Reprinted with permission of the author.

GUIDED PARTICIPATION IN ADULT ACTIVITIES When you were a young child, did you sometimes help a parent or older sibling bake pastries in the kitchen? Did the cook let you pour, measure, and mix ingredients when you were old enough to do so? Did the cook also give you directions or suggestions as you performed these tasks? Virtually all cultures allow children—and in fact usually require them—to be involved in adult activities to some degree. Children’s early experiences often occur at the fringe of an activity, and their involvement is mediated, scaffolded, and supervised through what is sometimes called guided participation (Rogoff, 2003). From a Vygotskian perspective, gradual entry into adult activities enables children to engage in behaviors and thinking skills within their zone of proximal development. It also helps children tie newly acquired skills and thinking abilities to the specific contexts in which they’re likely to be useful later on. As children acquire greater competence, they gradually take a more central role in a particular activity until, eventually, they’re full‐fledged participants (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Rogoff et al., 2007). Adultlike activities can take many forms in the classroom. For instance, we might ask students to conduct laboratory experiments, write letters to government officials, or search the Internet for specific information, while always providing the support students need to accomplish such tasks successfully. As we engage students in these activities, we might also use some of the language that adults frequently use in such contexts. For example, when students conduct scientific experiments, we should use such words as hypothesis, evidence, and theory as we help them evaluate their procedures and results (Perkins, 1992). APPRENTICESHIPS An especially intensive form of guided participation is an apprenticeship, in which a novice works with an expert mentor for a lengthy period to learn how to perform complex tasks within a particular domain. The expert provides considerable structure and guidance throughout the process, gradually removing scaffolding and giving the novice more independence and responsibility as competence increases (A. Collins, 2006; Rogoff, 1990, 1991). Many cultures use apprenticeships as a means of gradually introducing children to particular skills and trades in the adult community—perhaps weaving, tailoring, or playing a musical instrument (D. J. Elliott, 1995; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Rogoff, 1990). In an apprenticeship a student often learns not only how to perform a task but also how to think about the task—a situation known as a cognitive apprenticeship (J. S. Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; A. Collins, 2006; Dennen & Burner, 2008). For instance, a student and a teacher

Have students apply new skills in adultlike activities.

In classroom settings, adultlike, real‐world activities are often called authentic activities, discussed in Chapter 8.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER might work together to accomplish a challenging task or solve a difficult problem—perhaps collecting data samples in biology fieldwork, solving a mathematical brainteaser, or translating a difficult passage from German to English. In the process of talking about various aspects of the task or problem, the teacher and the student together analyze the situation and develop the best approach to take, and the teacher models effective ways of thinking about and mentally processing the situation. Apprenticeships differ widely from one context to another, but they typically have some or all of these features (A. Collins, 2006; A. Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989): Modeling: The mentor carries out the task, simultaneously thinking aloud about the process, while the learner observes and listens. Coaching: As the learner performs the task, the mentor gives frequent suggestions, hints, and feedback. Scaffolding: The mentor provides various forms of support for the learner, perhaps by simplifying the task, breaking it into smaller and more manageable components, or providing less complicated equipment. Articulation: The learner explains what he or she is doing and why, allowing the mentor to examine the student’s knowledge, reasoning, and problem‐solving strategies. Reflection: The mentor asks the learner to compare his or her performance with that of experts, or perhaps with an ideal model of how the task should be done. Increasing complexity and diversity of tasks: As the learner gains greater proficiency, the mentor presents more complex, challenging, and varied tasks to complete. Exploration: The mentor encourages the learner to frame questions and problems on his or her own, and in doing so to expand and refine acquired skills. Because apprenticeships are clearly labor intensive, their use in the classroom isn’t always practical or logistically feasible (De Corte, Greer, & Verschaffel, 1996). Even so, we can certainly use elements of an apprenticeship to help students develop more complex skills. For example, we might help students think about writing tasks in the same ways that expert writers do by giving them such prompts as “To liven this up, I’ll . . .” and “I can tie this together by . . . .” Such prompts provide the same sort of scaffolding that an expert writer might provide, and they help students develop more sophisticated writing strategies (S. L. Benton, 1997; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1985; Wong, Hoskyn, Jai, Ellis, & Watson, 2008).

Give prompts that get students thinking about a complex task as an expert might.

Both Piaget and Vygotsky have had a profound influence on contemporary views of learning, thinking, and cognitive development. If we look beyond their differing terminologies, we can see some common themes in the two perspectives. First, both theorists suggested that children acquire increasingly complex thinking processes with age and experience. Second, both argued for the importance of challenge, perhaps in the form of puzzling new information (Piaget’s disequilibrium) or perhaps in the form of tasks that can be completed only with assistance (Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development). And third, at any given point in development children are cognitively ready for some experiences but not for others. In Piaget’s view, a child can accommodate to new objects and events only when the child can, to some degree, also assimilate them into existing schemes—that is, there must be some overlap between the “new” and the “old.” From Vygotsky’s perspective, some challenging new tasks may fall within a child’s ZPD—and thus be accomplishable with guidance and support—but other tasks are likely to be out of reach for the time being. Nevertheless, Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories differ in significant ways. For one thing, Piaget maintained that children’s cognitive development is largely the result of their own efforts— their informal experiments with physical objects, their attempts to restore equilibrium in the face of puzzling events, and so on. In contrast, Vygotsky placed considerable emphasis on the role of adults and other more advanced individuals, who can mediate new experiences and provide needed support during challenging activities. The difference, then, is one of self‐exploration and discovery (Piaget) versus guided exploration and instruction (Vygotsky). A second key difference lies in the potential influence of the culture in which children grow up. Piaget recognized that cultural differences might have an impact, but he didn’t systematically explore them in children’s thinking processes. In Vygotsky’s theory, however, culture is of paramount importance in molding the specific thinking skills children acquire—a perspective

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

45 that Bronfenbrenner echoed in describing the multiple layers of environmental influence on children’s development. Increasingly, contemporary researchers have come to the same conclusion: Children’s cultural environments can have a huge influence on what children learn and how they develop. Finally, the two theorists offer differing perspectives on how language enters into the picture. For Piaget, language certainly enhances cognitive development: It provides many labels (symbols) that help children mentally represent their world, and it’s the primary means through which children gain knowledge of other people’s diverse perspectives on various situations and topics. For Vygotsky, on the other hand, language is absolutely essential for cognitive growth. Children’s thought processes are internalized versions of social interactions that are largely verbal in nature. Furthermore, in their conversations with adults, children learn the meanings their culture ascribes to particular events and gradually begin to interpret the world in culture‐specific ways. In addition, through two language‐based phenomena—self‐talk and inner speech—children begin to guide their own behaviors in ways that others have previously guided them. With such benefits in mind, many contemporary theorists share Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s belief that acquiring language is an important—perhaps the most important—factor in cognitive development (e.g., Pinker, 2007; Premack, 2004; Spelke, 2003). We can better understand cognitive development, then, when we also know something about language development.
Chapter 4 describes a variety of cultural and ethnic differences that can shape children’s behaviors and development.

Language Development
Acquiring the language of one’s culture is an extremely complex and challenging undertaking. To understand and use a language effectively, children must master four basic components of the language. First, they must master their language’s phonology: They must know how words sound and be able to produce the sequence of sounds that make up any given word. Second, they must master semantics, the meanings of many thousands of words. Third, they must have a good command of syntax, knowing how words can legitimately be combined to form understandable phrases and sentences. And finally, children must master the pragmatics of their language—the social conventions and speaking strategies that enable effective communication with others. Mastering these four components of language is a remarkable achievement for any child, yet before they reach kindergarten, most children have acquired sufficient proficiency in language to carry on productive conversations with the people around them. Their language development continues throughout childhood and adolescence, in part as a result of informal social interactions and in part as a result of formal instruction (see Table 2.2). Some aspects of language development during the school years reflect an increasing ability to think abstractly about the world. For example, abstract thought enables children to reflect, deliberately and consciously, on the general nature and functions of language—an acquisition known as metalinguistic awareness (Owens, 2008; Yaden & Templeton, 1986). With such awareness comes an ability to recognize the figurative nature of words—the nonliteral meanings of proverbs, the symbolism in poems and literature, and so on. At the same time, children’s ever‐expanding language capabilities probably also help them think abstractly (K. Nelson, 1996; Pinker, 2007).


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Without a doubt children’s immediate environments play a significant role in their language development. The richer the language that children hear—that is, the greater the variety of words and the greater the complexity of syntactic structures to which other people expose them—the faster their vocabulary develops (Hoff, 2003; Raikes et al., 2006; Risley & Hart, 2006). Yet children don’t simply absorb the language spoken around them. Instead, they appear to use what they hear to construct their own understanding of the language, including knowledge about what words mean, rules governing how words can be combined into meaningful sentences, and so on (Cairns, 1996; Cromer, 1987; Karmiloff‐Smith, 1993). Thus, we see in language development some of the knowledge construction of which Piaget spoke.

Children in the early and middle elementary grades have only limited ability to make sense of figurative language. Here, 8‐year‐old Jeff takes a common expression at face value, rather than recognizing its underlying meaning: that someone has ordered more food than can possibly be eaten.

metalinguistic awareness Ability to think consciously about the nature and functions of language.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Examples of Linguistic Characteristics and Abilities at Different Grade Levels
GRADE LEVEL AGE‐TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS age 6; understandings of some words only partially correct (e.g., use of the word animal may be restricted largely to 4‐legged mammals) sentences (e.g., those with multiple clauses) “good listener” (e.g., just sitting quietly) and requests (e.g., not realizing that “Goodness, this class is noisy” means “Be quiet”) orally and in writing pronouncing r, th, dr, sl, and str (‐s, ‐ed, ‐er) with irregular words (sheeps, goed, gooder) taking turns, answering questions) adults (for many students from Asian and Mexican American backgrounds) Students in a third‐grade class love corny jokes and riddles that involve a play on words. For example, many are amused by “Why did the cookie go to the doctor?” (“He felt crumby”) and “Why couldn’t the sailors play cards?” (“Because the captain was standing on the deck”). Teach irregular word forms (e.g., the past tense of ring is rang, the past tense of bring is brought). Consult with a speech‐language specialist if articulation problems persist in the upper elementary grades. Use group discussions as a way to explore academic subject matter. Have students create short stories that they present orally or in writing. Encourage jokes and rhymes that capitalize on double meanings and homonyms (i.e., sound‐alike words). Assign reading materials that introduce new vocabulary. Introduce some of the terminology used by experts in various content areas (e.g., simile in language arts, molecule in science). Conduct structured debates to explore controversial issues. Ask students to consider the underlying meanings of common proverbs. Explore the nature of words and language as entities in and of themselves. Frequently ask students to write about topics; provide guidance about effective writing and frequent feedback about what students have written. (continued)

When two police officers visit a first‐grade class to talk about how to go to and from school safely each day, the students listen quietly and respectfully. After the visit, however, the students can recall very little about what the officers have told them.

Read age‐appropriate storybooks as a way of enhancing vocabulary. Give corrective feedback when students’ use of words indicates inaccurate understanding. Work on listening skills (e.g., sitting quietly, paying attention, trying to understand and remember). Ask follow‐up questions to make sure students accurately understand important messages. Ask students to construct narratives about recent events (e.g., “Tell me about your camping trip last weekend”).


forms one’s language (by age 9) topics prior knowledge into account during explanations cause–and–effect relationships


rhymes, word games) Students in a sixth‐ grade class write better persuasive essays when their teacher gives them explicit guidance about elements to include, including (1) an introductory statement expressing one’s opinion, (2) supporting evidence for that opinion, (3) reasons why other people might disagree, and (4) explanations of why those reasons are invalid.

12 used in various academic disciplines conversations about abstract topics interpretations; comprehension of simple proverbs and increasing ability to detect sarcasm that is, increasing ability to reflect on the underlying nature of language (nonfiction) writing, especially with teacher scaffolding


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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

47 Continued) related to particular academic disciplines result of formal instruction language (e.g., metaphors, proverbs, hyperbole) writing, especially with experience and constructive feedback When a ninth‐grade class reads Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” most students realize that the poem is only superficially about choosing one of two paths through the woods—that at a deeper level it’s about choosing among various paths in life. Consistently use the terminology associated with various academic disciplines. Distinguish between similar abstract words (e.g., weather vs. climate, velocity vs. acceleration). Explore complex syntactic structures (e.g., multiple embedded clauses). Consider the underlying meanings and messages in poetry and fiction. When students have a native dialect other than Standard English, encourage them to use it in informal conversations and creative writing; encourage Standard English for more formal situations.


Sources: Adger, Wolfram, & Christian, 2007; Byrnes, 1996; Capelli, Nakagawa, & Madden, 1990; S. Carey, 1978, 1985; Ferretti, MacArthur, & Dowdy, 2000; C. A. Grant & Gomez, 2001; K. R. Harris, Graham, & Mason, 2006; K. R. Harris, Santangelo, & Graham, 2010; Karmiloff‐Smith, 1979; Maratsos, 1998; T. M McDevitt & Ford, 1987; T. M. McDevitt, Spivey, Sheehan, Lennon, & Story, 1990; Nippold, 1988; O’Grady, 1997; Owens, 2008; Reich, 1986; Stanovich, 2000; Thelen & Smith, 1998.

Most developmental theorists agree that heredity is also involved in language development to some degree. Human beings have the capacity to acquire a far more complex language than any other species on the planet. Exactly what human beings inherit that enables them to learn language is a matter of considerable controversy, however. At a minimum, infants inherit a few key predispositions—for instance, a preference for human voices over other sounds and an ability to hear very subtle differences among speech sounds—that make language learning possible (DeCasper & Fifer, 1980; Jusczyk, 1995; P. K. Kuhl, 2004; J. L. Locke, 1993). In addition, some theorists believe that part of our genetic heritage is a language acquisition device, a language‐specific learning mechanism that enables infants and toddlers to acquire many intricacies of language in an amazingly short amount of time (Chomsky, 1972, 2006; M. Gopnik, 1997; Karmiloff‐ Smith, 1993). Other theorists believe instead that children learn language in much the same way they learn other things about their environment and culture: through detecting and making use of regular patterns of input from their social environment (Gentner & Namy, 2006; Pelucchi, Hay, & Saffran, 2009; Saffran, 2003). Research evidence does point to a language‐specific developmental mechanism for at least some aspects of language learning (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 2002; Maratsos, 1998; Siegler & Alibali, 2005; Trout, 2003). Children of all cultures learn language very quickly and acquire complex syntactic structures even when those structures aren’t necessary for effective communication. In addition, brain research reveals that certain parts of the left hemisphere seem to be biologically predisposed to specialize in either understanding or producing speech (Aitchison, 1996; J. L. Locke, 1993). Additional evidence for heredity’s influence comes from research findings suggesting that there may be sensitive periods in some aspects of language development (Bortfeld & Whitehurst, 2001; Bruer, 1999; J. L. Locke, 1993). Children who have little or no exposure to any language in the early years often have trouble acquiring language later on, even with intensive language instruction (Curtiss, 1977; Newport, 1990). Furthermore, when learning a second language, people have an easier time mastering pronunciation and various verb tenses if they’re immersed in the language during childhood or early adolescence (Bialystok, 1994; Bortfeld & Whitehurst, 2001; Bruer, 1999; M. S. C. Thomas & Johnson, 2008). Such sensitive periods may reflect biologically built‐in time frames for learning language. Alternatively, perhaps what appear to be predetermined “best” times for learning particular aspects of language are simply the result of the brain’s tendency to adapt fairly quickly to whatever form its early auditory environment takes (P. K. Kuhl, 2004; P. K. Kuhl, Conboy, Padden, Nelson, & Pruitt, 2005). specific language impairment
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Some diversity in language development seems to be the result of biology. For instance, children with a specific language impairment develop normally in all respects except for language. These children have difficulty perceiving and mentally processing particular aspects of spoken

Disability characterized by abnormalities in the production or comprehension of spoken language, to the point that special educational services are required.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER language—perhaps the quality, pitch, duration, or intensity of specific sounds in speech. Often, although not always, the source of the impairment can be traced to heredity or a specific brain abnormality (Bishop, 2006; Bishop, McDonald, Bird, & Hayiou‐Thomas, 2009; Corriveau, Pasquini, & Goswami, 2007; Spinath, Price, Dale, & Plomin, 2004). Cultural factors play a role in linguistic diversity as well. For example, different cultural groups may nurture different dialects—distinct forms of English that characterize particular ethnicities or geographic regions—and different social conventions for human conversation (i.e., different pragmatic skills) (Adger, Wolfram, & Christian, 2007; Kitayama & Cohen, 2007; Tyler et al., 2008). Occasionally a cultural or ethnic group specifically nurtures certain aspects of language development. For example, many inner‐city African American communities make heavy use of figurative language—such as similes, metaphors, and hyperbole (intentional exaggeration)—in their day‐to‐day conversations, jokes, and stories (C. D. Lee, 2005; H. L. Smith, 1998; Smitherman, 2007). The following anecdote illustrates this point:
I once asked my mother, upon her arrival from church, “Mom, was it a good sermon?” To which she replied, “Son, by the time the minister finished preaching, the men were crying and the women had passed out on the floor.” (H. L. Smith, 1998, p. 202)

phonological awareness Ability to hear the distinct sounds that comprise spoken words.

Chapter 4 looks more closely at the nature and implications of children’s dialects.

With such a rich oral tradition, it isn’t surprising that many inner‐city African American youth are especially advanced in their use and understanding of figurative language (Ortony, Turner, & Larson‐Shapiro, 1985; H. L. Smith, 1998; Smitherman, 2007).

As mentioned earlier, exposure to a second language in childhood or early adolescence may be especially important for acquiring flawless pronunciation and certain aspects of syntax. Early exposure to a second language seems to be most advantageous if the second language is very different from the first. For example, a native English speaker benefits more from an early start in Japanese or Arabic than from an early start in, say, Spanish or German (Bialystok, 1994; Strozer, 1994). Aside from such caveats, there appears to be no definitive “best” time to begin studying a second language (e.g., P. K. Kuhl et al., 2005; G. Stevens, 2004). Although there may be no hard‐and‐fast sensitive period for learning a second language, beginning second‐language instruction in the early years has definite advantages. For one thing, it appears that learning a second language facilitates achievement in such other academic areas as reading, vocabulary, and grammar (Diaz, 1983; Reich, 1986). Instruction in a foreign language also sensitizes young children to the international and multicultural nature of the world. Students who learn a second language during the elementary school years express more positive attitudes toward people who speak that language and are more likely to enroll in foreign language classes in high school (Reich, 1986). BILINGUALISM At least half of the world’s children are bilingual; that is, they speak at least two languages fluently (Hoff‐Ginsberg, 1997). Although children who grow up in bilingual environments may initially have more limited vocabularies in each language, research reveals clear long‐term advantages of bilingualism. Bilingual children appear to have a head start in their development of metalinguistic awareness (Bialystok, 2001; Adesope, Lavin, Thompson, & Ungerleider, 2010). For instance, in the early elementary grades, bilingual children have greater phonological awareness—awareness of the individual sounds, or phonemes, that make up spoken words—and this awareness can get them off to an especially good start in learning to read (X. Chen et al., 2004; Rayner, Foorman, Perfetti, Pesetsky, & Seidenberg, 2001). Furthermore, when children are truly fluent in both languages, they tend to perform better on tasks requiring focused attention and on tasks requiring flexible, creative thinking (Adesope et al., 2010; Bialystok, Craik, Green, & Gollan, 2009). Their superior performance on such tasks may be partly the result of enhanced development in certain areas of the brain (Espinosa, 2008; Mechelli et al., 2004). Being bilingual can have cultural and social advantages as well. In any English‐speaking country, mastery of spoken and written English is, of course, essential for long‐term educational

Encourage students of all ages to learn one or more foreign languages.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

49 and professional success. But when a resident of that country belongs to a cultural group that speaks a different language, maintaining social relationships within the culture requires knowledge of its language (McBrien, 2005b). For instance, in many Native American groups, the ancestral language is important for communicating oral history and cultural heritage and for conducting local business (McCarty & Watahomigie, 1998). And Puerto Rican children in the United States often speak Spanish at home as a way of showing respect to their elders (Torres‐Guzmán, 1998). Finally, at school, when different students in a single classroom each speak only one of two different languages (perhaps some speaking only English and others speaking only Spanish), teaching students both languages increases student interaction and cross‐cultural understanding (A. Doyle, 1982; Padilla, 2006). TEACHING A SECOND LANGUAGE Most children in Western, English‐speaking countries are exposed to only one language before they reach school age. That single language may or may not be English. School‐age children who are fluent in their native language but not in English are often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). To the extent that elementary and secondary school students have limited knowledge of English, they’re apt to have trouble with schoolwork in an English‐based classroom (Kieffer, 2008; Padilla, 2006; Slavin & Cheung, 2005; Valdés, Bunch, Snow, & Lee, 2005). Just as very young children typically learn their native language through informal daily exposure, so, too, can they learn two languages simultaneously if they have frequent, ongoing exposure to both languages. However, when children begin to learn a second language at an older age, perhaps in the elementary grades or even later, they often learn it more quickly if their language‐learning experiences are fairly structured (Strozer, 1994). Yet teaching a second language for one 45‐minute period a day—as is typically done in high schools—hardly promotes mastery. Two more intensive approaches, immersion and bilingual education, can be quite effective, with each being useful in somewhat different situations. To keep our discussion simple, let’s assume that students are living in an English‐speaking country. If these students are native English speakers, total immersion in the second language—hearing and speaking it almost exclusively in the classroom during the school day—appears to be the more effective approach. A variation of this approach is a dual‐immersion program, in which some topics are taught exclusively in English and others are taught exclusively in the second language. For native English speakers living in an English‐speaking country, immersion in the second language for part or all of the school day helps students acquire proficiency in the language fairly quickly, and any adverse effects on achievement in other academic areas appear to be short lived (Bialystok et al., 2009; Collier, 1992; Genesee, 1985; Padilla, 2006). In contrast, English language learners living in an English‐speaking country typically fare better in bilingual education, in which they receive intensive instruction in English while studying other academic subject areas in their native language. Not only is their academic achievement at least as good or better in bilingual education but they also have greater self‐esteem and better attitudes toward school (Garcia & Jensen, 2009; Marsh, Hau, & Kong, 2002; Tong, Lara‐ Alecio, Irby, Mathes, & Kwok, 2008; Wright, Taylor, & Macarthur, 2000). The optimal bilingual education program proceeds through a gradual phase‐in of English in instruction, perhaps in a sequence such as the following: 1. Students join native English‐speakers for classes in subject areas that don’t depend too heavily on language skills (e.g., art, music, physical education). They study other subject areas in their native language and also begin classes in English as a second language (ESL). 2. After students have acquired some English proficiency, instruction in English begins for one or two additional subject areas (perhaps math and science). 3. When it’s clear that students can learn successfully in English in the subject areas identified in Step 2, they join their English‐speaking classmates in regular classes in these subjects. 4. Eventually students are sufficiently proficient in English to join the mainstream in all subject areas, and they may no longer require their ESL classes (Krashen, 1996; Padilla, 2006; Valdés et al., 2005). Ideally, the transition from instruction in a student’s native language to instruction in English occurs very gradually over a period of several years. Simple knowledge of basic conversational
English language learner (ELL)
School‐age child who is not fully fluent in English because of limited exposure to English prior to enrollment in an English‐speaking school.

immersion Second‐language instruction in which students hear and speak that language almost exclusively in the classroom.

bilingual education Second‐ language instruction in which students are instructed in academic subject areas in their native language while simultaneously being taught to speak and write in the second language.

To maximize second‐language learning for native English speakers who live in an English‐ speaking country, completely immerse them in the second language for part or all of the school day.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER English—knowledge collectively known as basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS)— isn’t enough for academic success in an English‐only curriculum. Ultimately, students must have sufficient mastery of English vocabulary and syntax that they can easily understand and learn from English‐based textbooks and lectures; in other words, they must have cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). Such mastery of English takes considerable time to achieve—often five to seven years (Carhill, Suárez‐Orozco, & Páez, 2008; Cummins, 1981, 1984, 2000, 2008; Padilla, 2006). Why is immersion better for some students whereas bilingual education is better for others? As we’ve learned, language is an important foundation for cognitive development: It provides symbols for mentally representing the world, enables children to exchange ideas with others, helps them internalize sophisticated cognitive strategies, and so on. Students in an English‐speaking country who are immersed in a different language at school still have many opportunities— at home, with their friends, and in the local community—to continue using and developing their English. In contrast, nonnative English speakers may have few opportunities outside their homes to use their native language. If they’re taught exclusively in English, they may very well

basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) Proficiency in English sufficient for day‐to‐day conversation with English speakers but not sufficient for academic success in an English‐only curriculum.

cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) Mastery of
English vocabulary and syntax sufficient for English language learners to achieve academic success in an English‐only curriculum.

Into the Classroom

Teach early reading skills in students’ native languages.
When working with students whose families recently immigrated from Mexico, a first‐grade teacher teaches basic letter–sound relationships and word decoding skills in Spanish (e.g., showing how the printed word dos, meaning “two,” can be broken up into the sounds “duh,” “oh,” and “sss”).

During small‐group learning activities, encourage same‐language students to communicate with one another in their native language.
When a high school science teacher breaks students into cooperative groups to study the effects of weight, length, and amount of push on a pendulum’s oscillation rate, she puts three native Chinese speakers in a single group. She suggests that they can talk in either English or Chinese as they do their experiments.

If you don’t speak a student’s native language yourself, recruit and train parents, community volunteers, or other students to assist in providing instruction in that language.
A boy in a kindergarten class has grown up speaking a language spoken in some Asian immigrant communities in the United States. His teacher recruits a fourth grader who can read an English picture book to the boy and translate it. At one point the teacher points to a lily pad on a page of the book and asks the fourth grader to describe a lily pad in the boy’s language, as he has never seen lily pads in his own neighborhood.

Encourage—but don’t force—students to contribute to class discussions in English; be understanding of students who are initially reluctant to participate.
A high school social studies teacher often breaks his class into small groups to discuss controversial social and political issues. He intentionally places two recent immigrants with peers who are likely to be supportive as these English language learners struggle in their efforts to communicate.

Use bilingual software.
Conducting a quick Google search using the key terms bilingual, educational, and software, a teacher finds many educational software programs with both English and Spanish options, including some free programs he can easily download to his classroom’s computers.

Have students work in pairs to make sense of textbook material.
As two middle school students read a section of their geography textbook, one reads aloud while the other listens and takes notes. They frequently stop to talk about what they’ve just read or to switch roles.

When using English to communicate, speak more slowly than you might otherwise, and clearly enunciate each word.
A third‐grade teacher is careful that he always says “going to” rather than “gonna” and “want to” rather than “wanna.”

Have students read, write, and report about their native countries; also have them create art that depicts aspects of their countries and cultures.
A middle school social studies teacher has students conduct research on a country from which they or their ancestors emigrated. The students create posters to display what they’ve learned, and they proudly talk about their posters at a class‐ sponsored International Day that students from other classes attend.

Use visual aids to supplement verbal explanations.
A high school history teacher uses photographs she has downloaded from the Internet to illustrate her verbal description of ancient Egypt. She also gives students a one‐page outline that identifies the main ideas in her lesson.

Sources: Strategies are based on research and recommendations by Carhill et al., 2008; Comeau, Cormier, Grandmaison, & Lacroix, 1999; Duff, 2001; Egbert, 2009; Espinosa, 2007; García, 1995; Herrell & Jordan, 2004; Igoa, 1995, 2007; Janzen, 2008; Krashen, 1996; McClelland, 2001; McClelland, Fiez, & McCandliss, 2002; Padilla, 2006; Slavin & Cheung, 2005; Solórzano, 2008; Tong et al., 2008; Valdés et al., 2005; Walshaw & Anthony, 2008.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

51 lose proficiency in their native language before developing adequate proficiency in English—a phenomenon known as subtractive bilingualism—and their cognitive development suffers as a result. Because bilingual education is designed to foster growth in both English and a child’s native language, it’s apt to promote cognitive development as well as English proficiency (Pérez, 1998; Tse, 2001; Winsler, Díaz, Espinosa, & Rodriguez, 1999). We must remember that students’ native languages are very much a part of their sense of identity—their sense of who they are as people (Nieto, 1995; Tatum, 1997). A high school student named Marisol made the point this way:
I’m proud of [being Puerto Rican]. I guess I speak Spanish whenever I can. . . . I used to have a lot of problems with one of my teachers ’cause she didn’t want us to talk Spanish in class and I thought that was like an insult to us, you know? (Nieto, 1995, p. 127) subtractive bilingualism
Phenomenon in which immersion in a new‐language environment leads to deficits in a child’s native language. Remember that English language learners fare better when they study other school subjects in their native language.

Incorporating children’s cultural backgrounds as well as their native language into the classroom curriculum can further promote their academic success (Igoa, 1995, 2007; U.S. Department of Education, 1993). The strategies in the Into the Classroom feature “Working with English Language Learners” take language, sense of identity, and culture into account.

2 What Have You Learned?
As a way of summing up our discussion of development in this chapter, we now return to the learning outcomes identified at the beginning of the chapter. ■ 2.1: Describe four principles portraying the general nature of child development and the roles of both heredity and environment in guiding it. Children develop skills and abilities in a somewhat predictable sequence, but they don’t all develop at the same rate, and their development in any particular domain is apt to show occasional spurts within periods of slower growth. To some degree, children’s developing physical, cognitive, personal, and social characteristics depend on maturation—that is, on a genetically driven unfolding of physiological advancements. But equally critical is an environment that nurtures and supports the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. As developmental theorist Urie Bronfenbrenner has pointed out, children grow up within several layers of environmental influence, including their immediate families, their neighborhoods and communities, and the larger state (or province) and country in which they reside; each of these layers reflects the particular practices and beliefs of one or more cultural groups. At the same time, children also change their environment—and thus also change how their environment affects them—in part by eliciting certain kinds of behaviors from others and in part by choosing among the various opportunities and activities that come their way.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

human activities. The brain has considerable plasticity—that is, it can learn a great many new things at virtually any age. As teachers, we should be optimistic that students can acquire a wide variety of knowledge and skills in both the elementary and secondary grades. Yet we must keep in mind that even at the high school level, many students’ brains haven’t sufficiently matured to support planning, reasoning, impulse control, and other abilities important for independent learning and responsible behavior.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

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■ 2.2: Explain how the brain and its development influence children’s learning and thinking. The human brain changes in significant ways throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, in part as a result of environmental experiences and in part as a result of such genetically driven processes as synaptogenesis, synaptic pruning, and myelination. Although different parts of the brain have different specialties, they are closely interconnected and all work together to support complex

■ 2.3: Apply Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to classroom practice. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget proposed that children are intrinsically motivated to make sense of their world and self‐construct increasingly complex understandings of it through the two complementary processes of assimilation and accommodation. His four stages of cognitive development give us a rough idea of when various logical thinking capabilities are likely to emerge; however, most contemporary developmental theorists believe that children’s developmental progress can probably be better characterized as gradual trends that depend at least partly on experience. Piaget’s theory has numerous implications for classroom practice. For example, his clinical method offers a way of exploring children’s reasoning processes in depth. His proposal that abstract thinking doesn’t appear until adolescence encourages us to make heavy use of concrete, hands‐on experiences in the elementary and middle school grades. And his concept of disequilibrium suggests that by challenging students’ illogical reasoning, we can sometimes spur them to revise incomplete understandings and think in more sophisticated ways.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER ■ 2.5: Describe developmental changes in language during the school years, and explain how you might adapt instruction to children with diverse language abilities and needs. Although most children have considerable proficiency in their native language by the time they reach kindergarten, their language development continues throughout the school years. For example, in addition to acquiring an ever‐expanding vocabulary, children become increasingly able to listen effectively, conduct sustained conversations about particular topics, and comprehend the underlying meanings of figurative speech. Both hereditary and environmental factors contribute to language development. One important environmental variable is, of course, the particular language—or languages—that children speak at home and in their communities. Researchers have identified many advantages to knowing two more languages, including more advanced metalinguistic awareness, more creative thinking, and greater cross‐cultural understanding. Different approaches to promoting bilingualism are recommended in different situations. In an English‐speaking community, native English speakers can gain fluency in a second language through complete or partial immersion in that language at school, but students who speak a language other than English at home typically achieve at higher levels in bilingual education programs.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 2.4: Apply Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development to classroom practice. In contrast to Piaget, who portrayed children as being largely in control of their own cognitive development, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed that children’s cognitive development is a very social enterprise. In particular, adults and other more advanced individuals communicate the meanings their culture assigns to objects and events, pass along physical and cognitive tools that make everyday tasks and problems easier, and assist children with tasks in their zone of proximal development. In Vygotsky’s view, social activities are often precursors to and form the basis for complex mental processes: Children initially use new skills in the course of interacting with adults or peers and slowly internalize and adapt these skills for their own, independent use. Vygotsky’s theory suggests that, as teachers, we should help students make sense of their experiences (e.g., by tying their observations to particular scientific concepts and principles), assign activities that require them to stretch their existing abilities, scaffold their efforts on challenging new tasks, have them work in small groups to tackle multifaceted issues and problems, and meaningfully engage them in adultlike activities.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

Practice for Your Licensure Exam
Stones Lesson
Ms. Hennessey is conducting a demonstration in her first‐grade class. She shows the children a large glass tank filled with water. She also shows them two stones. One stone, a piece of granite, is fairly small (about 2 cm in diameter). The other stone, a piece of pumice (i.e., cooled volcanic lava), is much larger (about 10 cm in diameter). Because Ms. Hennessey does not allow the children to touch or hold the stones, they have no way of knowing that the piece of pumice, which has many small air pockets in it, is much lighter than the piece of granite. The demonstration proceeds as follows: Ms. H.: Would anyone like to predict what he or she thinks will happen to these stones? Yes, Brianna. Brianna: I think the . . . both stones will sink because I know stones sink. I’ve seen lots of stones sink and every time I throw a rock into the water, like it always sinks, yeah, it always does. Ms. H.: You look like you want to say something else. Brianna: Yeah the water can’t hold up rocks like it holds up boats and I know they’ll sink. Ms. H.: You sound so sure, let me try another object. Brianna: No you gotta throw it in, you gotta test my idea first. [Ms. H. places the smaller stone in the tank; it sinks.] See, I told you I knew it would sink. [Ms. H. puts the larger, pumice stone down and picks up another object.] No you’ve gotta test the big one too because if the little one sunk the big one’s gotta sunk. [Ms. H. places the pumice stone in the tank; it floats.] No! No! That’s not right! That doesn’t go with my mind [Brianna grabs hold of her head]; it just doesn’t go with my mind.*
1. Constructed‐response question:

Brianna is noticeably surprised, maybe even a little upset, when she sees the pumice stone float. A. Use one or more concepts from Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to explain why Brianna reacts as strongly as she does to the floating pumice. B. Again drawing on Piaget’s theory, explain why Ms. Hennessey intentionally presents a phenomenon that will surprise the children.

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*Excerpt from “Students’ Reflective Thoughts About Science Content: A Relationship to Conceptual Change Learning” by M. Gertrude Hennessey and M.E. Beeth, April 1993, paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, GA. Copyright © 1993 by Gertrude Hennessey and M. E. Beeth. Reprinted with permission.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

2. Multiple‐choice question:

Imagine that you perform the same demonstration with high school students rather than first graders. If you were to follow Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development, which one of the following approaches would you take in helping the students understand the floating pumice? a. Before performing the demonstration, ask students to draw a picture of the tank and two stones.

b. Drop several light objects (e.g., a feather, a piece of paper, a small sponge) into the tank before dropping either stone into it. c. Teach the concept of density, and explain that an object’s average density relative to water determines whether it floats or sinks. d. Praise students who correctly predict that the larger stone will float, even if they initially give an incorrect explanation about why it will float.


Go to Appendix C, “Matching Book and tions of this chapter that may be especially applicable to the Praxis tests.

,” to discover sec-

ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Personal and Social Development

3.1: Describe the nature and origins of children’s temperaments and personality characteristics, and explain how you might adapt your classroom practices to students’ diverse personalities. Explain how students’ sense of self is apt to influence their behavior and how you can help students develop healthy self‐perceptions. 3.3: Apply your knowledge of peer relationships and social cognition in promoting productive social skills and addressing student aggression. Describe typical advancements in moral and prosocial development over the course of childhood and adolescence, and identify strategies for promoting moral and prosocial development in the classroom.


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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Six‐year‐old Lupita has spent most of her life in Mexico with her grandmother, but she has recently joined her migrant‐worker parents in the United States and is now a quiet, well‐behaved student in Ms. Padilla’s kindergarten class. Ms. Padilla rarely calls on her because of her apparent lack of academic skills and is thinking about holding her back for a second year of kindergarten. Yet a researcher’s video camera captures a side of Lupita that her teacher hasn’t noticed. On one occasion Lupita is quick to finish her Spanish assignment and starts to work on a puzzle during her free time. A classmate approaches, and he and Lupita begin playing with a box of toys. A teacher aide asks the boy whether he has finished his Spanish assignment, implying that he should return to complete it, but the boy doesn’t understand the aide’s subtle message. Lupita gently persuades the boy to go finish his schoolwork and then returns to her puzzle. Two classmates having trouble with their own puzzles request Lupita’s assistance, and she competently and patiently shows them how to work cooperatively to assemble the pieces. Ms. Padilla is amazed when she views the videotape. She readily admits, “I had written her off—her and three others. They had met my expectations, and I just wasn’t looking for anything else.” Ms. Padilla and her aides begin working closely with Lupita on academic skills and often allow her to take a leadership role in group activities. At the end of the school year, Lupita earns achievement test scores indicating exceptional competence in language skills and mathematics, and she is promoted to first grade. (Based on case described by Carrasco, 1981)

Lupita’s behaviors during free time reveal a conscientious, socially astute child with strong teaching and leadership skills. However, perhaps because of Lupita’s quiet, restrained nature—or perhaps because of her family background—Ms. Padilla initially concludes that Lupita hasn’t mastered the knowledge and skills she’ll need in first grade. If the researcher’s videotape hadn’t captured Lupita’s social skills and proficiency and persistence with puzzles, Lupita might very well have remained on the sidelines throughout much of the school year, getting little assistance on academic skills and few opportunities to capitalize on her many positive personal qualities. Thus, Ms. Padilla’s low expectations for Lupita may have ensured that Lupita wouldn’t gain the knowledge and skills she would need in first grade—a self‐fulfilling prophecy. School isn’t just a place for acquiring cognitive and linguistic skills. It’s also a place for personal development, whereby children and adolescents build on and possibly modify their distinctive patterns of behavior (i.e., their personalities) and gain an increasing understanding of who they are as individuals. Furthermore, the very social nature of school makes it an ideal context for social development, in which young people come to better understand their fellow human beings, develop productive social skills and interpersonal relationships, and gradually internalize their society’s standards for behavior.

personal development
Development, with age, of distinctive behavioral styles and increasingly complex self‐understandings.

social development
Development, with age, of increasingly sophisticated understandings of other people and of society as a whole, as well as increasingly effective interpersonal skills and more internalized standards for behavior.

Personality Development
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Long before children begin school, they show noticeable differences in personality. That is, they show some consistency in their behaviors and thought patterns in a wide variety of situations. For instance, whereas Lupita tends to be quiet and well behaved in class, some of her peers are probably noisy and rambunctious. And whereas Lupita is conscientious about completing her work,

personality Characteristic ways in which an individual behaves and thinks in a wide range of circumstances.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER at least one of her classmates—and probably several others—are easily distracted and must be prodded to stay on task. Children’s personalities are the result of both heredity—especially in the form of inherited temperaments—and environmental factors. As you will see, heredity and environment often interact in their influences.

Personality Development
Temperament Environmental Influences on Personality Development The “Big Five” Personality Traits Temperament, Personality, and Goodness of Fit

A child’s temperament is his or her general tendency to respond to and deal with environmental stimuli and events in particular ways. Children seem to have distinct temperaments almost from birth. Researchers have identified many temperamental styles that emerge early in life and are relatively enduring, including general activity level, adaptability, self‐control, persistence, adventurousness, outgoingness, shyness, fearfulness, irritability, and distractibility. Most psychologists agree that such temperamental differences are biologically based and have genetic origins, and to some degree the differences persist into adolescence and adulthood (Caspi & Silva, 1995; Keogh, 2003; Rothbart, 2011; A. Thomas & Chess, 1977). By influencing children’s behaviors, inherited temperaments also influence the specific environmental circumstances they experience and so indirectly affect other aspects of personal and social development (N. A. Fox, Henderson, Rubin, Calkins, & Schmidt, 2001; Rothbart, 2011; Strelau, 2008). For example, children who are energetic and adventuresome seek out a wider variety of experiences than those who are quiet and restrained. And children who are naturally vivacious and outgoing typically have more opportunities to learn social skills and establish rewarding interpersonal relationships than do children who are subdued and shy. Furthermore, many temperamental characteristics affect how students engage in and respond to classroom activities and thus indirectly affect their academic achievement (Keogh, 2003; Rothbart, 2011; Saudino & Plomin, 2007). For instance, students are more likely to achieve at high levels if they are persistent, reasonably (but not overly) energetic, and able to ignore minor distractions. They can also achieve greater academic success if their behaviors lead to friendly, productive relationships with teachers and peers—people who can bolster their self‐confidence and support their efforts to learn. Underlying some of their academic and social success is an aspect of temperament known as effortful control—their general ability to inhibit immediate impulses in order to think and act productively (Rothbart, 2011; Valiente, Lemery‐Chalfant, & Swanson, 2010).

Development of a Sense of Self
Factors Influencing Sense of Self Developmental Changes in Sense of Self Diversity in Sense of Self

Development of Peer Relationships and Interpersonal Understandings
Roles of Peers in Children’s Development Characteristics of Peer Relationships Social Cognition Aggression Technology and Peer Relationships Diversity in Peer Relationships and Social Cognition Promoting Healthy Peer Relationships

Moral and Prosocial Development
Developmental Trends in Morality and Prosocial Behavior Factors Influencing Moral and Prosocial Development Diversity in Moral and Prosocial Development Encouraging Moral and Prosocial Development in the Classroom

Genetic differences in temperament are only predispositions to behave in certain ways, and environmental conditions and experiences point different children with the same predispositions in somewhat different directions. Two key environmental factors influencing personality development are family dynamics and cultural expectations for behavior. FAMILY DYNAMICS Many parents and other family caregivers (e.g., grandparents, older siblings) lovingly interact with a new infant and consistently and dependably provide for the infant’s physical and psychological needs. When they do such things, a strong, affectionate caregiver–child bond known as attachment typically forms (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). Infants who become closely attached to parents or other caregivers early in life are apt to develop into amiable, independent, self‐confident children and adolescents who adjust easily to new classroom environments, establish productive relationships with teachers and peers, and have an inner conscience that guides their behavior. In contrast, children who don’t become closely attached to a parent or some other individual early in life can be immature, dependent, unpopular, and prone to disruptive

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Personality Development and aggressive behaviors later on (J. P. Allen, Porter, McFarland, McElhaney, & Marsh, 2007; Kochanska, Aksan, Knaack, & Rhines, 2004; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2005; S. Shulman, Elicker, & Sroufe, 1994; Sroufe, Carlson, & Shulman, 1993). In addition to forming emotional attachments with children, parents and other family caregivers adopt fairly consistent parenting styles they use in raising the children. In mainstream Western culture, the ideal situation seems to be authoritative parenting, which combines affection and respect for children with reasonable restrictions on behavior. Authoritative parents provide a loving and supportive home, hold high expectations and standards for performance, explain why behaviors are or are not acceptable, enforce household rules consistently, include children in decision making, and provide age‐appropriate opportunities for autonomy. Children from authoritative homes tend to be happy, energetic, self‐confident, and likeable. They make friends easily and show self‐control and concern for the rights and needs of others. Children of authoritative parents appear well adjusted, in part, because their behavior fits well with the values espoused by mainstream Western culture. They listen respectfully to others, follow reasonable rules for behavior, work well independently, and strive for academic achievement (Barber, Stolz, & Olsen, 2005; Baumrind, 1989, 1991; Bradley, 2010; M. R. Gray & Steinberg, 1999; J. M. T. Walker & Hoover‐Dempsey, 2006). Given such benefits, authoritative parenting provides a good model for how we, as teachers, should generally conduct our classrooms. Authoritative parenting isn’t universally “best,” however. Certain other parenting styles may be better suited to particular cultures and environments. For instance, in authoritarian parenting, parents expect complete and immediate compliance; they neither negotiate expectations nor provide reasons for their requests. In many Asian American and Hispanic families, high demands for obedience are made within the context of close, supportive parent–child relationships. Underlying the message of control is a more important message: “I love you and want you to do well, but it’s equally important that you act for the good of the family and community” (X. Chen & Wang, 2010; Halgunseth, Ispa, & Rudy, 2006; Rothbaum & Trommsdorff, 2007). Authoritarian parenting is also more common in impoverished economic environments. When families live in low‐income, inner‐city neighborhoods where danger potentially lurks around every corner, parents may better serve their children by being strict and directive about activities (Hale‐Benson, 1986; McLoyd, 1998). Some degree of parental guidance and discipline seems to be important for optimal personal and social development. Parents who are overly permissive—for instance, those who let their children come and go as they please and impose few consequences for inappropriate actions—tend to have children who are immature and impulsive, do poorly in school, and act aggressively with peers (Aunola & Nurmi, 2005; Joussemet et al., 2008; Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch, 1991). Yet we must take care not to point accusatory fingers or in other ways be judgmental about how parents are bringing up their children. Some parents may have learned ineffective parenting strategies from their own parents. Others may have challenges in their lives—perhaps mental illness, marital conflict, or serious financial problems—that hamper their ability to nurture and support their children. It’s important to note, too, that most research on parenting involves correlational studies that reveal associations between parents’ behaviors and children’s characteristics but don’t necessarily demonstrate cause–and–effect relationships. A few experimental studies have documented that specific parenting styles probably do influence children’s personalities to some degree (Bakermans‐Kranenburg, van IJzendoorn, Pijlman, Mesman, & Juffer, 2008; W. A. Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000). In other cases, however, parents’ disciplinary strategies seem to be the result, rather than the cause, of how children behave. For instance, temperamentally lively or adventuresome children typically require more parental control than quieter, restrained ones (J. R. Harris, 1998; Rothbart, 2011; Stice & Barrera, 1995). As teachers, we can certainly serve as sources of information about effective disciplinary strategies. But we should keep in mind that parenting styles have, at most, only a moderate influence on children’s personalities. Many children and adolescents thrive despite their caregivers’ diverse parenting styles, provided that those caregivers aren’t severely neglectful or abusive. Children with certain temperaments—for instance, those who tend to be adaptable, self‐disciplined, and outgoing—seem to be especially resilient in the face of difficult family


temperament Genetic predisposition to respond in particular ways to one’s physical and social environments. effortful control One’s general ability to inhibit immediate impulses in order to think and act productively; believed to be a distinct aspect of temperament that has a biological basis in the brain. attachment bond formed between a child and a caregiver.

authoritative parenting Parenting style characterized by emotional warmth, high standards for behavior, explanation and consistent enforcement of rules, and inclusion of children in decision making. authoritarian parenting Parenting style characterized by rigid rules and expectations for behavior that children are asked to obey without question.

Adopt a generally authoritative style in the classroom.

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effective parenting strategies, perhaps through newsletters or parent discussion groups.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER circumstances (Bates & Pettit, 2007; Belsky & Pluess, 2009; D. Hart, Atkins, & Fegley, 2003; Rothbart, 2011). Child maltreatment In a few unfortunate instances, parents’ behaviors toward their children constitute child maltreatment. In some cases, parents neglect children: They fail to provide nutritious meals, adequate clothing, and other basic necessities of life. In other cases, parents or other family members abuse children physically, sexually, or emotionally. Possible indicators of neglect or abuse are chronic hunger, lack of warm clothing in cold weather, untreated medical needs, frequent or serious physical injuries (e.g., bruises, burns, broken bones), and exceptional knowledge about sexual matters. Parental neglect and abuse can have significant adverse effects on children’s personal and social development. On average, children who have been routinely neglected or abused have low self‐esteem, poorly developed social skills, and low school achievement. Many are angry, aggressive, and defiant. Others can be depressed, anxious, socially withdrawn, and possibly suicidal (Crosson‐Tower, 2010; J. Kim & Cicchetti, 2006; Maughan & Cicchetti, 2002; R. A. Thompson & Wyatt, 1999). Teachers are both morally and legally obligated to report any cases of suspected child abuse or neglect to the proper authorities (e.g., the school principal or child protective services). Two helpful resources are the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1‐800‐4‐A‐CHILD (1‐800‐422‐4453) and the website for Childhelp at CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS AND SOCIALIZATION As we’ve seen, various cultural groups influence children’s personalities indirectly through the parenting styles they encourage. Culture also has a more direct influence on children’s personal and social development through a process known as socialization. That is, members of a cultural group work hard to help growing children adopt the behaviors and beliefs that the group holds dear. Children typically learn their earliest lessons about their culture’s standards and expectations for behavior from parents and other family members, who teach them simple manners (e.g., saying please and thank you), encourage them to do well in school, and so on (W.‐B. Chen & Gregory, 2008; Eccles, 2007). Once children reach school age, teachers become equally important socialization agents. For example, in mainstream Western society, teachers typically expect and encourage such behaviors as showing respect for authority figures, following rules and directions, controlling impulses, working independently, and asking for help when it’s needed (Manning & Baruth, 2009; Wentzel & Looney, 2007). Cultures around the globe encourage many of these behaviors, but they don’t necessarily endorse all of them. For instance, many children of Mexican heritage are more accustomed to observing events quietly and unobtrusively—as Lupita does in the opening case study—than to asking adults for explanations and help (Correa‐Chávez, Rogoff, & Mejía Arauz, 2005; Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003). Researchers have observed other cultural differences in socialization practices as well. For instance, European American families often encourage assertiveness and independence, but families from many other countries (e.g., Mexico, China, India) are more likely to encourage restraint, obedience, and deference to elders (Goodnow, 1992; Joshi & MacLean, 1994; Morelli & Rothbaum, 2007). And whereas many American children are encouraged to be outgoing and emotionally expressive, children in many Asian cultures are encouraged to be shy and emotionally reserved (X. Chen, Chung, & Hsiao, 2009; Huntsinger & Jose, 2006; Morelli & Rothbaum, 2007). However, considerable diversity exists within any culture, with different parents, teachers, and other adults encouraging somewhat different behaviors and beliefs. When behaviors expected of students at school differ from those expected at home or when belief systems presented by teachers are inconsistent with those of children’s parents, children may initially experience some culture shock. At a minimum, these children are apt to be confused and distracted, at least in the first few days or weeks of school. Some children with less adaptable or more irritable temperaments may even become angry or resistant (Rothbart, 2011; Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001). As teachers, we must certainly encourage behaviors essential for students’ long‐term success, such as obeying rules, following instructions, and working independently. At the same time, students will need our guidance, support, and patience when our expectations differ from those of their family or cultural group.

child maltreatment Consistent neglect or abuse of a child that jeopardizes the child’s physical and psychological well‐being.

socialization Process of molding a child’s behavior and beliefs to be appropriate for his or her cultural group.

culture shock when a student encounters a new environment with behavioral expectations very different from those previously learned. Chapter 5 describes possible warning signs that a student is contemplating suicide.

Report suspected cases of child maltreatment immediately.

Chapter 4 examines cultural differences such as these in greater depth.

Teach students behaviors they will need for long‐term success in Western society, but be patient when such behaviors are very different from those learned at home.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Personality Development


As children grow older, the many interactions among their inherited temperaments and environmental circumstances lead to unique and somewhat stable personality profiles. Research with both children and adults has yielded five general personality traits that are relatively independent of one another and appear to involve somewhat different areas of the brain. You can remember them using the mnemonic OCEAN: Openness: The extent to which one is curious about the world and receptive to new experiences and ideas Conscientiousness: The extent to which one is careful, organized, self‐disciplined, and likely to follow through on plans and commitments Extraversion: The extent to which one is socially outgoing and seeks excitement Agreeableness: The extent to which one is pleasant, kind, and cooperative in social situations Neuroticism: The extent to which one is prone to negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, anger, depression) (Caspi, 1998; DeYoung et al., 2010; G. Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2006; Saarni, Campos, Camras, & Witherington, 2006) Such traits lead to some consistency—but not total consistency—in children’s behaviors across situations (Hampson, 2008; Mendoza‐Denton & Mischel, 2007). Variability is particularly common when circumstances change considerably. For instance, a student might be very outgoing and sociable with his close friends but shy and withdrawn with people he doesn’t know very well. And a student is more likely to be conscientious about completing homework if she is given some guidance about how to organize her assignments in a “to‐do” list (Belfiore & Hornyak, 1998).
Remember that despite some consistency in students’ personalities, their behaviors are likely to vary somewhat in different contexts.

Creating a Productive Classroom Environment

Minimize down time for students with high energy levels.
As a way of letting a chronically restless third grader release pent‐up energy throughout the school day, his teacher gives him small chores to do (e.g., erasing the board, sharpening pencils, cleaning art supplies) and shows him how to complete the chores quietly so as not to disturb his classmates.

When students have trouble adapting to new circumstances, give them advance notice of unusual activities and provide extra structure and reassurance.
A kindergarten teacher has discovered that two children in his class do well when the school day is orderly and predictable but often become anxious or upset when the class departs from its usual routine. To prepare the children for a field trip to the fire station on Friday, the teacher begins to talk about the trip at the beginning of the week, explaining what the class will do and see during the visit. He also recruits the father of one of the anxiety‐prone children to serve as a parent assistant that day.

Provide numerous opportunities for highly sociable students to interact with classmates.
In a unit on colonial America, a fifth‐grade teacher assigns a project in which students must depict a typical colonial village in some way (e.g., by writing a research paper, drawing a map on poster board, or creating a miniature three‐dimensional model). The students can choose to work on the project alone or with one or two classmates, with the stipulation that students who work with peers must undertake more complex projects than students who work alone.

If students seem overwhelmed by noisy or chaotic situations, find or create a more calm and peaceful environment for them. unsettling. Their math teacher offers her classroom as a place where they can occasionally eat instead. On some days she eats with them. At other times she sits at her desk and grades papers, but the students know she will gladly stop to talk if they have a question or concern.

Be especially warm and attentive with very shy students.
A ninth‐grade teacher has a new student join one of his classes midway through the school year. The student comes to class alone each day and doesn’t join in conversations with peers before or after class. When the teacher sees her eating lunch by herself in the cafeteria one day, he sits beside her and engages her in conversation about her previous school and community. The following day in class, he assigns a small‐group, cooperative learning project that students will work on periodically over the next two weeks. He forms cooperative groups of three or four students each, making sure to place the new girl with two students whom he knows will be friendly and helpful to her.

Teach self‐control strategies to students who act impulsively.
A high school student often shouts out comments and opinions in her history class. One day the student’s teacher takes her aside after school and gently explains that her lack of restraint is interfering with classmates’ ability to participate in discussions. To sensitize the student to the extent of the problem, the teacher asks her to keep a daily tally of how many times she talks without first raising her hand. A week later the two meet again, and the teacher suggests a self‐talk strategy that can help the student participate actively without dominating a discussion.

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Sources: Some strategies based on suggestions by Keogh (2003).

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



On average, students who are conscientious about their work and open to new experiences achieve at higher levels at school (Hattie, 2009; M. C. O’Connor & Paunonen, 2007). Yet there is no single best temperament or personality that maximizes students’ adjustment and achievement in the classroom. Instead, children are more likely to succeed at school when there is a goodness of fit, rather than a mismatch, between their natural inclinations and typical behaviors, on the one hand, and classroom activities and expectations, on the other (A. Thomas & Chess, 1977). For example, when teachers want students to participate actively in whole‐class discussions, highly energetic, outgoing children are apt to shine, but quieter students (like Lupita) might feel anxious or intimidated. When teachers require a lot of independent seatwork, quieter children often do well, but some energetic children may be viewed as disruptive (Keogh, 2003; Rothbart, 2011). As teachers, we must keep in mind that students’ distinctive ways of behaving in the classroom—their energy levels, sociability, impulsiveness, and so on—aren’t entirely within their control. The Creating a Productive Classroom Environment feature “Accommodating Students’ Diverse Temperaments and Personality Traits” offers several suggestions for adapting instruction and classroom management strategies to accommodate students’ individual behavioral styles.

Even when all students are productively engaged in a classroom activity, they show temperamental differences in such traits as general energy level and outgoingness. For example, observe the diverse student temperaments in “Water Wheels Activity.”

Development of a Sense of Self
With their increasing capacity for symbolic thinking and (eventually) abstract reasoning, growing children begin to draw conclusions about who they are as people. As an example, try the following exercise.

List at least 10 adjectives or phrases that describe you as a person. How did you describe yourself? Are you smart? Friendly? Open‐minded? Physically attractive? Moody? Your answers provide a window into a key component of your personality known as sense of self—your perceptions, beliefs, judgments, and feelings about who you are as a person. Many psychologists distinguish between two aspects of the sense of self: self‐concept—assessments of one’s own characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses—and self‐esteem—judgments and feelings about one’s own value and worth. These two aspects closely overlap, however, and thus the two terms are often used interchangeably (Bracken, 2009; Byrne, 2002; McInerney, Marsh, & Craven, 2008). In overall self‐assessments, young children tend to make distinctions between two general domains: how competent they are at day‐to‐day tasks (including schoolwork) and how well they are liked by family and friends. As they grow older, children make finer and finer distinctions— for instance, they realize that they may be more or less competent or “good” in various academic subjects, athletic activities, peer relationships, and physical attractiveness (Davis‐Kean & Sandler, 2001; Harter, 1999; Yun, Farran, Lipsey, & Bilbrey, 2010). Each of these domains may have a greater or lesser influence on students’ overall sense of self. For some, academic achievement may be the overriding factor, whereas for others, physical attractiveness or popularity with peers may be more important (Crocker & Knight, 2005; D. Hart, 1988; Harter, 1999). Children and adolescents tend to behave in ways that mirror their beliefs about themselves (M. S. Caldwell, Rudolph, Troop‐Gordon, & Kim, 2004; Marsh & O’Mara, 2008; Valentine, DuBois, & Cooper, 2004). For instance, if they see themselves as good students, they’re more likely to pay attention, follow directions, persist at difficult problems, and enroll in challenging courses. If they see themselves as friendly and socially desirable, they’re more likely to seek the company of their classmates and perhaps run for student council. If they see themselves as physically competent, they’ll more eagerly pursue extracurricular athletics. Students’ beliefs about themselves are, like their beliefs about the world around them, largely self‐constructed. Accordingly, their self‐assessments may or may not be accurate. When students evaluate themselves fairly accurately, they’re in a good position to choose age‐appropriate tasks and activities (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003; Harter, 1999). A slightly inflated self‐ assessment can be beneficial as well, because it encourages students to work toward challenging yet

goodness of fit classroom conditions and expectations are compatible with students’ temperaments and personality characteristics.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

sense of self Perceptions, beliefs, judgments, and feelings about oneself as a person; includes self‐concept and self‐esteem.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

61 potentially reachable goals (Bjorklund & Green, 1992; Pajares, 2009). However, a sense of self that is too inflated can give some students an unwarranted sense of superiority over classmates and lead them to bully or in other ways act aggressively toward peers (Baumeister et al., 2003; Baumeister, Smart, & Boden, 1996; Menon et al., 2007). And as you might guess, students who significantly underestimate their abilities are apt to avoid the many challenges that would enhance their cognitive and social growth (Schunk & Pajares, 2004; Zimmerman & Moylan, 2009). self‐efficacy of executing certain behaviors or achieving certain goals.

Students often gain initial insights about their general competence in a certain domain from their own successes and failures in that domain (Marsh, Gerlach, Trautwein, Lüdtke, & Brettschneider, 2007; Marsh & O’Mara, 2008). For instance, they may discover that they can easily solve—or consistently struggle with—simple math problems. Or they may find that they can run faster—or more slowly—than most of their peers. Through such experiences, students acquire a sense of self‐efficacy about the degree to which they can succeed in certain activities and accomplish certain goals. Over time, students’ specific self‐efficacies for various tasks and activities contribute to their more general sense of self (Bong & Skaalvik, 2003; McInerney et al., 2008). Unfortunately, an interplay between self‐perceptions and behaviors can create a vicious cycle: A poor sense of self leads to less productive behaviors, which leads to fewer successes, which perpetuates the poor sense of self. However, simply telling students that they’re good or smart or in some other way “special” is unlikely to break the cycle (Crocker & Knight, 2005; McMillan, Singh, & Simonetta, 1994; Pajares, 2009). Instead, we must make sure that students have many opportunities to improve and eventually succeed at academic, social, and physical tasks—not obviously easy tasks (which presumably anyone could do) but challenging ones that reflect a genuine sense of accomplishment. When we present such challenges, we must, of course, be sure that students have the prerequisite knowledge and age‐appropriate scaffolding to facilitate their success (Bouchey & Harter, 2005; Dunning, Heath, & Suls, 2004; Leary, 1999). Yet students’ personal successes and failures aren’t the only things affecting their sense of self. A second important factor is their social context—and more specifically, other people’s behaviors— which influences students’ self‐perceptions in at least two ways. For one thing, how students evaluate themselves depends to some extent on how their own performance compares to that of their peers. For example, students who see themselves achieving at higher levels than classmates are apt to develop a more positive sense of self than those who consistently find themselves falling short (R. Butler, 2008; Dijkstra, Kuyper, van der Werf, Buunk, & van der Zee, 2008; Trautwein, Gerlach, & Lüdtke, 2008). Thus, peer comparisons can dampen high‐ability students’ sense of self when they attend classes made up largely of students with similarly high ability (Köller, Zeinz, & Trautwein, 2008; Seaton, Marsh, & Craven, 2010). In addition, students’ self‐perceptions are affected by how others behave toward them. Peers often communicate information about children’s social and athletic competence, perhaps by seeking out a child’s companionship or ridiculing a child in front of others (M. S. Caldwell et al., 2004; Crosnoe, 2011; Rudolph, Caldwell, & Conley, 2005). Adults, too, influence children’s sense of self, in part by the kinds of expectations they hold for children’s performance and in part by drawing attention to various things children do well or poorly (M. J. Harris & Rosenthal, 1985; O’Mara, Marsh, Craven, & Debus, 2006; Pajares, 2009). As teachers, we should, of course, communicate realistically high expectations for achievement and give positive feedback about the specific things students do well. And when we find that we must give students negative feedback—and occasionally we must—we should do so while also communicating respect and affection for them as human beings. For instance, we might point out that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, and we should offer concrete suggestions about how to improve. A third general factor that can impact students’ sense of self is membership in a successful group (Harter, 1999; Thorkildsen, Golant, & Cambray‐Engstrom, 2008; Wigfield, Eccles, & Pintrich, 1996). If you think back to your own school years, perhaps you can recall taking pride in something your entire class accomplished or feeling good about a community service project completed through an extracurricular club. School groups aren’t the only groups affecting students’ sense of self. For instance, some cultures encourage children to take pride in the accomplishments of their families as well as—or perhaps instead of—their own accomplishments (Banks & Banks, 1995; P. M. Cole & Tan, 2007). And as we’ll see a bit later in the chapter, students’ membership in certain ethnic groups can also be a source of pride.

Enhance students’ sense of self by supporting their efforts to meet new challenges.

Minimize competitive situations in which students might compare themselves unfavorably with peers.

Chapter 11 describes more specific effects of teacher expectations.

Point out things that students do well, and present any negative feedback within the context of overall positive regard.

Get students actively involved in successful group activities.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



We’ve already seen one way in which self‐perceptions change with age: Children increasingly differentiate among the many aspects of who they are as people—academic aspects, physical aspects, social aspects, and so on. But children’s and adolescents’ beliefs and feelings about themselves change in other ways as well. Figure 3.1 presents Erik Erikson’s early theory of how people’s personalities and sense of self might continue to evolve throughout the life span. In the following sections, we’ll look at what more contemporary researchers have learned about developmental changes in children’s and adolescents’ sense of self.

FIGURE 3.1 Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development
Overview of Erikson’s Stages Erik Erikson (1963, 1972) proposed that people proceed through eight distinct stages over the course of their lives. Each stage presents a unique developmental task, and how a person addresses it influences her or his general mental health and progress through later stages. Trust versus mistrust (infancy). According to Erikson, the major developmental task in infancy is to learn whether other people, especially primary caregivers, regularly satisfy basic needs. If caregivers are consistent sources of food and comfort, an infant learns trust—that others are dependable and reliable. If caregivers are neglectful or abusive, the infant learns mistrust—that the world is an undependable, unpredictable, and possibly dangerous place. Autonomy versus shame and doubt (toddler years). As toddlers gain increasing muscular control, they begin to satisfy some of their own needs—for example, by feeding and dressing themselves. If caregivers encourage self‐sufficient behavior, toddlers develop a sense of autonomy—a sense of being able to handle many problems contrast, restrict or ridicule early attempts at self‐sufficiency, children may instead develop shame and doubt about their abilities. Initiative versus guilt (preschool years). With their growing independence, preschoolers have many choices about the activities they pursue. If parents and preschool teachers encourage and support children’s efforts while also helping them make realistic and appropriate choices, children develop initiative—independence in the pursuit of independent activities or else dismiss them as silly and bothersome, children develop guilt about their needs and desires. Industry versus inferiority (elementary school years). Elementary school provides many opportunities for children to achieve the recognition of teachers, parents, and peers by producing things— drawing pictures, writing short stories, and so on. If children are encouraged to make and do things and then praised for their accomplishments, they begin to demonstrate industry by being diligent, persevering at tasks until completed, and putting work before pleasure. If they are instead punished for their efforts or if they find they are incapable of meeting others’ expectations, they develop a sense of inferiority about their capabilities. Identity versus role confusion (adolescence). Adolescents begin to ponder the roles they might play in the adult world. Initially, they’re apt to experience some role confusion—mixed ideas and feelings about the specific ways in which they will fit into society—and may experiment with a variety of behaviors and activities (e.g., tinkering with cars, babysitting for neighbors, affiliating with certain religious groups). Erikson proposed that eventually most adolescents achieve a sense of identity regarding who they are and where their lives are headed. Intimacy versus isolation (young adulthood). Once young people have established their identities, they’re ready to make long‐term social commitments. Many become capable of intimacy, forming one or more reciprocal relationships that involve compromise and self‐sacrifice. People who can’t form intimate relationships—perhaps because they have trouble putting aside their own needs—develop a sense of isolation. Generativity versus stagnation (middle age). During middle age the primary developmental task is one of contributing to society and helping to guide future generations. When a person makes a contribution during this period, he or she feels a sense of generativity—a sense of productivity and accomplishment. In contrast, a person who is self‐centered and unable or unwilling to help society move forward develops a feeling of stagnation—a dissatisfaction with his or her relative lack of productivity. Integrity versus despair (retirement years). As people reach retirement, they look back on their lives and accomplishments. They develop feelings of contentment and integrity if they believe that they have led a happy, productive life. Conversely, they may develop a sense of despair if they look back on a life of disappointments and unachieved goals. Critiquing Erikson’s Theory Erikson’s theory reminds us that development is a life‐long process: Children and adults alike have new things to learn and new challenges to meet. At the same time, his theory has shortcomings. First, Erikson drew his ideas largely from personal anecdotes rather primarily on work with men; for many women, a focus on intimacy emerges either before or in conjunction with a focus on identity (Josselson, 1988). And third, Erikson didn’t take into account the important role that culture plays in development. Many cultures intentionally discourage autonomy, initiative, and self‐assertiveness in young children, sometimes as a way of protecting children from the very real dangers of their environments (X. Chen et al., 2009; Harwood, Miller, & Irizarry, 1995; G. J. Powell, 1983). As teachers, we should keep in mind that the age ranges for accomplishing Erikson’s eight developmental tasks are probably broader than Erikson proposed. For instance, most people probably don’t achieve a sense of identity as early or as easily as Erikson suggested the first five stages have implications for us as teachers, who must work hard to do the following: Help students overcome early difficulties with trust, autonomy, or initiative—in particular, by being reliable sources of affection and support (trust) and by giving students age‐appropriate opportunities to work independently (autonomy) and undertake self‐chosen activities (initiative). Promote a sense of industry by engaging students in meaningful tasks and completing worthwhile projects.
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Help adolescents in their search for identity by providing opportunities to explore various roles they might play in adult society.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Childhood Elementary school children tend to think of themselves in terms of concrete, easily observable characteristics and behaviors—their age, sex, favorite activities, and so on (D. Hart, 1988; Harter, 1983). In racially and culturally diverse communities, where different skin colors, languages, and customs are obvious, children may also classify themselves as belonging to one or another racial or ethnic group (Phinney, 1990; Sheets, 1999). For instance, although my daughter Tina was raised in a European American family, her genetic heritage is Native American and Hispanic. In a self‐portrait she drew in second grade (see Figure 3.2), she was clearly aware that her hair and skin tone were darker than those of most of her classmates. Most young children have a generally positive sense of self. Sometimes they believe they’re more capable than they really are and that they can easily overcome initial failures (R. Butler, 2008; Lockhart, Chang, & Story, 2002; Robins & Trzesniewski, 2005). As children have more opportunities to compare themselves with peers during the elementary grades and as they become cognitively more able to make such comparisons, their self‐assessments become increasingly realistic (R. Butler, 2008; J. W. Chapman, Tunmer, & Prochnow, 2000; Davis‐Kean et al., 2008). They also begin to pull together their many self‐observations into generalizations about the kinds of people they are—perhaps friendly, good at sports, smart, or dumb—and such generalizations lead to the development of increasingly stable self‐concepts (D. A. Cole et al., 2001; Harter, 1999). Early adolescence As students reach adolescence and gain greater capability for abstract thought, they increasingly think of themselves in terms of general, fairly stable traits. Consider my daughter Tina’s self‐description in sixth grade: I’m cool. I’m awesome. I’m way cool. I’m 12. I’m boy crazy. I go to Brentwood Middle School. I’m popular with my fans. I play viola. My best friend is Lindsay. I have a gerbil named Taj. I’m adopted. I’m beautiful. Although Tina listed a few concrete features, she had clearly developed a fairly abstract self‐ perception. Her focus on coolness, popularity, and beauty, rather than on intelligence or academic achievement (or, I might add, modesty), is fairly typical: Social acceptance and physical appearance are far more important to many young adolescents than academic competence (D. Hart, 1988; Harter, 1999). Students’ self‐concepts and self‐esteem often drop as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school or junior high, with the drop being more pronounced for girls (D. A. Cole et al., 2001; Harter, 1999; Robins & Trzesniewski, 2005). The physiological changes accompanying puberty may be a factor: Many boys and girls think of themselves as being somewhat less attractive once they reach adolescence (S. Moore & Rosenthal, 2006; Stice, 2003). Changes in the school environment—including disrupted friendships, more superficial teacher–student relationships, and more rigorous academic standards—probably also have a negative impact. Also with early adolescence come two new phenomena with implications for sense of self. First, students become more cognitively able to reflect on how others might see them (Harter, 1999). They may initially go to extremes, thinking that in any social situation everyone else’s attention is focused squarely on them—a phenomenon known as the imaginary audience (Elkind, 1981; Lapsley, 1993; R. M. Ryan & Kuczkowski, 1994). Because they believe themselves to be the center of attention, young teenagers (especially girls) are often preoccupied with their physical appearance and can be quite self‐critical. A second noteworthy phenomenon in early adolescence is emergence of the personal fable: Young teenagers often believe they are completely unlike anyone else (Elkind, 1981; Lapsley, 1993). For instance, they may think that no one else—and certainly not parents and teachers— has ever experienced the intensity of emotions they feel about thwarted goals or unhappy love affairs. Furthermore, some have a sense of invulnerability and immortality, believing themselves immune to the normal dangers of life. Thus they may take foolish risks, such as experimenting with drugs and alcohol, having unprotected sexual intercourse, and driving at high speeds (DeRidder, 1993; Dodge et al., 2009; Jacobs & Klaczynski, 2002; Nell, 2002). It’s important to note, however, that adolescents are apt to take risks even when they don’t believe themselves to be invulnerable, for reasons you can discover in the Applying Brain Research feature “Understanding and Addressing Adolescent Risk Taking.” FIGURE 3.2 As early as the primary grades, students in racially diverse communities have some awareness of their membership in a particular racial group. Notice how 7‐year‐old Tina portrays herself as having darker hair and skin than the classmates behind her.

Remember that a student’s sense of self becomes increasingly stable with age. In the upper elementary and secondary grades, then, enhancing a student’s low self‐esteem may take time and persistence.

imaginary audience is the center of attention in any social situation.

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personal fable completely unlike anyone else and so cannot be understood by others.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



The human brain continues to mature in important ways throughout adolescence and early adulthood. With puberty come significant changes in brain regions that play a role in pleasure seeking, potentially heightening the desire for enjoyable activities and immediate rewards. Only later, perhaps in the late teens or early twenties, do regions of the prefrontal cortex that support rational decision making and self‐restraint fully mature 2009). Furthermore, young people show significant individual differences in brain activity levels in these important regions—differences that are correlated with their predisposition to seek out exciting but potentially dangerous activities, on the one hand, or to be cautious and prudent, on For such reasons, many adolescents have trouble planning ahead

With such research findings in mind, I offer two recommendations. Channel adolescents’ risk‐taking tendencies into safe activities. Many adolescents enjoy trying things that are new, different, and perhaps a bit risky; such activities are reasonable if appropriate safeguards are in place. Team sports provide one outlet for both risk taking and social camaraderie. Preplanned, organized activities during traditionally high‐risk periods are also beneficial; for example, many high schools offer all‐night after‐prom parties to keep students sober and safe when they might otherwise be drinking and driving. Provide avenues through which students can safely and productively gain status with their peers. engage in risky behaviors—drinking, drug use, sexual intercourse, and the like—in an attempt to project an adultlike image, to be

choices based on emotions (“This will be fun”) rather than on logic (“There’s a high probability of a bad outcome”) (Cleveland, Gibbons, 2007). Thus, adolescent risk taking is most common in social contexts, where having fun is typically a high priority and it’s easy to get swept away by what peers are doing or suggesting.

show one’s coolness and withitness, some of which we can facilitate at school. Gaining competence and prominence in rock music, student government, and community service are just a few of the many possibilities.

Late adolescence The majority of older adolescents recover sufficiently from the double whammy of puberty and a changing school social environment to enjoy positive self‐concepts and overall mental health (Harter, 1999; S. I. Powers, Hauser, & Kilner, 1989). The imaginary audience and personal fable phenomena slowly decline, although remnants remain throughout the high school years. Older teenagers increasingly reflect on their own characteristics and abilities and begin to struggle with seeming inconsistencies in their self‐perceptions, as one ninth grader explained:
I really don’t understand how I can switch so fast from being cheerful with my friends, then coming home and feeling anxious, and then getting frustrated and sarcastic with my parents. Which one is the real me? (Harter, 1999, p. 67)

identity of who one is and what things are important to accomplish in life.

Eventually, perhaps around eleventh grade, most students integrate their various self‐perceptions into a complex, multifaceted sense of self that reconciles apparent contradictions—for instance, recognizing that their inconsistent behaviors on different occasions mean they are “flexible” (Harter, 1999). As older adolescents pull the numerous parts of themselves together, many of them begin to form a general sense of identity: a self‐constructed definition of who they are, what things they find important, and what goals they want to accomplish in life. In their ongoing search for a long‐ term identity, adolescents may initially take on temporary identities, aligning themselves with a particular peer group, insisting on a certain mode of dress, or continually changing their photo and self‐description on Facebook (Alemán & Vartman, 2009; Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009; Seaton, Scottham, & Sellers, 2006). Adolescents may also have somewhat different identities in different contexts, depending on the traditional roles they have played in each context (Eccles, 2009; Greeno, 2006). For example, a student might be a “loser” at school but a “star” in an out‐of‐school activity or a “leader” in a neighborhood gang. Erik Erikson proposed that most people achieve an overall sense of identity by the end of adolescence (see Figure 3.1). In contrast, many contemporary developmental theorists believe that identity formation continues to be a work‐in‐progress well into adulthood (e.g., Bandura, 2008;

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Eccles, 2009; Kaplan & Flum, 2009). Marcia (1980, 1991) has described four distinct patterns of behavior that may characterize the status of a young person’s search for identity: Identity diffusion. The individual has made no commitment to a particular career path or ideological belief system. Some haphazard experimentation with particular roles or beliefs may have taken place, but the individual hasn’t yet embarked on a serious exploration of issues related to self‐definition. Foreclosure. The individual has made a firm commitment to an occupation, a particular set of beliefs, or both. The choices have been based largely on what others (especially parents) have prescribed, without an earnest exploration of other possibilities. Moratorium. The individual has no strong commitment to a particular career or set of beliefs but is actively exploring and considering a variety of professions and ideologies. In essence, the individual is undergoing an identity crisis. Identity achievement. After going through a period of moratorium, the individual has emerged with a clear choice of occupation, a commitment to particular political or religious beliefs, or both. For most young people, the ideal situation seems to be to proceed through a period of moratorium— an exploration that may continue into adulthood—and to eventually settle on a clear identity (Berzonsky & Kuk, 2000; Marcia, 1988; Seaton et al., 2006). Table 3.1 presents developmental changes in children’s and adolescents’ sense of self and offers suggestions for how we, as teachers, can enhance their self‐perceptions at different grade levels. ethnic identity Awareness of one’s membership in a particular ethnic or cultural group, and willingness to adopt behaviors characteristic of the group.

As you undoubtedly know from your own experiences, students differ considerably in their self‐esteem and overall sense of self. Sometimes such differences are indirectly the result of biology. For instance, students who are physically attractive tend to have more positive self‐concepts than students with less appealing physical features (Harter, Whitesell, & Junkin, 1998). And on average, students with cognitive, social, or physical disabilities have lower self‐esteem than their classmates (T. Bryan, 1991; Marsh & Craven, 1997; Martinez & Huberty, 2010). Gender differences Some researchers find gender differences in overall self‐esteem, with boys rating themselves more highly than girls, especially in adolescence. Many students’ self‐perceptions tend to be consistent with stereotypes about what males and females are supposedly “good at.” For instance, even when actual ability levels are the same, boys tend to rate themselves more highly in math and sports, and girls tend to rate themselves more highly in language and literacy (Bracken, 2009; D. A. Cole et al., 2001; Herbert & Stipek, 2005; Joët, Usher, & Bressoux, 2011). Cultural and ethnic differences In many Native American communities and many Middle Eastern and Far Eastern countries, children and adolescents see their group membership and connections with other individuals as central parts of who they are as human beings (Kağitçibaşi, 2007; M. Ross & Wang, 2010; Whitesell, Mitchell, Kaufman, Spicer, & the Voices of Indian Teens Project Team, 2006). In addition, many young people have a strong ethnic identity: They’re both aware and proud of their ethnic group and willingly adopt some of the group’s behaviors. Occasionally, students’ ethnic identities can lead them to reject mainstream Western values. In some ethnic minority groups, peers may accuse high‐achieving students of “acting white,” a label that essentially means “You’re not one of us” (Bergin & Cooks, 2008; Cross, Strauss, & Fhagen‐ Smith, 1999; Ogbu, 2008a). For the most part, however, students with a strong and positive ethnic identity do well in school both academically and socially (Altschul, Oyserman, & Bybee, 2006; Smokowski, Buchanan, & Bacalleo, 2009; M. B. Spencer, Noll, Stoltzfus, & Harpalani, 2001). Furthermore, pride in one’s ethnic heritage and high academic achievement can serve as an emotional buffer against other people’s prejudicial insults and discrimination (L. Allen & Aber, 2006; P. J. Cook & Ludwig, 2008; DuBois, Burk‐Braxton, Swenson, Tevendale, & Hardesty, 2002). Consider this statement by Eva, an African American high school student, as an example:
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Encourage students to take pride in their cultural heritage.

I’m proud to be black and everything. But, um, I’m aware of, you know, racist acts and racist things that are happening in the world, but I use that as no excuse, you know. I feel as though I can succeed. . . . I just know that I’m not gonna let [racism] stop me. (Way, 1998, p. 257)

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Sense of Self at Different Grade Levels
GRADE LEVEL AGE‐TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS concrete, easily observable characteristics and chances of future success, especially in domains in which one has little or no prior experience

When 6‐year‐old Jeff is asked to describe himself, he says, “I like animals. I like making things. I do good in school. hair, light skin.” He mentions nothing about his shyness, sense of humor, and ability to work and play independently— characteristics that would require considerable self‐ reflection and abstract thought to identify. grade at his neighborhood middle school, his class work rapidly deteriorates, despite individualized instruction in reading and spelling. At home one day, his mother finds him curled in a ball under his desk, crying and saying, “I can’t do this anymore!” Alarmed, she takes him to a series of specialists, who diagnose eventually find a school that provides considerable structure and scaffolding for students with learning disabilities. improvement in virtually every area of the curriculum, and his self‐esteem skyrockets. Meghan describes a recent event in her eighth‐grade algebra class: “I had to cough but I knew if I did everyone would stare at me and think I I held my breath until I turned red and tears ran down my face and finally I coughed anyway and everyone really noticed then. It was horrible.” revises her profile on Facebook, editing her interests and favorites, the “About Me” section, and so on. And she regularly changes the photo that appears at the top of her

Encourage students to stretch their abilities by tackling the challenging tasks they think they can accomplish. Provide sufficient scaffolding to make success possible in various domains. Praise students for the things they do well; be specific about the behaviors you’re praising.

K–2 differentiation among particular strengths and weaknesses and shame with various self‐perceptions

Focus students’ attention on their improvement over time. Encourage pride in individual and group achievements, but be aware that students from some ethnic groups may prefer that recognition be given only for group achievements. Provide opportunities for students to look at one another’s work only when everyone has something to be proud of.


the transition to middle or junior high school (especially for girls) perceptions and judgments of oneself (imaginary audience) sometimes accompanied by risk taking and a sense of invulnerability to normal dangers (personal fable) identity; experimentation with a variety of possible identities perceptions into an overall, multifaceted sense of self

After students make the transition to middle school or junior high, be especially supportive and optimistic about their abilities and potential for success. Minimize opportunities for students to compare their own performance unfavorably with that of others. self‐consciousness; give them strategies for presenting themselves well to others. Give students opportunities to examine and try out a variety of adultlike roles. Encourage students to explore and take pride in their cultural and ethnic heritages. When discussing the potential consequences of risky behaviors, present the facts but don’t make students so anxious or upset that they can’t effectively learn and remember the information (e.g., avoid scare tactics).


(especially for boys) more sullen one; an early photo shows her in her basketball uniform, but a later one shows her in a skimpy party dress.


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Sources: Bracken, 2009; R. Butler, 2008; Davis‐Kean et al., 2008; Dweck, 2000; Elkind, 1981; Figner & Weber, 2011; Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009; Harter, 1999; Lockhart et al., 2002; Marcia, 1980, 1991; T. M. McDevitt & Ormrod, 2007 (Kellen example); Nell, 2002; Nuemi, 2008; O’Mara et al., 2006; Orenstein, 1994, p. 47 (Meghan example); Pajares, 2009; Robins & Trzesniewski, 2005; Seaton et al., 2006; Spear, 2007; Tatum, 1997; Whitesell et al., 2006.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Not all students from minority groups affiliate strongly with their cultural and ethnic groups. Some students—especially those with multiple racial or cultural heritages—fluctuate in the strength of their ethnic identity depending on the context and situation (Hitlin, Brown, & Elder, 2006; Y.‐Y. Hong, Wan, No, & Chiu, 2007; Yip & Fuligni, 2002). In addition, older adolescents may experiment with varying forms of an ethnic identity. Some teens, for instance, may initially adopt a fairly intense, inflexible, and perhaps hostile ethnic identify before eventually retreating to a more relaxed, open‐minded, and productive one (Cross et al., 1999; Nasir, McLaughlin, & Jones, 2009; Seaton et al., 2006).

Development of Peer Relationships and Interpersonal Understandings
For many students, interacting with and gaining the acceptance of peers—in some way fitting in—are more important than classroom learning and achievement (Crosnoe, 2011; Dowson & McInerney, 2001; LaFontana & Cillessen, 2010). Yet social success and academic success aren’t an either‐or situation. In fact, students who enjoy good relationships with their peers at school are more likely to achieve at high levels (Gest, Domitrovich, & Welsh, 2005; Patrick, Anderman, & Ryan, 2002; Pellegrini & Bohn, 2005).
For many students, relationships with peers are a high priority. For example, listen to 15‐year‐old Greg in


FIGURE 3.3 In this writing sample, Peer relationships, especially friendships, serve at least three unique functions in children’s 7‐year‐old Andrew describes the and adolescents’ personal and social development. For one thing, they provide an arena for many benefits of having friends. learning and practicing a variety of social skills, including cooperation, negotiation, emotional control, and conflict resolution (J. P. Allen & Antonishak, 2008; Coplan & Arbeau, 2009; Larson & Brown, 2007). In addition, peers provide companionship, safety, and emotional support, as illustrated in Figure 3.3. They become a group with whom to eat lunch, a safe haven from playground bullies, and shoulders to cry on in times of trouble or confusion (Jordan, 2006; Laursen, Bukowski, Aunola, & Nurmi, 2007; Wentzel, 2009). Many adolescents (especially girls) reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings to their friends (Levitt, Guacci‐Franco, & Levitt, 1993; Patrick et al., 2002; A. J. Rose, 2002). Friends often understand a teenager’s perspectives—the preoccupation with physical appearance, concerns about the opposite sex, and so on—when others are seemingly clueless. Peers play a third important role in personal and social development as well: They serve as socialization agents that help to mold children’s behaviors and beliefs (B. B. Brown, Bakken, Ameringer, & Mahon, 2008; A. M. Ryan, 2000). For example, they define options for leisure time—perhaps getting together to study or, instead, to drink a few beers. They serve as role models and provide standards for acceptable behavior, showing what’s possible, what’s admirable, what’s cool. And they sanction one another for stepping beyond acceptable bounds, perhaps through ridicule, gossip, or ostracism. Such peer pressure has its greatest effects during early adolescence, with teenagers who have weak emotional bonds to their families being especially susceptible (Berndt, Laychak, & Park, 1990; Erwin, 1993; Urdan & Maehr, 1995). THE REAL SCOOP ON PEER PRESSURE A common misconception is that peer pressure is invariably a bad thing. In fact, it’s a mixed bag. Many peers encourage such desirable qualities as working hard in school, treating people kindly, and engaging in community service. Others, however, encourage cutting class, engaging in aggression, consuming alcohol or drugs, or in other ways behaving unproductively (Mayeux, Houser, & Dyches, 2011; Prinstein & Dodge, 2008; Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009; E. N. Walker, 2006; Wentzel & Looney, 2007). Although peer pressure certainly is a factor affecting development, its overall influence on children’s behaviors has probably been overrated. Most children acquire a strong set of values and behavioral standards from their families, and they don’t necessarily abandon these values and standards in the company of peers (B. B. Brown, 1990; W. A. Collins et al., 2000; Galambos, Barker, & Almeida, 2003). Furthermore, they tend to choose friends who are similar to themselves in academic achievement, leisure‐time activities, and long‐term goals (Kindermann, 2007; Prinstein & Dodge, 2008; A. M. Ryan, 2001).

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peer pressure Phenomenon whereby age‐mates encourage some behaviors and discourage others.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Much of the pressure to conform to others’ standards and expectations actually comes from within rather than from outside. In particular, most children and adolescents engage in self‐socialization, putting pressure on themselves to adopt the behaviors they think others will find acceptable (B. B. Brown, 1990; Bukowski, Velasquez, & Brendgen, 2008; Crosnoe, 2011; Juvonen, 2006). For instance, many young adolescents are quite concerned about adhering to self‐construed social norms, to the point of imitating peers’ choices in dress, slang, and other behaviors. In some cases, they may lead double lives that enable them to attain academic success while maintaining peer acceptance (Grimes, 2002; Hemmings, 2004; Juvonen, 2006; Mac Iver, Reuman, & Main, 1995). For example, although they attend class and faithfully do homework, they may feign disinterest in scholarly activities, disrupt class with jokes or goofy behaviors, and express surprise at receiving high grades. In addition, they may act tough when they’re in public, saving their softer sides for more private circumstances, as one sixth grader’s reflection reveals:

Young adolescents often work hard to look cool in the eyes of their peers, as this drawing by 11‐year‐old Marci illustrates.

You’d still have to have your bad attitude. You have to act—it’s just like a movie. You have to act. And then at home you’re a regular kind of guy, you don’t act mean or nothing. But when you’re around your friends you have to be sharp and stuff like that, like push everybody around. (Juvonen & Cadigan, 2002, p. 282)
Help students look good in the eyes of their peers.

As teachers, we can help students maintain a good public image in a variety of ways. For instance, we can help them acquire skills for presenting themselves in a favorable light— public‐speaking techniques, personal hygiene strategies, and so on. We can assign small‐group projects in which every student has a unique talent to contribute. And when valued classmates ridicule academic achievement, we can allow students to demonstrate their accomplishments privately (e.g., through written assignments or one‐on‐one conversations) instead of in front of classmates.

Some peers are, of course, more influential than others. In this section we look at a variety of peer relationships and then consider the effects of popularity and social isolation. FRIENDSHIPS Close friends find activities that are mutually meaningful and enjoyable, and over time they acquire a common set of experiences that enable them to share certain perspectives on life (Gottman, 1986; Suttles, 1970). Because friends typically have an emotional investment in their relationship, they work hard to look at situations from one another’s point of view and to resolve disputes that threaten to separate them. As a result, they develop increased perspective‐taking and conflict resolution skills. Close friendships also foster self‐esteem and a general sense of well‐being (Basinger, Gibbs, & Fuller, 1995; Berndt, 1992; Bukowski, Motzoi, & Meyer, 2009; Newcomb & Bagwell, 1995). LARGER SOCIAL GROUPS With age and experience, many students form larger social groups that frequently get together. In early adolescence, cliques—moderately stable friendship groups of perhaps three to ten individuals—provide the setting for most voluntary social interactions. Clique boundaries tend to be fairly rigid and exclusive—some people are “in,” others are “out”—and memberships in various cliques often affect students’ social status (B. B. Brown, 2011; Crockett, Losoff, & Peterson, 1984; Goodwin, 2006; Kindermann, McCollam, & Gibson, 1996). Crowds are considerably larger than cliques and don’t have the tight‐knit cohesiveness and carefully drawn boundaries of cliques. Their members tend to share certain characteristics and behaviors (e.g., “brains” study a lot, “jocks” are active in sports), attitudes about academic achievement, and (occasionally) ethnic background (B. B. Brown, 2011; Steinberg, 1996). Crowd membership may or may not be a voluntary thing; for instance, membership in a so‐called “popular”

As children get older, their friendships increasingly involve emotional attachments as well as sources of recreation. Observe this developmental trend in “Friendships.”

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

69 crowd is apt to be based as much on a student’s reputation as on his or her actual efforts to affiliate with certain peers (B. B. Brown et al., 2008; Juvonen & Galván, 2008). Occasionally a crowd takes the form of a subculture, a group that resists a powerful dominant culture by adopting a significantly different lifestyle (J. S. Epstein, 1998). Some subcultures are relatively benign; for example, the baggy‐pants skaters with whom my son Alex affiliated spent much of their free time riding skateboards and addressing everyone as “dude.” Other subcultures are worrisome, such as those that endorse racist and anti‐Semitic behaviors (e.g., skinheads) and those that practice Satanic worship and rituals. Adolescents are more likely to affiliate with troublesome subcultures when they feel alienated from the dominant culture—perhaps that of their school or that of society more generally—and want to distinguish themselves from it in some way (Crosnoe, 2011; J. R. Harris, 1998). In the upper high school grades, a greater capacity for abstract thought allows many adolescents to think of other people more as unique individuals and less as members of stereotypical categories. They may also discover characteristics they have in common with peers from diverse backgrounds. Perhaps as a result of such changes, ties to specific social groups tend to dissipate, hostilities between groups soften, and students become more flexible in their friendship choices (B. B. Brown, Eicher, & Petrie, 1986; Gavin & Fuhrman, 1989; Shrum & Cheek, 1987). GANGS A gang is a cohesive social group characterized by initiation rites, distinctive colors and symbols, “ownership” of a specific territory, and feuds with one or more rival groups. Typically, gangs are governed by strict rules for behavior and stiff penalties for violations. Adolescents (and sometimes younger children as well) affiliate with gangs for a variety of reasons. Some do so as a way of demonstrating loyalty to their family, friends, or neighborhood. Some seek the status and prestige that gang membership brings. Some have poor academic records and perceive gang activity as an alternative means of gaining recognition for accomplishments. Many members of gangs have troubled relationships with their families or have been consistently rejected by peers, and so they turn to gangs to get the emotional support they can find nowhere else (Dishion, Piehler, & Myers, 2008; Kodluboy, 2004; Petersen, 2004; Simons, Whitbeck, Conger, & Conger, 1991). As teachers, we can definitely make a difference in the lives of any gang members in our classes (S. G. Freedman, 1990; Parks, 1995). We must, first and foremost, show these students that we truly care about them and their well‐being. For instance, we can be willing listeners in times of trouble and can provide the support that gang members need to achieve both academic and social success. We must also have some knowledge of students’ backgrounds—their cultural values, economic circumstances, and so on—so that we can better understand the issues with which they may be dealing. And we must certainly work cooperatively and proactively with our colleagues to minimize violent gang activity at school. ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS As early as the primary grades, children talk of having boyfriends or girlfriends, and the opposite sex is a subject of interest throughout the elementary school years. With the onset of adolescence, the biological changes of puberty bring on new and sometimes unsettling feelings and sexual desires. Not surprisingly, then, romance is a frequent topic of conversation in the middle and high school grades. Middle school students’ romances tend to exist more in their minds than in reality; for instance, two students might be identified as “going out” even if they never actually date. Young adolescents’ romantic thoughts may also involve crushes on people who are out of reach—perhaps favorite teachers or movie stars (B. B. Brown, 1999; Eckert, 1989; B. C. Miller & Benson, 1999). Eventually many adolescents begin to date, especially if their friends are dating. Early choices in dating partners are often based on physical attractiveness or social status, and dates may involve only limited and superficial interaction (B. B. Brown, 2011; Furman, Brown, & Feiring, 1999; Pellegrini, 2002). As adolescents move into the high school grades, some form more intense, affectionate, and long‐term relationships with members of the opposite sex, and these relationships often (but by no means always) lead to sexual intimacy (J. Connolly & Goldberg, 1999; Furman & Collins, 2009). The age of first sexual intercourse has decreased steadily over the last few decades; in the United States in recent years, fewer than half of 18‐year‐olds have remained virgins (S. Moore & Rosenthal, 2006). self‐socialization Tendency to integrate personal observations and others’ input into self‐constructed standards for behavior and to choose actions consistent with those standards. clique Moderately stable friendship group of perhaps three to ten members. crowd that shares certain common interests and behaviors.

subculture Group that resists the ways of the dominant culture and adopts its own norms for behavior.

gang Cohesive social group characterized by initiation rites, distinctive colors and symbols, territorial orientation, and feuds with rival groups.

Provide the academic, social, and emotional support that gang members need to be successful at school.

Chapter 13 offers specific strategies for minimizing—and ideally eliminating— gang‐related aggression and violence at school.

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For many children, thoughts of romance emerge early, as 5‐year‐ old Isabelle’s artwork illustrates.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER From a developmental standpoint, romantic relationships have definite benefits: They can address young people’s needs for companionship, affection, and security, and they provide an opportunity to experiment with new social skills and interpersonal behaviors (Davila, 2008; Furman & Simon, 2008; B. C. Miller & Benson, 1999). At the same time, romance can wreak havoc with adolescents’ emotions. Adolescents have more extreme mood swings than younger children or adults, and for many this instability may be partly due to the excitement and frustration of being romantically involved or not involved (Davila, 2008; Furman & Collins, 2009; Larson, Clore, & Wood, 1999). As students reach high school (occasionally earlier), a significant minority of them find themselves attracted to their own sex either instead of or in addition to the opposite sex. Adolescence can be a particularly confusing time for gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. Some struggle to make sense of their sexual orientation and may experience considerable depression. Yet many others enjoy good mental health, especially if their home and school environments communicate acceptance of diverse sexual orientations (Espelage, Aragon, Birkett, & Koenig, 2008; J. P. Robinson & Espelage, 2011; Savin‐Williams, 2008). The extent to which we, as teachers, talk about sexuality with our students must be dictated, in part, by the policies of the school and the values of the community in which we work. At the same time, especially if we’re teaching at the middle school or high school level, we must be aware that romantic and sexual relationships, whether real or imagined, are a considerable source of excitement, frustration, confusion, and distraction for students, and we must lend a sympathetic ear and an open mind to those students who seek our counsel and support. POPULARITY AND SOCIAL ISOLATION When my daughter Tina was in junior high school, she sometimes told me, “No one likes the popular kids.” As self‐contradictory as Tina’s remark might seem, it’s consistent with research findings. When students are asked to identify their most “popular” classmates, they identify peers who have dominant social status at school (perhaps those who belong to a prestigious social group) but in many cases are aggressive or snobby (Cillessen, Schwartz, & Mayeux, 2011; W. E. Ellis & Zarbatany, 2007). Truly popular students—those whom many classmates select as people they’d like to do things with—may or may not hold high‐status positions, but they’re kind and socially skillful, as Lupita is in the opening case study. They also tend to show genuine concern for others—for instance, by sharing, cooperating, and empathizing with peers (Asher & McDonald, 2009; Cillessen & Rose, 2005; Mayeux et al., 2011). In contrast to popular students, rejected students are those whom classmates select as being the least preferred social companions. Students with few social skills—for example, those who are impulsive or aggressive—typically experience peer rejection (Bukowski, Brendgen, & Vitaro, 2007; S. Pedersen, Vitaro, Barker, & Borge, 2007; Pellegrini, Bartini, & Brooks, 1999). Students who are noticeably overweight and those who appear to be gay or lesbian are also frequent targets of ridicule, harassment, and rejection (Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, & Hymel, 2010). When students experience consistent peer rejection over a lengthy period, they may withdraw either physically or mentally from classroom activities, or they may engage in inappropriate attention‐getting behaviors; in either case, their academic achievement suffers as a result (Bellmore, 2011; Ladd, Herald‐Brown, & Reiser, 2008; Snyder et al., 2008). A third group, controversial students, are a mixed bag, in that some peers really like them and others really dislike them. These students can, like rejected students, be quite aggressive, but they also have good social skills that make them popular with at least some of their peers (Asher & McDonald, 2009; Mayeux et al., 2011; D. Schwartz & Gorman, 2011). Researchers have described a fourth category as well. Neglected students are those whom peers rarely choose as someone they would either most like or least like to do something with (Asher & Renshaw, 1981). Some neglected students prefer to be alone, others are quite shy or don’t know how to go about initiating interaction, and still others are content with having only one or two close friends (Gazelle & Ladd, 2003; Guay, Boivin, & Hodges, 1999; McElhaney, Antonishak, & Allen, 2008). For some students, neglected status is a relatively temporary situation. Others are totally friendless for extended periods—for instance, this is often the case for recent immigrants and for students with disabilities—and these students are at increased risk for depression (Gazelle & Ladd, 2003; Igoa, 2007; Yuker, 1988).

Offer emotional support when valued romantic relationships fizzle or don’t materialize.

In this self‐portrait, 10‐year‐old Sarah characterizes herself as a nerd (“neard”)—that is, as someone who isn’t as “cool” as she might be within her peer group.

popular student peers like and perceive to be kind and trustworthy.

rejected student many peers identify as being an undesirable social partner.

controversial student some peers strongly like and other peers strongly dislike.

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neglected student whom most peers have no strong feelings, either positive or negative.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Especially in the middle school and high school grades, most students are well aware of which peers do and don’t have high social status. Some students put considerable pressure on themselves to gain or maintain membership in an allegedly “popular” group, occasionally casting old friends aside and engaging in socially hurtful behaviors in an effort to gain the admiration of prestigious peers. Not all of these students successfully climb to the top of the social hierarchy, of course, and their failure to do so can leave them feeling isolated, depressed, and uninterested in school achievement (Cillessen et al., 2011; Crosnoe, 2011). As teachers, we can help offset the hard feelings that peer rejection or neglect may engender by being particularly warm and attentive to socially isolated students (Crosnoe, 2011; Wentzel, 1999). In fact, when we show that we like particular students, their classmates are more likely to accept and act positively toward them as well (Chang, 2003; Chang et al., 2004). We can also assist with interpersonal skills. Because of their social isolation, rejected and neglected students have fewer opportunities to develop the social skills that many of them desperately need (Coie & Cillessen, 1993; McElhaney et al., 2008).

Model positive feelings and behaviors toward rejected and neglected students, and help these students acquire good social skills.

To be effective in interpersonal relationships, students must engage in social cognition: They must consider how people around them are likely to think about, behave in, and react to various situations. Those who think regularly about other people’s thoughts and feelings tend to be socially skillful and make friends easily (Bosacki, 2000; P. L. Harris, 2006; Izard et al., 2001). Some psychologists propose that social cognition is a distinct human ability—which they call emotional intelligence—whereas others believe that it is simply an integral part of people’s general intellectual and social functioning (J. D. Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2008; Waterhouse, 2006; Zeidner, Roberts, & Matthews, 2002). PERSPECTIVE TAKING One important element of social cognition is perspective taking, looking at the world from other people’s viewpoints. The following situation provides an example.

Consider this scenario:
Kenny and Mark are co‐captains of the soccer team. They have one person left to choose for the team. Without saying anything, Mark winks at Kenny and looks at Tom, who is one of the remaining children left to be chosen for the team. Mark looks back at Kenny and smiles. Kenny nods and chooses Tom to be on their team. Tom sees Mark and Kenny winking and smiling at each other. Tom, who is usually one of the last to be picked for team sports, wonders why Kenny wants him to be on his team. . . .

know this? . . .

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To answer these questions, you must look at the situation from the perspectives of the three children involved. For instance, if you put yourself in Tom’s shoes, you might suspect that he has mixed feelings. If he enjoys soccer, he may be happy to have a chance to play, but he may also be wondering whether the other boys’ nonverbal signals indicate a malicious intention to make him look foolish on the soccer field. And, of course, Tom may feel embarrassed or demoralized at consistently being one of the last children picked for a team. (Accordingly, asking some students to select classmates for team games is generally not recommended.) Recent brain research indicates that, to some degree, human beings may be “prewired” to look at situations from other people’s perspectives as well as their own. In particular, certain

social cognition Process of thinking about how other people are likely to think, act, and react. perspective taking Ability to look at a situation from someone else’s viewpoint.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER neurons in the brain, known as mirror neurons, fire either when a person is performing a particular behavior or when the person watches someone else perform that behavior. Some of these mirror neurons are involved both in feeling certain emotions—perhaps disgust or anguish—and in observing such emotions in others’ facial expressions (Gallese, Gernsbacher, Heyes, Hickok, & Iacoboni, 2011; Rizzolatti & Sinigaglia, 2008). Yet truly effective perspective taking also involves active, conscious thinking and learning about human beings’ general mental and psychological states. As children grow older, most develop and increasingly refine a theory of mind—a self‐constructed understanding of their own and others’ thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and motives. The development of a theory of mind appears to involve the prefrontal cortex of the brain—a part of the brain that continues to mature over the course of childhood and adolescence (Liu, Sabbagh, Gehring, & Wellman, 2009; Steinberg, 2009). Probably as a result of both experience and brain maturation, children gain an increasingly complex understanding of human thought processes and feelings as they grow older, enabling them to become increasingly effective in interacting with others (Flavell, 2000; A. Gopnik & Meltzoff, 1997; Wellman & Gelman, 1998). Childhood Consistent with what we know about cognitive development, young children tend to focus on other people’s concrete, observable characteristics and behaviors (e.g., look once again at Andrew’s essay in Figure 3.3). However, they do have some awareness of other people’s inner worlds. As early as age 4 or 5, they realize that what they know may be different from what other people know (Wellman, Cross, & Watson, 2001; Wimmer & Perner, 1983). They also have some ability to make inferences about other people’s mental and emotional states—for instance, to deduce that people who behave in certain ways have certain intentions or feelings (P. L. Harris, 2006; Schult, 2002; Wellman, Phillips, & Rodriguez, 2000). As children progress through the elementary grades, they also begin to understand that people’s actions don’t always reflect their thoughts and feelings—for instance, that someone who appears to be happy may actually feel sad (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 2002; Gnepp, 1989; Selman, 1980). Early adolescence Most young adolescents realize that people can have mixed feelings about events and other individuals (Donaldson & Westerman, 1986; Flavell & Miller, 1998; Harter & Whitesell, 1989). And courtesy of their expanding cognitive abilities, memory capacity, and social awareness, young adolescents become capable of recursive thinking (Oppenheimer, 1986; Perner & Wimmer, 1985). That is, they can think about what other people might be thinking about them and eventually can reflect on other people’s thoughts about them through multiple iterations (e.g., “You think that I think that you think . . .”). This isn’t to say that adolescents (or adults, for that matter) always use this capacity, however. Consistent with our earlier discussion of the imaginary audience, focusing primarily about one’s own perspective is a common phenomenon in the early adolescent years (Tsethlikai & Greenhoot, 2006; Tsethlikai, Guthrie‐Fulbright, & Loera, 2007). Late adolescence In the high school years, teenagers can draw on a rich body of knowledge derived from numerous social experiences. Consequently, they become ever more skillful at drawing inferences about people’s psychological characteristics, intentions, and needs (Eisenberg, Carlo, Murphy, & Van Court, 1995; Paget, Kritt, & Bergemann, 1984). In addition, they’re more attuned to the complex dynamics that influence behavior—not only thoughts, feelings, and present circumstances but also past experiences (C. A. Flanagan & Tucker, 1999; Selman, 1980). What we see emerging in the high school years, then, is a budding psychologist: an individual who can be quite astute in deciphering and explaining the motives and actions of others. Promoting perspective taking Virtually any classroom offers many opportunities for perspective taking. One strategy is to talk frequently about people’s thoughts, feelings, and motives (Ruffman, Slade, & Crowe, 2002; Wittmer & Honig, 1994; Woolfe, Want, & Siegal, 2002). In the process, we must, of course, use age‐appropriate language. With first graders we might use such words as think, want, and sadness. With fifth graders we might talk about misunderstanding, frustration, and mixed feelings. Most high school students have the cognitive and social reasoning capabilities to understand fairly abstract and complex psychological terms, such as being passive‐ aggressive and having an inner moral compass.

mirror neuron that fires either when a person is performing a particular behavior or when the person sees someone else perform the behavior.

theory of mind understanding of one’s own and other people’s mental and psychological states (thoughts, feelings, etc.).

recursive thinking Thinking about what other people may be thinking about oneself, possibly through multiple iterations.

When students seem focused only on their own points of view, encourage them to consider why others might reasonably think and behave as they do.

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sophisticated with age. For example, listen to children of various ages in “Emotions.”

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Another important strategy is to take advantage of situations in which people have diverse perspectives and beliefs about a situation. For example, in times of disagreement or conflict, students and teachers alike benefit from putting themselves in the other party’s shoes (Adalbjarnardottir & Selman, 1997; Gehlbach, Brinkworth, & Harris, 2011). And when two or more students clash in the classroom or elsewhere on school grounds, an effective approach is peer mediation, in which specially trained peers elicit their differing points of view and help them reach an equitable solution (Deutsch, 1993; D. W. Johnson & Johnson, 1996, 2006). Opportunities for perspective taking also arise in lessons about academic subject matter. For example, in discussions of current events, teachers might have different students—or, using the Internet, different classrooms—take different countries’ perspectives as they explore significant world problems, such as climate change or arms control (Gehlbach et al., 2008). SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING Children and adolescents have a lot to think about when they consider what other people are thinking, feeling, and doing. The mental processes involved in understanding and responding to social events are collectively known as social information processing (e.g., Burgess, Wojslawowicz, Rubin, Rose‐Krasnor, & Booth‐LaForce, 2006; Fontaine, Yang, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 2008; E. R. Smith & Semin, 2007). Among other things, social information processing involves paying attention to certain behaviors in a social situation and trying to interpret and make sense of those behaviors. For example, when students interact with classmates, they might focus on certain remarks, facial expressions, and body language and try to figure out what a classmate really means by, say, a thoughtless comment or sheepish grin. Students also consider one or more goals they hope to achieve during an interaction—perhaps preserving a friendship, on the one hand, or teaching somebody a “lesson,” on the other. Then, taking into account both their interpretations and their goals, students draw on their previous knowledge and experiences to identify a number of possible responses and choose what is, in their eyes, a productive course of action. As we’ll see in the next section, an understanding of social information processing is especially helpful in explaining why some students are unusually aggressive toward their peers.
Frequently ask students to reflect on other people’s thoughts, feelings, and motives.

Chapter 10 describes peer mediation in more detail.

Chapter 6 discusses information processing theory, on which this concept of social information processing is based.

Aggressive behavior is an action intentionally taken to hurt another person either physically or psychologically. It sometimes involves physical aggression, an action that can potentially cause bodily injury (e.g., hitting, shoving). In other cases it involves psychological aggression, an action intended to cause mental anguish or reduce self‐esteem. One form of psychological aggression is relational aggression, an action that can adversely affect friendships and other interpersonal relationships (e.g., ostracizing a peer, spreading unkind rumors). As a general rule, aggression declines over the course of childhood and adolescence, but it increases for a short time after students make the transition from elementary school to middle school or junior high (Pellegrini, 2002). Researchers have identified two distinct groups of aggressive students (Crick & Dodge, 1996; Poulin & Boivin, 1999; Vitaro, Gendreau, Tremblay, & Oligny, 1998). Those who engage in proactive aggression deliberately initiate aggressive behaviors as a means of obtaining desired goals. Those who engage in reactive aggression act aggressively primarily in response to frustration or provocation. Of the two groups, students who exhibit proactive aggression are more likely to have trouble maintaining productive friendships (Hanish, Kochenderfer‐Ladd, Fabes, Martin, & Denning, 2004; Poulin & Boivin, 1999). Those who direct considerable aggression toward particular peers—whether it be physical or psychological aggression—are known as bullies. Students who are immature, anxious, and socially isolated are frequent victims of bullies, as are students with nontraditional sexual orientations and students with disabilities (Hamovitch, 2007; J. P. Robinson & Espelage, 2011; M. W. Watson, Andreas, Fischer, & Smith, 2005). Some children and adolescents are genetically more predisposed to aggression than their peers, and others may exhibit heightened aggression as a result of neurological abnormalities (Brendgen et al., 2008; Raine, 2008; van Goozen, Fairchild, & Harold, 2008). But environmental factors can foster aggressive behavior as well. Many aggressive students live in dysfunctional conditions at home, perhaps including frequent conflicts and displays of anger, harsh punishment or child maltreatment, and a general lack of affection and appropriate social behavior (Christenson, 2004; Maikovich, Jaffee, Odgers, & Gallop, 2008; Pettit, 2004). In addition, regular exposure to violence

social information processing
Mental processes involved in making sense of and responding to social events.

aggressive behavior Action intentionally taken to hurt another either physically or psychologically. physical aggression Action that can potentially cause bodily injury. psychological aggression Action intended to cause mental anguish or reduce self‐esteem. relational aggression Action that can adversely affect interpersonal relationships; a form of psychological aggression. proactive aggression Deliberate aggression against another as a means of obtaining a desired goal. reactive aggression Aggressive response to frustration or provocation. bully Person who frequently threatens, harasses, or causes injury to particular peers.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER in the community or through various media (e.g., television, music, video games) seems to increase aggressive behavior in young people (C. A. Anderson et al., 2003; Greitemeyer, 2011; Guerra, Huesmann, & Spindler, 2003; Huesmann, Moise‐Titus, Podolski, & Eron, 2003). It’s important to note that many children and adolescents who are routinely exposed to violence at home or elsewhere are not especially aggressive (Margolin & Gordis, 2004; M. J. Pearce, Jones, Schwab‐Stone, & Ruchkin, 2003). Certain cognitive and motivational factors seem to underlie aggressive behavior, including the following: Poor perspective‐taking ability. Students who are highly aggressive tend to have limited ability to look at situations from other people’s perspectives or to empathize with their victims (Coie & Dodge, 1998; Damon & Hart, 1988; Marcus, 1980). Misinterpretation of social cues. Students who are aggressive toward peers tend to interpret others’ behaviors as reflecting hostile intentions, especially when those behaviors have ambiguous meanings. This hostile attributional bias is especially prevalent in children who are prone to reactive aggression (Bukowski et al., 2007; Crick, Grotpeter, & Bigbee, 2002; Dodge et al., 2003). Prevalence of self‐serving goals. For most students, establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships is a high priority. For aggressive students, however, achieving more self‐serving goals—perhaps maintaining an inflated self‐image, seeking revenge, or gaining power and dominance—often takes precedence (Baumeister et al., 1996; Cillessen & Rose, 2005; Menon et al., 2007; Pellegrini, Roseth, Van Ryzin, & Solberg, 2011). Ineffective social problem‐solving strategies. Aggressive students often have little knowledge of how to persuade, negotiate, or compromise. Instead, they’re apt to resort to hitting, shoving, barging into play activities, and other ineffective strategies (Neel, Jenkins, & Meadows, 1990; D. Schwartz et al., 1998; Troop‐Gordon & Asher, 2005). Belief in the appropriateness and effectiveness of aggression. Many aggressive students believe that violence and other forms of aggression are acceptable ways of resolving conflicts and retaliating against others’ misdeeds (Paciello, Fida, Tramontano, Lupinetti, & Caprara, 2008; M. W. Watson et al., 2005; Zelli, Dodge, Lochman, & Laird, 1999). Those who display high rates of proactive aggression are also apt to believe that aggressive action will yield positive results—for instance, that it will enhance social status at school or restore “honor” to one’s family or social group (R. P. Brown, Osterman, & Barnes, 2009; Mayeux et al., 2011; Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000). Not surprisingly, aggressive children tend to associate with one another, thereby confirming one another’s beliefs that aggression is appropriate (Crick, Murray‐Close, Marks, & Mohajeri‐Nelson, 2009; Espelage & Swearer, 2004). Both initiators and recipients of aggression often have problems later on. Unless adults actively intervene, many aggressive students (especially those who exhibit proactive aggression) show a continuing pattern of aggression and violence as they grow older, and such a pattern almost guarantees long‐term maladjustment and difficulties with peers (Dodge et al., 2003; Ladd & Troop‐Gordon, 2003; Swearer et al., 2010). Meanwhile, children who are frequent targets of bullying can become anxious and depressed—sometimes suicidal—and their classroom performance deteriorates as a result (Hoglund, 2007; Russell et al., 2011; D. Schwartz, Gorman, Nakamoto, & Toblin, 2005; Swearer et al., 2010). An entry in one high school student’s journal illustrates just how devastating bullying can be:
One day in junior high, I was getting off the school bus from a seat in the back. . . . I heard people shouting, “Hey, Fatso!” “You big buffalo!” . . . In order to leave the bus I had to walk through a long crowded aisle and face the obnoxious girls. As I stood up, the girls followed. They crowded together, and approached me as if they were ready to strike at me. . . . The girls began to kick and sock me repeatedly. . . . They continued to hurt me as if there was nothing more important to them than to see me in pain. The last few kicks were the hardest; all I wanted to do was get off the bus alive. . . . Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I was able to release myself from their torture. I got off the bus alive. Imagining that the worst had already passed, I began to walk away from the bus and the girls stuck their heads out the window and spit on me. I could not believe it! They spit on my face! . . . While I was cleaning my face with a napkin, I could still hear the girls laughing. (Freedom Writers, 1999, pp. 37–38)

hostile attributional bias Tendency to interpret others’ behaviors as reflecting hostile or aggressive intentions.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Often the psychological aggression involved in bullying—taunts, name‐calling, blatant exclusion from social activities, and so on—is more harmful than any physical aggression that accompanies it (Doll, Song, & Siemers, 2004; Goodwin, 2006). Even innocent bystanders tend to suffer from the aggression they witness at school. For example, when they observe one classmate bullying another, their own sense of safety at school diminishes (M. J. Mayer & Furlong, 2010; Rivers, Poteat, Noret, & Ashurst, 2009). Furthermore, if they see bullying and other aggressive behaviors going unpunished, they may come to believe that such actions are perfectly acceptable (E. J. Meyer, 2009; D. T. Miller & Prentice, 1994). As teachers, we must intervene when some students victimize others, and we must keep a watchful eye for additional incidents of physical or psychological aggression down the road. Regular victims of aggression need social and emotional support from us and from their classmates. Some may also need one or more sessions with a school counselor, perhaps to address feelings of vulnerability and depression or perhaps to learn skills that will minimize future victimization incidents (Espelage & Swearer, 2004; R. S. Newman, 2008; Yeung & Leadbeater, 2007). The perpetrators of aggression require intervention as well. They must be given appropriate consequences for their actions, of course, but they should also be helped to behave more appropriately. Specific strategies should be tailored to the thoughts and motives that underlie their aggression. Such strategies as encouraging perspective taking, helping students interpret social situations more accurately, and teaching effective social problem‐solving skills are potentially useful in reducing aggression and other disruptive behaviors (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2006; Frey, Hirschstein, Edstrom, & Snell, 2009; Guerra & Slaby, 1990; Horne, Orpinas, Newman‐Carlson, & Bartolomucci, 2004; Hudley & Graham, 1993). Putting students in situations where they must explicitly help, rather than harm, others—for instance, asking them to tutor younger children—can also be beneficial (J. R. Sullivan & Conoley, 2004). Ultimately, interventions with aggressive students are most likely to be effective if schools communicate the importance of acting kindly and respectfully toward all members of the school community, teachers and students alike (Espelage & Swearer, 2004; E. J. Meyer, 2009; Parada, Craven, & Marsh, 2008; S. W. Ross & Horner, 2009). cyberbullying Engaging in psychological aggression via wireless technologies or the Internet.

and other forms of aggression, and take appropriate actions with both the victims and the perpetrators.

With the advent of cell telephone technology, text‐messaging software, and easy access to the Internet, many students now communicate quite frequently—daily, sometimes almost hourly— with some of their peers (Crosnoe, 2011; Greenhow et al., 2009; Valkenburg & Peter, 2009). For instance, e‐mail and instant messaging (“IM‐ing”) allow quick and easy ways of asking classmates about homework assignments, making plans for weekend social activities, and seeking friends’ advice and emotional support. Networking sites (e.g.,, provide a means of sharing personal information (e.g., news, interests, photos) and potentially finding like‐minded age‐mates. Internet‐based chat rooms allow group discussions about virtually any topic. Judicious use of such mechanisms can enhance students’ self‐esteem, connectedness with peers, social problem solving, and general psychological well‐being (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Greenhow et al., 2009; Gross, Juvonen, & Gable, 2002; Valkenburg & Peter, 2009). Unfortunately, wireless technologies and the Internet also provide vehicles for cyberbullying—electronically transmitting hostile messages, broadcasting personally embarrassing information, or in other ways causing an individual significant psychological distress. For example, a student might upload humiliating video footage on YouTube, post humiliating (and possibly false) gossip on Facebook, or set up a website on which classmates can “vote” for their class’s “biggest loser” or “easiest slut” (Shariff, 2008; Valkenburg & Peter, 2009; Willard, 2007). Cyberbullying can be more harmful than face‐to‐face bullying, in part because the perpetrators often remain anonymous (and so can’t be confronted) and in part because highly defamatory material can spread like wildfire among a large peer group (Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Rivers, Chesney, & Coyne, 2011). To the extent that we have opportunities, then, we should talk with students about wise and socially appropriate uses of modern technology, and we must explain in no uncertain terms that cyberbullying in any form—whether it involves taunts, threats, unkind rumors, or any other material that can cause psychological harm to others—is totally unacceptable. And, of course, we must monitor students’ in‐class use of the Internet.

Teachers must intervene when students are either the perpetrators or victims of aggression. Gain practice in the


Explain what cyberbullying is and why it is unacceptable.

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Some students with disabilities have delays in the development of social cognition and, as a result, often have trouble in interpersonal relationships. For example, students with significant delays in their overall cognitive development (i.e., children with intellectual disabilities) typically have limited understanding of appropriate behaviors in social situations (S. Greenspan & Granfield, 1992; Leffert, Siperstein, & Millikan, 2000). Also, some students with seemingly normal cognitive abilities have specific deficits in social cognition. In a mild form of autism known as Asperger syndrome, students may show average or above‐average academic achievement but have great difficulty drawing accurate inferences from others’ behaviors and body language, apparently as a result of a brain abnormality (G. Dawson & Bernier, 2007; Hobson, 2004; Tager‐Flusberg, 2007). In addition, many students with chronic emotional and behavioral disabilities have poor perspective‐taking and social problem‐ solving abilities and thus may have few, if any, friends (Harter et al., 1998; Lind, 1994). Gender differences Gender differences have been observed in interpersonal behaviors. Boys tend to hang out in large groups, whereas girls tend to favor smaller, more intimate gatherings with close friends (Maccoby, 2002). Also, girls seem to be more astute at reading other people’s body language, and they work hard to maintain group harmony (Benenson et al., 2002; Bosacki, 2000; Rudolph et al., 2005). Furthermore, aggression tends to take different forms in boys (who are prone to physical aggression) and in girls (who are more apt to engage in relational aggression, disrupting friendships and tarnishing others’ reputations) (Card, Stucky, Sawalani, & Little, 2008; Crick et al., 2002; Pellegrini, 2011; Pellegrini & Archer, 2005). Cultural and ethnic differences Interpersonal behaviors vary from culture to culture as well. For instance, some cultural groups (e.g., some groups in northern Canada and in the South Pacific) regularly use seemingly antisocial behaviors—especially teasing and ridicule—to teach children to remain calm and handle criticism (Rogoff, 2003). In contrast, many Native Americans, many people of Hispanic heritage, and certain African American communities place particular emphasis on group harmony, and many Asian groups strongly discourage aggression. Children from these backgrounds may be especially adept at negotiation and peace making (Gardiner & Kosmitzki, 2008; Guthrie, 2001; Halgunseth et al., 2006; Rubin, Cheah, & Menzer, 2010; Witmer, 1996).

As teachers, we’re in an excellent position to assess how students think about and behave in social situations and to help them interact more effectively with others. Following are several strategies that research has shown to be effective. Provide numerous opportunities for social interaction and cooperation. For instance, students’ play activities—whether the fantasy play of preschoolers and kindergartners or the rule‐based games of older children and adolescents—can promote cooperation, sharing, perspective taking, and conflict resolution skills (Coplan & Arbeau, 2009; Creasey, Jarvis, & Berk, 1998; Gottman, 1986). Assignments and activities that require students to work cooperatively to achieve a common goal can foster leadership skills and a willingness to both help and get help from peers (Certo, 2011; Y. Li et al., 2007; N. M. Webb & Farivar, 1994). And activities in which students communicate with one another online—for example, by posting their ideas and questions about classroom topics on a class website—can be especially valuable for students who are shy or otherwise feel uncomfortable communicating with peers in a more public fashion (Hewitt & Scardamalia, 1998). Help students interpret social situations accurately and productively. When students consistently have trouble getting along with others, explicit training in social cognition can make a difference. In one research study (Hudley & Graham, 1993), chronically aggressive boys attended a series of training sessions in which, through role‐playing and similar activities, they practiced making inferences about other people’s intentions and identifying appropriate courses of action. They also learned strategies for reminding themselves of how to behave in various situations— for example, “When I don’t have the information to tell what he meant, I should act as if it were an accident” (p. 128). Following the training, the students were less

Extracurricular activities can promote productive peer relationships and a general “team spirit.” They can also be a source of success for students who struggle with academic tasks. Here, 7‐year‐old Daniel, who has a learning disability, expresses his love of baseball.

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77 likely to presume hostile intent or endorse aggressive retaliation in interpersonal situations than control‐group students who didn’t receive the training, and their teachers rated the trained students as less aggressive. Teach specific social skills, provide opportunities for students to practice them, and give feedback. We can teach students appropriate ways of behaving both through explicit verbal instructions and through modeling desired behaviors. Such instruction is especially effective when we also ask students to practice their newly learned social skills (perhaps through role‐ playing) and give them concrete feedback about how they’re doing (Bierman & Powers, 2009; Themann & Goldstein, 2001; S. Vaughn, 1991; Watkins & Wentzel, 2008). Promote understanding, communication, and interaction among diverse groups. Even when students have good social skills, many of them interact almost exclusively within small, close‐knit groups, and a few others remain socially isolated. For example, students often divide themselves along ethnic lines when they eat lunch and interact in the school yard. In fact, ethnic segregation increases once students reach the middle school grades. As young adolescents from ethnic minority groups begin to look closely and introspectively at issues of racism and ethnic identity, they often find it helpful to compare experiences and perspectives with other group members. Ethnic stereotypes and prejudices can also contribute to this self‐imposed segregation (B. B. Brown et al., 2008; G. L. Cohen & Garcia, 2008; Ogbu, 2008b; Tatum, 1997). Yet when students from diverse groups interact regularly—and especially when they come together as equals, work toward a common goal, and see themselves as members of the same team—they’re more likely to accept and value one another’s differences (Hodson, 2011; Oskamp, 2000; Pfeifer, Brown, & Juvonen, 2007). The Creating a Productive Classroom Environment box “Encouraging Positive Interactions among Diverse Individuals and Groups” offers several strategies for expanding students’ friendship networks. in social skills. As an example, watch

Creating a Productive Classroom Environment
Encouraging Positive Interactions among Diverse Individuals and Groups
Set up situations in which students can form cross‐group friendships.
To help her students get to know a greater number of their peers, a junior high school science teacher gives them assigned seats in her decides how students will be paired for weekly lab activities. discussion about an ongoing conflict between two rival ethnic‐group gangs in the community. “Don’t you think this family feud is stupid?”

the Montagues are like the Asian gang . . . Don’t you think it’s other?” The students immediately protest, but when she presses them to justify their thinking, they gradually begin to acknowledge the pointlessness of a long‐standing rivalry whose origins they can’t even recall.

Minimize or eliminate barriers to social interaction. classmate who is deaf.

Encourage and facilitate participation in extracurricular activities, and take steps to ensure that no single group dominates in membership or leadership in any particular activity.
When recruiting members for the scenery committee for the eighth grade’s annual class play, the committee’s teacher‐adviser encourages both “popular” and “unpopular” students to participate. know one another well must work closely and cooperatively.

Develop nondisabled students’ understanding of students with disabilities, provided that the students and their parents give permission to share what might otherwise be confidential information.
In a widely publicized case, Ryan White, a boy who had contracted against his return to his neighborhood school because parents and students thought he might infect others. After Ryan’s family moved to a different school district, school personnel actively educated casual day‐to‐day contact. Ryan’s reception at his new school was “When I walked into classrooms or the cafeteria, several kids called

As a class, discuss the undesirable consequences of intergroup hostilities.
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A high school English teacher in a low‐income, inner‐city school Romeo and Juliet to initiate a
Sources: Certo, Cauley, & Chafin, 2003; D. J. Connor & Baglieri, 2009; Dilg, 2010; Feddes, Noack, & Rutland, 2009; Feldman & Matjasko, 2005; Freedom Writers, 1999, p. 33 (Shakespeare example); Mahoney, Cairns, & Farmer, 2003; A. J. Martin & Dowson, 2009; Schofield, 1995; K. Schultz, Buck, & Niesz, 2000; Sleeter & Grant, 1999; Tatum, 1997; M. Thompson & Grace, 2001 (school play example); R. White & Cunningham, 1991, p. 149 (Ryan White example).

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Explain what bullying is and why it cannot be tolerated. Students and teachers alike often have misconceptions about bullying. For instance, they may think it involves only physical aggression, even though psychological aggression—for instance, name calling, sexual harassment, deliberate social exclusion, and defamatory postings on the Internet—constitutes bullying as well. Another common misconception is that the victims of bullies somehow deserve what they get, perhaps because they display immature behaviors or need to “toughen up” and learn to defend themselves. Thus many students condone bullying and act as a supportive audience for the perpetrators (Salmivalli & Peets, 2009; Swearer et al., 2010). And teachers who refuse to intervene when they see or hear about bullying and harassment indirectly communicate the message that such behaviors are acceptable (Buston & Hart, 2001; Juvonen & Galván, 2008). Earlier I urged you to be on the lookout for incidents of bullying. This is easier said than done, because many incidents of bullying occur beyond the watchful eyes of school faculty members (K. Carter & Doyle, 2006; Swearer et al., 2010). It’s important, then, that students learn about the many forms bullying can take and the truly harmful effects it can have on its victims. One simple strategy is to use the mnemonic PIC to describe what bullying involves: Purposeful behavior—“He meant to do it.” Imbalanced—“That’s not fair, he’s bigger.” Continual—“I’m afraid to enter the classroom because she’s always picking on me.” (Horne et al., 2004, pp. 298–299)
Teach students effective strategies for responding to bullies.

We can also teach students strategies to use when they’re being bullied (e.g., they might walk away or respond with a humorous come‐back) or when they observe others being victimized (e.g., they might say “Stop, you’re being disrespectful” and escort the victim from the scene) (Juvonen & Galván, 2008; S. W. Ross & Horner, 2009). Help change the reputations of formerly antisocial students. Unfortunately, students’ bad reputations often live on long after their behavior has changed for the better, and thus their classmates may continue to dislike and reject them (Bierman, Miller, & Stabb, 1987; Caprara, Dodge, Pastorelli, & Zelli, 2007; Juvonen & Weiner, 1993). So when we work to improve the behaviors of aggressive and other antisocial students, we must work to improve their reputations as well. For example, we might encourage their active involvement in extracurricular activities or place them in structured cooperative learning groups where they can use their newly developed social skills. We should also demonstrate through our words and actions that we like and appreciate them, as our attitudes are apt to be contagious (Chang, 2003; Chang et al., 2004). In one way or another we must help students discover that formerly antisocial classmates have changed and are worth getting to know better. Create a general climate of respect for others. Teachers who effectively cultivate friendships among diverse groups of students are often those who communicate a consistent message over and over: We must all respect one another as human beings. Fernando Arias, a high school vocational education teacher, has put it this way:
In our school, our philosophy is that we treat everybody the way we’d like to be treated. . . . Our school is a unique situation where we have pregnant young ladies who go to our school. We have special education children. We have the regular kids, and we have the drop‐out recovery program . . . we’re all equal. We all have an equal chance. And we have members of every gang at our school, and we hardly have any fights, and there are close to about 300 gangs in our city. We all get along. It’s one big family unit it seems like. (Turnbull, Pereira, & Blue‐Banning, 2000, p. 67)

Truly productive interpersonal relationships depend on students’ ability to respect one another’s rights and needs and to support classmates who are going through hard times. Such capabilities are aspects of students’ moral and prosocial development, a domain to which we turn now.

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Moral and Prosocial Development


Moral and Prosocial Development
In the opening case study, Lupita helps a classmate interpret a teacher aide’s subtle message and assists two others with their puzzles. Such actions are examples of prosocial behavior, behavior aimed at benefiting others more than oneself. Prosocial behaviors—plus such traits as honesty, fairness, and concern about other people’s rights and welfare—fall into the domain of morality. By and large, students who think and behave in moral and prosocial ways gain more support from their teachers and peers and, as a result, achieve greater academic and social success over the long run (Caprara, Barbaranelli, Pastorelli, Bandura, & Zimbardo, 2000; Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009). Morality and prosocial behavior are complex entities that appear to involve multiple parts of the brain. Certainly the mirror neurons mentioned earlier are involved, as they partially underlie people’s ability to look at situations from someone else’s perspective. But ultimately, moral and prosocial actions also have two components that involve distinctly different brain regions: emotions (e.g., affection and concern for others) and complex reasoning abilities (e.g., determining what actions are morally right and wrong) (Gallese et al., 2011; Greene, Sommerville, Nystrom, Darley, & Cohen, 2001; Moll et al., 2007; Young & Saxe, 2009).

Most children behave more morally and prosocially as they grow older. Table 3.2 describes the forms that morality and prosocial behavior are apt to take at various grade levels. Some entries in the table reflect the following developmental trends. Even very young children use internal standards to evaluate behavior. Well before their first birthday, children show that they value prosocial behavior over antisocial behavior, and by age 3 they have some understanding that behaviors causing physical or psychological harm are inappropriate (Hamlin & Wynn, 2011; Helwig, Zelazo, & Wilson, 2001). By age 4 most children understand that causing harm to another person is wrong regardless of what authority figures might tell them and regardless of what consequences certain behaviors may or may not bring (Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Smetana, 1981; Tisak, 1993). Children increasingly distinguish between moral and conventional transgressions. Virtually every culture discourages some behaviors—moral transgressions—because they cause damage or harm, violate human rights, or run counter to basic principles of equality, freedom, or justice. It discourages other behaviors—conventional transgressions—that, although not unethical, violate widely held understandings about how one should act (e.g., children shouldn’t talk back to adults or burp at meals). Conventional transgressions are usually specific to a particular culture; in contrast, many moral transgressions are universal across cultures (Nucci, 2009; Smetana, 2006; Turiel, 2002). Children’s awareness of social conventions increases throughout the elementary school years (Helwig & Jasiobedzka, 2001; Laupa & Turiel, 1995; Nucci & Nucci, 1982). But especially as children reach adolescence, they don’t always agree with adults about which behaviors constitute moral transgressions, which ones fall into the conventional domain, and which ones are simply a matter of personal choice. Hence, many adolescents resist rules they think are infringements on their personal freedoms—rules about clothing, hair style, talking in class, and so on (Nucci, 2009; Smetana, 2005). Children’s capacity to respond emotionally to others’ harm and distress increases over the school years. Within the first two or three years of life, two emotions important for moral development emerge (Kochanska, Gross, Lin, & Nichols, 2002; M. Lewis & Sullivan, 2005). First, children occasionally show guilt—a feeling of discomfort when they know they’ve inflicted damage or caused someone else pain or distress. They also feel shame: a feeling of embarrassment or humiliation when they fail to meet their own or other people’s standards for moral behavior. Both guilt and shame, although unpleasant emotions, are good signs that children are developing a sense of right and wrong and will work hard to correct their misdeeds (Eisenberg, 1995; Harter, 1999; Narváez & Rest, 1995).

On a page in her “Happiness Book,” 6‐year‐old Jaquita expresses her pleasure in behaving prosocially.

prosocial behavior toward promoting the well‐being of people other than oneself.

morality One’s general standards about right and wrong behavior. moral transgression Action that causes harm or infringes on the needs or rights of others. conventional transgression Action that violates a culture’s general expectations regarding socially appropriate behavior. guilt Feeling of discomfort about having caused someone else pain or distress. shame Feeling of embarrassment or humiliation after failing to meet certain standards for moral behavior.

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Moral Reasoning and Prosocial Behavior at Different Grade Levels
GRADE LEVEL AGE‐TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS physical or psychological harm are morally wrong that violate human rights and dignity versus those that violate social conventions cause obvious harm or damage comfort, people in distress

When Jake pushes Otis off the ladder of a playground slide, several classmates are horrified. One child shouts, “That’s wrong!” and three others rush to Otis’s side to make sure he’s not hurt.

Make standards for behavior very clear. When students misbehave, give reasons that such behaviors are unacceptable, focusing on the harm and distress they have caused others (i.e., use induction, a strategy described later in the chapter). Encourage students to comfort others in times of distress. Model sympathetic responses; explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. for the age‐group; when it occurs, encourage perspective taking and prosocial behavior.


fairness seen as strict equality in how a desired commodity is divided appropriate behavior individuals who are suffering or needy meet others’ needs as well as one’s own; growing appreciation for cooperation and compromise necessarily mean equality—that some people (e.g., peers with disabilities) may need more of a desired commodity than others objective in and of itself At the suggestion of his third‐grade teacher, 8‐year‐old Jeff acts as a “special friend” to Evan, a boy with severe physical and cognitive disabilities who joins the class two or three days a week. Evan can’t speak, but Jeff gives him things to feel and manipulate and talks to him whenever class activities allow conversation. And the two boys regularly sit together at lunch. Jeff comments, “Doing things that make Evan happy make me happy, too.” After the midwinter break, conventions are arbitrary; in some cases accompanied by resistance to these rules and conventions but with a tendency to oversimplify what “helping” requires circumstances are entirely responsible for their own fate to school with several large nose rings and her hair styled into long, vertical spikes above her head. The school principal tells her that her appearance is inappropriate and insists that she go home to make herself more presentable. “I have a right to express myself however I want!” help society run smoothly duty and abiding by the rules of society as a whole rather than simply pleasing certain authority figures students propose and establish a school chapter of Amnesty International, an organization dedicated to the preservation of human rights around the world. The group invites knowledgeable guest speakers and conducts several fundraisers to help combat abusive practices against women.

Make prosocial behaviors (e.g., sharing, helping others) a high priority in the classroom. Explain how students can often meet their own needs while helping others (e.g., when asking students to be “reading buddies” for younger children, explain that doing so will help them become better readers themselves). kind, helpful) when praising altruistic behaviors.


Talk about how rules for behavior enable classrooms and other groups to run more smoothly. Involve students in group projects that will benefit their school or community. When imposing discipline for moral transgressions, accompany it with explanations about the harm that has been caused (i.e., use induction).


help those in need

Explore moral issues in social studies, science, and literature. Encourage community service as a way of engendering feelings of commitment to helping others. Ask students to reflect on their experiences through group discussions or written essays. Have students read autobiographies and other literature that depict heroic figures who have actively worked to help people in need.
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Sources: Eisenberg, 1982; Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998; Eisenberg, Lennon, & Pasternack, 1986; Farver & Branstetter, 1994; C. A. Flanagan & Faison, 2001; Gibbs, 1995; Gummerum, Keller, Takezawa, & Mata, 2008; D. Hart & Fegley, 1995; Hastings et al., 2007; Helwig & Jasiobedzka, 2001; Helwig et al., 2001; Hoffman, 2000; Kohlberg, 1984; Krebs & Van Hesteren, 1994; Kurtines, Berman, Ittel, & Williamson, 1995; Laupa & Turiel, 1995; M. Lewis & Sullivan, 2005; Nucci, 2009; Nucci & Weber, 1995; Rothbart, 2011; Rushton, 1980; Smetana & Braeges, 1990; Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009; Turiel, 1983, 1998; Wainryb, Brehl, & Matwin, 2005; Yates & Youniss, 1996; Yau & Smetana, 2003; Youniss & Yates, 1999; Zahn‐Waxler, Radke‐Yarrow, Wagner, & Chapman, 1992.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Moral and Prosocial Development empathy— experiencing the same feelings as someone in unfortunate circumstances—appears in the absence of wrongdoing. Although those mirror neurons mentioned earlier may to some degree underlie human beings’ ability to empathize, this ability continues to develop throughout childhood and adolescence (Eisenberg et al., 1995; Rizzolatti & Sinigaglia, 2008; Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009). When empathy also evokes sympathy—whereby children not only assume another person’s feelings but also have concerns for the individual’s well‐being—it tends to spur prosocial behavior (Batson, 1991; Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998; Malti, Gummerum, Keller, & Buchman, 2009).


With age, reasoning about moral issues becomes increasingly abstract and flexible. To probe children’s thinking about moral issues, researchers sometimes present moral dilemmas, situations in which two or more people’s rights or needs may be at odds and for which there are no clear‐cut right or wrong responses. The scenario in the following exercise is an example.

Imagine that you’re in the ninth grade. You’re walking quickly down the school corridor on your way to your math class when you see three boys from the so‐called “popular” crowd cornering a small, socially awkward boy named Martin. The boys first make fun of Martin’s thick glasses and unfashionable clothing, then they start taunting him with names such as “fag” and “retard.” What do you do? a. You look the other way, pretending you haven’t heard anything, and hurry on to class. If you were to stop to help, the boys might taunt you as well, and that will only make the situation worse. b. You shoot Martin a sympathetic look and then head to class so that you won’t be late. Afterward, you anonymously report the incident to the principal’s office, because you know that the boys’ behaviors have violated your school’s antibullying policy. c. You stop and say, “Hey, you jerks, cut it out! Martin’s a really nice guy and doesn’t deserve your insulting labels. Come on, Martin, let’s go. We might be late for math class, so we need to hurry.” I’m hoping that, given my earlier discussions of bullying, you’ve picked Alternative c. But if you were a ninth grader, is that really what you would do? In his groundbreaking early research on moral development, Lawrence Kohlberg gave children and adults a variety of moral dilemmas and asked them both what they would do and why they would do it. Based on the hundreds of responses he obtained, Kohlberg proposed that as children grow older, they construct increasingly complex views of morality. In Kohlberg’s view, development of moral reasoning is characterized by a sequence of six stages grouped into three general levels of morality: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional (see Table 3.3). Children with preconventional morality haven’t yet adopted or internalized society’s conventions regarding what things are right and wrong but instead focus largely on external consequences that certain actions might bring to themselves, as illustrated in Alternative a in the exercise. Kohlberg’s second level, conventional morality, is characterized by general, often unquestioning obedience either to an authority figure’s dictates or to established rules and norms, even when there are no consequences for disobedience. The exercise’s Alternative b is an example: You report a violation of school rules to school authorities, but you don’t want to be late to class—that would violate another school rule—and through your actions you don’t jeopardize any good relationships you might have with the “popular” boys. In contrast to the somewhat rigid nature of conventional morality, people at Kohlberg’s third level, postconventional morality, view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms that ideally can maintain the general social order and protect human rights; rules aren’t absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. These people live by their own abstract principles about right and wrong and may disobey rules inconsistent with these principles. Alternative c shows some evidence of postconventional reasoning: You’re more concerned about protecting Martin’s physical and psychological safety than you are about getting to class on time.

In this poem, Matt, a middle school student, shows empathy for victims of the Holocaust.

empathy Experience of sharing the same feelings as someone in unfortunate circumstances. sympathy Feeling of sorrow for another person’s distress, accompanied by concern for the person’s well‐being. moral dilemma two or more people’s rights or needs may be at odds and the morally correct action is not clear‐cut.

preconventional morality internalized standards about right and wrong; decision making based primarily on what seems best for oneself.

conventional morality acceptance of society’s conventions regarding right and wrong.

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postconventional morality Thinking in accordance with self‐constructed, abstract principles regarding right and wrong.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Kohlberg’s Three Levels and Six Stages of Moral Reasoning
Level I: Preconventional morality

AGE RANGE children, most elementary school students, some junior high school students, and a few high school students

Punishment‐ avoidance and obedience Exchange of favors

People make decisions based on what is best for themselves, without regard for others’ needs or feelings. They obey rules only if established by more powerful individuals; they may disobey if they aren’t likely to get caught. “Wrong” behaviors are those that will be punished. People recognize that others also have needs. They may try to satisfy others’ scratch yours”). They continue to define right and wrong primarily in terms of consequences to themselves. People make decisions based on what actions will please others, especially authority figures (e.g., teachers, popular peers). They are concerned about maintaining relationships through sharing, trust, and loyalty, and they consider other people’s perspectives and intentions when making decisions. People look to society as a whole for guidelines about right or wrong. They know that having rules is necessary for keeping society running smoothly and believe it is their duty to obey them. However, they perceive rules to be inflexible; they don’t necessarily recognize that as society’s needs change, rules should change as well. People recognize that rules represent agreements among many individuals about what is appropriate behavior. Rules are seen as useful mechanisms that maintain the general social order and protect individual rights, rather than as absolute dictates that must be obeyed simply because they are the law. People also recognize the flexibility of rules; rules that no longer serve society’s best interests can and should be changed. stage adhere to a few abstract, universal principles (e.g., equality of all people, respect for human dignity, commitment to justice) that transcend specific norms and rules. They answer to a strong inner conscience and willingly disobey laws that violate their own ethical principles.

Level II: Conventional morality

elementary school students, some junior high school students, and many high school students does not appear before high school)

good girl

Level III: Postconventional morality

Rarely seen before college


Sources: Colby & Kohlberg, 1984; Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs, & Lieberman, 1983; Kohlberg, 1976, 1984, 1986; Reimer, Paolitto, & Hersh, 1983; Snarey, 1995.

A great deal of research on the development of moral reasoning has followed on the heels of Kohlberg’s work. Some of it supports Kohlberg’s proposed sequence: Generally speaking, people seem to make advancements in the order Kohlberg proposed (Boom, Brugman, & van der Heijden, 2001; Colby & Kohlberg, 1984; Snarey, 1995; Stewart & Pascual‐Leone, 1992). Furthermore, as Kohlberg suggested, moral development emerges out of children’s own, self‐ constructed beliefs—beliefs they often revisit, revise, and ultimately improve on over time. Nevertheless, contemporary psychologists have identified several weaknesses in Kohlberg’s theory. For one thing, Kohlberg included both moral issues (e.g., causing harm) and social conventions (e.g., having rules to help society run smoothly) in his views of morality, but as we’ve seen, children distinguish between these two domains, and their views about each domain may change differently over time (Nucci, 2001, 2009). Furthermore, Kohlberg focused largely on reasoning, with little consideration of people’s moral behaviors (Gilligan & Attanucci, 1988; P. L. Hill & Roberts, 2010). Kohlberg also underestimated young children, who, as we discovered earlier, acquire some internal standards of right and wrong long before they reach school age. Finally, Kohlberg largely overlooked situational factors that youngsters take into account when deciding what’s morally right and wrong in specific contexts (more about these factors in a moment). Many contemporary developmental psychologists believe that moral reasoning involves general trends rather than distinct stages. It appears that children and adolescents gradually construct several different standards that guide their moral reasoning, including their own personal interests, consideration of other people’s needs and motives, a desire to abide by society’s rules and conventions, and, eventually, an appreciation of abstract ideals regarding human rights and society’s overall needs (Killen & Smetana, 2008; Krebs, 2008; Rest, Narvaez, Bebeau, & Thoma, 1999). With age, students increasingly apply more advanced standards, but even a fairly

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Moral and Prosocial Development primitive one—satisfying one’s own needs without regard for others—may occasionally take priority (Rest et al., 1999; Turiel, 1998). As children get older, they increasingly behave in accordance with their self‐constructed moral standards, but other factors come into play as well. To some degree, students with more advanced moral reasoning behave in more moral and prosocial ways (e.g., Blasi, 1980; P. A. Miller, Eisenberg, Fabes, & Shell, 1996; Paciello et al., 2008). However, the correlation between moral reasoning and moral behavior isn’t an especially strong one. Students’ perspective‐taking ability and emotions (shame, guilt, empathy, sympathy) also influence their decisions to behave morally or otherwise (Batson, 1991; Damon, 1988; Eisenberg, Zhou, & Koller, 2001). And although students may truly want to do the right thing, they may also be concerned about the consequences for themselves in specific situations—for instance, how much personal sacrifice will be involved and how much various actions will gain other people’s approval or respect (Batson & Thompson, 2001; Cillessen et al., 2011; Narváez & Rest, 1995; Wentzel, Filisetti, & Looney, 2007). Finally, students’ sense of self seems to be an important factor affecting their inclinations to act morally and prosocially. For one thing, students must believe they’re actually capable of helping other people—in other words, they must have high self‐efficacy about their ability to “make a difference” (Narváez & Rest, 1995). Furthermore, in adolescence, some young people begin to integrate a commitment to moral values into their overall sense of identity: They think of themselves as moral, caring individuals who make other people’s rights and well‐being a high priority (Blasi, 1995; D. Hart & Fegley, 1995; Hastings, Utendale, & Sullivan, 2007; Thorkildsen et al., 2008).


To some degree, advanced moral reasoning depends on cognitive development. In particular, it depends on the ability to think simultaneously about multiple issues (e.g., about various people’s motives and intentions in a situation) and also on the ability to comprehend such abstract ideals as justice and basic human rights. However, cognitive development doesn’t guarantee moral development. It’s quite possible to think abstractly about academic subject matter and yet reason in a self‐centered, preconventional manner (Kohlberg, 1976; Nucci, 2006, 2009; Turiel, 2002). Children’s social and cultural environments have a significant influence on their moral and prosocial development. For example, when children see adults or peers being generous and showing concern for others, they tend to do likewise (Hoffman, 2000; Rushton, 1980; Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009). And when they watch television shows that emphasize perspective taking and prosocial actions, they’re more inclined to exhibit such behaviors themselves (Dubow, Huesmann, & Greenwood, 2007; Hearold, 1986; Rushton, 1980; Singer & Singer, 1994). Prosocial video games, too, can have a positive impact (Gentile et al., 2009; Greitemeyer, 2011). Ideally, society’s prosocial messages must be consistently conveyed through other people’s behaviors. Children do not make advancements in moral reasoning and behavior simply by hearing adults advocate certain moral values—say, through a short “character education” program (Higgins, 1995; N. Park & Peterson, 2009; Turiel, 1998). Children also tend to make gains in moral and prosocial development when adults consistently use induction, asking children to think about the harm and distress that some of their behaviors have caused others (Hoffman, 2000; Rothbart, 2011). Induction is victim centered: It helps students focus on others’ distress and recognize that they themselves have been the cause. Consistent use of induction in disciplining children, especially when accompanied by mild punishment for misbehavior—for instance, insisting that children make amends for their wrongdoings—appears to promote compliance with rules and foster the development of empathy, compassion, and altruism (G. H. Brody & Shaffer, 1982; Hoffman, 1975; Nucci, 2001; Rushton, 1980). Yet another factor that appears to promote moral and prosocial advancements is disequilibrium—in particular, encountering moral dilemmas and arguments that children can’t adequately address with their current moral standards and viewpoints. For instance, classroom discussions of controversial topics and moral issues can promote increased perspective taking

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induction Explanation of why a certain behavior is unacceptable, often with a focus on the pain or distress that someone has caused another.

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CHAPTER and a gradual transition to more advanced reasoning (DeVries & Zan, 1996; Power, Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1989; Schlaefli, Rest, & Thoma, 1985). As Kohlberg suggested, children construct (rather than absorb) their moral beliefs; disequilibrium can spur them to revise their beliefs in ways that allow them to consider increasingly complex moral issues.

Some diversity in moral and prosocial development is, of course, the result of differences in children’s environments. But biology seems to be involved as well. For example, other things being equal, children who have a somewhat fearful, anxious temperament in infancy tend to show more guilt and empathy in the early elementary grades than their less anxious classmates (Rothbart, 2011). And as children grow older, the degree to which they show effortful control—an ability to inhibit selfish and other unproductive impulses—appears to be a factor in their acquisition of a moral conscience (Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Sadovsky, 2006; Kochanska, Tjebkes, & Forman, 1998; Rothbart, 2011). Genetically based disabilities, too, come into the picture. For example, certain human genes seem to give rise to the development of brain abnormalities that, in turn, predispose their owners to antisocial behavior (Raine, 2008). Gender differences Researchers have observed minor gender differences in moral and prosocial development. For instance, on average, girls are more likely than boys to feel guilt and shame—in part because they’re more willing to take personal responsibility for their misdeeds. Girls are also more likely to feel empathy for people in distress (Alessandri & Lewis, 1993; Lippa, 2002; A. J. Rose, 2002; Zahn‐Waxler & Robinson, 1995). Yet historically, researchers have disagreed about the extent to which girls and boys reason differently about situations involving moral issues. In his work with college students, Kohlberg found that males reasoned at a slightly more advanced level than females (Kohlberg & Kramer, 1969). In response, psychologist Carol Gilligan argued that Kohlberg’s stages don’t adequately describe female moral development (Gilligan, 1982, 1987; Gilligan & Attanucci, 1988). She suggested that Kohlberg’s stages reflect a justice orientation—an emphasis on fairness and equal rights—that characterizes males’ moral reasoning. In contrast, females are socialized to take a care orientation toward moral issues—that is, to focus on interpersonal relationships and take responsibility for others’ well‐being. To see how these two orientations might play out differently, try the following exercise.

Consider the following scenario:
A group of industrious, prudent moles have spent the summer digging a burrow where they will spend the winter. A lazy, improvident porcupine who has not prepared a winter shelter approaches the moles and pleads to share their burrow. The moles take pity on the porcupine and agree to let him in. Unfortunately, the moles did not anticipate the problem the porcupine’s sharp quills would pose in close quarters. Once the porcupine has moved in, the moles are constantly being stabbed. (Meyers, 1987, p. 141, adapted from Gilligan, 1985)

What do you think the moles should do? Why? According to Gilligan, males are apt to view the problem as involving a violation of someone’s rights: The moles own the burrow and so can legitimately evict the porcupine. In contrast, females are more likely to show compassion, perhaps suggesting that the moles cover the porcupine with a blanket so that his quills won’t annoy anyone (Meyers, 1987). Gilligan raised a good point: Males and females are often socialized quite differently. Furthermore, by including compassion for other human beings as well as consideration for their rights, Gilligan broadened our conception of what morality is (L. J. Walker, 1995). But in fact, most research studies don’t find major gender differences in moral reasoning (Eisenberg, Martin, & Fabes, 1996; Nunner‐Winkler, 1984; L. J. Walker, 1991). And as Gilligan herself has acknowledged, males and females alike typically reveal concern for both justice and compassion in their reasoning (L. M. Brown, Tappan, & Gilligan, 1995; Gilligan & Attanucci, 1988; Turiel, 1998).

Chapter 4 describes many gender differences and their possible origins, including socialization practices.

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Moral and Prosocial Development Cultural and ethnic differences Virtually all cultures worldwide acknowledge the importance of both individual rights and fairness (reflecting a justice orientation) and compassion for others (reflecting a care orientation). However, different cultural groups tend to place greater emphasis on one than on the other (J. G. Miller, 2007; Snarey, 1995; Turiel, 2002). For instance, in much of North America, helping others (or not) is considered to be a voluntary choice, but in some societies (e.g., in many Asian and Arab countries) it is one’s duty to help people in need. Such a sense of duty, which is often coupled with strong ties to family and the community, can lead to considerable prosocial behavior (X. Chen et al., 2009; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Rubin, Cheah, & Menzer, 2010). Some diversity is also seen in the behaviors that cultural groups view as moral transgressions versus those they see as conventional transgressions (Nucci, 2001, 2009). For example, in mainstream Western culture, how one dresses is largely a matter of convention and personal choice. In some deeply religious groups, however, certain forms of dress (e.g., head coverings) are seen as moral imperatives. As another example, in mainstream Western culture, telling lies to avoid punishment for inappropriate behavior is considered morally wrong, but it’s a legitimate way of saving face in certain other cultures (Triandis, 1995). As teachers, then, we must remember that our students’ notions of morally appropriate and inappropriate behaviors may sometimes be quite different from our own. At the same time, of course, we must never accept behaviors that violate such basic principles as equality and respect for other people’s rights and well‐being.


from diverse cultures may have different ideas about behaviors that are morally desirable (and in some cases mandatory) versus behaviors that are morally wrong. If necessary, explain to a student in private that some behaviors considered appropriate in his or her culture are unacceptable in your classroom because they infringe on other people’s rights and well‐being.

As teachers, we play an important role in helping children and adolescents acquire the beliefs, values, and behaviors critical to their effective participation in a democratic and compassionate society—a society in which everyone’s rights are respected and everyone’s needs are taken into consideration. Following are several general suggestions based on research findings. Encourage perspective taking, empathy, and prosocial behaviors. Systematic efforts to promote perspective taking, empathy, and such prosocial skills as cooperation and helping others do seem to enhance students’ moral and prosocial development (Nucci, 2009; Spinrad & Eisenberg, 2009; N. M. Webb & Palincsar, 1996). Perspective taking and empathy can and should be encouraged in the study of academic subject matter as well (Brophy, Alleman, & Knighton, 2009; Davison, 2011). For example, Figure 3.4 shows two writing samples created during history lessons about slavery in the pre‐Civil War United States. The reaction paper on the left was written by 10‐year‐old Charmaine, whose fifth‐grade class had been watching Roots, a miniseries about a young African man (Kunta Kinte) who is captured and brought to America as a slave. Charmaine acknowledges that she can’t fully grasp Kunta Kinte’s physical pain. Even so, she talks about his “pain” and “fright” and about his parents’ “hurt” at losing their firstborn son, and she is incensed by some colonists’ view of African women as little more than “beeby [baby] warmers.” The diary entries on the right were written by 14‐year‐old Craig, whose ninth‐grade history teacher asked his class to write journal entries that might capture the life of a Southern plantation owner. Notice that Craig tries to imagine someone else (a plantation owner) taking other people’s perspectives (those of slaves). Such two‐tiered perspective taking is similar to recursive thinking but in this case involves thinking “I think that you think that someone else thinks . . . .” Give reasons that some behaviors are unacceptable. Although it’s important to impose consequences for immoral and antisocial behaviors, punishment by itself often focuses children’s attention primarily on their own hurt and distress. To promote moral and prosocial development, we must accompany punishment with induction, focusing students’ attention on the hurt and distress their behaviors have caused others (Hoffman, 2000; Nucci, 2009; M. Watson, 2008). For example, we might describe how a behavior harms someone else either physically (“Having your hair pulled the way you just pulled Mai’s can really be painful”) or emotionally (“You hurt John’s feelings when you call him names like that”). We might also show students how they have caused someone else inconvenience (“Because you ruined Marie’s jacket, her parents are making her work around the house to earn the money for a new one”). Still another approach is to explain someone else’s perspective, intention, or motive (“This science project you’ve just ridiculed may not be as fancy as yours, but I know that Jacob spent many hours working on it and is quite proud of what he’s done”).

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FIGURE 3.4 Two examples of perspective taking related to slavery in the pre‐Civil War United States
My Diary July 1, 1700 Dear Diary - Today was a scorcher. I could not stand it and I was not even working. The slaves looked so hot. I even felt for them. and it is affecting my tobacco. It’s too hot too early in the season. The tobacco plants are not growing quickly enough. I can only hope that it rains. Also today Robert Smith invited me to a ball at his house in two days. In 5 days I am going to have my masked ball. We mailed out the invitations two days ago. My wife, Beth, and I thought of a great idea of a masked ball. We will hire our own band. July 2, 1700 Dear Diary - It was another scorcher. I wish it would cool down. I don’t think the salves can handle it. It looked like some of them would faint. I had them drink more water. Later in the day a nice breeze came up. Then I gave them the rest of the day off. Also today we planned a trip to Richmond. . . . July 5, 1700 Dear Diary - Today we had to wake up before the sun had risen. After a breakfast of hot cakes, eggs, and sausage, we headed back home. We got there at the end of the morning. When I got back it was very, very hot. One of the slaves fainted so I gave him the rest of the day off, fearing revolt. I also gave them extra food and water. It makes me think that they are only people too. I know that this is unheard of but it really makes me think.

One behavior we must explicitly and consistently discourage is cheating in its various forms, whether it be submitting a research paper downloaded from the Internet (i.e., plagiarism), copying other students’ responses to quizzes or homework, or giving friends unfair advance notice of test questions. Sadly, students don’t always see cheating as being a violation of moral standards (L. H. Anderman, Freeman, & Mueller, 2007; Honz, Kiewra, & Yang, 2010). Perhaps they’re trying to help a friend, they say, or perhaps they see an assignment as being a waste of time or hopelessly beyond their ability levels. Not only does cheating hinder students’ classroom learning—students gain very little from copying other people’s work—but it is also dishonest and therefore immoral. Several strategies can potentially discourage cheating: Explain in clear, concrete terms what cheating is—for example, that it includes not only representing another person’s work as one’s own but also giving certain classmates an unfair advantage over others. Contrast cheating with legitimate collaboration, in which everyone learns something and the submitted work is honestly represented as a joint effort. Provide enough guidance and support that students can reasonably accomplish assigned tasks on their own. (L. H. Anderman et al., 2007; Honz et al., 2010; Lenski, Husemann, Trautwein, & Lüdtke, 2010) Expose students to numerous models of moral and prosocial behavior. Children and adolescents are more likely to exhibit moral and prosocial behavior when they see others (including their teachers!) behaving in moral rather than immoral ways. Powerful models of moral behavior can be found in literature as well—for instance, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and in John Gunther’s Death Be Not Proud (Ellenwood & Ryan, 1991; Nucci, 2001).

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Moral and Prosocial Development Engage students in discussions of moral issues related to academic subject matter. Social and moral dilemmas often arise within the school curriculum. Consider the following questions that might emerge in discussions about academic topics: people? service learning Activity that


promotes learning and development through contributing to the betterment of other people and the outside community.

Such dilemmas don’t always have clear‐cut right or wrong answers. As teachers, we can encourage student discussions of such issues in several ways: Create a trusting and nonthreatening classroom atmosphere in which students can express their beliefs without fear of censure or embarrassment. Help students identify all aspects of a dilemma, including the needs and perspectives of the various individuals involved. Encourage students to explore their reasons for thinking as they do—that is, to clarify and reflect on the moral principles on which they’re basing their judgments. (Reimer, Paolitto, & Hersh, 1983) Get students actively involved in community service. As we’ve seen, students are more likely to adhere to strong moral principles when they have high self‐efficacy for helping others and when they have integrated a commitment to moral ideals into their overall sense of identity. Such self‐perceptions don’t appear out of the blue, of course. Children are more likely to have high self‐efficacy for prosocial activities when they have the guidance and support they need to carry out the activities successfully. And they’re more likely to integrate moral and prosocial values into their overall sense of self when they become actively involved in service to others, ideally even before they reach puberty (Hastings et al., 2007; Nucci, 2001; Youniss & Yates, 1999). Through ongoing community service activities—sometimes collectively referred to as service learning—elementary and secondary students alike learn that they have the skills and the responsibility for helping people in dire straits and in other ways making the world a better place in which to live. In the process they also begin to think of themselves as concerned, compassionate, and moral citizens who have an obligation to help those less fortunate than themselves (J. P. Allen & Antonishak, 2008; Kahne & Sporte, 2008; Thorkildsen et al., 2008).

3 What Have You Learned?
We now return to the learning outcomes listed at the beginning of the chapter and identify key ideas related to each one. ■ 3.1: Describe the nature and origins of children’s temperaments and personality characteristics, and explain how you might adapt your classroom practices to students’ diverse personalities. Children exhibit distinct personalities—consistent ways of behaving across a wide range of situations—long before they begin school. To some degree their personalities reflect their temperaments—their genetic predispositions to be active or subdued, outgoing or shy, adventurous or fearful, and so on. Yet environmental factors affect personality as well: The quality of parent–child emotional bonds (reflecting attachment), the nature of caregivers’ parenting styles, and cultural norms and expectations all play roles in molding children’s characteristic ways of behaving. Students are most likely to thrive and succeed when there is a goodness of fit between students’ temperaments and personality traits, on the one hand, and classroom activities and assignments, on the other. For example, temperamentally quiet and self‐controlled students may do well with independent seatwork; more energetic students may be more productive during hands‐on activities; and students with poor impulse control may require greater‐than‐average guidance and supervision.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

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■ 3.2: Explain how students’ sense of self is apt to influence their behavior and how you can help students develop healthy self‐perceptions. As young people progress through childhood and adolescence, they construct and continually revise their sense of self—their perceptions, beliefs, judgments, and feelings about themselves. Children derive such self‐views not only from their own experiences (e.g., their successes and failures) but also from other people’s behaviors and from the achievements of social and ethnic groups to which they belong. As children reach adolescence, their sense of self increasingly incorporates abstract qualities and, eventually, a general sense

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CHAPTER either physical or psychological aggression toward certain peers, perhaps as a way of gaining prestige and status within their social group. As teachers, then, we may sometimes need to monitor and guide students’ interpersonal interactions; for example, we must explain that psychological bullying (e.g., posting defamatory material on the Internet) is as harmful and inappropriate as physical aggression. We should also take active steps to promote communication and interaction across individuals and groups with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

of identity regarding who they are as people, what things they find important, and what goals they hope to accomplish. With adolescence, too, come heightened concern about other people’s opinions of oneself (the imaginary audience phenomenon) and an exaggerated belief in one’s uniqueness relative to others (the personal fable phenomenon). Perhaps as a result of the personal fable—but also as a result of incomplete brain maturation— many adolescents take foolish risks and engage in dangerous activities. As teachers, we must provide the support students need to be successful and give them feedback that engenders optimism about future accomplishments. And working either as individuals or as a team, we can offer and advocate for activities that channel teenagers’ desires for risk and social status into safe, productive behaviors.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 3.3: Apply your knowledge of peer relationships and social cognition in promoting productive social skills and addressing student aggression. Productive peer relationships (especially friendships) provide a testing ground for emerging social skills, offer emotional support in times of trouble or uncertainty, and, ideally, promote socially and culturally appropriate behaviors. In the middle school and high school years, many students become members of larger social groups (e.g., cliques, subcultures, or gangs) and form romantic relationships. Yet some students are consistently rejected or neglected by their classmates, and these students may especially need teachers’ friendship and support. Most children and adolescents actively try to make sense of their social world. With age, such social cognition becomes increasingly complex and insightful, allowing young people to interact effectively with adults and peers. But some students have trouble interpreting social cues correctly and may have few effective social skills. Furthermore, some students engage in

■ 3.4: Describe typical advancements in moral and prosocial development over the course of childhood and adolescence, and identify strategies for promoting moral and prosocial development in the classroom. As children move through the grade levels, most acquire an increasingly sophisticated sense of right and wrong. This developmental progression is the result of many things, including increasing capacities for abstract thought and empathy, an evolving appreciation for human rights and others’ welfare, and ongoing encounters with moral dilemmas and problems. Even at the high school level, however, students don’t always take the moral high road, as personal needs and self‐interests almost invariably enter into their moral decision making to some degree. As teachers, we can help students develop more advanced moral reasoning and increasingly prosocial behavior by giving them reasons why certain behaviors are unacceptable, encouraging them to recognize how others feel in various situations, exposing them to models of moral behavior, challenging their thinking with moral dilemmas, and providing opportunities for community service and other prosocial behavior.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

Practice for Your Licensure Exam
Observe this lesson firsthand in the video “Scarlet Letter.” Ms. Southam: The father of the baby . . . How do you know it’s Dimmesdale . . . the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale? . . . What are the clues in the text in Chapter 3? . . . Nicole? Nicole: He acts very withdrawn. He doesn’t even want to be involved with the situation. He wants the other guy to question her, because he doesn’t want to look her in the face and ask her to name him. Ms. Southam: OK. Anything else? . . . Student: The baby. Ms. Southam: What about the baby? Student: She starts to cry, and her eyes follow him. Ms. Southam: That is one of my absolutely favorite little Hawthornisms. Ms. Southam reads a paragraph about Dimmesdale and then asks students to jot down their thoughts about him. She walks around

The Scarlet Letter

Ms. Southam’s eleventh‐grade English class has been reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Set in seventeenth‐century Boston, the novel focuses largely on two characters who have been carrying on an illicit love affair: Hester Prynne, a young woman who has not seen or heard from her husband for the past two years, and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a pious and well‐respected local preacher. When Hester becomes pregnant, she is imprisoned for adultery and soon bears a child. The class is currently discussing Chapter 3, in which the governor and town leaders, including Dimmesdale, are urging Hester to name the baby’s father.

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Moral and Prosocial Development the room, monitoring what students are doing until they appear to have finished writing. Ms. Southam: What pictures do you have in your minds of this man . . . if you were directing a film of The Scarlet Letter? Mike: I don’t have a person in mind, just characteristics. About five‐foot‐ten, short, well‐groomed hair, well dressed. He looks really nervous and inexperienced. Guilty look on his face. Always nervous, shaking a lot. Ms. Southam: He’s got a guilty look on his face. His lips always trembling, always shaking. Mike: He’s very unsure about himself. Matt: Sweating really bad. Always going like this. [He shows how Dimmesdale might be wiping his forehead.] He does . . . he has his hanky . . . Ms. Southam: Actually, we don’t see him mopping his brow, but we do see him doing what? What’s the action? Do you remember? If you go to the text, he’s holding his hand over his heart, as though he’s somehow suffering some pain. Student: Wire‐framed glasses . . . I don’t know why. He’s like. . . . Mike: He’s kind of like a nerd‐type guy . . . short pants. Ms. Southam: But at the same time . . . I don’t know if it was somebody in this class or somebody in another class . . . He said, “Well, she was sure worth it.” Worth risking your immortal soul for, you know? . . . Obviously she’s sinned, but so has he, right? And if she was worth it, don’t we also have to see him as somehow having been worthy of her risking her soul for this?


Student: Maybe he’s got a good personality . . . Ms. Southam: He apparently is, you know, a spellbinding preacher. He really can grab the crowd. Student: It’s his eyes. Yeah, the eyes. Ms. Southam: Those brown, melancholy eyes. Yeah, those brown, melancholy eyes. Absolutely.
1. Constructed‐response question:

In this classroom dialogue Ms. Southam and her students speculate about what the characters in the novel, especially Arthur Dimmesdale, might be thinking and feeling. In other words, they are engaging in social cognition. a. Identify two examples of student statements that show social cognition. b. For each example you identify, explain what it reveals about the speaker’s social cognition.
2. Multiple‐choice question:

Ms. Southam does several things that are apt to enhance students’ perspective‐taking ability. Which one of the following is the best example? a. She models enthusiasm for the novel (“That is one of my absolutely favorite little Hawthornisms”). b. She walks around the room as the students write down their thoughts about Dimmesdale. c. She points out that Dimmesdale is “holding his hand over his heart, as though he’s somehow suffering some pain.” d. She agrees with Mike’s description of Dimmesdale as having a guilty look on his face.

PRAXIS tions of this chapter that may be especially applicable to the Praxis tests.


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Group Differences

4.1: Describe frequently observed between‐group differences and within‐group variability for various cultural and ethnic groups; also describe the teacher attitudes and strategies that underlie culturally responsive teaching. Describe the nature and origins of typical gender differences in school‐age children and adolescents, and explain how you might best accommodate such differences in your classroom. 4.3: Identify challenges that students from low‐income families often face; also identify several strategies through which you can foster their resilience and help them be successful at school. Explain how you might recognize students who are at risk for academic failure and dropping out of school, and identify strategies for helping these students get on the path to academic and social success.


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Jack was a Native American seventh grader who lived in the Navajo Nation in the American Southwest. Although he enjoyed school, worked hard in his studies, and got along well with his classmates, he had been absent from school all week. In fact, he had been absent from home as well, and his family (which didn’t have a telephone) wasn’t sure exactly where he was. Jack’s English teacher described the situation to Donna Deyhle, an educator who had known Jack for many years:
That seventh grader was away from home for 5 days, and his parents don’t care! . . . Almost one‐third of my Navajo students were absent this week. Their parents just don’t support their education. How can I teach when they are not in my classes? (Deyhle & LeCompte, 1999, p. 127)

A few days later, Jack’s sister explained why her parents had eventually begun to look for Jack:
He went to see [the film] Rambo II with friends and never came home. If he was in trouble we would know. But now the family needs him to herd sheep tomorrow. (Deyhle & LeCompte, 1999, p. 127)

It was spring—time for the family to plant crops and shear the sheep—and all family members needed to help out. Jack’s whereabouts were soon discovered, and the family stopped by Donna’s house to share the news:
Jack’s dad said, “We found him.” His mother turned in his direction and said teasingly, “Now maybe school will look easy!” Jack stayed at home for several days, helping with the irrigation of the corn field, before he decided to return to school. (Deyhle & LeCompte, 1999, p. 128)

did, concluding that “his parents don’t care” about his education? If so, how might your own cultural background have influenced your conclusion? achievement and general well‐being. What alternative explanations might account for their behaviors in this situation?

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To fully understand what transpired in Jack’s family, we need to know a couple of things about Navajo culture. First, Navajo people place high value on individual autonomy: Even children must be self‐sufficient and make their own decisions (Deyhle & LeCompte, 1999). From this perspective, good parenting doesn’t mean demanding that children do certain things or behave in certain ways; instead, Navajo parents offer suggestions and guidance, perhaps in the form of gentle teasing (“Now maybe school will look easy!”), that nudge children toward productive choices. But in addition to individual autonomy, Navajos value cooperation and interdependence, believing that community members should work together for the common good; hence Jack’s highest priority was helping his family. Such respect for both individual decision making and cooperative interdependence is seen in many other Native American communities as well (Chisholm, 1996; Manning & Baruth, 2009; Rogoff, 2003; Tyler et al., 2008). In this chapter we’ll look in depth at group differences—differences we’re apt to see on average among students of diverse cultural and ethnic groups, different genders, and different socioeconomic backgrounds. As we do so, we must keep in mind two very important points. First, a great deal of individual variability exists within any group. We’ll be examining research regarding how students of different groups behave on average, even though many students in

group differences
Consistently observed differences (on average) among diverse groups of students (e.g., students of different genders or ethnic backgrounds).


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Cultural and Ethnic Differences
Navigating Different Cultures at Home and at School Examples of Cultural and Ethnic Diversity Creating a Culturally Inclusive Classroom Environment

FIGURE 4.1 Typical “difference” between boys and girls on tests of verbal ability
Proportion of People Getting Each Score Many People Boys’ Average Girls’ Average

Gender Differences
Research Findings Regarding Gender Differences Origins of Gender Differences Making Appropriate Accommodations for Gender Differences

Few People Low Scores Verbal Ability High Scores

Socioeconomic Differences
Challenges Associated with Poverty Fostering Resilience Working with Homeless Students

Students at Risk
Characteristics of Students at Risk Why Students Drop Out Supporting Students at Risk

Remember that despite average group differences, there is considerable variability within any group and considerable overlap between any two groups.

Chapter 11 describes and explains potential effects of teachers’ expectations on students’ achievement.

each group are not at all like those averages. Second, a great deal of overlap typically exists between two groups. Consider gender differences in verbal ability as an example. Many research studies have found girls to have slightly higher verbal ability than boys (Halpern & LaMay, 2000). The difference is often statistically significant—that is, it probably wasn’t a one‐time‐in‐a‐hundred fluke that happened simply by chance. Yet the average difference between girls and boys in overall verbal ability is quite small, with a great deal of overlap between the sexes. Figure 4.1 shows the typical overlap between girls and boys on general measures of verbal ability. Notice that some boys (those whose scores fall in the rightmost part of their curve) have higher verbal ability than most of their female peers despite the average advantage for girls. If we are to maximize the learning and development of all our students, we must be aware of group differences that may influence their classroom performance. Our challenge is to keep these differences in mind without either (1) imposing our own culturally based assumptions on what behaviors are “right” and “wrong” or (2) assuming that all members of a particular group fit typical group patterns. Our erroneous preconceptions about how various students will perform may actually increase differences among those students (de Boer, Bosker, & van der Werf, 2010; Rubie‐Davies, Hattie, & Hamilton, 2006; Sirin & Ryce, 2010; van den Bergh, Denessen, Hornstra, Voeten, & Holland, 2010).

Cultural and Ethnic Differences
The concept of culture encompasses the behaviors and belief systems that characterize a long‐standing social group. The culture in which we live influences the perspectives and values we acquire, the skills we find important and master, and the adult roles to which we aspire. It also guides the development of our language and communication skills, our expression and regulation of emotions, and our formation of a sense of self. Sometimes we use the word culture to refer to behaviors and beliefs that are widely shared over a large geographic area. For example, mainstream Western culture encompasses behaviors, beliefs, and values shared by many people in North America and western Europe. Members of this culture generally value self‐reliance, academic achievement, democratic decision making, and respect for other individuals’ rights and possessions, among other things. However, any single country in North America or western Europe—in fact, almost every country on the planet—encompasses considerable cultural diversity within its borders. Some of this within‐country diversity is the result of growing up in particular geographic regions, religious groups, or socioeconomic circumstances (A. B. Cohen, 2009; Payne, 2005). In addition, most countries include citizens from a variety of ethnic groups. In general, an ethnic group is a group of individuals with a common culture and the following characteristics:

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


it resides. It may be comprised of people of the same race, national origin, or religious background. twined. (NCSS Task Force on Ethnic Studies Curriculum Guidelines, 1992) Cultures aren’t static entities. Instead, they continue to change over time as they incorporate new ideas, innovations, and ways of thinking, particularly as they interact with other cultures (Kitayama, Duffy, & Uchida, 2007; O. Lee, 1999; Rogoff, 2003). Furthermore, there’s considerable variation in attitudes and behaviors within a particular culture; individual members may adopt some cultural values and practices but reject others (Goodnow, 2010; Markus & Hamedani, 2007). When people come into contact with a culture very different from their own (e.g., through immigration to a new country), many of them—especially children— gradually undergo acculturation, adopting some of the new culture’s values and customs. Some acculturation is critical for success in the new cultural environment, but rapid acculturation can be detrimental to children’s social and emotional well‐being. In most instances, children’s own cultural groups give them a support network and stable set of values that enable them to do well in school and maintain their self‐ esteem in the face of discrimination and other challenges (Deyhle, 2008; Matute‐ Considerable diversity exists in any culture. Bianchi, 2008; Sam & Berry, 2010). For example, 7‐year‐old Emma’s family makes In general, we can get the best sense of students’ cultural backgrounds and gingerbread houses during the holiday season, ethnic‐group memberships by learning the extent to which they have participated and but many others in her culture do not. continue to participate in various cultural and ethnic‐group activities (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003). For example, some Mexican American students live in small, close‐ knit communities where Spanish is spoken and traditional Mexican practices and beliefs permeate everyday life, but others live in more culturally heterogeneous communities in which Mexican traditions may be cast aside to make time for mainstream American activities. And in some instances students may participate actively in two or more cultures, perhaps because they have immigrated from one country to another or perhaps because their parents come from distinctly different ethnic or racial backgrounds (Herman, 2004; A. M. Lopez, 2003; Mohan, 2009). In Keep in mind that some general, membership in a particular cultural or ethnic group is a more‐or‐less phenomenon rather than students may have multiple an either‐or situation. In this age of increasing cross‐cultural interaction, many students cannot cultural affiliations. easily be pigeonholed.

When they first begin school, many children experience some culture shock—some confusion about the behaviors expected of them in this new setting. Culture shock is more intense for some students than for others. Most schools in North America and western Europe embrace the norms and values of mainstream Western culture, and so students with this cultural background often adjust quickly to classroom practices. In contrast, students who come from cultural groups with radically different norms and values may experience a cultural mismatch between home and school. In particular, they may find school an unsettling place in which they don’t know what to expect from others or what behaviors other people expect of them. Significant differences between home and school cultures can interfere with students’ adjustment to the school setting and ultimately with their academic achievement as well (Phalet, Andriessen, & Lens, 2004; Phelan, Yu, & Davidson, 1994; Tyler et al., 2008; Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001). Cultural mismatch is compounded when teachers misinterpret the behaviors of students from cultural and ethnic minority groups. The following exercise provides an example.

culture Behaviors and belief systems of a long‐standing social group.

ethnic group People who have common historical roots, values, beliefs, and behaviors and who share a sense of interdependence.

acculturation adopting the values and customs of a new culture.

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Imagine that, as a new teacher, you’re approaching the school building on the first day of school. You see seven or eight boys standing in a cluster just outside the front door. Two of them are

cultural mismatch Situation in which a child’s home culture and the school culture hold conflicting expectations for behavior.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER engaged in a heated argument, and the others are watching and listening with apparent delight. Here are just a few of the many insults you hear being hurled back and forth: “Your momma so fat her driver’s license says, ‘Picture continued on other side’!” “Yeah? Well, your momma so fat she got to iron her pants on the driveway!” “That ain’t nothin’. Your momma so fat her cereal bowl comes with a lifeguard!” “Hey, man, your momma so fat she got smaller fat women orbitin’ around her!” The argument seems to be escalating, with the insults about the two boys’ mothers becoming more and more outrageous. Should you intervene?

The incident you’ve just witnessed is probably an example of “sounding” or “playing the dozens,” a friendly exchange of insults common among male youth in some African American communities. Some boys engage in such exchanges to achieve status among their peers—those who concoct the biggest, most creative insults are the winners—whereas others do it simply for amusement. But people unfamiliar with African American culture might misinterpret them as being potentially serious and worrisome (Adger, Wolfram, & Christian, 2007; R. E. Reynolds, Taylor, Steffensen, Shirey, & Anderson, 1982; Smitherman, 1998). As students gain experience with the culture of their school, they become increasingly aware of their teachers’ and peers’ expectations for behavior and ways of thinking, and many eventually become adept at switching their cultural vantage point as they move from home to school and back again (Y. Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet‐Martínez, 2000; LaFromboise, Coleman, & Gerton, 1993; Matute‐Bianchi, 2008). One Mexican American student’s recollection provides an example:
At home with my parents and grandparents the only acceptable language was Spanish; actually that’s all they really understood. Everything was really Mexican, but at the same time they wanted me to speak good English. . . . But at school, I felt really different because everyone was American, including me. Then I would go home in the afternoon and be Mexican again. (Padilla, 1994, p. 30)

Not all students make an easy adjustment, however. Some students actively resist adapting to the school culture, perhaps because they view it as conflicting with their own cultural background and identity (Cross, Strauss, & Fhagen‐Smith, 1999; Gay, 2010; Irving & Hudley, 2008; Phelan et al., 1994). Still others try desperately to fit in at school yet find the inconsistencies between home and school difficult to resolve, as illustrated by this report from a teacher whose students included immigrant Muslim children from Pakistan and Afghanistan:
During the days of preparation for Ramadan Feast, the children fasted with the adults. . . . They had breakfast [before dawn] and then went back to sleep until it was time to get themselves ready for school. In school they refrained from food or drink—even a drop of water—until sunset. By noon, especially on warm days, they were a bit listless. . . . They spoke about their obligation to pray five times daily. In their writing they expressed the conflict within: I always think about my country. I think about going there one day, seeing it and practicing my religion with no problems. . . . Before sunrise, I can pray with my family. But at school we can’t say to my teacher, “Please, teacher, I need to pray.” (Igoa, 1995, p. 135)

As teachers, we must learn as much as we can about the ways in which students from various cultural and ethnic groups are apt to be different from one another and from ourselves. Equipped with such knowledge, we can make reasonable accommodations to help students from all backgrounds adjust to and thrive in our classrooms.

Tremendous cultural variation exists within African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, and European American groups. Thus, we must be careful not to form stereotypes about any group. At the same time, knowledge of frequently observed cultural differences, such as those described in the following sections, can sometimes help us better understand why students behave as they do.
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LANGUAGE AND DIALECT One obvious cultural difference is language. But even if children speak English at home, they may use a form of English different from the Standard English typically used at school. More specifically, they may speak in a different dialect, a form of a particular language that includes some unique pronunciations, idioms, and grammatical structures. Dialects tend to be associated either with particular geographical regions or with particular ethnic and cultural groups. Perhaps the most widely studied ethnic dialect is African American English (you may also see the terms Black English Vernacular and Ebonics). This dialect—which is illustrated in the earlier “Argument” exercise and is actually a group of dialects that vary somewhat from place to place— is characterized by certain ways of speaking that are distinctly different from those of Standard English (e.g., “He got ten dollar,” “Momma she mad,” “He be talkin’ ”) (Hulit & Howard, 2006, p. 346; Owens, 1995, p. A‐8). At one time, many researchers believed that an African American dialect represented a less complex form of speech than Standard English and thus urged educators to teach students to speak “properly” as quickly as possible. But most researchers now realize that African American dialects are, in fact, very complex languages with predictable sentence structures and that these dialects promote communication and sophisticated thinking processes as readily as Standard English (Alim & Baugh, 2007; Fairchild & Edwards‐Evans, 1990; Hulit & Howard, 2006; Spears, 2007). Many children and adolescents view their native dialect as an integral part of their ethnic identity. Furthermore, when a particular dialect is the language preferred by local community members, it’s often the means through which people can most effectively connect with one another in face‐to‐face interactions and text messaging (Godley & Escher, 2011; Ogbu, 2003; D. Paris & Kirkland, 2011). Nevertheless, lack of proficiency in Standard English can impede children’s reading and writing development, and in later years, their use of a distinct regional or cultural dialect may lead other people to underestimate or discredit their abilities. For such reasons, many experts recommend that all students in English‐speaking countries develop proficiency in Standard English. Ultimately, children and adolescents function most effectively when they can use both their local dialect and Standard English in appropriate settings. For example, although we may wish to encourage Standard English in most written work or in formal oral presentations, we might find other dialects quite appropriate in creative writing or informal classroom discussions (Adger et al., 2007; DeBose, 2007; Ogbu, 1999, 2003; Smitherman, 1994). TALKATIVENESS AND VERBAL ASSERTIVENESS Relatively speaking, mainstream Western culture is a chatty one. People often say things to one another even when they have little to communicate, making small talk as a way of maintaining interpersonal relationships (Gay, 2010; Trawick‐Smith, 2003). In some African American communities as well, people talk a lot, often with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm (Gay, 2006; Tyler et al., 2008). In certain other cultures, however, silence is golden (Norenzayan, Choi, & Peng, 2007; Trawick‐Smith, 2003). For example, many people from Southeast Asian countries believe that effective learning is best accomplished through attentive listening rather than through speaking (J. Li, 2005; J. Li & Fischer, 2004; Volet, 1999). Some talkative cultures are also assertive ones, in that people readily voice their opinions, perhaps interrupting those who are speaking; for example, this is the case for many African Americans, European Americans, and Hawaiians. People from quieter cultures, such as many Asian Americans, tend to be more subtle and tentative in expressing their opinions—for instance, they might begin a sentence by saying “I’m not sure, but perhaps . . . ”—and they aren’t as likely to reveal their emotions during conversations (Gay, 2010; Morelli & Rothbaum, 2007; Tyler et al., 2008; Ward et al., 2001). In addition, different cultural and ethnic groups have diverse views about how assertive children should be with adults. In mainstream Western culture a common expectation is that children will speak up whenever they have comments or questions. Yet in many parts of the world, children are expected to learn primarily by close, quiet observation of adults, rather than by asking questions or otherwise interrupting what adults are doing (Correa‐Chávez, Rogoff, & Mejía Arauz, 2005; Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003; Kağitçibaşi, 2007). And in some cultures—for instance, in many Mexican American and Southeast Asian communities and in some African
Standard English Form of English generally considered acceptable at school, as reflected in textbooks and grammar instruction. dialect Form of a language that has certain unique pronunciations, idioms, and grammatical structures and is characteristic of a particular region or ethnic group. African American English some African American communities that includes some pronunciations, idioms, and grammatical constructions different from those of Standard English.

Encourage students to use both Standard English and their local dialect, each in appropriate settings.

Chapter 11 looks more closely at cultural differences in emotional expressiveness.

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Keep in mind that some students have been taught that initiating a conversation with an adult is disrespectful.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER American communities—children learn very early that they should engage in conversation with adults only when their participation has been directly solicited (Delgado‐Gaitan, 1994; C. A. Grant & Gomez, 2001; Ochs, 1982). EYE CONTACT For many of us, looking someone in the eye is a way to show that we’re trying to communicate or are listening intently to what the person is saying. But in many Native American, African American, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican communities, a child who looks an adult in the eye is showing disrespect. In these communities children are taught to look down in the presence of adults ( Jiang, 2010; McCarthy, Lee, Itakura, & Muir, 2006; Tyler et al., 2008). The following anecdote shows how a teacher’s recognition of children’s beliefs about eye contact can make a difference:

In some cultures, including many Native American communities, children are taught to look down as a sign of respect for an adult who speaks to them.

only indicator that students are paying attention.

A teacher [described a Native American] student who would never say a word, nor even answer when she greeted him. Then one day when he came in she looked in the other direction and said, “Hello, Jimmy.” He answered enthusiastically, “Why hello Miss Jacobs.” She found that he would always talk if she looked at a book or at the wall, but when she looked at him, he appeared frightened. (Gilliland, 1988, p. 26)

PERSONAL SPACE In some cultures, such as those of some African American and Hispanic communities, people stand close together when they talk, and they may touch one another frequently. In contrast, European Americans and East Asians tend to keep a fair distance from one another, maintaining some personal space, especially if they don’t know each other very well (Slonim, 1991; Trawick‐ Smith, 2003; Ward et al., 2001). As teachers, we must be sensitive to the personal space that students from various cultural backgrounds need in order to feel comfortable in interactions with us and with classmates. RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS A common interaction pattern in many Western classrooms is the IRE cycle: A teacher initiates an interaction by asking a question, a student responds to the question, and the teacher evaluates the response (Mehan, 1979). Similar interactions are often found in parent–child interactions in middle‐income European American homes. For instance, when my own children were toddlers and preschoolers, I often asked them questions such as “How old are you?” and “What does a cow say?” and praised them when they answered correctly. But children reared in other cultural groups aren’t necessarily familiar with such question‐and‐answer sessions when they first come to school. Furthermore, some children may be quite puzzled when a teacher asks questions to which he or she already knows the answer (Adger et al., 2007; Crago, Annahatak, & Ningiuruvik, 1993; Heath, 1989; Rogoff, 2003, 2007). And children in some communities are specifically taught not to answer questions from strangers about personal and home life—questions such as “What’s your name?” and “Where do you live?” (Heath, 1982, 1989). The issue, then, isn’t that children are unaccustomed to questions; rather, it’s that they have little experience with certain kinds of questions, as one child’s mother explains:
Miss Davis, she complain ’bout Ned not answerin’ back. He says she asks dumb questions she already know about. (Heath, 1982, p. 107)

Meanwhile, teachers may misinterpret the children’s silence, as this teacher does: personal space Personally or culturally preferred distance between people during social interaction.

IRE cycle Adult–child interaction marked by adult initiation (usually involving a question), child response, and adult evaluation.

The simplest questions are the ones they can’t answer in the classroom; yet on the playground, they can explain a rule for a ballgame or describe a particular kind of bait with no problem. Therefore, I know they can’t be as dumb as they seem in my class. (Heath, 1983, p. 269)

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Cultural differences have also been observed in how long people wait before answering another person’s question. People from some cultures use lengthy pauses before

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

97 responding as a way of indicating respect, as this statement by a Northern Cheyenne individual illustrates:
Even if I had a quick answer to your question, I would never answer immediately. That would be saying that your question was not worth thinking about. (Gilliland, 1988, p. 27) wait time Length of time a teacher pauses, either after asking a question or hearing a student’s comment, before saying something. Increase wait time as a means of encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to participate in discussions.

When teachers expect immediate answers to their questions—with a delay of, say, a second or less—students from these cultures may not have the time they need to show respect as they respond. Such students are more likely to participate in class and answer questions when their teacher provides a more extended wait time—that is, when several seconds of silence can elapse after the teacher’s question or another student’s comment (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Mohatt & Erickson, 1981; Tharp, 1989). PUBLIC VERSUS PRIVATE PERFORMANCE In many classrooms learning is a very public enterprise. Individual students are often expected to answer questions or demonstrate skills in full view of their classmates, and they’re encouraged to ask questions themselves when they don’t understand. Such practices, which many teachers take for granted, may confuse or even alienate the students of some ethnic groups (Eriks‐Brophy & Crago, 1994; García, 1994; Lomawaima, 1995). For example, many Native American children are accustomed to practicing a skill privately at first, performing in front of a group only after they’ve attained a reasonable level of mastery (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Suina & Smolkin, 1994). And children in some Native American and Hawaiian communities may feel more comfortable responding to questions as a group rather than interacting with adults one on one (K. H. Au, 1980; L. S. Miller, 1995). VIEWS ABOUT TEASING Although people in some cultures think of teasing as mean spirited, it’s a common form of social interaction in certain other cultures. For example, in the earlier “Argument” exercise, two African American boys engaged in playful one‐upmanship, flinging increasingly outlandish insults at each other. And in the opening case study, Jack’s mother teased him by suggesting that “Now maybe school will look easy!” When taken in the right spirit, teasing serves a variety of functions for particular cultural groups—perhaps providing a source of amusement and an outlet for verbal creativity, exerting gentle pressure to engage in more productive behavior, or helping children learn how to take criticism in stride (Adger et al., 2007; P. M. Cole, Tamang, & Which one of Shrestha, 2006; Rogoff, 2003). COOPERATION VERSUS COMPETITION In a traditional Western classroom, students are rewarded when, as individuals, they achieve at high levels. In some cases—for example, when teachers grade on a curve or post “best” papers on a bulletin board—students must actually compete with one another in order to be successful. Yet in some cultures—including many Native American, Mexican American, African, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Island communities—group achievement is valued over individual success. Students from these cultures are often more accustomed to working cooperatively and for the benefit of the community, rather than for themselves (X. Chen, Chung, & Hsiao, 2009; Lomawaima, 1995; Mejía‐Arauz, Rogoff, Dexter, & Najafi, 2007; Tyler et al., 2008). Such a cooperative spirit is epitomized by the Zulu word ubuntu, which reflects the belief that people become fully human largely through caring relationships with others and regular contributions to the common good. these shapes is a circle?

Increasing teacher wait time also enhances thinking and learning, as you’ll discover in Chapter 6.

Remember that some students feel more comfortable practicing new skills in private.

Boy, this teacher must really be dumb not to know THAT !

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Teachers often ask students questions for which they themselves already know the answers, but not all children are familiar with this strategy—known as an IRE cycle—for assessing students’ knowledge.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Students from cooperative cultures may resist when asked to compete against their classmates, as 16‐year‐old Maria explains:
I love sports, but not competitive sports. [My brother is] the same way. I think we learned that from our folks. They both try to set things up so that everyone wins in our family and no one is competing for anything. (Pipher, 1994, p. 280)

cooperative activities, especially when students’ cultures place high value on cooperation.

Students may also be confused when teachers scold them for helping one another on assignments or for sharing answers, and they may feel uncomfortable when their individual achievements are publicly acknowledged. Group work, with an emphasis on cooperation rather than competition, often facilitates the school achievement of these students (Deyhle & Margonis, 1995; Lipka, 1998; L. S. Miller, 1995; Rogoff, 2003). FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS AND EXPECTATIONS In some groups—for example, in many Hispanic, Native American, Arab American, and Asian groups, as well as in some rural European American communities—family bonds and relationships are especially important, and extended family members often live nearby. Students growing up in these cultures are likely to feel responsibility for their family’s well‐being, to have a strong sense of loyalty to other family members, and to go to great lengths to please their elders. It isn’t unusual for students in such communities to leave school when their help is needed at home, as Jack does in the opening case study (Banks & Banks, 1995; Fuligni, 1998; Kağitçibaşi, 2007; McIntyre, 2010). In most cultures school achievement is highly valued, and parents encourage their children to do well in school (Monzó, 2010; R. R. Pearce, 2006; Spera, 2005). But some cultural groups place even higher priority on other accomplishments. For example, when preparing young children for school, many Hispanic families place particular emphasis on instilling appropriate social behaviors—for instance, showing respect for adults and cooperating with peers (Greenfield et al., 2006; Tyler et al., 2008). And in some cultural groups, an early pregnancy is a cause for joy even if the mother‐to‐be hasn’t yet completed high school (Deyhle & Margonis, 1995; Stack & Burton, 1993). We must certainly be sensitive to situations in which the achievements that we think are important are seemingly not valued by students’ families. Whenever possible, we must show our students how the school curriculum and classroom activities relate to their cultural environment and their own life goals (Brayboy & Searle, 2007; Lipman, 1995; Moje & Hinchman, 2004). We must also maintain open lines of communication with students’ parents. Because some parents of minority‐group children feel intimidated by school personnel, teachers often need to take the first step in establishing productive parent–teacher relationships. When teachers and parents realize that both groups want students to succeed in the classroom, they’re more apt to work cooperatively to promote student achievement (Banks & Banks, 1995; Edwards & Turner, 2010; Reschly & Christenson, 2009). CONCEPTIONS OF TIME Many people regulate their lives by the clock: Being on time to appointments, social engagements, and the dinner table is important. This emphasis on punctuality isn’t characteristic of all cultures, however. For example, many Hispanic and Native American groups don’t observe strict schedules and timelines (Tyler et al., 2008; Ward et al., 2001). Not surprisingly, children from these communities may sometimes be late for school and may have trouble understanding the need to complete school tasks within a certain time frame. To succeed in mainstream Western society, students eventually need to learn punctuality. At the same time we must recognize that not all students will be especially concerned about clock time when they first enter our classrooms. Certainly we should expect students to come to class on time and to turn in assignments when they’re due. But we must be patient and understanding when, for cultural reasons, students don’t develop such habits immediately. WORLDVIEWS The cultural and ethnic differences identified so far reveal themselves, in one way or another, in students’ behaviors. Yet the definition of culture presented early in the chapter includes the behaviors and belief systems that characterize a social group. Our general beliefs and assumptions
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Relate the school curriculum to students’ home environments and cultures. Establish and maintain open lines of communication with parents, and work with them to identify ways in which home and school can collaborate in helping students be successful at school. Chapter 13 identifies many strategies for working effectively with parents.

Encourage punctuality, but be patient if students’ cultural backgrounds have placed little emphasis on clock time.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

99 about the world—collectively known as our worldview—are often so integral to our everyday thinking that we take them for granted and aren’t consciously aware of them (Koltko‐Rivera, 2004; Losh, 2003). Some beliefs that permeate the curriculum in traditional Western schools aren’t universally shared, however. Consider the following examples: uted the hurricane to natural causes, but some children from minority‐group backgrounds had heard explanations elsewhere that led them to believe that people’s actions or supernatural forces also played a role in the hurricane’s origins and destructiveness (O. Lee, 1999). tionally high achievement scores in science, but by eighth grade their scores may decline considerably. Menominee culture encourages children to think about the many ways in which they are a part of nature, rather than taking care of or dominating it, and children increasingly find the school science curriculum at odds with this view (Atran, Medin, & Ross, 2005; Medin, 2005). inappropriateness of prayer in public schools, some view the trend away from prayer as a sign of progress toward greater religious freedom. But others—those from deeply religious Christian families, for instance—view the same trend as a decline that reflects abandonment of the country’s religious heritage (Mosborg, 2002). As you can see, then, students’ worldviews are likely to influence their interpretations of current events and classroom subject matter (Kağitçibaşi, 2007; Keil & Newman, 2008). worldview set of assumptions about reality that influence understandings of a wide variety of phenomena.

Consider how students’ diverse worldviews might influence their interpretations of classroom subject matter.

Clearly, we must be aware of and responsive to the different ways in which students of various cultural and ethnic groups are likely to think and act. It’s equally important that we help our students develop such awareness and responsiveness, enabling them to become productive members both of the school community and of our increasingly multicultural society. Following are several suggestions. Come to grips with your own cultural lens and biases. In the opening case study Jack’s English teacher complained that “his parents don’t care” and that, in general, the parents of Navajo students “just don’t support their [children’s] education” (Deyhle & LeCompte, 1999, p. 127). This teacher was looking at parents’ behaviors from the perspective of a non‐Navajo. The assumptions and worldviews we’ve acquired in our own culture—for instance, the assumption that good parents actively direct and control their children’s behaviors—are often so pervasive in our lives that we tend to treat them as common sense, or even as facts, rather than as the beliefs they really are. These beliefs become a cultural lens through which we view events—a lens that may lead us to perceive other cultures’ practices as somehow irrational and inferior to our own. Teachers who work effectively with students from diverse backgrounds are keenly aware that their own cultural beliefs are just that—beliefs. And they make a concerted effort not to pass judgment on cultural practices and beliefs very different from their own, but rather to try to understand why people of other cultural groups think and act as they do (Banks et al., 2005; Rogoff, 2003). Educate yourself about your students’ cultural backgrounds. One way to do this, of course, is to read as much as possible about various cultural groups. But in addition, effective teachers immerse themselves in students’ daily lives and cultures—talking with students about their outside interests and activities, getting to know students’ families, patronizing local businesses, and so on (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Ladson‐Billings, 1995a; Moje & Hinchman, 2004). Only when we immerse ourselves in a very different cultural environment can we truly begin to understand how we, too, are products of our own cultures and to appreciate the potential benefits of growing up in a very different one (Banks et al., 2005; Rogoff, 2003). Be sensitive to the culture shock that recent immigrants may be experiencing. In recent years, immigration has become a highly politicized topic in the United States and elsewhere. Whatever

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CHAPTER our own political views might be on the topic, we must realize that all children deserve our guidance and support in their efforts to acquire the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in the adult world. For recent immigrants, such guidance and support might include not only extra academic assistance, but also explicit instruction in the typical practices and customs—“how things are done”—of their new culture (Vang, 2010; Ward et al., 2001). Also, some students may require accommodations for their religious beliefs; for instance, we might discreetly give devout Muslim students a private place for their early afternoon prayer, and we might excuse them from vigorous physical exercise when they’re fasting during Ramadan (Sirin & Ryce, 2010). Incorporate the perspectives and traditions of many cultures into the curriculum. True multicultural education isn’t limited to cooking ethnic foods, celebrating Cinco de Mayo, or

multicultural education Instruction that integrates throughout the curriculum the perspectives and experiences of numerous cultural groups.

culturally responsive teaching of instructional strategies that build on students’ existing knowledge and skills and are consistent with their culturally preferred ways of learning and behaving.

American history classes have traditionally presented only a European American view of historical events. Watch “Self‐Concept Challenge” and “Genocide Impact.”

Look for commonalities as well as differences among people from different cultural backgrounds.

Stress that people from diverse cultures can all benefit from considering one another’s perspectives.

studying famous African Americans during Black History Month. Rather, it integrates throughout the curriculum the perspectives and experiences of numerous cultural groups and gives all students reason for pride in their own cultural heritage. Students from diverse backgrounds are more likely to be motivated to do well in school—and to actually do well there—when they perceive the school curriculum and classroom activities to be relevant to their own cultures (Brayboy & Searle, 2007; Gay, 2010; Moje & Hinchman, 2004; Tyler et al., 2008). As teachers we can incorporate content from diverse cultures into many aspects of the school curriculum. Following are examples: In language arts, study the work of authors and poets from a variety of ethnic groups (e.g., study the lyrics of popular hip‐hop songs). In math and science, draw on students’ experiences with their community’s building, hunting, farming, and cooking practices. In social studies, look at different religious beliefs and their effects on people’s behaviors (e.g., see Figure 4.2). In history, look at wars and other major events from diverse perspectives (e.g., the Native American perspective on European settlers’ westward migration, the Spanish perspective on the Spanish–American War, the Japanese perspective on World War II). In both history and current events, consider such issues as discrimination and oppression. ( J. M. Hughes, Bigler, & Levy, 2007; J. Kim, 2011; Lipka, Yanez, Andrew‐Ihrke, & Adam, 2009; McIntyre, 2010; NCSS Task Force on Ethnic Studies Curriculum Guidelines, 1992; K. Schultz, Buck, & Niesz, 2000) In our exploration of diverse cultures, we should look for commonalities as well as differences. For example, in the elementary grades we might study how people in various countries celebrate children’s birthdays. In the secondary grades it can be beneficial to explore issues that adolescents of all cultures face: gaining the respect of elders, forming trusting relationships with peers, and finding a meaningful place in society. One important goal of multicultural education should be to communicate that, underneath it all, people are more alike than different (Brophy, Alleman, & Knighton, 2009; Ulichny, 1996). Students should be encouraged to contribute to the multicultural curriculum—for example, by bringing in photographs and favorite foods from home and by expressing their varying experiences and perspectives without fear of ridicule or censure (Gollnick & Chinn, 2009; Jiang, 2010). Ultimately, we should help students realize that diverse cultural groups have much to learn from one another. As an example, students might be surprised to discover that several practices underlying many democratic governments—such as sending delegates to represent particular groups, allowing only one person in a governing council to speak at a time, and keeping government and military bodies separate—were adopted from Native American practices in the 1700s (Rogoff, 2003; Weatherford, 1988). Build on students’ strengths, and adapt instructional methods to their preferred ways of learning and behaving. Classroom strategies that build on students’ existing knowledge, skills, and accustomed ways of learning and behaving are collectively known as culturally responsive teaching. For example, if students regularly collaborate with others at home and in the community, we should make frequent use of cooperative group activities (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Ladson‐Billings, 1995a). If, in their informal interactions with peers, students are accustomed to talking simultaneously and elaborating on one another’s ideas, we might ask them to answer

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101 questions in chorus rather than as individuals (K. H. Au, 1980). And if students’ home environments are high‐energy ones in which several activities often take place simultaneously—as is sometimes true in African American and Hispanic families—we might create a similarly high‐ energy, multiactivity classroom environment (Tyler et al., 2008). Work hard to break down students’ stereotypes of particular ethnic groups. Although we and our students should certainly be aware of real differences among various ethnic groups, it’s counterproductive to hold a stereotype—a rigid, simplistic, and inevitably inaccurate caricature—of any particular group. Even the most open‐minded of us are sometimes prone to holding ethnic stereotypes, as you might discover in the following exercise. stereotype Rigid, simplistic, and erroneous view of a particular group of people.

Form a picture in your mind of someone from each of the following three places. Make note of the first image that comes to mind in each case: The Netherlands (Holland) Mexico Hawaii Now answer yes or no to each of these questions:

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If you answered yes to any of the three questions, then one or more of your images reflected an ethnic stereotype. Most people in the Netherlands, Mexico, and Hawaii don’t routinely wear such stereotypical attire. In the preceding exercise, your stereotypes involved only superficial qualities. Yet people’s stereotypes can also include notions about typical personality characteristics and behaviors. Some stereotypes—for instance, perceptions of a certain group as being “stupid,” “lazy,” or “aggressive”— are derogatory and certainly not conducive to productive cross‐group interactions. Shinto gods are called Kami. It is believed that these spirits are found in the basic forces of fire, wind, and water. Researchers have identified several possible origins Most influence agriculture and this of course was how the of counterproductive stereotypes. In some instances family earliest people survived. They relied on what they grew to members, friends, or popular media communicate stereolive. So the gods had to help them grow their crops or they types through prejudicial remarks, practices, and caricatures died. It seems natural for people to worship things that will (Branch, 1999; Nesdale, Maass, Durkin, & Griffiths, 2005; help them survive, and worshiping forces that affect what you grow was the common practice in early history. These Theobald & Herley, 2009). In other cases a history of conbasic forces even affect the survival of modern people. We flict and animosity between two groups may lead children to all still need agriculture to live and forces of nature really conclude that people in the opposing group have undesirable determine whether crops grow or not. qualities (Pitner, Astor, Benbenishty, Haj‐Yahia, & Zeira, Shintoists never developed strong doctrines, such as the 2003). Occasionally, stereotypes appear in curriculum matebelief in life after death that many other religions have. However they have developed some moral standards such rials and classroom instruction—as happens, for instance, as devotion, sincerity, and purity. . . . when American children role‐play the first Thanksgiving by All Shintoists have a very good and simple set of rules dressing up in paper‐bag “animal skins,” painting their faces, or practice. They want to be honorable, have feelings for and wearing feathers on their heads (Bigler & Liben, 2007; others, support the government, and keep their families safe Brayboy & Searle, 2007). And sometimes students simply and healthy. I think these are good principles for all people, whether they practice a religion or not. . . . have little or no knowledge about a cultural group very different from their own. For example, when a Muslim girl wears a head scarf to school, a thoughtless classmate might ask, “Are you bald? Is there something wrong with your FIGURE 4.2 In this paper for her language arts and social hair?” (McBrien, 2005a, p. 86; Sirin & Ryce, 2010). studies classes, 13‐year‐old Melinda explains what she has At a minimum, unflattering stereotypes lead to mislearned about Japan’s Shinto religion and how in some understandings among members of diverse cultural groups. ways it relates to her own life. When left uncorrected, they can also lead to overtly

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CHAPTER discriminatory and malicious behaviors—ethnic jokes, racial taunts, social exclusion, and so on (Killen, 2007; Pfeifer, Brown, & Juvonen, 2007). Students who are frequent victims of others’ misunderstandings and prejudice are more likely than their peers to become chronically ill or depressed (Allison, 1998; G. H. Brody et al., 2006; Tatum, 1997). Negative stereotypes can also turn inward in a phenomenon known as stereotype threat: Students become overly anxious in domains in which their group stereotypically does poorly and, as a result, perform more poorly than they otherwise would (J. Aronson & Steele, 2005; Walton & Spencer, 2009). As teachers, we must work hard to correct students’ inaccurate and demeaning stereotypes of various cultural and ethnic groups, and we must vigorously address any acts of prejudice and discrimination we witness in the classroom and elsewhere. The Into the Classroom feature “Addressing Students’ Stereotypes and Prejudices” offers several concrete strategies. By learning to appreciate multicultural differences within a single classroom, students take an important step toward appreciating the multicultural nature of the world at large. Bring cultural diversity to culturally homogeneous classrooms. When students attend school only with peers who are culturally very similar to themselves, they may hold especially naive and potentially counterproductive stereotypes about other cultural and

stereotype threat Awareness of a negative stereotype about one’s own group and accompanying uneasiness that low performance will confirm the stereotype; leads (often unintentionally) to lower‐quality performance.

Chapter 11 looks more closely at stereotype threat.

Into the Classroom
Addressing Students’ Stereotypes and Prejudices
Use curriculum materials that represent all cultures and ethnic groups as competent, legitimate participants in mainstream society, rather than as exotic curiosities who live in a separate world.
A history teacher peruses a history textbook to make sure it portrays members of all ethnic groups in a nonstereotypical manner. He supplements the text with readings that highlight the important roles that members of various ethnic groups have played in history.

Expose students to successful role models from various ethnic backgrounds.
A teacher invites several successful professionals from minority groups to speak with her class about their careers. When some students seem especially interested in one or more of these careers, she arranges for the students to spend time with the professionals in their workplaces.

Assign literature depicting peers from diverse cultural backgrounds.
As part of a research project in England, several elementary school teachers read to students a series of stories involving close friendships between English children and refugees from other countries. Following this experimental intervention, the students express more positive attitudes toward refugee children than do control‐group students who have not heard the stories.

Assign small‐group cooperative projects in which students from diverse backgrounds must combine their unique talents to achieve a common goal.
A fourth‐grade teacher has small cooperative groups design and conduct schoolwide surveys soliciting other students’ opinions on various topics (e.g., ideas for school fundraisers, preferences for cafeteria menu items, etc.). The teacher intentionally creates groups that are culturally heterogeneous, knowing that the group members will draw on diverse friendship networks in seeking volunteers to take the surveys. In addition, he makes sure that every member of a group has something unique to offer in survey design or data analysis—perhaps knowledge of word processing software, artistic talent, or math skills.

Explore the nature and complexity of various dialects.
A high school language arts class examines some unique features of a local African American dialect, including various forms of the verb to be. For example, African American members of the class explain that the word is is often dropped in simple descriptive sentences (e.g., “He a handsome man”) and that the word be is sometimes used to indicate a constant or frequently occurring characteristic (e.g., “He be talking” describes someone who talks a lot).

Emphasize that some people affiliate with two or more cultural groups and that individual members of any single group are often very different from one another in behaviors, beliefs, and values.
In a geography unit on major world religions, a middle school teacher regularly points out that members of any single religion often women dress in much the same way that women in this country do; others also wear head scarves in addition to regular, modern clothes; and still others dress in a burqa that covers everything except their about their bodies. In fact, some Jewish women, too, wear head scarves to show that they are modest, but many others don’t.”
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Conduct class discussions about prejudice and racism that exist in the school and local community.
A middle school in a suburban community creates a number of mixed‐race focus groups in which students regularly convene to share their views about interracial relations at the school. Although some students of European American ancestry initially feel uncomfortable talking about this topic with their minority‐ group peers, once the ice has been broken, greater cross‐cultural understanding and communication result.

Sources: Adger et al., 2007; Barbarin, Mercado, & Jigjidsuren, 2010; Boutte & McCormick, 1992; L. Cameron, Rutland, Brown, & Douch, 2006 (refugee stories example); Dovidio & Gaertner, 1999; Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003; Hulit & Howard, 2006, pp. 345–346 (dialect example); Mohan, 2009; Oskamp, 2000; Pfeifer et al., 2007; K. Schultz et al., 2000 (focus groups example); Tatum, 1997.

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103 ethnic groups (McGlothlin & Killen, 2006; Pfeifer et al., 2007). In such FIGURE 4.3 In an essay for his American situations we may have to take students beyond school boundaries, either history class, 16‐year‐old Randy reveals his physically or vicariously. For instance, we might engage students in com- appreciation of cultural differences. munity action projects that provide services to particular ethnic groups— perhaps in preschools, nursing homes, or city cultural centers (Sleeter & To me, diversity is not only a fact of life, Grant, 1999). Alternatively, we might initiate a sister schools program in but it is life. To be different and unique is what which students from two ethnically different communities regularly commuallows people to live a fulfilling life. To learn nicate, exchanging letters, photographs, stories, local news items, and the like and admire other people’s differences is (Koeppel & Mulrooney, 1992). perhaps one of the keys to life and without Foster democratic ideals, and empower students to bring about meaningwill be locked, keeping you out and not ful change. Any multicultural education program must include such demoallowing you to succeed. To learn that a cratic ideals as human dignity, equality, justice, and appreciation of diverse majority of one kind in one place may be a minority of another kind in another place can viewpoints (Gay, 2010; Gollnick & Chinn, 2009; NCSS Task Force on Ethnic help to initiate an outlook on life that promotes Studies Curriculum Guidelines, 1992). We better prepare students to function perspective and reason of any situation. effectively in a democratic society when we help them understand that virtually every nation includes numerous cultures and that such diversity provides a richness of ideas and perspectives that will inevitably yield a more creative, productive society overall. Such understanding is reflected in the writing sample in Figure 4.3, written by a student who was attending a rural, culturally homogenous high school in New Hampshire. The student’s words were genuine; after earning his diploma, he spent two years in a very different cultural environment—a community in rural Brazil—before attending college. Teaching respect for diverse perspectives doesn’t necessarily mean that we treat all beliefs as equally acceptable. For instance, we should certainly not embrace a culture that blatantly violates some people’s basic human rights. Respect does mean, however, that we and our students should try to understand another cultural group’s behaviors within the context of its overall beliefs and assumptions. Ideally, a democracy also provides a context in which students can bring about meaningful change. Students should be encouraged to challenge the status quo—perhaps substandard housing, poor voter turnout in certain neighborhoods, or misuse of natural resources (Ladson‐Billings, 1995a; Lipman, 1995). For example, in some high schools in the Navajo Nation of the American Southwest, students have taken on controversial commercial practices (e.g., excessive tree cutting, landscape‐scarring mining practices) that threaten their community’s long‐term well‐being; they’ve conducted library research, interviewed community leaders, prepared written reports, and presented their findings at public meetings (Nelson‐Barber & Estrin, 1995). Service learning projects such as these seem to instill a “can‐do” spirit and optimism that all citizens can have a significant impact on the quality of their own and other people’s lives (Eccles, 2007; Kahne & Sporte, 2008; Tate, 1995). that key, there will be too many doors that

Gender Differences
In their academic abilities, boys and girls are probably more similar than you think. But in other respects they may be more different than you realize.

Researchers have identified a number of differences in the physical, cognitive, personal, and social domains. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS Boys are temperamentally predisposed to be more active than girls. Thus, they have more trouble sitting still for long periods and are less likely to enjoy sedentary activities such as reading (W. O. Eaton & Enns, 1986; Newkirk, 2002). Before puberty, boys and girls seem to have similar potential for physical and psychomotor growth, although girls have a slight edge in fine motor skills (e.g., handwriting). But overall, boys develop their physical and motor skills more, perhaps

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especially boys—have frequent opportunities to release pent‐up energy.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER through participation in organized sports (Eccles, 2005; J. R. Thomas & French, 1985). After puberty, boys have a biological advantage in height and muscular strength: They’re taller and, because of increased levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, they’re stronger (Halpern, 2006; Hyde, 2005; J. R. Thomas & French, 1985). Such differences are hardly justification for favoring either gender when enhancing students’ physical fitness, of course. Physical education curricula and sports programs should provide equal opportunities for boys and girls to maximize their motor skills and physical well‐being. COGNITIVE AND ACADEMIC ABILITIES On average, boys and girls perform similarly on tests of general intelligence, in part because experts who construct the tests eliminate items that favor one group or the other (Halpern & LaMay, 2000). Researchers sometimes do find differences in more specific cognitive abilities, however. The most consistently observed gender difference is in visual–spatial ability, the ability to imagine and mentally manipulate two‐ and three‐dimensional figures. As an example of what this ability involves, try the next exercise.

visual–spatial ability Ability to imagine and mentally manipulate two‐ and three‐dimensional figures.

Are the three drawings shown here different rotations of the same object, or do they represent two or more different objects?

Object A

Object B

Object C

Expect boys and girls to have similar aptitudes for all academic subject areas.

To correctly answer this question, you must “rotate” the objects in your head. If you mentally rotate Object B 180 degrees, you can see that it represents the same three‐dimensional configuration as Object A. But if you rotate the right side of Object C down a bit and toward you, you can see that it’s not the same as Object A; instead, it’s a mirror image. Thus, Objects A and B are the same object; Object C is different. On average, males show greater proficiency in such visual–spatial thinking, even in infancy (Gallagher & Kaufman, 2005; Quinn & Liben, 2008). In contrast, females seem to have the advantage in certain verbal skills; for instance, girls have, on average, larger vocabularies and can more quickly think of the words they need to express their thoughts (Halpern, 2004, 2006; Halpern & LaMay, 2000; Lippa, 2002). However, most gender differences in specific cognitive abilities tend to be quite small, with considerable overlap between the two groups (e.g., look once again at Figure 4.1). In addition, boys sometimes show greater variability in cognitive abilities than girls do, causing more boys than girls to demonstrate extremely high or low ability levels relative to their age‐group (Halpern et al., 2007; Halpern & LaMay, 2000; Valla & Ceci, 2011). Even though ability levels may be similar, girls consistently earn higher grades in school (Halpern et al., 2007; Halpern & LaMay, 2000). If achievement is measured by achievement tests rather than grades, research findings are inconsistent. When differences are found, girls typically have an advantage in reading and writing, and after puberty boys tend to have the upper hand in complex mathematical problem solving (Halpern, 2006; Halpern & LaMay, 2000; J. P. Robinson & Lubienski, 2011; Valla & Ceci, 2011). Not only are gender differences in visual–spatial, verbal, and mathematical performance quite small, but some researchers have found them to be getting smaller in recent years. In other words, boys and girls are becoming increasingly similar in their academic performance (Hyde, Lindberg, Linn, Ellis, & Williams, 2008; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Spelke, 2005). Thus, in general we should expect boys and girls to have similar academic aptitudes for different subject areas.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

EXPERIENCE WITH TECHNOLOGY As societies worldwide are gaining increasing access to computers and wireless technologies, boys and girls alike are becoming increasing proficient with technology—for example, they’re apt to stay in frequent contact with peers by texting and sending photographs on cell phones and by posting messages on social networking websites such as Facebook (Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009; Valkenburg & Peter, 2009). But overall, boys seem to spend more of their leisure time with technology than girls do. Boys are more likely to play video games, a pastime that may interfere with their reading and writing development but enhances their visual–spatial ability and probably also their comfort and expertise with computers (Feng, Spence, & Pratt, 2007; Ivory, 2006; Lucas & Sherry, 2004; Weis & Cerankosky, 2010). MOTIVATION IN ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES On average, girls are more concerned about doing well in school: They’re more engaged in classroom activities, more diligent in completing school assignments, and more likely to graduate from high school (H. M. Marks, 2000; Marsh, Martin, & Cheng, 2008; McCall, 1994; J. P. Robinson & Lubienski, 2011). Furthermore, girls are more interested in getting a college education than boys are, and in many countries more females than males earn college degrees (Halpern et al., 2007; National Science Foundation, 2007). However, this eagerness to achieve academically leads girls to prefer tasks at which they know they can succeed, and some find academic failure devastating. Boys are more willing to take on academic challenges and risks and more likely to take their failures in stride (Dweck, 2000; Yu, Elder, & Urdan, 1995). SENSE OF SELF Beginning in the upper elementary or middle school grades, boys appear to have a slightly more positive sense of self than girls do. This gender difference seems to be partly due to boys’ tendency to overestimate their abilities and possibly also to girls’ tendency to underestimate theirs (Hyde, 2007; Lundeberg & Mohan, 2009; Pajares, 2005). Boys’ and girls’ self‐perceptions also tend to be consistent with stereotypes about what males and females are good at, especially in adolescence. Boys tend to rate themselves more highly in mathematics and sports, whereas girls tend to rate themselves more highly in reading and social studies. Such differences in self‐ perceptions persist even when boys’ and girls’ actual ability levels are equal (D. A. Cole, Martin, Peeke, Seroczynski, & Fier, 1999; Herbert & Stipek, 2005; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Wigfield, Byrnes, & Eccles, 2006). INTERPERSONAL BEHAVIORS AND RELATIONSHIPS One of the most consistently observed gender differences involves aggression. In early childhood and throughout the elementary and secondary school years, boys are more physically aggressive than girls, with the difference being especially large for unprovoked aggression (Card, Stucky, Sawalani, & Little, 2008; Hyde, 2007; Pellegrini, 2011). However, girls can be equally aggressive in a nonphysical way—for instance, by spreading rumors or snubbing peers (Crick, Grotpeter, & Bigbee, 2002; French, Jansen, & Pidada, 2002; Pellegrini & Archer, 2005). Some of their victims can be emotionally devastated by such treatment (Rudolph, Caldwell, & Conley, 2005). Consistent differences are also seen in boys’ and girls’ interpersonal activities and relationships. Boys tend to congregate in large groups that engage in rough‐and‐tumble play, organized group games, and physical risk‐taking activities (Maccoby, 2002; Pellegrini, Kato, Blatchford, & Baines, 2002; A. J. Rose & Smith, 2009). They enjoy competition and can be fairly assertive in their efforts to achieve their goals (Benenson et al., 2002; Eisenberg, Martin, & Fabes, 1996; Maccoby, 2002). They may often try to hide their true emotions in social situations, putting up a tough, “nothing‐can‐bother‐me” front (Lippa, 2002; Pollack, 2006). Whereas boys are apt to be competitive, girls are more likely to be affiliative and cooperative. Thus, they tend to form closer relationships with their teachers and to achieve at higher levels when classroom activities involve cooperation rather than competition (Inglehart, Brown, & Vida, 1994; Wentzel, Battle, Russell, & Looney, 2010). Girls also seem to be more attuned to others’ mental states and more sensitive to the subtle, nonverbal messages—the body language— that others communicate (Bosacki, 2000; Deaux, 1984). Girls spend much of their leisure time with one or two close friends, with whom they may share their innermost thoughts and feelings (Leaper & Friedman, 2007; A. J. Rose & Smith, 2009). Although girls can be assertive in making their wishes known, they’re also concerned about resolving conflicts and maintaining group

motivate boys—for instance, by incorporating their personal interests into classroom activities.

Help girls understand that taking risks and making mistakes reflect their willingness to take on challenges and stretch their abilities in new directions.

Chapter 3 examines aggression in greater detail.

Communicate that showing emotion is a natural human trait that is appropriate for males as well as females.

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Accommodate girls’ affiliative nature by providing numerous opportunities for cooperative group work.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER harmony, and so they may sometimes subordinate their own needs to those of others (Benenson et al., 2002; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Rudolph et al., 2005). CLASSROOM BEHAVIORS In part because boys tend to be physically more active than girls, they’re more likely to misbehave in class (Altermatt, Jovanovic, & Perry, 1998; Gay, 2006; Sadker & Sadker, 1994). Boys talk more and ask more questions, sometimes without waiting to be called on. They also tend to dominate small‐group discussions and work sessions. Girls are more reticent classroom participants. They’re less likely to publicly volunteer ideas and ask questions, perhaps for fear of looking stupid or perhaps because they worry that looking too smart will reduce their popularity (Jovanovic & King, 1998; Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Théberge, 1994; Wentzel, 2009). Girls are more likely to express their opinions in small‐group rather than large‐group discussions, and they’re more likely to assume the role of leader (thereby developing valuable leadership skills) in same‐sex groups (Fennema, 1987; MacLean, Sasse, Keating, Stewart, & Miller, 1995; Théberge, 1994). CAREER ASPIRATIONS Historically, boys have had more ambitious career aspirations than girls have. In recent years, however, many girls—especially those in Western countries—have also begun to set their sights on challenging professions. Often, boys and girls alike focus on careers that are stereotypically “appropriate” for their gender, in part because they have greater self‐confidence about their ability to succeed in such careers (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2001; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Weisgram, Bigler, & Liben, 2010). Students’ general life goals come into the picture as well: Girls are more likely than boys to consider how their career choices might mesh with their desires to work with people (rather than objects) and to raise a family (Diekman, Brown, Johnston, & Clark, 2010; Eccles, 2009). Some gender differences are especially prevalent for particular age‐groups. Table 4.1 identifies differences you’re apt to see at various grade levels and offers relevant classroom strategies for accommodating these differences.

work in same‐sex pairs or groups.

Compared to girls, boys are less likely to show their emotions or to actively work to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Watch “Emotions: Late Adolescence” and “Friendships: Late Adolescence.”

Obviously, heredity determines basic physical differences between males and females; some are present at birth, some emerge at puberty. And because of inherited differences in sex‐related hormones—especially estrogen for girls and testosterone for boys—girls reach puberty earlier and boys eventually become taller and stronger. Hormones may account for certain nonphysical gender differences as well. The gender difference in physical aggression appears to be related to testosterone levels (Lippa, 2002; S. Moore & Rosenthal, 2006). Hormones may also play a role in the small differences observed in visual–spatial and verbal abilities, possibly by affecting neurological development in different areas of the brain (Valla & Ceci, 2011; Vuoksimaa et al., 2010). Hormones even seem to influence children’s preferences for male‐stereotypical versus female‐stereotypical behaviors (Auyeung et al., 2009; Hines et al., 2002). Yet environmental factors clearly play a role as well, often by interacting with and amplifying existing biology‐based gender differences (Lippa, 2002; Nuttall, Casey, & Pezaris, 2005). Virtually every culture teaches children that some behaviors are more appropriate for males and others more appropriate for females, as the following exercise may show you.

Form a picture in your mind of each of the following individuals. Make note of the first image that comes to mind in each case: Secretary Bank president Elementary school teacher Scientist
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Fashion model Building contractor

Which individuals did you picture as male, and which did you picture as female?

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Gender‐Related Characteristics at Different Grade Levels
GRADE LEVEL AGE‐TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS specific cognitive abilities roughly equivalent for boys and girls to girls’ easier adjustment to a classroom environment behavior; eagerness to conform to these stereotypes

EXAMPLE first‐grade class can sit still during small‐group reading instruction, but some of the boys quickly become fidgety and distracted. The boys are more likely to be attentive in their reading groups if they can physically act out a story they’re reading. of the boys in a fourth‐ a game of baseball or soccer. A few girls join in, but most of the girls stand on the sidelines and talk with one or two friends.

Expect and encourage equal achievement in all areas of the academic curriculum. to stay on task in order to acquire basic skills, but also give them numerous opportunities to release pent‐up energy. Provide materials for a wide range of play activities (e.g., household items, dress‐up clothes, toy trucks, building blocks, balls). dangerous behaviors; provide guidance about which actions are and are not safe. Assure students that boys and girls have equal potential in all areas of the academic curriculum. Provide materials for group games (balls, bats, soccer goal nets, etc.). Set and enforce reasonable limits on play behaviors so that students’ physical safety is ensured. Be especially sensitive and supportive as girls show signs of puberty (e.g., allow trips to the restroom as needed).


heroism, girls depict romance); play activities more active and forceful for boys than for girls ability, with boys rating themselves more highly than girls despite equal math achievement

boys than for girls boys than in girls


of sync with peers, putting them at greater risk for depression A student named Jason explains how he often hides his feelings at school: “If something happens to you, you have to say, ‘Yeah, no big deal,’ even when you’re really hurting. . . . I’ve punched so many lockers in my life, it’s not even funny. When I get home, I’ll cry about it.” Respect students’ modesty and need for privacy when they must change clothes or take a shower in physical education or after‐school sports. Encourage students to gain skills in domains stereotypically associated with the other gender (e.g., teach cooking and woodworking to boys and girls alike) Encourage both boys and girls to pursue extracurricular sports activities; encourage attendance at both boys’ and girls’ sports events. In appropriate contexts, teach good grooming habits and other skills for presenting oneself well to others. Communicate to boys that occasionally showing emotion and vulnerability is both manly and healthy. Encourage students to cross stereotypical boundaries in course selection (e.g., girls taking advanced math, boys taking creative writing). Provide information about the benefits of a college education (e.g., invite recent high school graduates to come and share their college experiences). Expose students to diverse occupations and professions through guest lectures, trips to community businesses and agencies, and the like. Work with colleagues and parents to vigorously address unhealthful and risky out‐of‐school behaviors. Alert the school counselor when you suspect substance abuse, serious depression, an eating disorder, or some other potentially life‐ threatening condition.

participation in sports more widespread and prestigious for boys esteem and assessments of physical attractiveness and athletic competence, with self‐ratings being higher for boys and preoccupation with physical appearance being greater for girls gender‐appropriate, especially for girls less intimate than girls’ when interpersonal relationships go badly; tendency for boys to try to hide feelings of sadness and distress physical attractiveness girls than among boys professions (e.g., working with tools and machines) and for girls to aspire more to social or artistic occupations (e.g., teaching, counseling, writing) girls than in boys, despite equal ability to act prosocially more common in boys than in girls girls than in boys
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high school service club are girls. The club plans two community service projects for the year: making monthly after‐school trips to a local nursing home and conducting a schoolwide fundraiser to buy holiday gifts for low‐income children.


Sources: Benenson & Christakos, 2003; Binns, Steinberg, Amorosi, & Cuevas, 1997; Bussey & Bandura, 1992; Card, Stucky, Sawalani, & Little, 2008; D. A. Cole et al., 2001; Crouter, Whiteman, McHale, & Osgood, 2007; Davenport et al., 1998; Davila, 2008; Eisenberg et al., 1996; Evans‐Winters & Ivie, 2009; Fabes, Martin, & Hanish, 2003; M. E. Ford, 1996; Grusec & Hastings, 2007; Halpern, 2004, 2006; Halpern et al., 2007; Hankin, Mermelstein, & Roesch, 2007; M. S. Hardy, 2002; J. R. Harris, 1995; Harter, 1999; Hayward, 2003; Herbert & Stipek, 2005; Hyde, 2005; Hyde & Durik, 2005; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Liben & Bigler, 2002; Lippa, 2002; Maccoby, 2002; Matthews, Ponitz, & Morrison, 2009; T. M. McDevitt & Ormrod, 2013; S. Moore & Rosenthal, 2006; Pollack, 2006, p. 72 (Jason example); Ponitz, Rimm‐Kaufman, Brock, & Nathanson, 2009; M. Rhodes & Gelman, 2008; Rogoff, 2003; A. J. Rose & Smith, 2009; Rudolph et al., 2005; R. M. Ryan & Kuczkowski, 1994; Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Seiffge‐Krenke, Aunola, & Nurmi, 2009; J. R. Thomas & French, 1985; Wigfield, Byrnes, & Eccles, 2006; Wigfield, Eccles, & Pintrich, 1996; Zambo & Brozo, 2009 (reading group example).

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER If you’re like most people, your secretary, teacher, and fashion model were females, and your bank president, scientist, and building contractor were males. Gender stereotypes persist throughout our society, and even preschool children are aware of them (Bornholt, Goodnow, & Cooney, 1994; Eisenberg et al., 1996; Nosek & Smyth, 2011). Numerous aspects of society conspire to socialize growing children to conform to gender stereotypes. For example, many adults believe—and communicate the message—that boys are “naturally” better in some domains (e.g., math) and that girls are “naturally” better in others (e.g., reading), even in cases where no gender differences in achievement exist (Bleeker & Jacobs, 2004; Eccles, 2009; Herbert & Stipek, 2005). Gender‐stereotypical toys and games can also have impact: The dolls and board games that girls often get foster verbal and social skills, whereas the building blocks and soccer balls that boys get are more apt to foster visual–spatial skills (Feng et al., 2007; Frost, Shin, & Jacobs, 1998; Liss, 1983; Lytton & Romney, 1991). Boys’ and girls’ personality characteristics, too, are socialized to some degree. Especially in cultural groups that espouse traditional gender roles, boys are often reinforced—by adults and peers alike—for being assertive and aggressive, whereas girls are encouraged to be restrained and nurturing (Leaper & Friedman, 2007; Manning & Baruth, 2009; Rothbart, 2011). And television and video games often portray males as aggressive leaders and successful problem solvers, whereas females are depicted as demure, obedient followers (Furnham & Mak, 1999; Leaper & Friedman, 2007; M. K. Miller & Summers, 2007; T. L. Thompson & Zerbinos, 1995). As young children become increasingly aware of the typical characteristics and behaviors of boys, girls, men, and women, they gradually pull their knowledge together into self‐ constructed understandings, or gender schemas, of how males and females are different. These gender schemas, in turn, become part of their sense of self and guide them in their behaviors. By the time children reach school age, much of the pressure to act “appropriately” for their gender comes from within rather than from others (Bem, 1981; Eccles, 2009; Ruble, Martin, & Berenbaum, 2006). Because gender schemas are self‐constructed, their contents vary considerably from one individual to another (Liben & Bigler, 2002). For example, in adolescence some girls incorporate into their “female” schema unrealistic standards of beauty presented in popular media (films, fashion magazines, etc.). As girls compare themselves to these standards, they almost invariably come up short, and their self‐assessments of physical attractiveness decline. In an effort to achieve the super‐thin bodies they believe to be ideal, they may fall victim to eating disorders (Attie, Brooks‐ Gunn, & Petersen, 1990; Weichold, Silbereisen, & Schmitt‐Rodermund, 2003). Likewise, some teenage boys go out of their way to meet self‐constructed macho standards of male behavior by putting on a tough‐guy act at school and bragging (perhaps accurately, but more often not) about their many sexual conquests (Pollack, 2006; K. M. Williams, 2001a). Not all students have rigid or unrealistic stereotypes of what their gender should be like, of course. In fact, as students get older, many become increasingly flexible about what males and females can and should do. Those with more flexible gender schemas are more likely to pursue counterstereotypical interests and career paths (Liben & Bigler, 2002; C. L. Martin & Ruble, 2004).

gender schema Self‐constructed, characteristics and behaviors of males or females.

Self‐imposed adherence to gender stereotypes is an example of self‐ socialization, a concept described in Chapter 3.

Despite many teachers’ best intentions to treat male and female students equitably, subtle inequities continue. For example, teachers tend to give more attention to boys, partly because boys ask more questions and present more discipline problems. Teachers also give boys more feedback— praise and criticism alike—than they give girls (Altermatt et al., 1998; Eisenberg et al., 1996; Gay, 2006; Halpern et al., 2007; S. M. Jones & Dindia, 2004). The Into the Classroom feature “Promoting Gender Equity” offers several general suggestions for equitably fostering the learning and development of both sexes. At the same time, gender differences sometimes do warrant differential treatment of girls and boys. For example, girls are likely to improve their visual–spatial ability if we give them frequent opportunities to engage in activities requiring visual–spatial thinking (B. M. Casey et al., 2008; Gallagher & Kaufman, 2005). Meanwhile, boys are more likely to improve their literacy skills if we allow them to pursue typical “boy” interests (e.g., sports, adventure) while reading and writing (Newkirk, 2002).

Acknowledge that some differential treatment of girls and boys is appropriate, especially if it helps to reduce gender gaps in particular abilities and predispositions.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Into the Classroom

Use your knowledge of typical gender differences to create greater equity for males and females, not to form expectations about how well males and females are likely to perform in various activities. the girls in her class probably haven’t had as much experience as the boys in throwing a baseball or softball overhand, so she gives the girls extra instruction and practice in the overhand throw.

Use curriculum materials that represent both genders in a positive and competent light; include materials that portray both genders competently engaging in counterstereotypical behaviors.
An English teacher assigns Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, in which an attorney named Atticus Finch is portrayed as a gentle, affectionate, and compassionate man, and his daughter Scout is portrayed as a courageous and adventuresome 8‐year‐old. The Their Eyes Were Watching God, in which an African American woman grows from a teenager who depends on others to meet her needs into a self‐sufficient woman who can easily fend for herself.

When planning lessons and instructional strategies, consider typical interests and activity levels of both boys and girls.
A sixth‐grade math teacher teams up with her school’s information technology teacher to create a month‐long unit in which students create simple video games using a variety of animated characters, graphics, and background music. The students then work in small groups to design games that will help them practice a particular mathematical concept or skill. At the end of the unit, each group demonstrates its game for the class, and the teachers copy the games onto compact discs so that students can play them at home.

Monitor yourself to see whether you are unintentionally treating boys and girls in ways that limit the learning opportunities of one gender.
A French teacher decides to count the number of times he calls on boys and girls during class. He finds that he calls on boys more than three times as frequently as girls, partly because the boys raise their hands more often. Therefore he institutes a new procedure: He alternates between boys and girls when he calls on students, and he sometimes calls on students who aren’t raising their hands.

We must also help students recognize that gender stereotypes are just that—stereotypes— and don’t necessarily limit what males and females can or should be. For example, we can: Expose students to same‐gender adults and peers who excel in domains commonly associated with the opposite gender. Talk about the importance of all academic subject areas for students’ future success. Explain the historical roots of stereotypes. For instance, explain that differing expectations for males and females are a holdover from an era when many jobs outside the home required considerable strength (and thus were better suited for men) and jobs inside the home could easily be combined with breastfeeding (and thus were better suited for women). Engage students in discussions about the adverse consequences of rigid gender roles— noting, for example, that adhering to such roles limits people’s options and results in a lot of talent going to waste. (Bem, 1983, 1984; Evans‐Winters & Ivie, 2009; Fennema, 1987; Huguet & Régner, 2007; A. Kelly & Smail, 1986; Pollack, 2006)

Socioeconomic Differences
The concept of socioeconomic status (SES) encompasses a number of variables, including family income, parents’ education levels, and parents’ occupations. A family’s socioeconomic status— whether high‐SES, middle‐SES, or low‐SES—gives us a sense of family members’ standing in the community: what type of neighborhood they live in, how much influence they have on political decision making, what educational opportunities are available to them, and so on. Students’ school performance is correlated with their socioeconomic status: Higher‐SES students tend to have higher academic achievement, and lower‐SES students tend to be at greater risk for dropping out of school (J.‐S. Lee & Bowen, 2006; McLoyd, 1998; Sirin, 2005). As students from lower‐SES families move through the grade levels, they tend to fall further and further behind their higher‐SES peers (Farkas, 2008; Jimerson, Egeland, & Teo, 1999). When researchers find achievement differences among students from different ethnic groups, the differences in the students’ socioeconomic status—not their cultural differences—seem to be mostly to blame (Byrnes, 2003; N. E. Hill, Bush, & Roosa, 2003; Murdock, 2000).

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socioeconomic status (SES) general social and economic standing in society; encompasses family income, occupation, and educational level.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Life certainly isn’t perfect for students from high‐SES homes (Luthar, 2006; Luthar & Latendresse, 2005). Some high‐income parents have such high expectations for their children’s achievement that the children suffer from significant anxiety and depression. In addition, some high‐income parents have demanding jobs that keep them both physically and emotionally distant from their children, thereby limiting the guidance and support they provide. But by and large it’s children who live in poverty, especially chronic poverty, who face the most significant obstacles to academic success and personal well‐being.

Many, many children grow up in poverty, including more than 16 million children (22%) in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Some of these children live in inner‐city neighborhoods, but others live in rural areas or in modest apartments in wealthy suburbs. Some come from families that can meet life’s basic necessities (e.g., food, warm clothing, adequate shelter) but have little money left over for luxuries. Many others live in extreme poverty; these students are the ones most at risk for academic failure and thus most in need of our attention and support. Several factors tend to contribute to the generally lower school achievement of low‐SES students. Students who face only one or two of these challenges often do quite well in school, but those who face many or all of them are at high risk for academic failure and other negative outcomes (Becker & Luthar, 2002; Gerard & Buehler, 2004; Grissmer, Williamson, Kirby, & Berends, 1998). Poor nutrition and health Lower‐income families have fewer financial resources to ensure that their children have adequate nutrition and health care. Poor nutrition in the early years of life (including the nine months before birth) can lead to impairments in children’s attention, memory, and learning ability (D’Amato, Chittooran, & Whitten, 1992; Noble, Tottenham, & Casey, 2005). Poor nutrition seems to influence school achievement both directly—for example, by hampering early brain development—and indirectly—for example, by leaving children listless and inattentive in class (Ashiabi & O’Neal, 2008; Sigman & Whaley, 1998). And inadequate health care means that some conditions that interfere with school attendance and performance, such as asthma and hearing problems, go unaddressed (Berliner, 2005). Inadequate housing and frequent moves Many poor children live in tight quarters, perhaps sharing one or two rooms with several other family members (Hawkins, 1997; Hernandez, Denton, & Macartney, 2008). Furthermore, children who move frequently from one rental apartment to another must often change schools as well. In the process they lose existing social support networks—both with teachers and with peers—and may miss lessons on fundamental academic skills (Croninger & Valli, 2009; Gruman, Harachi, Abbott, Catalano, & Fleming, 2008; Hattie, 2009). Exposure to toxic substances Especially when children live in poor, inner‐city neighborhoods, their surroundings may expose them to excessive levels of environmental toxins that can seriously jeopardize their health and brain development (Hubbs‐Tait, Nation, Krebs, & Bellinger, 2005; Koger, Schettler, & Weiss, 2005). For example, in old, badly maintained apartment buildings, children may be exposed to lead in the dust from deteriorating paint. In addition, the city water supply may contain pesticides or industrial waste, and the local air may be polluted by power plants and industrial incinerators. Unhealthy social environments On average, low‐SES neighborhoods and communities have higher frequencies of violence and vandalism, greater prevalence of alcoholism and drug abuse, and greater numbers of antisocial peers. Furthermore, there are fewer productive outlets for leisure time—libraries, recreation centers, sports leagues, and so on—and fewer positive adult role models. Such factors appear to be partly responsible for the lower academic achievement of students who live in poverty (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008; T. D. Cook, Herman, Phillips, & Settersten, 2002; Duncan & Magnuson, 2005; Leventhal & Brooks‐Gunn, 2000; Nettles, Caughy, & O’Campo, 2008).

Help families apply for free and reduced‐cost meal programs. Refer students with chronic health problems to the school nurse.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Emotional stress Students at all income levels experience stressful conditions at one time or another, but students from low‐income families have more than their share. On average, low‐ SES homes are more chaotic and unpredictable than affluent ones. Children may wonder where their next meal is coming from or when the landlord might evict them for not paying rent. The preponderance of single‐parent homes among low‐SES families can come into play as well: A single parent may be too distracted by personal problems to offer much affection or consistent discipline. As a result of such factors, students from low‐SES families show higher‐than‐average rates of depression and other emotional problems (Crosnoe & Cooper, 2010; G. W. Evans, Gonnella, Marcynyszyn, Gentile, & Salpekar, 2005; Morales & Guerra, 2006; Parke et al., 2004). Sometimes, too, chronic stress adversely affects students’ physical development, which in turn can hamper their cognitive development (G. W. Evans & Schamberg, 2009). Not all children from low‐income homes live in chronically stressful conditions, of course, and those whose families provide consistent support, guidance, and discipline generally enjoy good mental health (N. E. Hill et al., 2003; M. O. Wright & Masten, 2006). Nevertheless, we should continually be on the lookout for signs that certain students are undergoing unusual stress at home and then provide whatever support we can. In some instances effective support may involve nothing more than being a willing listener. In other cases we may want to consult with a school counselor or social worker about possible support systems at school and resources in the local community. Gaps in background knowledge Some students from low‐SES families lack the basic knowledge and skills (e.g., knowledge of letters and numbers) on which successful school learning so often depends (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008; Brooks‐Gunn, Linver, & Fauth, 2005; Siegler, 2009). Access to early educational opportunities that might foster such skills—books, computers, trips to zoos and museums, and so on—is always somewhat dependent on a family’s financial resources. In addition, some parents have few basic academic skills that they might share with their children. However, as always, we must be careful not to overgeneralize. Some low‐income parents have considerable education (perhaps a college degree) and may be well equipped to read to their children and provide other enriching educational experiences (Goldenberg, 2001; Raikes et al., 2006; Sidel, 1996). Lower‐quality schools Unfortunately, the students who most need good schools are often least likely to have them. Schools in low‐income neighborhoods and communities tend to receive less funding and, as a result, are often poorly equipped and maintained. Teacher turnover rates are high in these schools, and disciplinary tactics tend to be more harsh and less effective. Furthermore, some teachers at these schools have low expectations for students, offering a less‐challenging curriculum, assigning less homework, and providing fewer opportunities to develop advanced thinking skills than do teachers in wealthier school districts (G. W. Evans, 2004; McLoyd, 1998; Pianta & Hamre, 2009; Raudenbush, 2009). Of course, schools in low‐income school districts don’t have to be this way. In fact, we teachers can make a huge difference in the quality of children’s educational experiences at even the poorest of schools. Consider a teacher whom researchers called Miss A (E. Pedersen, Faucher, & Eaton, 1978): Miss A taught at Ray School, an elementary school in a large, North American city. The school building—constructed like a fortress, with iron bars on its windows—was hardly appealing or welcoming. Its neighbors included old tenement buildings, a junkyard, and a brothel. Fewer than 10% of its students eventually completed high school. Nonetheless, Miss A worked wonders with the students in her first‐grade classes. She showed obvious affection for them, insisted on appropriate behavior without ever losing her temper, and shared her lunch with those who hadn’t brought one. She continually hammered home the importance of learning and education and had high expectations for achievement. She made sure her students learned to read, and she stayed after school with them whenever they needed extra help. Miss A’s students got higher grades than students in other classes not only in their first‐grade year but also for several years after that. On average, their IQ scores went up

Provide emotional support and appropriate referrals when students seem to be undergoing exceptional stress at home.

Identify and address any missing basic skills.

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Be optimistic that you can make a difference in students’ lives.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER between third and sixth grade (one girl’s score changed from 93 to 126), whereas the IQs of most students at Ray School went down. When researchers tracked down some of Miss A’s students many years later, they found that these students were far more financially and professionally successful than the typical Ray graduate. And every single one of them remembered her name.

resilient student Student who succeeds in school and in life despite exceptional hardships at home.

Thanks in part to teachers like Miss A, many students of low‐income families succeed in school despite exceptional hardships. Some are resilient students who acquire characteristics and coping skills that help them rise above their adverse circumstances. As a group, resilient students have likable personalities, a positive sense of self, and ambitious goals, and they believe that success comes with hard work and a good education (S. Goldstein & Brooks, 2006; Schoon, 2006; Werner & Smith, 2001). Researchers have learned a great deal about factors that can foster resilience in students from challenging backgrounds. With their findings in mind, I offer the following suggestions. Be a dependable source of academic and emotional support. Resilient students usually have one or more individuals in their lives whom they trust and can turn to in difficult times (Masten, 2001; McLoyd, 1998; Werner, 1995, 2006). For example, resilient students often mention teachers who have taken a personal interest in them and been instrumental in their school success (R. M. Clark, 1983; McMillan & Reed, 1994; D. A. O’Donnell, Schwab‐Stone, & Muyeed, 2002). As teachers, we’re most likely to promote resilience in low‐SES students when we show that we like and respect them, are available and willing to listen to their concerns, hold high expectations for their performance, and provide the encouragement and support they need to succeed both inside and outside the classroom (Kincheloe, 2009; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998; Milner, 2006; Schoon, 2006). Build on students’ strengths. Although some students from lower‐SES backgrounds may lag behind in basic academic skills, they’re apt to bring many strengths to the classroom. For example, these students are often quite clever at improvising with everyday objects. If they work part‐time to help their families make ends meet, they may have a good understanding of the working world. If they are children of single, working parents, they may know far more than their classmates about cooking, cleaning house, and taking care of younger siblings. Their own scarce resources are likely to have instilled genuine empathy and generosity for other people in need. And many of these students are quite knowledgeable about certain aspects of popular culture— characters and plot lines in television shows, lyrics from current rap songs, and so on (Freedom Writers, 1999; Kraus, Piff, & Keltner, 2011; Lareau, 2003; Torrance, 1995). As teachers, then, we must remember that students who have grown up in poverty may, in some respects, have more knowledge and skills than their economically advantaged peers. Such knowledge and skills can often provide a basis for teaching classroom subject matter (Schoon, 2006; Varelas & Pappas, 2006). Furthermore, students who are willing to talk about challenges they have faced can sensitize their classmates to serious inequities in today’s society. Identify and provide missing resources and experiences important for successful learning. Some students from very poor families lack basic essentials—such as nutritious meals, warm clothing, adequate health care, and school supplies—that will be important for their academic success. Many government programs and community agencies can help to provide such essentials. School districts offer free and reduced‐cost meal programs for children from low‐income families. Charitable organizations often distribute warm winter jackets gathered from annual clothing drives. Many communities have low‐cost health clinics. And some office supply stores and large discount chains donate notebooks, pens, and other school supplies to children who need them. Beyond connecting low‐income students and families with community resources, we should identify any basic experiences that students may not have had. Field trips to zoos, farms, the mountains, or the ocean may be in order. And of course, we should identify and teach any basic skills that, for whatever reason, students haven’t yet acquired. When we do so, we’re likely to see significant improvements in students’ classroom performance (S. A. Griffin, Case, &

Remember that many bright, capable students come from low‐income families.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Students at Risk Capodilupo, 1995; G. Phillips, McNaughton, & MacDonald, 2004; Siegler, 2009). However, we must be careful not to focus exclusively on basic skills, especially when doing so means a fair amount of drill and practice. Students’ academic progress will suffer over the long run if they don’t also have frequent opportunities to engage in complex academic tasks—reading for understanding, mastering new technologies, solving real‐world problems, and so on (Cazden, 2001; Reis, McCoach, Little, Muller, & Kaniskan, 2011).


Balance any needed instruction in basic skills with challenging and engaging real‐world activities.

Children of homeless families typically face far greater challenges than other students from low‐ income families. Many have chronic physical problems, limited social support networks, significant mental health issues, and inappropriate behaviors. Some may be reluctant to come to school because they lack bathing facilities and suitable clothing. And some may have moved so frequently from one school to another that they have large gaps in their academic skills (Coe, Salamon, & Molnar, 1991; McLoyd, 1998; P. M. Miller, 2011; Polakow, 2007). As teachers we, too, face extra challenges when teaching students who live in homeless shelters. Following are several suggestions for giving these students the support they may need to achieve academic and social success at school (Pawlas, 1994): Pair new students with classmates who can provide guidance and assistance—for example, by explaining school procedures and making introductions to other students. Provide a notebook, clipboard, or other portable “desk” on which students can do their homework at the shelter. Find adult or teenage volunteers to serve as tutors at the shelter. Meet with students’ parents at the shelter rather than at school. Share copies of homework assignments, school calendars, and newsletters with shelter officials. When we use such strategies, however, we must keep in mind that students and their families are apt to feel embarrassed about their homeless status (Polakow, 2007). Accordingly, showing respect for their privacy and self‐esteem must be a high priority.

Students at Risk
Students at risk are those with a high probability of failing to acquire the minimum academic skills necessary for success in the adult world. Many students at risk drop out before high school graduation, and many others graduate without mastery of basic skills in reading or mathematics (e.g., Boling & Evans, 2008; Laird, Kienzl, DeBell, & Chapman, 2007). A common assumption is that the reasons for dropping out lie primarily in the students themselves (V. E. Lee & Burkam, 2003). But as we will see, school characteristics also play a significant role.

Students at risk come from all socioeconomic levels, but children of poor, single‐parent families are especially likely to leave school before high school graduation. Boys are more likely than girls to drop out, and African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are more likely than European American and Asian American students to drop out. Also, students in large cities and rural areas are more likely to drop out than students in the suburbs are; graduation rates in some big cities are less than 40% (C. Chapman, Laird, & KewalRamani, 2010; Hardré & Reeve, 2003; L. S. Miller, 1995; National Research Council, 2004). Students at risk, especially those who eventually drop out, typically have some or all of the following characteristics: A history of academic failure. On average, students who drop out have poorer reading and study skills, achieve at lower levels, and are more likely to have repeated a grade than their classmates who graduate. Consistent patterns of low achievement are sometimes seen as early as third grade (K. L. Alexander, Entwisle, & Dauber, 1995; Battin‐Pearson et al., 2000; Belfiore & Hornyak, 1998; Hattie, 2009; Suh, Suh, & Houston, 2007).

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

student at risk Student with a high probability of failing to acquire minimal academic skills necessary for success in the adult world.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Emotional and behavioral problems. Potential dropouts tend to have lower self‐esteem than their more successful classmates. They’re also more likely to exhibit serious behavioral problems (e.g., fighting, substance abuse) both in and out of school. Often their close friends are low achieving and, in some cases, antisocial peers (Battin‐Pearson et al., 2000; Garnier, Stein, & Jacobs, 1997; Jozefowicz, Arbreton, Eccles, Barber, & Colarossi, 1994; Suh et al., 2007). Lack of psychological attachment to school. Students at risk for academic failure are less likely to identify with their school or to perceive themselves to be a vital part of the school community. For example, they engage in few extracurricular activities and are apt to express dissatisfaction with school in general (Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; Hymel, Comfort, Schonert‐Reichl, & McDougall, 1996; Rumberger, 1995). Increasing disinvolvement with school. Dropping out isn’t necessarily an all‐or‐nothing event. Many high school dropouts show lesser forms of dropping out many years before they officially leave school. Future dropouts are absent from school more frequently than their peers, even in the elementary grades. In addition, they’re more likely to have been suspended from school and to show a long‐term pattern of dropping out, returning to school, and dropping out again (Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; Suh et al., 2007). The characteristics just described certainly aren’t surefire indicators of which students will drop out, however. For example, some dropouts come from two‐parent, middle‐income homes, and some are actively involved in school activities almost until the time they drop out (Hymel et al., 1996; Janosz, Le Blanc, Boulerice, & Tremblay, 2000).

Students drop out for a variety of reasons. Some have little family and peer encouragement and support for school success. Others have extenuating life circumstances; perhaps they have medical problems, take a job to help support the family, or get pregnant. Many simply become dissatisfied with school: They find the school environment unwelcoming or dangerous, perceive the curriculum to be boring and personally irrelevant, or doubt that they can pass high‐stakes achievement tests on which graduation depends (Brayboy & Searle, 2007; Hardré & Reeve, 2003; Hursh, 2007; Portes, 1996; Rumberger, 1995; L. Steinberg, Blinde, & Chan, 1984). Sadly, teacher behaviors can enter into the picture as well. For example, a teacher might communicate low expectations for students’ achievement either explicitly (e.g., by telling them that their chances of earning passing grades are slim) or implicitly (e.g., by brushing off their requests for assistance on assigned tasks). Students are more likely to drop out when they perceive their teachers to be uninterested in helping them succeed (Becker & Luthar, 2002; Farrell, 1990; Suh et al., 2007).

Chapter 15 looks more closely at the effects of high‐stakes testing.

Because students who are at risk for academic failure are a diverse group of individuals with a diverse set of needs, there is no single strategy that can keep all of them in school until high school graduation (Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; Janosz et al., 2000). Nevertheless, effective school and classroom practices will go a long way in helping these students stay on the road to academic success and high school graduation. Following are several suggestions based on research findings. Identify students at risk as early as possible. We begin to see indicators of dropping out, such as low school achievement and high absenteeism, as early as elementary school. And other signs—such as disruptive behavior and lack of involvement in school activities—often appear years before students officially withdraw from school. Therefore it’s quite possible to identify at‐risk students early in their school careers and take steps to prevent or remediate academic difficulties before they become insurmountable. For students at risk, prevention, early intervention, and long‐term support are more effective than later, short‐term efforts (Brooks‐Gunn, 2003; Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; McCall & Plemons, 2001; Ramey & Ramey, 1998).
Chapter 13 offers many strategies for creating warm, emotionally supportive schools and classrooms.

Create a warm, supportive school and classroom atmosphere. Teachers and schools that have high success rates with students at risk tend to be those that communicate a sense of caring, concern, and high regard for students (Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; Hamre & Pianta, 2005; Pianta, 1999).

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Students at Risk


Into the Classroom
Engaging Students at Risk in the Academic Curriculum
Pique students’ interest with stimulating activities.
In a unit on the physics of sound, a junior high school science teacher shows students how basic principles of sound reveal themselves explains why holding down a string at different points along the neck of the guitar creates different frequencies and thus different notes. and on the Internet and then prepares a lesson to teach students in other groups what it has learned.

Use students’ strengths to promote a positive sense of self.
A low‐income, inner‐city elementary school forms a singing performs at a variety of community events, and the students enjoy increased self‐esteem, improvement in other school subjects, and greater teamwork and leadership skills.

Make the curriculum relevant to students’ lives and needs—for example, through service learning activities.
A math teacher at an inner‐city middle school consistently encourages her students to identify and work to solve problems in many liquor stores located near the school and the questionable customers and drug dealers the stores attract. The students use yardsticks and maps to calculate the distance of each store from city government regulations, identify potential violations, meet with a local newspaper editor (who publishes an editorial describing the situation), and eventually meet with state legislators and the city council. As a result of the students’ efforts, city police begin to monitor the liquor stores more closely, major violations are identified (leading to the closing of two stores), and the city council makes it

Communicate high expectations for short‐ term and long‐term academic success.
A math teacher at a low‐income, inner‐city high school recruits students to participate in an intensive math program. The teacher and students work on evenings, Saturdays, and vacations, and all of them later pass the Advanced Placement calculus exam. (This real‐life example is depicted in the 1988 film, Stand and Deliver, currently

Provide extra support for academic success.
A middle school homework program meets every day after school a shelf. Students follow a particular sequence of steps to do each assignment (assembling materials, having someone check their work, etc.) and use a checklist to make sure they don’t skip any steps. Initially, a supervising teacher closely monitors what they do, but with time and practice the students are able to complete their homework with only minimal help and guidance.

Create a community of learners—a classroom in which students and teachers work collaboratively to increase everyone’s understanding.
In a high school science class’s unit on weather, small groups of pressure). Each group conducts research about its topic in the library

Sources: J. P. Allen & Antonishak, 2008; L. W. Anderson & Pellicer, 1998; Belfiore & Hornyak, 1998 (homework program example); Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; Cosden, Morrison, Albanese, & Macias, 2001; Evans‐Winters & Ivie, 2009; L. S. Fuchs, D. Fuchs, et al., 2008; Jenlink, 1994 (Jazz Cats example); Kincheloe, 2009; Ladson‐Billings, 1994a; Mathews, 1988 (inner‐city math program example); Suh et al., 2007; Tate, 1995 (liquor store example).

Make long‐term, systematic efforts to engage students in the academic curriculum. Students are more likely to stay in school and more likely to learn and achieve at high levels if they think their classes are worth their time and effort (e.g., L. W. Anderson & Pellicer, 1998; S. M. Miller, 2003; Ramey & Ramey, 1998; Suh et al., 2007). The Into the Classroom Environment feature “Engaging Students at Risk in the Academic Curriculum” offers several concrete examples of what we might do. Encourage and facilitate identification with school. Students are far more likely to stay in school if they have an emotional attachment to their school and believe that they’re important members of the school community (Christenson & Thurlow, 2004; Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Following are several strategies that researchers have found to be effective: Encourage participation in athletic programs, extracurricular activities, and student government. This strategy is especially important when students are having academic difficulties, because it provides an alternative way of experiencing school success. Involve students in school policy and management decisions. Give students positions of responsibility in managing school activities. Provide rewards (e.g., a trip to a local amusement park) for good attendance records. (Eccles, 2007; Finn, 1989; Garibaldi, 1992; Newmann, 1981; M. G. Sanders, 1996) In general, then, the most effective programs for students at risk are those that would be ideal for any student.

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4 What Have You Learned?
We now return to the chapter’s learning outcomes and identify key points associated with each one. As we do so, we must remember two critical principles regarding the group differences described in this chapter: There is considerable individual variability within any group and a great deal of overlap between any two groups. ■ 4.1: Describe frequently observed between‐group differences and within‐group variability for various cultural and ethnic groups; also describe the teacher attitudes and strategies that underlie culturally responsive teaching. Cultural and ethnic group differences may be seen in language and dialect, talkativeness and verbal assertiveness, eye contact, personal space, responses to questions, comfort with public performance, views about teasing, attitudes toward cooperation and competition, family relationships and expectations, conceptions of time, and worldviews. For students from cultural and ethnic minority groups, there is often some degree of cultural mismatch between the home and school environments, and teachers’ misinterpretations of students’ behaviors can exacerbate this mismatch. All students benefit when we promote increased understanding of cultural and ethnic differences and foster social interaction among students from diverse groups.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 4.3: Identify challenges that students from low‐income families often face; also identify several strategies through which you can foster their resilience and help them be successful at school. Numerous factors can contribute to the generally lower achievement of students from low‐income families, including poor nutrition and housing, unhealthy physical and social environments, emotional stress, lower‐ quality schools, gaps in basic knowledge and skills, and homelessness. Despite such challenges, many children from low‐income backgrounds have a positive sense of self and do well in school; such resilient students often have one or more individuals in their lives whom they trust and can turn to in difficult times. As teachers, we can help students in lower socioeconomic groups succeed in the classroom by building on their many strengths and providing the academic and emotional support they may sometimes need to overcome their adverse circumstances.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 4.2: Describe the nature and origins of typical gender differences in school‐age children and adolescents, and explain how you can best accommodate such differences in your classroom. On average, males and females have similar academic abilities but differ somewhat in physical activity levels, experience with technology, motivation, sense of self, interpersonal relationships, classroom behavior, and career aspirations. Biological differences (e.g., gender‐related hormone levels and subtle differences in brain development) account for a few gender differences, but socialization (which can amplify small biology‐based differences) is probably at the root of many others. As teachers, we may occasionally need to tailor instructional strategies to the unique characteristics of boys versus girls; in general, however, we should hold equally high expectations for both sexes and make sure that both have equal opportunities to develop in all areas of the school curriculum.

■ 4.4: Explain how you might recognize students who are at risk for academic failure and dropping out of school, and identify strategies for helping these students get on the path to academic and social success. Students at risk are those with a high probability of failing to acquire the minimum academic skills necessary for success in the adult world; they may graduate from high school without having learned to read or write, or they may drop out before graduation. To help such students succeed at school, we should identify them as early as possible, make the curriculum relevant to their needs and interests, communicate high expectations for academic success, provide sufficient support to make such success possible, and encourage involvement in school activities.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

Practice for Your Licensure Exam
The Active and the Passive
Ms. Stewart has noticed that only a few students actively participate in her junior high school science classes. When she asks a question, especially one that requires students to draw inferences from information presented in class, the same hands always shoot up. She gives the matter some thought and realizes that all of the active participants are of European American descent and most of them are boys. Ms. Stewart sees the same pattern in students’ involvement in lab activities. When she forms small groups for particular lab assignments, the same students (notably the European American

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Students at Risk males) always take charge. The females and minority‐group males take more passive roles, either providing assistance to the group leaders or else just sitting back and watching. Ms. Stewart is a firm believer that students learn much more about science when they participate in class and when they engage in hands‐on activities. Consequently, she is concerned about the lack of involvement of many of her students. She wonders whether they really even care about science.
1. Constructed‐response question: 2. Multiple‐choice question:


Three of the following explanations are possible reasons that the boys in Ms. Stewart’s class are participating more than the girls. Which alternative contradicts research findings on gender differences? a. On average, boys are more motivated to get good grades. b. On average, boys are more physically active in their classes. c. On average, boys tend to be more confident about their abilities. d. On average, boys are more likely to speak up without waiting to be called on.
3. Constructed‐response question:

Effective teachers place a high priority on equity; that is, they ensure that their classroom practices are not biased in ways that enhance some students’ achievement more than others’. In this situation the European American boys appear to be benefiting more from instruction than their classmates are. Using what you know about group differences, identify at least three possible reasons that minority‐group students are not actively participating in classroom lessons.

Describe three different strategies you might use to increase the participation of both girls and minority‐group students in Ms. Stewart’s class.

PRAXIS tions of this chapter that may be especially applicable to the Praxis tests.

to the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Tests,” to discover sec-

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Individual Differences and Special Educational Needs

5.1: Describe various perspectives on the nature of intelligence, and identify several ways in which you can nurture intelligence in your own students. Explain how students’ cognitive styles and dispositions might influence their classroom performance. Identify implications of the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for your own work as a teacher. 5.4: Explain how you might adapt your instruction and classroom practices to the unique strengths and limitations of students with various disabilities. Explain how you might nurture the development of students who show exceptional gifts and talents.
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5.2: 5.3:


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In elementary school, Tim earned reasonable grades despite poor reading comprehension skills. And although he often appeared to be in a daze during classroom activities, he was generally well behaved. In middle school, his grades began to decline, and teachers complained of his spaciness and tendency to daydream. He had trouble staying on task in class and was so disorganized that he seldom completed homework. When Tim reached high school, he seemed unable to cope with the independence his teachers expected of students, and so he failed several ninth- and tenth-grade classes. Now, as a 17-year-old eleventh grader, Tim undergoes an in-depth psychological evaluation at a university diagnostic clinic. An intelligence test yields a score of 96, reflecting average ability, and measures of social and emotional adjustment are also within an average range. However, measures of attention consistently show this to be an area of weakness. Tim explains that he has trouble ignoring distractions and must find a very quiet place to do his schoolwork. Even then, he says, he often has to reread something several times to grasp its meaning. (Based on Hathaway, Dooling-Litfin, & Edwards, 2006, pp. 410–412)

achievement. But if you look closely at the facts presented in the case, you might realize that Tim also has strengths on which teachers can build. What particular

The clinic evaluation team eventually concludes that Tim has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. (Like Tim, some students identified as having ADHD exhibit attention problems without hyperactivity.) The team suspects that a learning disability might be at the root of the problem but doesn’t have sufficiently precise diagnostic techniques to determine this with certainty. On the plus side, Tim is certainly motivated to do well in school: He’s well behaved in class, seeks out quiet places to study, and may read something several times in an effort to make sense of it. With appropriately modified instruction and settings—for example, teaching Tim basic organizational skills, breaking a single complex task into several shorter and simpler ones, and giving him a quiet place to read and study—Tim can more readily stay on task and complete assignments (Barkley, 2006; Meltzer, 2007). Some differences among students are related to their group membership—for instance, whether they’re male or female or whether they have a particular ethnic heritage. Yet within any single group, students show significant individual differences in cognitive abilities, personalities, physical skills, and so on. In this chapter we’ll look at individual differences in intelligence, cognitive styles, and dispositions. We’ll then consider students with special needs—students who, like Tim, are different enough from their peers that they require specially adapted curriculum materials instructional practices, or both. As we go along, we’ll find that the most effective instruction tends to be differentiated instruction—instruction that is tailored to align with each student’s current knowledge, skills, and needs.

individual differences
Diversity in abilities and characteristics (intelligence, personality, etc.) among students at a particular age and within a particular gender or cultural group.

differentiated instruction
Practice of individualizing instructional methods—and possibly also individualizing specific content and instructional goals—to align with each student’s existing knowledge, skills, and needs.

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Theorists define and conceptualize intelligence in a variety of ways, but most agree that it has several distinctive qualities: adaptive: It can be used flexibly to respond to a variety of situations and problems.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER learning ability: People who are intelligent in particular domains learn new information and skills in those domains more quickly and easily than people who are less intelligent in those domains. use of prior knowledge to analyze and understand new situations effectively. many different mental processes. culture specific. What is intelligent behavior in one culture isn’t necessarily intelligent behavior in another culture. (Dai, 2010; Greenfield, 1998; Laboratory of Human Cognition, 1982; J. Li, 2004; Neisser et al., 1996; Sternberg, 1997, 2004, 2007; Sternberg & Detterman, 1986) With these qualities in mind, I offer an intentionally broad definition of intelligence: the ability to apply prior knowledge and experiences flexibly to accomplish challenging new tasks. For most theorists intelligence is somewhat different from what a person has actually learned (e.g., as reflected in school achievement). At the same time intelligent thinking and behavior depend on prior learning. The more students know about the world in general and about the specific tasks they need to perform, the more intelligently they can behave. Intelligence, then, isn’t necessarily a permanent, unchanging characteristic; it can be modified through experience and learning.

Theoretical Perspectives of Intelligence Measuring Intelligence Nature and Nurture in the Development of Intelligence Cultural and Ethnic Diversity in Intelligence Being Smart About Intelligence and IQ Scores

Cognitive Styles and Dispositions Educating Students with Special Needs in General Education Classrooms
Public Law 94-142: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Inclusion Response to Intervention and PeopleFirst Language

Students with Specific Cognitive or Academic Difficulties
Learning Disabilities Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Speech and Communication Disorders General Recommendations

Some psychologists have suggested that intelligence is a single, general ability that people have to varying degrees and apply in a wide range of activities. Others have disagreed, citing evidence that people can be more or less intelligent on different kinds of tasks, at different points in development, and in different contexts. The theories of intelligence we examine in this section reflect these diverse perspectives on the nature of intelligence. SPEARMAN’S CONCEPT OF g Imagine that you give a large group of students a wide variety of tests—some measuring verbal skills, others measuring visual–spatial thinking, still others measuring mathematical problem solving, and so on. Chances are that the test scores would all correlate with one another to some degree: Students who score high on one test would tend to score high on the other tests as well. The correlations would be strong among tests of very similar abilities; those among tests of distinctly different abilities would be weaker. For example, a student who scored very high on a vocabulary test would probably score high on other measures of verbal ability but might have only modest success in solving math problems (N. Brody, 1999; McGrew, Flanagan, Zeith, & Vanderwood, 1997; Neisser et al., 1996; Spearman, 1904). In the early 1900s, Charles Spearman (1904, 1927) drew on such findings to propose that intelligence comprises both (1) a single, pervasive reasoning ability (a general factor) that is used across the board; and (2) a number of more narrow abilities, such as problem-solving ability and abstract reasoning (specific factors). The general factor and any relevant specific factors work together during the execution of particular tasks. Many contemporary psychologists believe that sufficient evidence supports Spearman’s concept of a general factor in intelligence—often known simply as Spearman’s g. Underlying it, they suspect, may be a general ability to process information quickly and efficiently (Bornstein et al., 2006; Coyle, Pillow, Snyder, & Kochunov, 2011; Haier, 2003). A general ability to control and direct one’s thinking may also be involved (Cornoldi, 2010; H. L. Swanson, 2008).

Students with Social or Behavioral Problems
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Autism Spectrum Disorders General Recommendations

Students with General Delays in Cognitive and Social Functioning
Intellectual Disabilities

Students with Physical or Sensory Challenges
Physical and Health Impairments Visual Impairments Hearing Loss General Recommendations

Students with Advanced Cognitive Development

Considering Diversity when Identifying and Addressing Special Needs General Recommendations for Working with Students Who Have Special Needs

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CATTELL FLUID AND CRYSTALLIZED INTELLIGENCES ’S Several decades after Spearman’s groundbreaking work, Raymond Cattell (1963, 1987) found evidence for two distinctly different components of general intelligence (g). First, people differ in fluid intelligence, their ability to acquire knowledge quickly and adapt to new situations effectively. Second, they differ in crystallized intelligence, the knowledge and skills they’ve accumulated from their experiences, schooling, and culture. Fluid intelligence is more important for new, unfamiliar tasks, especially those that require rapid decision making and involve nonverbal content. Crystallized intelligence is more important for familiar tasks, especially those that depend heavily on language and prior knowledge. Cattell suggested that fluid intelligence is largely the result of inherited biological factors, whereas crystallized intelligence depends on both fluid intelligence and experience and thus is influenced by both heredity and environment. CATTELL-HORN-CARROLL THEORY OF COGNITIVE ABILITIES Some theorists have built on Cattell’s distinction to suggest that intelligence may have three layers, or strata (Ackerman & Lohman, 2006; Carroll, 1993, 2003; D. P. Flanagan & Ortiz, 2001; Horn, 2008). In this Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of cognitive abilities, the top stratum is general intelligence, or g. Underlying it in the middle stratum are 9 or 10 more specific abilities— processing speed, general reasoning ability, general world knowledge, ability to process visual input, and so on—that encompass fluid and/or crystallized intelligence to varying degrees. And underlying these abilities in the bottom stratum are more than 70 very specific abilities, such as reading speed, mechanical knowledge, and number and richness of associations in memory. With its large number of specific abilities, the Cattell–Horn–Carroll theory is too complex to describe in detail here, but you should be aware that psychologists are increasingly finding it useful in predicting and understanding students’ achievement in various content domains (e.g., J. J. Evans, Floyd, McGrew, & Leforgee, 2001; Phelps, McGrew, Knopik, & Ford, 2005; B. E. Proctor, Floyd, & Shaver, 2005). intelligence Ability to apply prior knowledge and experiences flexibly to accomplish challenging new tasks. g Theoretical general factor in intelligence that influences one’s ability to learn and perform in a wide variety of contexts.

fluid intelligence Ability to acquire knowledge quickly and adapt effectively to new situations. crystallized intelligence Knowledge and skills accumulated from prior experience, schooling, and culture.

Keep in mind that different students are likely to be intelligent in different ways.

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GARDNER’S MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES Howard Gardner (1983, 1998, 1999; Gardner & Hatch, 1990) suggests that people have at least eight distinctly different abilities, or multiple intelligences, that are relatively independent of one another (see Table 5.1). In his view there may also be a ninth (existential) intelligence dedicated to philosophical and spiritual issues (e.g., Who are we? Why do we die?). However, because evidence for it is weaker than that for the other intelligences (Gardner, 1999, 2000a, 2003), I have omitted it from the table. Gardner presents some evidence to support the existence of these distinctly different intelligences. For instance, he describes people who are quite skilled in one area, perhaps in composing music, yet have seemingly average abilities in other areas. He also points out that people who suffer brain damage sometimes lose abilities that are restricted primarily to one intelligence. One person might show deficits primarily in language, whereas another might have difficulty with tasks that require spatial reasoning. Among psychologists, reviews of Gardner’s theory are mixed. Some theorists don’t believe that Gardner’s evidence is sufficiently compelling to support the notion of eight or nine distinctly different abilities (N. Brody, 1992; Corno et al., 2002; Sternberg, 2003; Waterhouse, 2006). Others agree that people may have a variety of relatively independent abilities but argue for different distinctions than those Gardner makes (e.g., note the second-stratum abilities in the Cattell–Horn–Carroll theory just described). Still others reject the idea that abilities in certain domains, such as in music or bodily movement, are really “intelligences” per se (Bracken, McCallum, & Shaughnessy, 1999; Sattler, 2001). Despite psychologists’ lukewarm reception to Gardner’s theory, many educators have wholeheartedly embraced it because of its optimistic view of human potenAttention to detail in 10-year-old Luther’s tial. Gardner’s perspective encourages us to use many different teaching methods so drawing of a plant suggests some talent in what that we can capitalize on students’ diverse talents to help them learn and understand Gardner calls naturalist intelligence. classroom subject matter (L. Campbell, Campbell, & Dickinson, 1998; Gardner,

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
Linguistic intelligence: Ability to use language effectively Logical–mathematical intelligence: Ability to reason logically, especially in mathematics and science a EXAMPLES OF RELEVANT BEHAVIORS

Spatial intelligence: Ability to notice details of what one sees and to imagine and manipulate visual objects in one’s mind Musical intelligence: Ability to create, comprehend, and appreciate music Bodily–kinesthetic intelligence: Ability to use one’s body skillfully Interpersonal intelligence: Ability to notice subtle aspects of other people’s behaviors Intrapersonal intelligence: Awareness of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires Naturalist intelligence: Ability to recognize patterns in nature and differences among various landscaping, or animal training a This example may remind you of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Many of the stage-specific characteristics that Piaget described reflect logical–mathematical intelligence.

Sources: Gardner, 1983, 1999.

2000b; Kornhaber, Fierros, & Veenema, 2004). Consider how one eighth-grade teacher took advantage of two girls’ musical talent to teach spelling, something with which both girls were having difficulty:
[I] asked the girls to label the piano keys with the letters of the alphabet, so that the girls could “play” the words on their keyboards. Later, on spelling tests, the students were asked to recall the tones and sounds of each word and write its corresponding letters. Not only did spelling scores improve, but the two pianists began thinking of other “sound” texts to set to music. Soon, they performed each classmate’s name and transcribed entire sentences. (L. Campbell et al., 1998, p. 142)
Present classroom subject matter using a variety of approaches to capitalize on students’ diverse abilities, but also give them tasks that require them to work on areas of weakness.

Whether or not human beings have eight or more distinctly different intelligences, they certainly benefit when they’re encouraged to think about a particular topic in two or more distinctly different ways—perhaps using both words and mental images (R. E. Mayer, 2011b; Moreno, 2006). We won’t always want to teach to students’ strengths, however. We must also give students tasks that encourage them to address and thereby strengthen their areas of weakness (Sternberg, 2002). STERNBERG’S TRIARCHIC THEORY Robert Sternberg (e.g., 1998, 2004; Sternberg et al., 2000) has speculated that people may be more or less intelligent in three different domains—hence the name triarchic theory. Analytical intelligence involves making sense of, analyzing, contrasting, and evaluating the kinds of information and problems often seen in academic settings and on intelligence tests. Creative intelligence involves imagination, invention, and synthesis of ideas within the context of new situations. Practical intelligence involves applying knowledge and skills effectively to manage and respond to everyday problems and social situations.

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In addition, Sternberg proposes that intelligent behavior involves an interplay of three factors, all of which vary from one occasion to the next (Sternberg, 1985, 1997, 2003): The environmental context in which the behavior occurs. Different behaviors may be more or less adaptive and effective in different cultures. For example, learning to read is an adaptive response in industrialized societies yet largely irrelevant to certain other cultures. The relevance of prior experiences to a particular task. Prior experiences can enhance intelligence in either of two ways. In some cases extensive practice with a particular kind of task enables students to perform that task with increasing speed and efficiency—that is, with greater automaticity. In other instances, students are able to draw on what they’ve learned in previous situations to help them with new tasks. The cognitive processes required by the task. Numerous cognitive processes are involved in intelligent behavior: separating important information from irrelevant details, identifying possible problem-solving strategies, seeing relationships among seemingly different ideas, and so on. Different cognitive processes may be more or less important in different contexts, and an individual may behave more or less intelligently depending on the specific cognitive processes needed at the time. To date, research neither supports nor refutes the notion that intelligence is structured in the specifically triarchic manner that Sternberg proposes. Certain aspects of Sternberg’s theory (e.g., how various factors work together) are described in such general terms that they’re difficult to either confirm or disconfirm through research (Sattler, 2001; Siegler & Alibali, 2005). And Sternberg himself acknowledges that most of the data supporting his theory have been collected by his own research team, rather than by outsiders who might be more objective or critical (Sternberg, 2003). Nevertheless, the theory reminds us that students’ ability to behave intelligently may vary considerably depending on the cultural context, previously learned knowledge and skills, and cognitive processes that a task involves. DEVELOPMENTAL VIEWS OF INTELLIGENCE Theories of cognitive development portray children as becoming increasingly intelligent over time; for example, with age and experience children gain greater proficiency in abstract thinking (Jean Piaget’s theory) and effective use of complex cultural tools (Lev Vygotsky’s theory). Yet with the possible exception of Sternberg’s triarchic theory—which points out the importance of prior experiences—the perspectives of intelligence described so far don’t really consider how intelligence might take different forms at different points in development (Dai, 2010). Some psychologists working in the area of giftedness suggest that not only is intelligence somewhat specific to particular domains but also that its basic nature changes with age and experience. From this perspective, the developmental course of exceptional abilities and talents is as follows: 1. Initially (typically in childhood), people show exceptional potential in a certain domain, perhaps in reading, math, or music. 2. With appropriate instruction, guidance, and practice opportunities, people show exceptional achievement in the domain. 3. If people continue to pursue the domain and practice domain-specific tasks over a lengthy time period (typically into adulthood), they may eventually gain considerable expertise and eminence, to the point that their accomplishments are widely recognized (Dai, 2010; Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilus, & Worrell, 2011). Here, then, we see a very dynamic view of intelligence: Although its roots may be in certain natural endowments, over the long run intelligence requires both environmental nurturance and personal perseverance (Dai, 2010; Subotnik et al., 2011). DISTRIBUTED INTELLIGENCE Many psychologists are beginning to realize that not only does a supportive environment context enhance people’s intelligence over time, but in fact it can facilitate intelligent behavior in the here and now. People are far more likely to think and behave intelligently when they have assistance from their physical, cultural, and social environments—an idea that is sometimes called

Chapter 6 looks more closely at automaticity.

Chapter 2 describes Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of development.

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CHAPTER distributed intelligence (e.g., Hutchins, 1995; Pea, 1993; Perkins, 1992, 1995). People can “dis-

Children can think and behave more intelligently when they acquire the cognitive tools of their culture, such as strategies for organizing and graphing

tribute” a challenging task—that is, they can pass some of the cognitive burden onto something or someone else—in at least three ways. First, they can use physical objects, especially technology (e.g., calculators, computers), to handle and manipulate large amounts of information. Second, they can represent and think about the situations they encounter by using their culture’s various symbolic systems—words, charts, diagrams, mathematical equations, and so on—and other cognitive tools. And third, they can work with other people to explore ideas and solve problems—as we’ve often heard, two heads are (usually) better than one. In fact, when students work together on complex, challenging tasks and problems, they teach one another strategies and ways of thinking that can help each of them think even more intelligently on future occasions (Kuhn, 2001b; Palincsar & Herrenkohl, 1999; Slavin, 2011; Salomon, 1993). From a distributed-intelligence perspective, then, intelligence is a highly variable, contextspecific ability that increases when appropriate environmental supports are available. It certainly isn’t an immutable trait that learners “carry around” with them, nor is it something that can be easily measured and then summarized with one or more test scores. However, psychologists coming from other theoretical perspectives often do try to measure intelligence, as we’ll see now.

social supports that can help students think more intelligently.

When a student consistently struggles with certain aspects of the school curriculum, as Tim does in the opening case study, psychologists sometimes find it helpful to get a measure of the student’s general level of cognitive functioning. Such measures are commonly known as intelligence tests. To get a sense of what intelligence tests are like, try the following exercise.

Answer each of these questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. What does the word penitence mean? How are a goat and a beetle alike? What should you do if you get separated from your family in a large department store? What do people mean when they say, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”? is to d. as is to:

5. Complete the following analogy: a. b. c.

As children get older, they become increasingly able to discern underlying

developmental differences in this

These test items are modeled after items on many contemporary intelligence tests. Often the tests include a mixture of verbal tasks (such as Items 1 through 4) and less verbal, more visual tasks (such as Item 5). Scores on intelligence tests were originally calculated using a formula that involves division. Hence, they were called intelligence quotient scores, or IQ scores. Although we still use the term IQ, intelligence test scores are no longer based on the old formula. Instead, they’re determined by comparing a student’s performance on a given test with the performance of others in the same age-group. A score of 100 indicates average performance on the test: Students with this score have performed better than half of their age-mates but not as well as the other half. Scores well below 100 indicate below-average performance on the test; scores well above 100 indicate above-average performance. Figure 5.1 shows the percentages of students getting scores at different points along the scale (e.g., 12.9% get scores between 100 and 105). Notice that the curve is high in the middle and low at both ends, indicating that scores close to 100 are far more common than scores considerably higher or lower than 100. For example, if we add up the percentages in different parts of Figure 5.1, we find that approximately two-thirds (68%) of students score within 15 points of 100 (i.e., between 85 and 115). In contrast, only 2% of students score as low as 70, and only 2% score as high as 130. Such a many-in-the-middle-and-few-at-the-extremes distribution of scores seems to characterize a wide variety of human characteristics. Hence, psychologists have created a method of scoring intelligence test performance that intentionally yields this distribution.

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In the opening case study, Tim’s performance on an intelligence test yields an IQ score of 96, which we can now make some sense of. As you can see in Figure 5.1, a score of 96 is so close to 100 that we should consider it to be well within an average range. FIGURE 5.1 Percentages of IQ scores in different ranges
Percentage of Scores in Each Range

IQ SCORES AND SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT 12.9 12.9 Studies repeatedly show that performance 11.9 11.9 on intelligence tests is correlated with school 9.3 9.3 achievement. On average, children with higher 6.7 6.7 IQ scores earn higher course grades, do better on 4.4 4.4 2.5 2.5 standardized achievement tests, and complete more 2.3 2.3 years of education (N. Brody, 1997; Gustafsson & 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 125 130 Undheim, 1996; Sattler, 2001). IQ Scores It’s important to keep three points in mind about this IQ–achievement relationship. First, intelligence doesn’t necessarily cause achievement; it is simply correlated with it. Even though students with high IQs typically perform well in school, we cannot conclusively say that their high achievement is actually the result of their intelligence. Intelligence probably does play an scores are standard scores based on important role in school achievement, but so, too, do many other factors—motivation, quality of the normal distribution. Chapter 15 explains these concepts. instruction, family and neighborhood resources, peer-group expectations, and so on. Second, the relationship between IQ scores and achievement is an imperfect one, with many exceptions to the rule. For a variety of reasons, some students with high IQ scores don’t perform well in the classroom, and others achieve at higher levels than we would predict from their IQ scores alone. Third and most important, we must remember that an IQ score simply reflects a child’s performance on a particular test at a particular time—it’s not a permanent characteristic etched in stone—and that about their school achievement. some change is to be expected over time.

Research tells us that heredity probably plays some role in intelligence. For instance, identical twins (who have the same genetic makeup) tend to have more similar IQ scores than nonidentical (fraternal) twins do, even when the twins are adopted at birth by different parents and grow up in different homes. This is not to say, however, that children inherit a single IQ gene that determines their intellectual ability. Rather, they probably inherit a variety of characteristics that in one way or another affect particular cognitive abilities and talents (Bouchard, 1997; O. S. P. Davis, Haworth, & Plomin, 2009; Horn, 2008; Kovas & Plomin, 2007). Environmental factors influence intelligence as well, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Poor nutrition in the early years of development (including the nine months before birth) leads to lower IQ scores, as does a mother’s excessive use of alcohol during pregnancy (D’Amato, Chittooran, & Whitten, 1992; Neisser et al., 1996; Ricciuti, 1993). Moving a child from a neglectful, impoverished home environment to a more nurturing, stimulating one (e.g., through adoption) can result in IQ gains of 15 points or more (Beckett et al., 2006; Capron & Duyme, 1989; van IJzendoorn & Juffer, 2005). Effective, too, are long-term intervention programs designed to help children acquire basic cognitive and academic skills (e.g., F. A. Campbell & Burchinal, 2008; Kağitçibaşi, 2007). Even simply going to school has a positive effect on IQ scores (Ceci, 2003; Ramey, 1992). Furthermore, worldwide, there has been a slow but steady increase in people’s performance on intelligence tests—a trend that is probably due to better nutrition, smaller family sizes, better schooling, increasing cognitive stimulation (through increased access to television, reading materials, etc.), and other improvements in people’s environments (Flynn, 2007; E. Hunt, 2008; Neisser, 1998). The question of how much nature and nurture each play a role in influencing intelligence has been a source of considerable controversy over the years. But in fact, genetic and environmental factors interact in their influences on cognitive development and intelligence in ways that can probably never be disentangled. First of all, genes require reasonable environmental support to do

distributed intelligence
Enhancement of thinking through the use of physical objects and technology, concepts and symbols of one’s culture, and/or social collaboration and support.

intelligence test current level of cognitive functioning; often used to predict academic achievement in the short run.

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IQ score determined by comparing a person’s performance with that of others in the

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CHAPTER their work. In an extremely impoverished environment—one with a lack of adequate nutrition and stimulation—heredity may have little to say about children’s intellectual growth, but under better circumstances it can have a significant influence (Ceci, 2003; D. C. Rowe, Jacobson, & Van den Oord, 1999; Turkheimer, Haley, Waldron, D’Onofrio, & Gottesman, 2003). Second, heredity seems to affect how susceptible or impervious a child is to particular environmental conditions (Rutter, 1997). For instance, some students—such as those with certain inherited disabilities, like Tim in the opening case study—may need a quiet, well-structured learning environment in which to acquire good reading comprehension skills, but other students might pick up good reading skills regardless of the quality of their environment. And third, children tend to seek out environmental conditions that match their inherited abilities (O. S. P. Davis et al., 2009; W. Johnson, 2010; Scarr & McCartney, 1983). For example, children who inherit exceptional quantitative reasoning ability may enroll in advanced math courses and in other ways nurture their inherited talent. Children with average quantitative ability are less likely to take on such challenges and thus have fewer opportunities to develop their mathematical skills. INTELLIGENCE AND THE BRAIN Intelligence—at least that aspect of intelligence that can be measured by IQ tests—does seem to have some basis in the brain. For example, compared with their average-IQ peers, children with high IQ scores show a prolonged period of development in the cortex (P. Shaw et al., 2006). A high level of intelligence also seems to involve ongoing, efficient interactions among numerous brain regions (Jung & Haier, 2007). Although heredity appears to play some role in these differences, the extent to which they are the result of nature, nurture, or a nature–nurture interaction remains to be seen (Jung & Haier, 2007). And in any case, we must remember that the human brain has considerable ability to restructure itself—that is, it has plasticity—throughout childhood and adulthood.

on the structure, development, and plasticity of the human brain.

Historically, some ethnic groups in the United States have, on average, performed better than other ethnic groups on intelligence tests. Most experts agree that such group differences in IQ are probably due to differences in environment and, more specifically, to economic circumstances that affect the quality of prenatal and postnatal nutrition, availability of stimulating books and toys, access to educational opportunities, and so on (Brooks-Gunn, Klebanov, & Duncan, 1996; Byrnes, 2003; McLoyd, 1998). Furthermore, various groups have become increasingly similar in average IQ score in recent years—a trend that can be attributed only to more equitable environmental conditions (Dickens & Flynn, 2006; Neisser et al., 1996). Yet it’s important to note that different cultural groups have somewhat different views about what intelligence is and may therefore nurture somewhat different abilities in their children. Many people of European descent think of intelligence primarily as an ability that influences children’s academic achievement and adults’ professional success. In contrast, people in many African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American cultures think of intelligence as involving social as well as academic skills—maintaining harmonious interpersonal relationships, working effectively together to accomplish challenging tasks, and so on (Greenfield et al., 2006; J. Li & Fischer, 2004; Sternberg, 2004, 2007). And in Buddhist and Confucian societies in the Far East (e.g., China, Taiwan), intelligence also involves acquiring strong moral values and making meaningful contributions to society (J. Li, 2004; Sternberg, 2003). Cultural groups differ, too, in the behaviors that they believe reflect intelligence. For example, many traditional measures of intelligence take speed into account on certain test items: Children score higher if they respond quickly as well as correctly. Yet people in some cultures tend to value thoroughness over speed and may be skeptical when tasks are completed very quickly (Sternberg, 2007). As another example, many people in mainstream Western culture interpret strong verbal skills as a sign of intelligence, but for many Japanese and many Inuit people of northern Quebec, talking a lot indicates immaturity or low intelligence (Crago, 1988; Minami & McCabe, 1996; Sternberg, 2003). One Inuit teacher had this concern about a boy whose language was quite advanced for his age-group:
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Assume that when children from diverse ethnic groups all have reasonably stimulating environments, they have equal potential to develop their intellectual abilities.

Do you think he might have a learning problem? Some of these children who don’t have such high intelligence have trouble stopping themselves. They don’t know when to stop talking. (Crago, 1988, p. 219)

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

As teachers, then, we must be careful not to assume that our own views of intelligence are shared by the students and families of cultures very different from our own.

Whatever its nature and origins may be, intelligence appears to be an important factor in students’ ability to learn and achieve in the classroom. Accordingly, we must have a good grasp of how we can best nurture students’ intellectual growth and how we can reasonably interpret their performance on intelligence tests. Following are several recommendations. Place higher priority on developing—rather than on determining—intelligence. As we’ve seen, intelligence is hardly a fixed, unchangeable characteristic: Environmental factors, including schooling, can lead to increases in children’s measured intelligence. And the notion of distributed intelligence suggests that virtually all students can act more intelligently when they have tools, symbolic systems, and social groups to assist them in their efforts. As teachers, we should think more about enhancing and supporting students’ intelligence than about measuring it (Dai, 2010; P. D. Nichols & Mittelholtz, 1997; Posner & Rothbart, 2007; B. Rhodes, 2008). Rather than ask, How intelligent are our students? we should instead ask, How can we help our students think as intelligently as possible? What tools and social networks can we give them? What useful concepts and procedures can we teach them? Think of intelligence tests as useful but imperfect measures. Intelligence tests aren’t magical instruments that mysteriously determine a learner’s true intelligence—if, in fact, such a thing as “true” intelligence exists. Instead, these tests are simply collections of questions and tasks that psychologists have developed in order to get a handle on how well students can think, reason, and learn at a particular point in time. Used in conjunction with other information, they can often give us a general idea of a student’s current cognitive functioning. To interpret IQ scores appropriately, however, we must be aware of their limitations:
Young children’s distractibility during a testing session decreases the reliability of any test scores obtained (see Chapter 14 and Chapter 15).

factors—general health, time of day, distracting circumstances, and so on. Such factors are especially influential for young children, who are apt to have high energy levels, short attention spans, and little interest in sitting still for more than a few minutes. culture—especially in school settings—and on tasks that can be accomplished within a single, short testing session. They don’t necessarily tap into skills that are more highly valued and nurtured in other cultures, nor do they tap into skills that involve lengthy time periods (e.g., planning ahead, making wise decisions). ticular test items and may perform poorly on those items as a result. as a result of growing up in a non-English-speaking environment—are at an obvious disadvantage when an intelligence test is administered in English. Thus, their IQ scores will typically be poor indicators of what they will be able to do once their English improves. (Dirks, 1982; Heath, 1989; Neisser et al., 1996; Perkins, 1995; Stanovich, 2009; Sternberg, 2007; Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Kidd, 2005; Zigler & Finn-Stevenson, 1992) Obviously, then, we must be skeptical of IQ scores obtained for students who come from diverse cultural backgrounds, know little English, or were fairly young at the time of assessment. Use the results of more focused measures when you want to assess specific abilities. Whenever we obtain and use IQ scores, we’re buying into the idea that a general factor, or g, underlies students’ school performance. But given the multifaceted nature of intelligence, no single test can possibly give us a complete picture of a student’s current abilities. If we want to estimate a student’s potential for success in a particular domain—say, in mathematics or mechanical reasoning— we’re probably better off using measures of more specific abilities (Ackerman & Lohman, 2006; Horn, 2008; McGrew et al., 1997). However, I urge you to rely only on instruments available

obtained for recent immigrants and other students who were not fluent in English when tested. And in general, never base expectations for students’ achievement solely scores.

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CHAPTER from well-respected test publishers. Tests you might find on the Internet—for instance, tests that claim to be measures of Gardner’s multiple intelligences—have typically undergone little or no research scrutiny, making their results questionable at best. Keep in mind, too, that intelligence tests should be administered only by school psychologists and other professionals who have been specifically trained in their use. Look for behaviors that reveal exceptional talents within the context of a student’s culture. For example, among students who have grown up in predominantly African American communities, intelligence might be reflected in oral language, such as colorful speech, creative storytelling, or humor. For students from Native American cultures, intelligence might be reflected in interpersonal skills, highly skilled craftsmanship, or an exceptional ability to notice and remember subtle landmarks in one’s physical environment (Dai, 2010; Maker & Schiever, 1989; Sternberg, 2005; Torrance, 1989). As teachers, then, we must be careful not to limit our conception of intelligence only to students’ ability to succeed at traditional academic tasks and to perform well on traditional intelligence tests. One alternative is dynamic assessment: Rather than assess what students already know and can do, we might teach them something new and see how quickly and easily they master it (Feuerstein, Feuerstein, & Falik, 2010; Haywood & Lidz, 2007; Sternberg, 2007). Remember that many other factors also affect students’ classroom achievement. Most measures of intelligence focus on specific things that a student can do, with little consideration of what a student is likely to do. For instance, intelligence tests don’t evaluate the extent to which students are willing to view a situation from multiple perspectives, examine data with a critical eye, or actively take charge of their own learning. Yet such traits are often just as important as intellectual ability in determining success on academic and real-world tasks (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Kuhn, 2001a; Perkins, Tishman, Ritchhart, Donis, & Andrade, 2000). In the next section we’ll examine forms that these cognitive styles and dispositions might take.

Chapter 14 provides more details about dynamic assessment.

Cognitive Styles and Dispositions
Students with the same general level of intelligence often approach classroom tasks and think about classroom topics differently. Some of these individual differences reflect cognitive styles, over which students don’t necessarily have much conscious control. Others reflect dispositions, which students voluntarily and intentionally bring to bear on their efforts to master school subject matter. Don’t agonize over the distinction between the two concepts, because their meanings overlap considerably. Both involve not only specific cognitive tendencies but also personality characteristics (Messick, 1994b; Zhang & Sternberg, 2006). Dispositions also have a motivational component—an I-want-to-do-it-this-way quality (Kuhn, 2001a; Perkins & Ritchhart, 2004; Stanovich, 1999). Over the past few decades, psychologists and educators have examined a wide variety of cognitive styles, sometimes instead using the learning styles. Many of the traits they’ve identified and assessment instruments they’ve developed don’t hold up under the scrutiny of other researchers (J. Cassidy, 2004; Krätzig & Arbuthnott, 2006; Messick, 1994b). Furthermore, tailoring particular instructional strategies to students’ self-reported styles—which in some cases are nothing more than students’ preferences—doesn’t necessarily enhance academic achievement (Curry, 1990; R. E. Mayer & Massa, 2003; Nieto & Bode, 2008; Snider, 1990). And neuroscientists have completely debunked the idea that we might teach to students’ “left brains” or “right brains”: Even the simplest of everyday thinking tasks requires the left and right hemispheres of the brain to work together (Bressler, 2002; Gonsalves & Cohen, 2010; Haxby et al., 2001). One dimension of cognitive style worthy of our attention, however, is a distinction between analytic and holistic thinking.1 In analytic thinking, learners tend to break new stimuli and tasks into their component parts and to see these parts somewhat independently
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Don’t plan instruction based on results you might get from easily available and aggressively

cognitive style Characteristic way in which a learner tends to think about a task and process new information; typically comes into play automatically rather than by choice. disposition desire to approach and think about in a particular way; typically has a motivational component in addition to cognitive components.

the research literature you might see distinctions between field independence and field dependence or between reflectivity and impulsivity. Both of these distinctions overlap with the analytic-versus-holistic processing distinction.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

129 of their context. In holistic thinking, learners tend to perceive situations as integrated, indivisible wholes that are closely tied to their context. Researchers have found cultural differences here: People from mainstream Western culture tend to be analytic thinkers, whereas people from East Asian cultures think more holistically (Norenzayan, Choi, & Peng, 2007; Park & Huang, 2010; Varnum, Grossmann, Kitayama, & Nisbett, 2010). In general, logical and scientific reasoning requires analytic thinking, but holistic thinking can help learners identify associations and relationships among seemingly very different phenomena. For example, holistically minded Chinese scientists identified the underlying cause of the ocean’s tides—the moon’s gravitational pull on any large body of water—many centuries before more narrowly focused, earth-centered European scientists did (Nisbett, 2009). In contrast to the mixed research findings regarding cognitive styles and learning styles, research on dispositions has yielded more consistent and fruitful results. Some kinds of dispositions are clearly beneficial for classroom learning: Stimulation seeking: Eagerly interacting with one’s Children differ in their desires for intellectual stimulation and challenging physical and social environment in order to gain cognitive tasks. new experiences and information Need for cognition: Regularly seeking and engaging in challenging cognitive tasks Chapter 7 describes critical thinking Critical thinking: Consistently evaluating information or arguments in terms of their accumore thoroughly. racy, credibility, and worth, rather than accepting them at face value Open-mindedness: Flexibly considering alternative perspectives and multiple sources of evidence, and suspending judgment for a time rather than leaping to immediate conclusions (Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein, & Jarvis, 1996; DeBacker & Crowson, 2008, 2009; Halpern, 2008; Kang et al., 2009; Kardash & Scholes, 1996; Raine, Reynolds, & Venables, 2002; Southerland & Sinatra, 2003; Stanovich, 1999; West, Toplak, & Stanovich, 2008) Such dispositions are often positively correlated with students’ learning and achievement, and many theorists have suggested that they play a causal role in what and how much students learn. In fact, dispositions sometimes overrule intelligence in their influence on long-term achievement (Dai & Sternberg, 2004; Kuhn & Franklin, 2006; Perkins & Ritchhart, 2004). For instance, children who eagerly seek out physical and social stimulation as preschoolers later become better readers and earn better grades in school (Raine et al., 2002). Students with a high need for cognition learn more from what they read and are more likely to base conclusions on sound evidence and logical reasoning (Cacioppo et al., 1996; Dai, 2002; P. K. Murphy & Mason, 2006). And students who critically evaluate new evidence and open-mindedly listen to diverse perspectives show more advanced reasoning capabilities and are more likely to revise their beliefs in the face of contradictory information (DeBacker & Crowson, 2009; G. Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2006; Southerland & Sinatra, 2003). Researchers haven’t yet systematically addressed the origins of various dispositions. Perhaps inherited temperamental differences (e.g., in stimulation seeking) are involved (Raine et al., 2002). Beliefs about the underlying nature of knowledge—for instance, the belief that knowledge is fixed and unchanging, on the one hand, or dynamic and continually evolving, on the other— may also play a role (P. M. King & Kitchener, 2002; Kuhn, 2001b; Mason, 2003). And almost certainly teachers’ actions and the general classroom atmosphere they create—for example, whether students are encouraged to pursue intriguing topics, take risks, and think critically— make a difference (Flum & Kaplan, 2006; Gresalfi, 2009; Kuhn, 2001b, 2006). In the following classroom interaction, a teacher actually seems to discourage any disposition to think analytically and critically about classroom material:

Beliefs about the underlying nature of knowledge are known as epistemic beliefs (see Chapter 7).

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Promoting Productive Dispositions
Communicate your own eagerness to learn about and master new topics. culture we’re accustomed to poems that rhyme and have a steady beat. But many centuries ago the Japanese developed a very different form of poetry. This form, called haiku, give you some of my favorite examples, and then as a class we’ll strategy—stuffing a crumpled paper towel into the glass and then

Conduct learning activities in which students collaborate to address intriguing, multifaceted issues.
A few weeks before a national presidential election, a high school see on television now are harshly criticizing opposing candidates, and

Model openmindedness about diverse viewpoints and a willingness to suspend judgment until all the facts are in. the properties of air—especially the fact predict whether the inside of a glass will get wet or stay dry when it is pushed upside down into a bowl of water. After the glass has been immersed, students come to different conclusions about the

groups today, you’ll be looking at transcripts of three political ads, one each from a different candidate’s campaign. Each group

confirm or disconfirm what the candidates are saying about their own records or those of their opponents. Tomorrow we’ll compare the

Ask students to evaluate the quality of scientific evidence, and scaffold their efforts sufficiently that they can reach appropriate conclusions. program that simulates the effects of various factors (amount of rainfall, rate of snowmelt, type of soil, etc.) on local flooding. To guide students’ inquiry, the program asks them to form and then test specific hypotheses, and it occasionally asks them if a particular series of tests has controlled for other potentially influential factors.

Sources: Strategies based on discussions by de Jong, 2011; Gresalfi, 2009; Halpern, 1998; Kuhn, 2001b; Perkins & Ritchhart, 2004; vanSledright & Limón, 2006.

Teacher: Write this on your paper . . . it’s simply memorizing this pattern. We have meters, centimeters, and millimeters. Let’s say . . . write millimeters, centimeters, and meters. We want to make sure that our metric measurement is the same. If I gave you this decimal, let’s say .234 m (yes, write that). In order to come up with .234 m in centimeters, the only thing that is necessary is that you move the decimal. How do we move the decimal? You move it to the right two places. . . . Simple stuff. (Turner, Meyer, et al., 1998, p. 741) Undoubtedly this teacher means well, but notice the noncritical attitude she communicates: “Write this . . . it’s simply memorizing this pattern.” The Into the Classroom feature “Promoting Productive Dispositions” offers strategies that are more likely to be effective.

Educating Students with Special Needs in General Education Classrooms students with special needs peers that they require specially adapted instructional materials and practices to maximize their learning and achievement.

As teachers, we can typically accommodate many students’ varying abilities and dispositions within the context of a single curriculum and everyday classroom lessons. But we’re also likely to have students with special needs—students who are different enough from their peers that they require specially adapted instructional materials and practices to help them maximize their learning and achievement. Some of these students have cognitive, personal, social, or physical disabilities that adversely affect their performance in a typical classroom. Others, instead, are so advanced in a particular domain—that is, they are gifted—that they gain little from grade-level activities and assignments.

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In the United States, most students with special educational needs are in general education classrooms for part or all of the school day—a practice known as inclusion (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). In fact, federal legislation mandates that students with disabilities be educated in neighborhood schools and, ideally, in regular classrooms to the greatest extent possible. inclusion Practice of educating all students, including those with severe and multiple disabilities, in neighborhood schools and general education classrooms.

In 1975 the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 94-142, which is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This act has been amended and reauthorized several times since then, most recently in 2004 under the name Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. It currently grants educational rights from birth until age 21 for people with cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities. It guarantees several rights for students with disabilities: A free and appropriate education. All students with disabilities are entitled to a free educational program designed specifically to meet their unique educational needs. For example, to acquire adequate reading skills, a student with a reading disability might require tailor-made reading materials and some one-on-one instruction. Fair and nondiscriminatory evaluation. A multidisciplinary team conducts an in-depth evaluation of any student who may be eligible for special services. The team’s makeup depends on the student’s needs but typically consists of two or more teachers, any appropriate specialists, and the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s). Using a variety of tests and other evaluation tools, school personnel conduct a complete assessment of potential disabling conditions. Evaluation procedures must take a student’s background and any suspected physical or communication difficulties into account. For example, tests must be administered in a student’s primary language. Education in the least restrictive environment. To the greatest extent possible, students with disabilities should be included in the same academic environment, extracurricular activities, and social interactions as their nondisabled peers. That is, they must have the least restrictive environment, the most typical and standard educational environment that, with sufficient supplementary aids and support services, can reasonably meet their needs. Exclusion from general education is warranted only when others’ safety would be jeopardized or when, even with proper support and assistance, a student can’t make appreciable progress in a general education setting. Individualized education program (IEP). When an individual aged 3 to 21 is identified as having a disability, the multidisciplinary team collaboratively develops an instructional program, called an individualized education program (IEP), tailored to the individual’s strengths and weaknesses (see Figure 5.2). The IEP is a written statement that the team

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) legislation granting educational rights from birth until age 21 for people with cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities.

least restrictive environment typical and standard educational environment that can reasonably meet the needs of a student with a disability.

individualized education program (IEP) appropriate instructional program for a student with special needs.

Provide as typical an educational experience as possible for all of your students.

Measurement of progress: student’s progress will be monitored and how parents will be informed of this progress. Participation in state and district-wide tests: Explanation of any modifications or exclusions with respect to regularly administered achievement tests and, if applicable, description of any alternative measures of achievement. Dates and places: will begin and how long they will continue. Transition services: goals and preparing to leave school.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 2000.

Current performance: school achievement levels, including classroom tests and assignments, teachers’ and specialists’ observations, and results of individually administered assessments. Annual goals: to the student’s academic, social, behavioral, and/or physical needs. Special education and related services: The special services, supplementary aids, and program modifications that will be provided in order to help the student meet the annual goals.
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Participation with nondisabled children: of the extent to which the student will not participate in regular classroom and extracurricular activities.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER continues to review and, if appropriate, revise at least once a year—more frequently if conditions warrant. Due process. IDEA mandates several practices that ensure that students’ and parents’ rights are preserved throughout the decision-making process. For instance, parents can give or withhold permission to have their child evaluated for special education services, and they must be notified in writing before the school takes any action that might change their child’s educational program. Upon request, parents can see all school records about their child. And if the parents and school system disagree on the most appropriate placement for a child, mediation or a hearing before an impartial individual (i.e., someone who isn’t employed by the school district) can be used to resolve the differences. IDEA has now been in effect for four decades, and in that time it has had a significant impact on the nature of special education. More and more, teachers are realizing that truly inclusive practices require differentiated instruction for all students, not just those with formally identified needs. And rather than provide specialized instruction in a separate classroom, many special education teachers now partner with regular classroom teachers to jointly teach all students—both those with disabilities and those without—during part or all of the school day.

Despite the mandates of IDEA, inclusive practices for students with disabilities have been controversial. Some experts argue that students are most likely to develop normal peer relationships and social skills when they participate fully in their school’s overall social life. But others worry that when students with special needs are in a regular classroom for the entire school day, they can’t get the intensive specialized instruction they may need to achieve essential skills in reading, math, and the like. Furthermore, nondisabled classmates may stigmatize, avoid, or bully students who appear to be odd or incompetent in some way (Hamovitch, 2007). Numerous research studies have suggested that attending general education classes for part or all of the school day can have several positive outcomes for students with disabilities: classroom

if the school environment is one in which all students accept and respect individual differences among their peers (C. M. Cole, Waldron, & Majd, 2004; Halvorsen & Sailor, 1990; Hamovitch, 2007; Hattie, 2009; P. Hunt & Goetz, 1997; MacMaster, Donovan, & MacIntyre, 2002; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1994; Slavin, 1987; Soodak & McCarthy, 2006; Stainback & Stainback, 1992) We’re especially likely to see such outcomes when students understand the nature of their disabilities and when instruction and materials are tailored to students’ specific needs, perhaps in their regular classrooms or perhaps in short resource-room sessions (e.g., H. L. Swanson, Hoskyn, & Lee, 1999). Appropriate assistive technology—electronic devices and other equipment that can enhance students’ abilities and performance—is also extremely valuable in helping students successfully participate in the curriculum and social life of general education classrooms. In contrast, it’s not helpful to pretend that students’ difficulties don’t exist—for instance, by saying that a student is simply “having a bad day.” Nondisabled students often benefit from inclusive practices as well. For example, they may be able to take advantage of special supports designed for students with disabilities—perhaps detailed study guides or supplementary explanations (C. M. Cole et al., 2004). Furthermore, they acquire an increasing awareness of the heterogeneous nature of the human race and discover that individuals with special needs are in many respects very much like themselves (P. Hunt & Goetz, 1997; D. Staub, 1998). I think of my son Jeff’s friendship with Evan, a classmate with severe physical and cognitive disabilities, during their third-grade year. The boys’ teacher had asked Jeff to be a special friend to Evan, interacting with him at lunch and whenever else the class schedule allowed. Although largely unable to speak, Evan always made it clear through gestures

assistive technology Any electronic or nonelectronic device that can enhance certain abilities or performance areas for students with disabilities.

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133 and facial expressions that he was delighted to spend time with his friend, giving Jeff—who was quite shy—a considerable boost in social self-confidence. Several years later Jeff reflected on his friendship with Evan:
It made me realize that Evan was a person too. It made me realize that I could have a friendship with a boy with disabilities. Doing things that made Evan happy made me happy as well. I knew that Evan knew that we were friends. response to intervention (RTI)
Approach to diagnosing a cognitive impairment in which students are failing to master certain basic skills

has shown to be effective for most students.

It’s essential, of course, that nondisabled students treat classmates who have disabilities in respectful and supportive ways and, better still, forge friendships with these classmates. As teachers, we can do several things to nurture good relationships between students with and without disabilities: Explicitly point out the strengths of a student with a disability. Ask students with and without disabilities to assist others in their particular areas of strength. Plan academic and recreational activities that require cooperation. Encourage students with disabilities to participate in extracurricular activities and community events. (Bassett et al., 1996; DuPaul, Ervin, Hook, & McGoey, 1998; Hamovitch, 2007; Madden & Slavin, 1983; Turnbull, Pereira, & Blue-Banning, 2000)

people-first language usage in which a student’s disability is identified after the student is named.

Experts don’t completely agree about how to define various categories of special needs—especially those not involving obvious physical conditions—or about how best to identify students who fit into each category. In the United States, IDEA provides specific identification criteria for various disabilities. Students with disabilities who don’t meet IDEA’s criteria are often eligible for special educational services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (sometimes referred to simply as Section 504). This act stipulates that institutions that benefit from federal funding (including public schools) can’t discriminate against individuals on the basis of a disability. Procedures for assessing and accommodating students’ disabilities are less prescriptive in Section 504 than they are in IDEA—a situation that can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on the circumstances. (For more details on the differences between IDEA and Section 504, see deBettencourt, 2002; alternatively, type “IDEA vs. 504” in an Internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo!) One approach to identification that is gaining increasing support (and that is endorsed in the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA) involves determining response to intervention (RTI). In this approach, a teacher keeps an eye out for any student who has exceptional difficulty with basic skills in a certain domain (e.g., in reading or math) despite normal whole-class instruction and intensive follow-up small-group instruction that have both been shown by research to be effective for most children. Such a student is referred for in-depth assessments of various characteristics and abilities. If the assessment rules out obvious disabling conditions (e.g., significant genetic abnormalities, sensory impairments), the student is assumed to have a cognitive impairment— often, but not always, falling within the category of learning disabilities—and is therefore eligible for special services (e.g., Fletcher & Vaughn, 2009; L. S. Fuchs & Fuchs, 2009; Mellard & Johnson, 2008). Whenever we identify a student as having a particular disability, however, we run the risk of focusing other people’s attention on weaknesses rather than on the student’s many strengths and age-typical characteristics. To minimize such an effect, special educators urge us all to use people-first language when referring to students with disabilities—in other words, to mention the person before the disability. For instance, we might say student with a learning disability rather than learning disabled student or student who is blind rather than blind student. In upcoming sections of the chapter, I group students with special needs into five general categories. Table 5.2 lists the specific kinds of special needs that fall within each category. Disabilities covered by IDEA appear in a red color in the table.

genuine appreciation and respect for

talking about students with disabilities.

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TABLE 5.2 General and Specific Categories of Students with Special Needs (Specific Categories Listed in Red Are Covered by IDEA)
Students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties: These students exhibit an uneven pattern of academic performance; they may have unusual difficulty with certain kinds of tasks yet perform quite successfully on other tasks.


Difficulties in specific cognitive processes (e.g., in perception, language, or memory) that cannot be attributed to other disabilities, such as mental retardation, emotional or behavioral disorders, or sensory impairments Disorder marked by either or both of these

are often eligible for special services under the )

maintaining attention and (2) frequent hyperactive and impulsive behavior mispronunciations of certain sounds, stuttering, or abnormal syntactical patterns) or in language comprehension that significantly interfere with classroom performance

Students with social or behavioral problems: These students exhibit social, emotional, or behavioral difficulties serious enough to interfere significantly with their academic performance.

Emotional and behavioral disorders

Emotional states and behaviors that are present over a substantial period of time and significantly disrupt academic learning and performance Disorders marked by impaired social cognition, social skills, and social interaction, as well as repetition of certain idiosyncratic behaviors; milder forms (e.g., Asperger syndrome) associated with normal development in other domains; extreme forms associated with delayed cognitive and linguistic development and highly unusual behaviors ) intelligence and deficits in adaptive behavior (i.e., in practical and social intelligence); deficits are evident in childhood and typically appear at an early age

Autism spectrum disorders

Students with general delays in cognitive and social functioning: These students exhibit low achievement in virtually all academic areas and have social skills typical of much younger children. Students with physical or sensory challenges: These students have disabilities caused by diagnosed physical or medical problems. Physical and health impairments

term) that interfere with school performance as a result of limited energy and strength, reduced mental alertness, or little muscle control Visual impairments prevent normal vision even with corrective lenses Hearing loss that interfere with the perception of sounds within the frequency range of normal speech

Students with advanced cognitive development: These students have unusually high ability in one or more areas.

disability is also present)

more domains within the academic curriculum, requiring special educational services to help students meet their full potential

Students with Specific Cognitive or Academic Difficulties
Some students with special educational needs show no outward signs of physical disability yet have cognitive difficulties that interfere with their ability to learn certain kinds of academic material or perform certain kinds of classroom tasks. Such students include those with learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and speech and communication disorders.
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Students with learning disabilities have significant difficulties in one or more specific cognitive processes that can’t be attributed to cultural or linguistic diversity, generally delayed cognitive development, emotional problems, sensory impairment, or environmental deprivation. Such difficulties often appear to result from specific and possibly inherited brain dysfunctions (N. Gregg, 2009; Price, Holloway, Räsänen, Vesterinen, & Ansari, 2007; K. Pugh & McCardle, 2009). Figure 5.3 lists several forms that a learning disability might take. COMMON CHARACTERISTICS In general, students with learning disabilities are different from one another in many more ways than they are similar. They typically have many strengths but may face such challenges as these: learning disabilities Deficiencies in one or more specific cognitive processes but not in overall cognitive functioning.

vidualized assistance in areas of difficulty

N. Gregg, 2009; K. Pugh & McCardle, 2009; Waber, 2010) By no means do such characteristics describe all students with learning disabilities. For instance, some are attentive in class and work diligently on assignments, and some are socially skillful and popular with peers. Sometimes learning disabilities reflect a mismatch between students’ developing abilities, on the one hand, and grade-level expectations for performance, on the other (Waber, 2010). For instance, as students reach middle school, they’re typically expected to work with little or no supervision, yet students with learning disabilities don’t always have the time management skills they need to get things done (N. Gregg, 2009). And in high school, learning may require reading and studying relatively sophisticated textbooks, yet the average high school student with a learning disability reads at a fourth- to fifth-grade level and has few, if any, effective study strategies (Cutting, Eason, Young, & Alberstadt, 2009; Deshler et al., 2001; Meltzer & Krishnan, 2007). This exercise can give you a sense of how these students might feel under such circumstances.

Read the following passage carefully. I will test you on its contents later in the chapter.
Personality research needs to refocus on global traits because such traits are an important part of everyday social discourse, because they embody a good deal of folk wisdom and common sense, because understanding and evaluating trait judgments can provide an important route toward the improvement of social judgment, and because global traits offer legitimate, if necessarily incomplete, explanations of behavior. A substantial body of evidence supporting the existence of global traits includes personality correlates of behavior, interjudge agreement in personality ratings, and the longitudinal stability of personality over time. Future research should clarify the origins of global traits, the dynamic mechanisms through which they influence behavior, and the behavioral cues through which they can most accurately be judged. (Funder, 1991, p. 31)

How well do you think you will perform on the upcoming test about this passage?

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The passage you just read is a fairly typical one from Psychological Science, a professional journal written for people with advanced education (e.g., doctoral degrees) in psychology. Hence, it was written well above a typical college student’s reading level. I won’t really test you on the passage’s contents, but I hope that the exercise gave you a feel for the frustration that high school students with learning disabilities might experience every day. For many students with learning

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FIGURE 5.3 Examples of cognitive processing deficiencies in students with learning disabilities
Perceptual difficulty. or remembering information they receive through a particular modality, such as vision or hearing. Memory difficulty. information over either the short or long run (i.e., they may have problems with either working memory or long-term memory). Metacognitive difficulty. effective learning strategies, monitoring progress toward learning goals, and in other ways directing their own learning. Oral language processing difficulty understanding spoken language or remembering what they have been told. Reading difficulty. words or comprehending what they read; extreme form is known as dyslexia. Written language difficulty. handwriting, spelling, or expressing themselves coherently on paper; an extreme form is known as dysgraphia. Mathematical difficulty. remembering information involving numbers; an extreme form is known as dyscalculia. Social perception difficulty. others’ social cues and signals and thus may respond inappropriately in social situations. Music processing difficulty. differences in pitch and be unable to recognize familiar tunes; an extreme form is known as amusia.

disabilities, completing school assignments may constantly seem like fighting an uphill battle. Perhaps for this reason, a higher-than-average percentage of students with learning disabilities drop out of school before graduation (N. Gregg, 2009). ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Instructional strategies for students with learning disabilities must be tailored to students’ specific strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, several strategies should benefit many of these students: Minimize distractions. Because many students with learning disabilities are easily distracted, we should minimize the presence of other stimuli that might compete for their attention—for example, by pulling down window shades if other classes are playing outside and by asking students to clear away materials they don’t immediately need (Buchoff, 1990). Present new information in an explicit and well-organized manner. Most students with learning disabilities learn more successfully when instruction directly communicates what they need to learn, rather than requiring them to draw inferences and synthesize ideas on their own. Frequent and carefully structured practice of important skills is also critical (Fletcher, Lyon, Fuchs, & Barnes, 2007; Hallenbeck, 1996; J. A. Stein & Krishnan, 2007). Present information in multiple sensory modalities. Because some students with learning disabilities have trouble learning through a particular sensory modality, we need to think broadly about the modalities we use to communicate information. For example, when teaching students to recognize alphabet letters, we might have them not only look at the letters but also trace large, textured letter shapes with their fingers (Florence, Gentaz, Pascale, & Sprenger-Charolles, 2004). And in lectures in the secondary grades, we might incorporate videos, graphics, and other visual materials, and we might encourage students to audiotape the lectures (J. A. Stein & Krishnan, 2007; J. W. Wood & Rosbe, 1985). FIGURE 5.4 Seven-year-old Daniel’s Analyze students’ errors for clues about processing difficulties. As an example attempt to write “I trust a policeman” of this strategy, look at 7-year-old Daniel’s attempt to write “I trust a policeman” in Figure 5.4. Daniel captured several sounds correctly, including the “s” and final “t” sounds in trust and all of the consonant sounds in policeman. However, he misrepresented the first two consonant sounds in trust, replacing the t and r with an N. He also neglected to represent most of the vowel sounds, and two of the three vowels he did include (I for the article a and the E near the end of policeman) are incorrect. We might suspect that Daniel has difficulty hearing all the distinct sounds in spoken words and matching them with the letters he sees in written words. Such difficulties are quite common in students with significant reading disabilities (Goswami, 2007; N. Gregg, 2009; K. Pugh & McCardle, 2009).

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Teach study skills and learning strategies. Many students with learning disabilities benefit from being taught specific strategies for completing assignments and remembering classroom subject matter (Fletcher et al., 2007; Meltzer, 2007; Wilder & Williams, 2001). For example, we might teach them concrete strategies for taking notes and organizing homework. We might also teach them specific mnemonics, or memory tricks, to help them remember particular facts (e.g., see Figure 5.5). Provide paper or electronic scaffolding that can support students as they study and work. For example, we might develop study guides, outlines, or graphics that help students identify and interrelate important concepts and ideas. We could provide a copy of a high-achieving classmate’s lecture notes. And we can teach students how to use the grammar and spell checkers in word processing software (N. Gregg, 2009; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1992; Meltzer, 2007).
Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 provide many strategies for helping students study and learn.

FIGURE 5.5 A mnemonic for remembering the letters b and d

Virtually all students are apt to be inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive at one time or another. But those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) typically have significant and chronic deficits in these areas, as reflected in the following identification criteria: Inattention. Students may have considerable difficulty focusing and maintaining attention on assigned tasks, especially when appealing alternatives are close at hand. They may have trouble listening to and following directions, and they may often make careless mistakes. Hyperactivity. Students may seem to have an excess amount of energy. They’re apt to be fidgety and may move around the classroom at inappropriate times. Impulsivity. Students almost invariably have trouble inhibiting inappropriate behaviors. They may blurt out answers, begin assignments prematurely, or engage in risky or destructive behaviors without thinking about potential consequences. (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Barkley, 2006; Gatzke-Kopp & Beauchaine, 2007; N. Gregg, 2009) Students with ADHD don’t necessarily show all three of these characteristics. For instance, some are inattentive without also being hyperactive, as is true for Tim in the opening case study. But all students with ADHD appear to have one characteristic in common: an inability to inhibit inappropriate thoughts, inappropriate actions, or both (Barkley, 2006, 2010; B. J. Casey, 2001; Nigg, 2010). Tim, for example, is easily distracted by his thoughts and daydreams when he should be focusing on a classroom lesson. In many instances, ADHD appears to be the result of brain abnormalities that limit students’ ability to focus their attention and control their behaviors. Sometimes these abnormalities are inherited, but sometimes, instead, they’re the result of toxic substances in children’s early environments—perhaps high lead content in the paint dust of old buildings (Accardo, 2008; Barkley, 2010; Faranoe et al., 2005; Gatzke-Kopp & Beauchaine, 2007; Nigg, 2010). COMMON CHARACTERISTICS In addition to inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, students identified as having ADHD may have characteristics such as these:

Young children with learning disabil ities often confuse lowercase b and d. By clenching their fists as shown

they can more easily remember the alphabet and the fists.


& Beauchaine, 2007; S. Goldstein & Rider, 2006; N. Gregg, 2009; Hallowell, 1996; Skowronek, Leichtman, & Pillemer, 2008)
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Students’ attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness problems may diminish somewhat in adolescence, but they don’t entirely disappear, making it difficult for students to handle the increasing demands for independence and self-regulation that come in high school. Accordingly, students

attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Disorder marked by inattention, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, or some combination of these characteristics.

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CHAPTER with ADHD are at greater-than-average risk for dropping out of school (Barkley, 2006; S. Goldstein & Rider, 2006; N. Gregg, 2009; E. L. Hart, Lahey, Loeber, Applegate, & Frick, 1995). ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Some students with ADHD take medication that helps them control their symptoms. But medication alone is rarely sufficient to enable classroom success; individually tailored educational interventions are also in order (Purdie, Hattie, & Carroll, 2002). The strategies previously listed for students with learning disabilities can often be helpful for students with ADHD. Researchers and practitioners have offered several additional suggestions: Modify students’ work environments and schedules. Students with ADHD do better in a work environment where there are minimal distractions, some degree of structure, and ongoing teacher monitoring. And ideally, students should have most academic subjects and challenging tasks in the morning rather than in the afternoon, as the symptoms of ADHD tend to get progressively worse as the day goes on (Barkley, 2006; N. Gregg, 2009). Explicitly facilitate attention and concentration. Students may benefit from soundproof headphones or “white noise” machines that block out many potentially distracting sounds, or, for a low-tech alternative, we might encourage them to move to a new location if their current one presents too many distractions (Buchoff, 1990; N. Gregg, 2009). Also, some computer programs give students intense practice in focusing and keeping their attention on specific stimuli (e.g., see Klingberg, Keonig, & Bilbe, 2002; Rueda, Rothbart, McCandliss, Saccomanno, & Posner, 2005). Provide outlets for excess energy. To help students control excess energy, we should intersperse quiet academic work with frequent opportunities for physical exercise (Pellegrini & Bohn, 2005; Pfiffner, Barkley, & DuPaul, 2006). We might also give students a settling-in time after recess or lunch—perhaps reading an excerpt from a high-interest storybook or magazine article—before asking them to engage in an activity that involves quiet concentration (Pellegrini & Horvat, 1995). Help students organize and use their time effectively. For example, we can show them how to prioritize activities, create to-do lists, and establish a daily routine that they post on their desks. We can break large tasks into smaller ones and set a short time limit for each subtask. And we can provide a folder in which students transport homework assignments to and from school (Buchoff, 1990; N. Gregg, 2009; Pfiffner et al., 2006).

FIGURE 5.6 Like many students with ADHD, 10-year-old Joshua has specific cognitive processing difficulties. Although he has the math skills of a typical fifth grader, he has delayed reading comprehension and writing skills, as reflected in the book report shown here. Josh can more easily express his thoughts orally.

Speech and communication disorders are impairments in spoken language or language com-

described in Chapter 2.

prehension that significantly interfere with students’ classroom performance. Examples include persistent articulation problems (e.g., see Figure 5.7), stuttering, abnormal syntactical patterns, and difficulty understanding other people’s speech. Sometimes, but not always, these children have difficulty perceiving and mentally processing particular aspects of spoken language—a subcategory of speech and communication disorders known as specific language impairments. And often—but again, not always—the source of the disorder can be traced to heredity or specific brain abnormalities (Bishop, 2006; J. L. Locke, 1993; Spinath, Price, Dale, & Plomin, 2004). COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Although some students with speech and communication disorders have other disabilities as well, many of them are in most ways just typical students. Nevertheless, the following characteristics are fairly common:
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speech and communication disorders language or language comprehension that significantly interfere with classroom performance.

Steckol, & Smith, 1994; Rice, Hadley, & Alexander, 1993)

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FIGURE 5.7 Seven-year-old Isaac receives speech therapy at school to address his consistent mispronunciation of certain sounds (such as pronouncing “th” as “v”). In his writing, he sometimes spells words as he says them rather than as he hears them (for instance, he writes ven for then).

ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Usually a trained specialist will work with students to help them improve or overcome their speech and communication difficulties. Nevertheless, general education teachers can assist in several ways: Encourage regular oral communication. Students with speech and communication disorders need as much practice in classroom-based public speaking as their classmates do. Thus, we should encourage them to talk in class, provided that doing so doesn’t create exceptional stress (Hallahan, Kauffman, & Pullen, 2009; Patton, Blackbourn, & Fad, 1996). Listen patiently. When students have trouble expressing themselves, we might be tempted to assist them, perhaps by finishing their sentences for them. But we better help them when we allow them to complete their own thoughts, and we must encourage their classmates to be equally patient (Heward, 2009; Patton et al., 1996). Ask for clarification when a message is unclear. If we haven’t entirely understood what students are saying, we should explain what we did understand and ask for clarification of the rest. Honest feedback helps students learn how well they’re communicating (Patton et al., 1996). Use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) when students have little or no oral language. Some forms of AAC involve computer technology; for example, a laptop or computer tablet might have a touch screen that “speaks” when a students puts a fingers on particular words or symbols. Others are nonelectronic; for example, we might give students a set of pictures or teach them some gestures they can use to represent their thoughts (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2005).

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In addition to the strategies described in the preceding pages, several general ones apply to many students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties: Get an early start on appropriate interventions. When students lack basic concepts and skills on which their future learning will depend, intensive instruction to fill in the gaps—and the

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CHAPTER earlier, the better—can often make a significant difference in their achievement over the long run (Fletcher et al., 2007; L. S. Fuchs et al., 2005; Waber, 2010; Wanzek & Vaughn, 2007). Take skill levels into account when assigning reading materials. Even after intensive reading instruction, many students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties continue to have poor reading skills. Thus, we may sometimes need to identify alternatives to standard grade-level textbooks for presenting academic content. For example, we might reduce the amount of required reading, substitute materials written on a simpler (yet not babyish) level, or present information through some medium other than printed text—perhaps audiotapes or text-to-speech computer software (N. Gregg, 2009; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2007). Students may also need extra guidance and support when assignments require them to find and read information on the Internet (Sampson, Szabo, Falk-Ross, Foote, & Linder, 2007). Clearly describe expectations for academic performance. Students will have an easier time accomplishing classroom tasks if they’re told, in concrete and precise terms, exactly what’s expected of them (Meltzer & Krishnan, 2007). For example, before students begin a science lab activity, we might first remind them to carefully follow the steps described on the lab sheet, then review safety precautions, and finally provide a written list of components that should be included in lab reports. Take steps to enhance self-confidence and motivation. Students with a long history of failure at academic tasks need to see that they’re making progress and that they do some things quite well. For instance, we can give them daily or weekly goals we know they can attain. We can also have them keep journals in which they describe the successes they’ve achieved each day. And, of course, we should give them opportunities to do tasks at which they excel (Buchoff, 1990; J. A. Stein & Krishnan, 2007).

emotional and behavioral disorders
Emotional states and behavior patterns that consistently and significantly disrupt academic learning and performance.

externalizing behavior an emotional or behavioral disorder that has a direct effect on other people

internalizing behavior an emotional or behavioral disorder that adversely affects the student with the disorder but has little or no direct effect on other people (e.g., depression, social withdrawal).

Students with Social or Behavioral Problems
Many students have minor social, emotional, or behavioral difficulties at one time or another, particularly during times of unusual stress or major life changes. Often these problems are temporary ones that require only a little extra support from caring adults and peers. At other times problems are more enduring but don’t reflect a disability. Perhaps a student’s temperament is a poor fit with a teacher’s instructional strategies—for instance, an especially fidgety child may perform poorly on lengthy seatwork assignments—or perhaps a teacher simply hasn’t made clear the expectations and rules for classroom behavior (Keogh, 2003; Mehan, 1979). In such situations students’ problems may decrease or disappear with a change in instructional practices or classroom management strategies. However, some students show a pattern of behaviors that consistently interfere with their learning and performance regardless of the teacher and the classroom environment. In this section we’ll look at two groups of students who fit into this category: those with emotional and behavioral disorders and those with autism spectrum disorders.

instructional strategies to students’ temperaments, see the section on goodness of fit in Chapter 3.

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders become identified as students with special needs—and therefore qualify for special educational services—when their problems have a substantial negative impact on classroom learning. Symptoms of emotional and behavioral disorders typically fall into one of two broad categories. Externalizing behaviors have direct or indirect effects on other people; examples include aggression, defiance, stealing, and general lack of self-control. Internalizing behaviors primarily affect the student with the disorder; examples include severe anxiety or depression, exaggerated mood swings, withdrawal from social interaction, and eating disorders. Students with externalizing behaviors—who are more likely to be boys than girls—are more likely to be referred for evaluation and possible special services. However, students with internalizing behaviors—who are more likely to be girls than boys—can be just as much at risk for school failure (Angold, Worthman, & Costello, 2003; Gay, 2006; Hayward, 2003). Some emotional and behavioral disorders result from environmental factors, such as stressful living conditions, child maltreatment, or family alcohol or drug abuse (P. T. Davies & Woitach,

Report suspicions about child maltreatment immediately to school administrators or child protective services.

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2008; D. Glaser, 2000; Maughan & Cicchetti, 2002). But biological causes (e.g., inherited predispositions, chemical imbalances, brain injuries) may also be involved, either by themselves or by interaction with adverse environmental conditions (Dodge, 2009; Raine, 2008; Yeo, Gangestad, & Thoma, 2007). Some students with a genetic predisposition for an emotional or behavioral disorder exhibit few if any signs of a problem until adolescence, as the following case illustrates: As a ninth grader, Kirk was a well-behaved, likeable student who earned As and Bs and showed particular promise in science and math. But in tenth grade, his grades began to decline, and he increasingly exhibited hostile and defiant behaviors. When Kirk failed three classes during the fall of his twelfth-grade year, the school principal convened a meeting with him, his parents, and his faculty advisor to discuss how to help Kirk get back on track. At the meeting the principal described several occasions on which Kirk had acted disoriented, belligerent, and seemingly “high” on drugs. Despite his strong desire to attend college the following year, Kirk sat at the meeting smirking (seemingly gleeful about his predicament) and focusing his attention on sorting pieces of trail mix in a bowl on the conference room table. By the end of the meeting, the principal was so infuriated that she expelled him from school. Over the next few weeks, Kirk’s mental condition and behavior continued to deteriorate, to the point that he was soon arrested, placed in a juvenile detention facility, and eventually hospitalized in the state mental institution. Kirk was ultimately diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that is usually inherited and is characterized by excessive mood swings (hence, the disorder is sometimes called manic depression) and in some cases (like Kirk’s) by distorted thought processes. Bipolar disorder often doesn’t appear until adolescence, even though its biological underpinnings have been present since birth (Griswold & Pessar, 2000). When students have emotional or behavioral disorders, their inappropriate behaviors interfere not only with academic achievement but also with peer relationships, leading to social as well as academic failure. Some of these students may seek the companionship of the few peers who will accept them—peers who typically behave in similarly inappropriate ways and may introduce one another to drugs, alcohol, or criminal activity (J. Snyder et al., 2008; Webber & Plotts, 2008). COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Students with emotional and behavioral disorders differ considerably in their abilities and personalities. However, in addition to the difficulty in maintaining healthy peer relationships just mentioned, you may observe one or more of the following characteristics:

Heywood, 1999; Harter, 1999; Leiter & Johnsen, 1997; McGlynn, 1998; C. M. Richards, Symons, Greene, & Szuszkiewicz, 1995; Turnbull, Turnbull, & Wehmeyer, 2010; Webber & Plotts, 2008) Some students with emotional and behavioral disorders have other special needs as well, including learning disabilities, ADHD, or giftedness (Fessler, Rosenberg, & Rosenberg, 1991; GatzkeKopp & Beauchaine, 2007; Webber & Plotts, 2008). ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Effective interventions must be tailored to each student’s unique needs, but several strategies can benefit many of these students:
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Show an interest in students’ well-being and personal growth. A good first step in helping students with emotional and behavioral disorders is simply showing that we care about them (Chang & Davis, 2009; Clarke et al., 1995; S. C. Diamond, 1991; Heward, 2009). For example,

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER we can greet them warmly when we see them, express concern when they seem upset or overly stressed, and lend a supportive ear when they want to share their opinions or frustrations. And we can take students’ personal interests into account when planning instruction and assignments. Give students a sense that they have some control over their circumstances. Some students, especially those who are frequently defiant, often respond to efforts to control them by behaving even less appropriately. With such students it’s important to avoid power struggles in which only one person wins and the other inevitably loses. Instead, we must create situations in which we ensure that students conform to classroom expectations yet feel that they have some control over what happens to them. For example, we can teach them techniques for observing and monitoring their own actions, with the goal of developing more productive classroom behavior. We can also give them choices, within reasonable limits, about what tasks to accomplish in particular situations (Chang & Davis, 2009; Kern, Dunlap, Childs, & Clark, 1994; Lane, Falk, & Wehby, 2006). Be alert for signs that a student may be contemplating suicide. In the United States, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for adolescents; occasionally even younger students take their own lives (Goldston et al., 2008; Westefeld et al., 2010). Warning signs include the following:

autism spectrum disorders Disorders marked by impaired social cognition, social skills, and social interaction, presumably due to a brain abnormality; extreme forms often associated with significant cognitive and linguistic delays and highly unusual behaviors. Asperger syndrome an autism spectrum disorder in which students have normal intelligence and language skills but show significant deficits in social cognition and social skills.

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders are more likely to succeed in inclusive settings if the general education teacher and special education teacher coordinate their efforts. For example, watch “Including Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in General Education.”

possessions) (Kerns & Lieberman, 1993; Wiles & Bondi, 2001) As teachers, we must take any of these warning signs seriously and seek help immediately from trained professionals, such as school psychologists or counselors. It’s also essential, of course, that we help students with emotional and behavioral disorders acquire more appropriate behaviors. I describe strategies for doing so after the discussion of autism spectrum disorders in the next section.

The central, defining features of autism spectrum disorders are marked impairments in social cognition (e.g., perspective taking, interpreting other people’s body language), social skills, and social interaction. Many students with these disorders prefer to be alone and form weak, if any, emotional attachments to other people. Common, too, are repetitive behaviors (often very odd ones rarely seen in age-mates) and inflexible adherence to certain routines or rituals (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Lord, 2010; Pelphrey & Carter, 2007; TagerFlusberg, 2007). Aside from similarities in social impairments and repetitive behaviors, individuals with autism spectrum disorders differ considerably in the severity of their condition—hence the term spectrum. In Asperger syndrome, a fairly mild form, students have normal language skills and average or above-average intelligence. In severe cases, which are often referred to simply as autism, children have major delays in cognitive development and language and may exhibit certain bizarre behaviors—perhaps constantly rocking or waving fingers, continually repeating what someone else has said, or showing unusual fascination with a very narrow category of objects (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Lord, 2010). The vast majority of autism spectrum disorders are probably caused by abnormalities in the brain. Some researchers have observed abnormalities in mirror neurons—neurons that probably underlie people’s perspective-taking abilities (Gallese, Gernsbacher, Heyes, Hickok, & Iacoboni, 2011). Other researchers have discovered abnormalities in interconnections among various parts of the brain—for example, in connections between parts that enable logical reasoning or inhibition of impulses, on the one hand, and parts that underlie emotions and emotional processing, on the other (Cherkassky, Kana, Keller, & Just, 2006; I. L. Cohen, 2007; Kana, Keller, Minshew, & Just, 2007). Also, students with autism spectrum disorders may be either undersensitive or oversensitive

detail in Chapter 3.

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143 to environmental stimulation (Ratey, 2001; R. C. Sullivan, 1994; D. Williams, 1996). Temple Grandin, a woman who has gained international prominence as a designer of livestock facilities, recalls what it was like to be a child with autism:
From as far back as I can remember, I always hated to be hugged. I wanted to experience the good feeling of being hugged, but it was just too overwhelming. It was like a great, all-engulfing tidal wave of stimulation, and I reacted like a wild animal. . . . When I was little, loud noises were also a problem, often feeling like a dentist’s drill hitting a nerve. They actually caused pain. I was scared to death of balloons popping, because the sound was like an explosion in my ear. (Grandin, 1995, pp. 63, 67)

Children with autism sometimes need

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS In addition to the traits already described, students with autism spectrum disorders may have characteristics such as these:

Soulières, Gernsbacher, & Mottron, 2007; Gernsbacher, Stevenson, Khandakar, & Goldsmith, 2008; Grandin & Johnson, 2005; Lord, 2010; Meltzer, 2007; Pelphrey & Carter, 2007; Tager-Flusberg, 2007) Occasionally students with autism exhibit savant syndrome, possessing an extraordinary ability (e.g., exceptional mathematical, artistic, or musical talent) that is quite remarkable in contrast to other aspects of their mental functioning (I. L. Cohen, 2007; L. K. Miller, 2005; Treffert & Wallace, 2002). ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Children with Asperger syndrome are typically in general education classes, and some students with more severe autism spectrum disorders also participate in general education classes for part or all of the school day. Many of the classroom strategies described in earlier sections are applicable for such students. Two additional strategies are helpful as well: Maximize consistency in the classroom layout and weekly schedule. Many students with autism spectrum disorders feel more comfortable when their environments and schedules are predictable. At the beginning of the school year, then, we should arrange furniture and equipment in ways that will be serviceable throughout the school year, making adjustments later only if absolutely necessary. And to the greatest extent possible, we should schedule recurring activities at the same times each day or on particular days of the week. If the schedule must change for some reason, we should alert students well in advance (Dalrymple, 1995). Use visual approaches to instruction. Because students with autism spectrum disorders often have strong visual–spatial skills but may have impaired language skills, a heavy emphasis on visual materials may be in order (Ozonoff & Schetter, 2007; C. C. Peterson, 2002; Quill, 1995). We might use objects, pictures, and photographs to convey ideas about academic topics, or we might use some sort of visual cue to signal the start of a new activity.

Although the causes of emotional and behavioral disorders and those of autism spectrum disorders are usually quite different, students with these disabilities can benefit from some of the same classroom interventions. Certainly we want to promote success on academic tasks, perhaps by using instructional strategies presented earlier for students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties. Following are additional suggestions:
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A variety of simple technological devices are available to help students learn and practice appropriate

Insist on appropriate classroom behavior. Although certain students with disabilities may be more prone to counterproductive classroom behaviors than most of their peers, teachers clearly can help them behave in productive ways—for instance, by putting reasonable limits on their behavior

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Creating a Productive Classroom Environment

Make expectations for behavior clear and specific.

Give feedback about specific behaviors rather than general areas of performance. focused your attention on your homework, and you didn’t retaliate

Specify and follow through on consequences for appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. words, such as the two you just used, are unacceptable in this classroom. You also know the consequence for such behavior, so

Try to anticipate problems and nip them in the bud.
A student has occasional temper tantrums that disrupt the entire class. Although the tantrums seemingly occur at random, his teacher eventually realizes that his ears always turn red just before an to a punching bag whenever a tantrum is imminent, thereby letting him unleash his feelings with only minimal distraction to others.

Sources: Hallahan et al., 2009; Heward, 2009; Myles & Simpson, 2001; Ormrod & McGuire, 2007 (temper tantrum example); Webber & Plotts, 2008

and imposing consequences when they go beyond those limits (Evertson & Weinstein, 2006; Webber & Plotts, 2008). The Creating a Productive Classroom Environment feature “Encouraging Appropriate Behavior in Students with Social or Behavioral Problems” offers several useful strategies.
You can find strategies for fostering social cognition and perspective taking in Chapter 3.

Foster social cognition and effective interpersonal skills. Students with social or behavioral problems often benefit from training in social cognition and perspective taking. Explicit instruction in and reinforcement of social skills can also be quite powerful. And of course, students need numerous opportunities to practice their new skills (e.g., Chan & O’Reilly, 2008; Myles & Simpson, 2001; Nikopoulos & Keenan, 2004; Schrandt, Townsend, & Poulson, 2009; Theimann & Goldstein, 2004). Be persistent, and look for gradual improvement rather than overnight success. Many students with social or behavioral problems will initially resist our efforts to help them. They may begin to recognize the value of our guidance and support only when they see the natural consequences of their changing behavior—for example, when they start to make new friends or get along better with their teachers. Their progress may be slow, but by focusing on small improvements, we and our students alike can be encouraged by the changes we do see, rather than being discouraged by problems that persist.

Students with General Delays in Cognitive and Social Functioning
When I use the term student with general delays in cognitive and social functioning, I’m talking about any student who shows a consistent pattern of developmental delays, regardless of whether the student has specifically been identified as having a disability. Educators sometimes use the term slow learner to describe a student who obtains intelligence test scores in the 70s and has noticeable difficulties in most or all parts of the academic curriculum. A student with especially pronounced difficulties may be identified as having an intellectual disability.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with the term mental retardation. In recent years, however, many special educators have instead advocated for the term intellectual disability in reference to students who show pronounced delays in most aspects of cognitive and social development. More specifically, students with intellectual disabilities exhibit both of the following characteristics (Luckasson et al., 2002): Significantly below-average general intelligence. These students have intelligence test scores that are quite low—usually no higher than 70, reflecting performance in the bottom 2% of their age-group. In addition, these students learn slowly and show consistently poor achievement in virtually all academic subject areas.
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intellectual disability Disability average general intelligence and deficits in adaptive behavior, both of which first appear in infancy or childhood; also known as mental retardation.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Deficits in adaptive behavior. These students behave in ways that we would expect of much younger children. Their deficits in adaptive behavior include limitations in practical intelligence—that is, managing the ordinary activities of daily living—and social intelligence—that is, conducting themselves appropriately in social situations. The preceding characteristics must be evident in childhood. Thus, a person who shows them beginning at age 18, perhaps as the result of a serious head injury, would not be classified as having an intellectual disability. Intellectual disabilities are often caused by genetic conditions. For example, most children with Down syndrome have delayed cognitive and social development. Other cases of intellectual disabilities are due to biological but noninherited causes, such as severe malnutrition or excessive alcohol consumption during the mother’s pregnancy or oxygen deprivation during a difficult birth. In still other situations, environmental factors, such as parental neglect or an extremely impoverished and unstimulating home environment, may be at fault (Beirne-Smith, Patton, & Kim, 2006). COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Like students in any category of special needs, students with intellectual disabilities have differing personalities, strengths, and needs. Nevertheless, many of them are apt to exhibit characteristics such as the following: adaptive behavior Behavior related to daily living skills or appropriate conduct in social situations; used as a criterion for identifying students with intellectual disabilities.

disabilities are sociable and eager to

(e.g., heart defects, poor muscle tone) (Beirne-Smith et al., 2006; Bergeron & Floyd, 2006; Carlin et al., 2003; Heward, 2009; F. P. Hughes, 1998; Tager-Flusberg & Skwerer, 2007) ADAPTING INSTRUCTION With proper support, many students with mild intellectual disabilities can learn basic skills in reading, writing, and math, perhaps even mastering components of a typical fifth- or sixth-grade curriculum (Hallahan et al., 2009; Heward, 2009). Most of the strategies previously described in this chapter can be useful for these students. Here are several additional strategies to keep in mind: Pace instruction slowly enough to ensure success. When working with a student who has an intellectual disability, we should move through new topics and tasks slowly enough—and with enough support and repetition—that the student can eventually master them. Students with intellectual disabilities typically have a long history of failure at academic tasks. Thus, they need frequent success experiences to learn that, with hard work, they can succeed at many tasks (Feuerstein et al., 2010; Fidler, Hepburn, Mankin, & Rogers, 2005; Heward, 2009). Provide considerable scaffolding to promote effective cognitive processes and desired behaviors. For example, we can develop simple study guides that tell students exactly what to focus on as they study. We can be explicit in our directions to perform various tasks—for instance, saying “John, go to the principal’s office, give Mrs. Smith the absentee sheet, and come back here.” And we can provide handheld, teacher-programmed prompters—which go by such labels as visual assistant and digital memory aid—to help students remember the specific things they need to do (Beirne-Smith et al., 2006; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1992; Patton et al., 1996, p. 105; Turnbull et al., 2010).
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high school cheerleader with Down

Include vocational and general life skills in the curriculum. For most students with intellectual disabilities, training in general life and work skills is an important part of the high school curriculum. Such training is most likely to be effective when it takes place in realistic settings that closely resemble those in which students will find themselves once they leave school (BeirneSmith et al., 2006; Turnbull et al., 2010).

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



severe and multiple disabilities
Combination of two or more disabilities that, taken together, require significant classroom adaptations and highly specialized educational services.

Students with Physical or Sensory Challenges
Some students with special needs have obvious physical disabilities caused by medically detectable physiological conditions. These include physical and health impairments, visual impairments, and hearing loss. A small subset of them have severe and multiple disabilities that require significant adaptations and highly specialized services; such students are typically accompanied by child-specific teacher aides or other specialists when attending general education classrooms.

physical and health impairment that interferes so significantly with school performance that special accommodations are required.

Physical and health impairments are general physical or medical conditions (usually long term)

visual impairment the eyes or optic nerves that prevents normal vision even with corrective lenses.

that interfere with school performance to such a degree that special instruction, curricular materials, equipment, or facilities are necessary. Students in this category may have limited energy and strength, reduced mental alertness, or little muscle control. Examples of conditions that might qualify students for special services are traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cancer, and acquired immune deficiency disorder (AIDS). COMMON CHARACTERISTICS It’s hard to generalize about students with physical and health impairments because their conditions are so very different from one another. Nevertheless, several common characteristics are noteworthy:

similar to that of nondisabled peers)

important ways (e.g., less use of public transportation, fewer visits to museums and zoos) how parents and others have responded to their impairments (Heward, 2009; Patton et al., 1996; J. W. Wood, 1998) ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Although we won’t necessarily need to modify the academic curriculum for students with physical and health impairments, we will definitely want to make certain accommodations: Be sensitive to specific limitations, and accommodate them flexibly. One student may require extra time with a writing assignment and perhaps should not be held to the same standards of neatness and legibility. Another may need to respond to test questions orally rather than on paper. Still another might tire easily and need to take frequent breaks. Know what to do in emergencies. A student with acute asthma may have trouble breathing. A student with diabetes may go into insulin shock. A student with epilepsy may have a grand mal seizure. We should consult with school medical personnel ahead of time so that we are prepared to respond appropriately in such life- and health-threatening situations. If students and parents give permission, educate classmates about the nature of students’ disabilities. Many children treat peers with physical disabilities kindly and respectfully, but some others do not. Sometimes peers are simply ignorant about the nature of a disability, and giving them accurate information can help them become more accepting and supportive (e.g., R. White & Cunningham, 1991).

Students with visual impairments have malfunctions of their eyes or optic nerves that prevent normal vision even with corrective lenses. Some students are totally blind, others see only fuzzy patterns of light and dark, and still others have a restricted visual field (tunnel vision) that allows them to see just a very small area at a time. Visual impairments are caused by congenital abnormalities in or damage to either the eye or the visual pathway to the brain.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Students with visual impairments are apt to have many or all of these characteristics:

ties to experience the outside world in educationally important ways (e.g., less exposure to maps, films, and other visual material)

occasional misunderstanding of others’ messages playground) as a result of having no visual knowledge of ongoing events of print, punctuation, etc.) (M. Harris, 1992; Heward, 2009; Hobson, 2004; Patton et al., 1996; Tompkins & McGee, 1986; Turnbull et al., 2010; Tuttle & Tuttle, 1996) ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Specialists typically give students training in Braille, orientation and mobility, and specially adapted computer technology. But general education teachers play important roles as well, as reflected in the following strategies: Orient students ahead of time to the physical layout of the classroom. Students should have a chance to explore the classroom before other students arrive—ideally, before the first day of class. At that time we can help students locate important objects (e.g., wastebasket and pencil sharpener) and point out special sounds (e.g., the buzzing of a wall clock) to help students get their bearings (J. W. Wood, 1998). Use visual materials with sharp contrast. Some students with partial sight can use visual materials with clearly distinguishable features, such as enlarged documents on computer screens and large-print books available at most public libraries. Students’ eyes may tire quickly, however, so we should limit use of visual materials to short time periods (Heward, 2009; Patton et al., 1996). Depend heavily on other modalities. Print-reading computer software and portable printreading devices easily translate most printed text into spoken language. Many novels, school textbooks, and published curriculum materials are available in Braille, many other books are available in audio form (e.g., see, and volunteers can sometimes be enlisted to convert still other written materials into Braille or audiotape. We can also conduct hands-on activities involving objects that students can feel and manipulate. For example, we might use plastic relief maps that portray mountains, valleys, and coastlines in three dimensions, perhaps embellishing them with pin pricks to indicate country borders and small dabs of nail polish to indicate major cities. Allow extra time for learning and performance. Learning by hearing often takes more time than learning by seeing. When students look at something, they perceive a great deal of information at once and thus learn many commonplace relationships (e.g., between the sight of a cat and the sound it makes). When they must listen to it, however, they receive it sequentially— only one piece at a time—and often without obvious interconnections (Ferrell, 1996; Heward, 2009; M. B. Rowe, 1978).

Students with hearing loss have a malfunction of the ears or associated nerves that interferes with the perception of sounds within the frequency range of normal human speech. Students who are completely deaf have insufficient sensation to understand any spoken language, even with the help of a hearing aid. Students who are hard of hearing understand some speech but experience exceptional difficulty in doing so. hearing loss or associated nerves that interferes with perception of sounds within the frequency range of normal human speech.

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CHAPTER COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Most students with hearing loss have normal intellectual abilities (Braden, 1992; Schirmer, 1994). However, they may have characteristics such as these: if the impairment was present at birth or emerged early in life speechreading) to speech

a result of a reduced ability to communicate (Bassett et al, 1996; Chall, 1996; P. L. Harris, 2006; Heward, 2009; C. C. Peterson, 2002; M. B. Rowe, 1978; Schick, de Villiers, de Villiers, & Hoffmeister, 2007; Turnbull et al., 2010) ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Specialists typically provide training in such communication skills as American Sign Language, finger spelling, and speechreading. With these additions (and possibly some remedial instruction in reading and vocabulary), a normal school curriculum is appropriate for most students with hearing loss. However, several accommodations can facilitate students’ success in general education classrooms: Minimize irrelevant noise. Even when students can benefit from hearing aids, what they hear is often diminished or distorted; consequently, it’s helpful to minimize potentially distracting sounds. For example, carpeting and bulletin boards can absorb some extraneous noise, and fans and pencil sharpeners should be located as far away as possible. Supplement auditory presentations with visual information and hands-on experiences. We can write important points on the chalkboard, illustrate key ideas with pictures, provide reading materials that duplicate lectures, and ask an aide or student volunteer to take notes on in-class discussions. We can also provide speech-to-text software, which enables students to translate spoken words into written language with reasonable accuracy. And we can use concrete activities (e.g., role-playing historical events) to make abstract ideas more understandable. Communicate in ways that help students hear and speechread. Students who are hard of hearing are most likely to understand us when we speak in a normal tone of voice (not overly loud) and pronounce words distinctly but otherwise normally. To help students speechread, we should speak only while facing them and never while sitting in a dark corner or standing in front of a window or bright light (Gearheart, Weishahn, & Gearheart, 1992; J. W. Wood, 1998). Teach American Sign Language and finger spelling to classmates. To facilitate communication with students who have hearing loss, other class members should gain some competence in American Sign Language and finger spelling. I once taught at a school where every student—those with hearing loss and those without—received instruction in signing. One girl in my class was totally deaf yet quite popular with her peers, thanks to everyone’s ability to communicate easily.

In addition to the strategies just identified for specific physical disabilities, several more general strategies are useful with all students who have physical or sensory challenges: Ensure that all students have access to important educational resources and opportunities. Such access may involve modifying instructional materials (e.g., obtaining large-print copies of textbooks), adjusting a classroom’s physical arrangement (e.g., widening aisles and placing bulletin board displays at eye level to accommodate students in wheelchairs), or making special arrangements that enable students to participate in field trips or sports activities. Provide assistance only when students really need it. Out of their eagerness to help students with physical and sensory challenges, many adults inadvertently perform tasks and solve problems that these students are perfectly capable of handling on their own. Yet one of our goals for these students should be to promote their independence, not their dependence on others (Wehmeyer et al., 2007).

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Use assistive technology to facilitate learning and performance. I’ve already mentioned the value of print-reading software and speech-to-text software for students with sensory challenges. In addition, some computer printers can create Braille documents, enabling students with visual impairments to read their own class notes and compositions. Specially adapted joysticks and voice recognition systems can supplement or replace computer keyboards for students with limited muscle control. And machines known as augmentative communication devices provide synthesized speech for students incapable of producing normal speech.

Students with Advanced Cognitive Development
Many students are apt to have advanced abilities, either in specific subject areas or across the curriculum, that warrant attention and encouragement. Some students—those who are gifted—are so far above the norm that special educational services are often appropriate.

In general, giftedness is unusually high ability or aptitude in one or more areas (e.g., in math, science, creative writing, or music) to such a degree that special educational services are necessary to help the student meet his or her full potential. In most instances giftedness is probably the result of both a genetic predisposition and environmental nurturing (Dai, 2010; Simonton, 2001; Winner, 2000b). In some cases, however, special gifts and talents are largely the result of intensive practice and mentoring (Ericsson, 2003; Gladwell, 2006). In the United States, the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Act of 1987 (reauthorized in 1994 and 2001) encourages but doesn’t necessarily mandate special educational services for students who are gifted. Many state governments also either encourage or mandate such services. School districts often use multiple criteria—sometimes including intelligence test scores, sometimes not—to identify students who show exceptional promise in general academic ability, specific academic fields, creativity, or the arts. COMMON CHARACTERISTICS Students who are gifted vary considerably in their unique strengths and talents, and those who show exceptional talent in one area may have only average ability in another (Winner, 2000b). Nevertheless, many students who are gifted have characteristics such as these:

extremely gifted students may have difficulties because they are so very different from their peers) (Cornell et al., 1990; Dai, 2010; Mendaglio, 2010; Parker, 1997; Shavinina & Ferrari, 2004; Steiner & Carr, 2003; Winner, 2000a, 2000b) To some degree, the nature of giftedness depends somewhat on where students are in their developmental journeys (Dai, 2010; D. J. Matthews, 2009). In the preschool and early elementary years, giftedness might take the form of precociousness in certain general domains; for example, a first grader might be reading sixth-grade-level books or exhibit exceptional facility with numbers. By the upper elementary and secondary school grades, some students are likely to show exceptional achievement in very specific areas—perhaps in creative writing, computer technology, or music. Yet we must keep in mind that students who are gifted may also have one or more disabilities; for instance, they may have dyslexia or Asperger syndrome. In planning instruction for such students, we must address their disabilities as well as their unique gifts.

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giftedness aptitude in one or more areas, to such a degree that students require special educational services to help them meet their full potential.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER ADAPTING INSTRUCTION Exceptional talents and achievement levels typically require ongoing environmental nurturance and support, in the forms of both differentiated instruction and access to appropriate resources and practice opportunities. Furthermore, many high-achieving students become bored or frustrated when school assignments don’t challenge them, and others become so accustomed to the “easy A” that they have trouble coping with the mistakes they’re likely to make when they venture into new areas (Dai, 2010; Mendaglio, 2010; Parker, 1997). With such points in mind, I offer the following recommendations: Provide individualized tasks and assignments. Different students are apt to need special services in very different areas—for example, in math, creative writing, or studio art. Some students who are gifted, especially those with only a limited background in English, may also need training in certain basic skills (C. R. Harris, 1991; Udall, 1989). Form study groups of students with similar interests and abilities. In some cases a study group might explore a topic in greater depth and with more sophisticated analysis than other students (an enrichment approach). In other instances a study group might simply move through the standard school curriculum at a more rapid pace (an acceleration approach). Students benefit both academically and socially from increased contact with peers who have similar interests and talents (Hattie, 2009; J. A. Kulik & Kulik, 1997; McGinn, Viernstein, & Hogan, 1980). Teach complex cognitive skills within the context of specific subject areas. Programs designed to enhance students’ creativity, critical thinking, or other complex skills separately from specific content domains tend to have only limited impact. Teaching complex thinking skills within the context of specific topics—for example, creativity in writing or reasoning and problem-solving skills in science—is more likely to be effective (Dai, 2010; M. C. Linn, Clement, Pulos, & Sullivan, 1989; Moon, Feldhusen, & Dillon, 1994; Stanley, 1980). Provide opportunities for independent study and service-learning projects. Independent study and community service projects in areas of interest are often beneficial and motivating for high-ability students, provided that they have the work habits, study strategies, and research skills they need to use their time and resources effectively (Candler-Lotven, Tallent-Runnels, Olivárez, & Hildreth, 1994; Lupart, 1995; Terry, 2008). Seek outside resources. When students have high abilities in domains outside our own areas of expertise, it’s often helpful to identify suitable mentors elsewhere in the school district or in the community at large—perhaps at a local university, government office, private business, or volunteer community group (Ambrose, Allen, & Huntley, 1994; Piirto, 1999; Seeley, 1989). Keep in mind that students with exceptional cognitive abilities aren’t necessarily advanced in other aspects of their development. Most students with special gifts and talents have the same personal and emotional concerns as their average-ability age-mates (D. J. Matthews, 2009). For example, gifted sixth graders making the transition to middle school are likely to have the typical thoughts and feelings of a young adolescent: whether they’ll fit in with a new peer group, whom to sit with at lunch, and so on. They may worry that their peers will see their exceptional ability levels as odd or in some other way unacceptable (Mendaglio, 2010). And they’re likely to be surprised or anxious when they discover that they must exert considerable effort to master challenging new skills and that they sometimes make errors in the process (Mendaglio, 2010). For such reasons, high-ability students are likely to need as much emotional support as their classmates, and they may occasionally need gentle reminders that only new challenges can truly help them grow.

theory (Chapter 2), when gifted students are given the same ability peers, they’re unlikely to be working within their zone of proximal development and so unlikely to make significant cognitive advancements.

form of a cognitive apprenticeship (see Chapter 2).

Considering Diversity When Identifying and Addressing Special Needs
Sadly, a disproportionately large number of minority-group students are identified as having disabilities, especially specific cognitive disabilities, general intellectual disabilities, and emotional and behavioral disorders (McLoyd, 1998; U.S. Department of Education, 2006; VanTassel-Baska, 2008). Most theorists attribute the differing identification rates to environmental conditions that often accompany low socioeconomic status: higher-than-normal exposure to environmental toxins, inadequate medical care, limited access to enriching educational resources, and so on (e.g., Dyson, 2008; Jacoby & Glauberman, 1995; McLoyd, 1998). Also, English language
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151 learners are identified as having learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities more often than native English speakers—a finding that probably reflects students’ difficulty in understanding and responding to items on language-based diagnostic tests (A. L. Sullivan, 2008). The higher-than-average identification rates for minority-group students pose a dilemma for educators. On the one hand, we don’t want to assign a label such as intellectual disability or emotional disorder to students whose classroom performance and behavior may be due largely to their challenging living conditions. On the other hand, we don’t want to deprive these students of special educational services that might help them learn and achieve more successfully over the long run. In such situations we must conduct fair and nondiscriminatory evaluations of students’ needs, and if students qualify under a special-needs category, we must create IEPs to meet those needs. We should consider these categories of special needs as temporary classifications that may no longer be applicable as students’ classroom performance improves. All students, with and without disability classifications, have changing needs that evolve over time. In addition to being overrepresented in programs for students with disabilities, members of some minority groups are underrepresented in programs for gifted students (D. Y. Ford, Moore, & Whiting, 2006; Graham, 2009; VanTassel-Baska, 2008). On average, students from cultural and ethnic minority groups are at a disadvantage when traditional tests of ability are used to identify giftedness—in some cases because they’ve had little experience with the kinds of tasks that appear on those tests (Rogoff, 2003). It’s critical, then, that we be on the lookout for other signs of giftedness, including the following:

Especially when working with students identified as having cognitive, emotional, or behavioral difficulties, think of their disability labels as temporary classifications that may no longer be applicable as classroom performance improves.

Haywood & Lidz, 2007; Maker & Schiever, 1989; Winner, 1996) For the growth of our society over the long run, it’s imperative that we nurture the many gifted students in all cultural and ethnic groups.

identifying students who may be gifted; for instance, look for specialized talents, richness of language, an ability to learn new things quickly, and exceptional resourcefulness in solving problems.

General Recommendations for Working with Students Who Have Special Needs
Although students with special educational needs vary widely in their abilities and disabilities, several recommendations apply across the board: Be flexible in approaches to instruction and assessment. Even when students clearly fall within a particular category of special needs, we can’t always predict which instructional methods will be most effective for each of them. If we don’t succeed with a particular approach, we should try again, but we might also want to try differently. Furthermore, we must keep open minds about how we assess students’ achievement; depending on the nature of their disabilities, we may need to give them extra time, let them audiotape responses, tailor assessment tasks to an individualized curriculum, and so on. Seek new technologies that can facilitate students’ learning and performance. As we’ve seen, assistive technology takes a wide variety of forms—spell-checkers, hand-held prompters, speech-to-text software, and so on—and exciting new technologies emerge every year. Frequent searches of the Internet can alert us to recent innovations (e.g., search for “assistive technology devices” on Google or Yahoo!). Unless there is reason to do otherwise, hold the same expectations for students with disabilities as for other students. Sometimes a disability makes it difficult or impossible for students to accomplish certain tasks, and we have to modify our expectations and assessment practices accordingly. Aside from such situations, however, we should generally have the same expectations for students with special needs that we have for other students. Rather than think of reasons that a student can’t do something, we should think about how we can help the student do it. Identify and teach the prerequisite knowledge and skills students may not have acquired because of their disabilities. As either a direct or indirect result of certain disabilities, some students lack the knowledge and skills essential for their school success. For instance, students with visual impairments haven’t been able to observe many of the cause–and–effect relationships that

Chapter 14 and Chapter 15 offer numerous suggestions for accommodating disabilities in assessments.

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CHAPTER form a foundation for learning science—such as the changes in the appearance of wood when it’s burned (Ferrell, 1996; M. B. Rowe, 1978). And students whose medical conditions have limited their contact with peers may have had few opportunities to acquire effective interpersonal skills. Consult and collaborate with specialists. School districts usually employ a variety of specialists, including special educators, counselors, school psychologists, nurses, speech pathologists, and physical and occupational therapists. Some students leave the classroom for part of the day to work with these individuals. However, in today’s inclusive schools many special services are provided within a regular classroom context by teachers and specialists working in close collaboration. Communicate regularly with parents. In accordance with IDEA, parents are part of the multidisciplinary team that determines the most appropriate program for a student with special needs. Parents can often tell us what works and what doesn’t, and they can alert us to certain conditions or events at home that may trigger problem behaviors in class. Furthermore, we can bring about desired behavioral changes more effectively if the same expectations for behavior exist both at school and at home. Include students in planning and decision making. Educational programs for most students with special needs—especially those with disabilities—are so highly structured that students have little say regarding what and how they learn. But increasingly, educators are recognizing the importance of letting all students make some choices about their academic goals and curriculum (Algozzine, Browder, Karvonen, Test, & Wood, 2001; Prout, 2009; Wehmeyer et al., 2007). Keep your eyes open for students who may qualify for special services. The more we work with students in a particular age-group, the more we learn about their age-typical abilities and behaviors. Hence, we teachers are in an excellent position to identify children who in one way or another are not typical. Although specialists usually conduct the in-depth assessments necessary to identify particular special needs, the job of referring students for such assessments—and thereby gaining them access to the specialized services they may need—is ultimately up to teachers in general education classrooms.

self-regulation and self-determination, respectively.

5 What Have You Learned?
Let’s now review key points related to each of the chapter’s learning outcomes. ■ 5.1: Describe various perspectives on the nature of intelligence, and identify several ways in which you can nurture intelligence in your own students. Intelligence involves the ability to apply prior knowledge and experiences flexibly to accomplish challenging tasks; it’s apt to manifest itself differently in different cultures. Some psychologists believe that intelligence is a single, biology-based entity that influences students’ learning and performance across a wide variety of tasks and subject areas—a belief that’s reflected in the use of IQ scores as general estimates of cognitive ability. Others disagree, proposing that intelligence consists of a number of somewhat independent abilities or, instead, that intelligent behavior varies considerably depending on a child’s age and environmental support systems. As teachers, we must remember that human intelligence can and does change over time, especially with appropriate instruction and practice opportunities.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

the messages we give about classroom subject matter (e.g., “Does the evidence support what scientists are saying about this topic?”) and by modeling curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 5.3: Identify implications of the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for your own work as a teacher. Students with special needs are those students who are different enough from their classmates that they require specially adapted instructional materials and practices to help them maximize their cognitive and social development. Increasingly, students with special needs are being educated in general education classrooms for part or all of the school day; in the United States, such inclusion is in part the result of a mandate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Students with special needs are most likely to flourish in general education settings when instruction and materials are individualized to address any missing basic skills but also present challenges that spur developmental advancements.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in
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■ 5.2: Explain how students’ cognitive styles and dispositions might influence their classroom performance. Cognitive styles and dispositions are general inclinations to approach tasks in particular ways—for instance, to think analytically or holistically or to approach new ideas in an open-minded or close-minded manner. We can encourage productive styles and dispositions through

■ 5.4: Explain how you might adapt your instruction and classroom practices to the unique strengths and limitations of students with various disabilities. Students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties include those with learning

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153 disabilities, those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and those with speech and communication disorders. Many instructional strategies must be tailored to students’ specific difficulty areas, but some strategies are widely applicable; for instance, virtually all of these students benefit from early interventions, clear expectations for performance, and feedback that documents ongoing progress. Students with social or behavioral problems include those with emotional and behavioral disorders (which might involve either externalizing or internalizing behaviors) and those with autism spectrum disorders. Many students with these disabilities benefit from training in interpersonal skills. They may also perform more successfully in a structured environment in which appropriate behaviors are clearly identified and consequences for desired and undesired behaviors are consistently administered. Some students have general delays in cognitive and social functioning, and a subset are formally diagnosed as having an intellectual disability. Effective instruction for these students usually involves a slow pace with considerable scaffolding and, eventually, explicit training in vocational and general life skills. Students with physical and sensory challenges include those with physical and health impairments (conditions that result in reduced energy, alertness, or muscle control), visual impairments, or hearing loss. Although recommended instructional strategies vary considerably depending on students’ specific disabilities, all of these students should have appropriate assistive technologies and access to the same educational resources and opportunities as their nondisabled peers.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 5.5: Explain how you might nurture the development of students who show exceptional gifts and talents. Most students identified as gifted require individualized instruction that challenges them to stretch their existing abilities in new directions. We must be open-minded about how we identify such students, as giftedness may take different forms in different cultural and ethnic groups. Strategies for promoting the achievement of gifted students include forming small study groups on specific topics, teaching complex cognitive skills within the context of various academic subject areas, and providing opportunities for independent study and service learning either within or outside of school walls.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

Practice for Your Licensure Exam
Quiet Amy
As a veteran kindergarten teacher, Mr. Mahoney knows that many kindergartners initially have difficulty adjusting to the school environment, especially if they haven’t previously attended daycare or preschool. But Amy is giving him cause for concern. Amy never speaks, either to him or to the other children, even when she is directly spoken to. On the infrequent occasions when she wants to communicate, she does so primarily by looking and pointing at something or someone in the room. Amy also has trouble following simple directions, almost as if she hasn’t heard what she’s been asked to do. And she seems distracted during daily storybook readings and science lessons. The only activities that give her pleasure are arts and crafts. She may spend hours at a time working with construction paper, crayons, scissors, and glue, and her creations are often the most inventive and detailed in the class. Mr. Mahoney suspects that Amy may have a disability that qualifies her for special services. To get permission for an in-depth evaluation of her abilities and needs, he and the school psychologist visit Amy’s mother, a single woman raising five other children as well. “Amy doesn’t talk at home either,” the mother admits. “I work two jobs to make ends meet, and I haven’t been able to spend as much time with her as I’d like. Her brothers and sisters take good care of her, though. They always seem to know what she wants, and they make sure she gets it.”
1. Multiple-choice question:

Mr. Mahoney suspects that Amy may qualify for special educational services. If she does, in which of the following categories of special needs is she least likely to fall? a. b. c. d. Hearing loss Autism spectrum disorders Speech and communication disorders Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

2. Constructed-response question:

Amy’s evaluation will undoubtedly take several weeks to complete. In the meantime, what strategies might Mr. Mahoney ey ance? ? use to improve Amy’s classroom behavior and performance? spe Describe at least three different things he mig do. Be spemight speescription cific and concrete in your descriptions.

PRAXIS C, of this chapter that may be especially applicable to the Praxis tests.
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Learning, Cognition, and Memory

6.1: Distinguish among four distinct approaches to the study of human learning, and summarize one of these approaches—cognitive psychology—in terms of five basic assumptions. Describe and illustrate the key components that many researchers believe may characterize the human memory system. 6.3: Apply your knowledge of long‐term memory storage in identifying effective strategies for enhancing students’ learning. Explain how students’ self‐constructed beliefs can sometimes interfere with effective learning, and identify several ways of helping students productively revise such beliefs.



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Describe six different factors that influence students’ ability to recall what they have previously learned; also describe five possible reasons why students may either forget or incorrectly remember what they have learned.


Give examples of the diversity in cognitive processes you are likely to see in students, in some cases as a result of their cultural background or special educational needs.

In biology class Kanesha has been struggling to learn the names of the bones in the human body, from head (cranium) to toe (metatarsus). She has learned a few bones quickly and easily. For example, she realizes that, logically, the nasal bone should form part of the nose, and she remembers the humerus (upper arm bone) by thinking of it as being just above one’s funny (“humorous”) bone. But she’s still confused about some of the other bones. For example, the tibia and fibula have similar‐sounding names and are both located in the lower leg. And she keeps thinking that the sternum (at the front of the chest) is actually in the back of the body, just as the stern of a boat is at its rear. She also has trouble remembering bones whose names don’t provide any kind of clue for her—the coccyx, ulna, sacrum, clavicle, patella, and so on. To prepare for an upcoming biology quiz, Kanesha looks at a diagram of the human skeleton and whispers the name of each bone to herself several times. She also writes each name on a sheet of paper. “These terms will certainly sink in if I repeat them enough times,” she tells herself. But Kanesha scores only 70% on the biology quiz. As she looks over her incorrect answers, she sees that she confused the tibia and the fibula, labeled the ulna as “clavicle,” put the sternum in the wrong place, and completely forgot about the coccyx, sacrum, and patella.

would be easiest for you

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Kanesha seems to have an easier time learning bone names she can relate to things she already knows. In particular, she relates nasal bone to nose and humerus to funny bone. She applies her existing knowledge in trying to learn sternum as well, but her strategy backfires because a boat’s stern is at its rear, whereas the sternum is in front of the chest cavity. Kanesha also has trouble with bone names she can’t connect to anything in her previous experiences. Over the course of a lifetime, human beings learn many, many new pieces of information and many, many new behaviors. But as a general rule, people have an easier time learning and remembering things they can readily and appropriately connect to their existing knowledge and skills. For our discussion in this book, we’ll define learning as a long‐term change in mental representations or associations as a result of experience. Let’s divide this definition into its three parts. First, learning is a long‐term change in that it isn’t just a brief, transitory use of information—such as remembering a person’s phone number only long enough to make a phone call—but it doesn’t necessarily last forever. Second, learning involves mental representations or associations; at its core, it’s a phenomenon that takes place in the brain. Third, learning is a change due to experience, rather than the result of physiological maturation, fatigue, use of alcohol or drugs, or onset of mental illness. Psychologists have been studying the nature of learning for more than a century and in the process have taken a variety of theoretical perspectives. Table 6.1 summarizes four general ones, listed largely in the order in which they’ve gained influence in the field of psychology as a whole.

learning Long‐term change in mental representations or associations as a result of experience.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER I urge you not to think of these perspectives as being mutually exclusive. In fact, they tend to complement one another, and together they give us a richer picture of human learning—and also give us many more strategies for facilitating learning in instructional settings—than any single perspective could give us alone. In this chapter we’ll look primarily at what goes on inside the learner. In doing so, we’ll draw from cognitive psychology, a large body of research that addresses a variety of mental phenomena that underlie human behavior—perception, memory, reasoning, and so on.

Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology A Model of Human Memory
The Nature of the Sensory Register The Role of Attention Memory Moving Information to Long‐Term Information with Prior Knowledge The Nature of Long‐Term Memory Learning, Memory, and the Brain Critiquing the Three‐Component Model

Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology
At the core of cognitive psychology are several basic assumptions about how people learn: Cognitive processes influence what is learned. The specific things people mentally do as they try to interpret and remember what they see, hear, and study—that is, their cognitive processes—have a profound effect on what they specifically learn and remember. For example, in the opening case study, Kanesha thinks about the nasal bone and humerus in ways that should help her remember them. However, she thinks about the sternum in a way that interferes with her ability to remember it correctly, and she gives little or no thought to why certain other bones have particular names. The extent to which Kanesha thinks about the material she needs to learn—and also how she thinks about it—affects her performance on the quiz. People’s cognitive processes can sometimes be inferred from their behaviors. Historically, some psychologists—especially behaviorists—have argued that we can’t directly observe people’s thinking and therefore can’t study it objectively and scientifically. Cognitive psychologists disagree, suggesting that by observing people’s responses to various objects and events, it’s possible to draw reasonable inferences—to make educated guesses—about the cognitive processes that probably underlie the responses. As an example of how we might learn about people’s cognitive processes by observing their behaviors, try the following exercise.

Long‐Term Memory Storage
How Knowledge Can Be Organized How Declarative Knowledge Is Learned How Procedural Knowledge Is Learned Memory in Long‐Term Memory Storage Encouraging a Meaningful Learning Set and Conceptual Understanding Using Mnemonics in the Absence of Relevant Prior Knowledge

When Knowledge Construction Goes Awry: Addressing Learners’ Misconceptions
Obstacles to Conceptual Change Promoting Conceptual Change

Long‐Term Memory Retrieval
Factors Affecting Retrieval

Diversity in Cognitive Processes
Facilitating Cognitive Processing in Students with Special Needs

Read the 12 words below one time only. Then cover up the page, and write down the words in the order they come to mind. shirt table hat carrot bed squash pants potatoes stool chair shoe bean

perspectives of learning in a

Did you write down the words in the order in which you read them? Probably not. If you’re like most people, you recalled the words by category—perhaps clothing first, then vegetables, then furniture. From the order in which you wrote the words (i.e., from your behavior), we can draw an inference about an internal cognitive process that occurred as you learned the words: You mentally organized them into categories. People are selective about what they mentally process and learn. People are constantly bombarded with information. Consider the many stimuli you’re encountering at this very moment—the many letters on this page, the many others objects you can see while you’re reading, the many sounds reaching your ears,
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General Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Learning
Behaviorism can (responses) (stimuli)


Social cognitive theory awareness expectations people learn through modeling self‐efficacy, self‐regulation,

Cognitive psychology inside

working memory long‐term memory elaboration visual imagery information processing theory

individual constructivism. Contextual theories

internalize sociocultural theory social constructivism situated learning distributed cognition.

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the various articles of clothing touching your skin, and so on. I suspect that you’ve been ignoring most of these stimuli until just now, when I specifically asked you to think about them. It’s useful to distinguish between sensation—one’s ability to detect stimuli in the environment—and perception—one’s interpretation of stimuli. For reasons you’ll discover a bit later, it’s virtually impossible to perceive (interpret) everything the body senses. Because learners can handle only so much information at a given time, they must choose a few things to focus on and ignore the rest. As an analogy, consider the hundreds of items a typical adult receives in the mail each year, not only in paper form from the post office but also in electronic form through e‐mail. Do you open, examine, and respond to every piece of mail? Probably not. If you’re like me, you process a few key items, inspect other items long enough to know that you don’t need them, and discard still others without even opening them. In much the same way, students encounter a great deal of new information every day— information delivered by way of teacher instruction, textbooks, bulletin boards, classmates’ behaviors, and so on. They must inevitably make choices about which pieces of information are important for them. They select a few stimuli to examine and respond to in depth, give other stimuli only a cursory glance, and ignore other stimuli altogether.

cognitive psychology theoretical perspective that focuses

cognitive process

of information.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Meanings and understandings are not derived directly from the environment; instead, they are constructed by the learner. Like Kanesha, people often create their own unique understandings about a topic—understandings that may or may not be accurate. The process of construction lies at the core of many cognitive theories of learning: Learners take numerous, separate pieces of information and use them to create a general understanding, interpretation, or recollection of some aspect of their world (e.g., Brainerd & Reyna, 2005; Bransford & Franks, 1971; Neisser, 1967). Learning theories that focus primarily on the nature of this constructive process are collectively known as constructivism, and a subset of them that address how learners idiosyncratically construct knowledge on their own (rather than in collaboration with other people) are known as individual constructivism. To experience the process of construction firsthand, try the following exercise.

Look at the three black‐and‐white figures shown here. What do you see in each one? Most people perceive the figure on the left to be that of a woman, even though many of her features are missing. Enough features are visible—an eye, parts of the nose, mouth, chin, and hair—that you can construct a meaningful perception from them. Is enough information available in the other two figures for you to construct two more faces? Construction of a face from the figure on the right may take a while, but it can be done.

Source: Figures from “Age in the Development of Closure Ability in Children” by C. M. Mooney, from Canadian Journal of Psychology, December 1957, Volume 11(4). Copyright © 1957 by Canadian Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission.


constructivism Theoretical perspective proposing that learners

individual constructivism Theoretical

Objectively speaking, the three configurations of black splotches, and especially the two rightmost ones, leave a lot to the imagination. The woman in the middle is missing half of her face, and the man on the right is missing the top of his head. Yet knowing what human faces typically look like may have been enough to enable you to mentally add the missing features and perceive complete pictures. Curiously, once you’ve constructed faces from the figures, they then seem obvious. If you were to close this book now and not pick it up again for a week or more, you would probably see the faces almost immediately, even if you had had considerable difficulty perceiving them originally. As teachers, we must remember that students won’t necessarily learn information exactly as we present it to them. In fact, they’ll each interpret classroom subject matter in their own, idiosyncratic ways. And occasionally they may construct misinformation, as Kanesha does when she relates the sternum to the stern of a boat. Maturational changes in the brain enable increasingly sophisticated cognitive processes with age. With the advent of new technologies for studying the brain, cognitive psychologists are learning more and more about how the brain functions and how it changes with age and experience. This body of research, known as neuropsychology, has enabled cognitive psychologists to test various hypotheses about the precise nature of human learning and thinking. Furthermore, it has revealed that the human brain changes in many significant ways over the course of childhood

meaning from their experiences.

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Basic Assumptions of Cognitive Psychology and Their Educational Implications
Influence of cognitive processes


EXAMPLE mammal, ask

Behavior as a reflection of cognitive processes

Selectivity about what is learned things for them to learn. Also help them

Construction of meanings and understandings

The Scarlet Letter,

Increasing capacity for sophisticated cognitive processes with age

counting activities.

and adolescence. Such changes are almost certainly a key reason why children become capable of increasingly effective cognitive processes—longer attention spans, enhanced ability to organize and integrate information, and so on (Kuhn, 2006; Luna, Garver, Urban, Lazar, & Sweeney, 2004; C. A. Nelson, Thomas, & de Haan, 2006). But rather than propose distinct stages of cognitive development (as Jean Piaget did), most cognitive psychologists believe that children’s cognitive development can best be characterized as gradual trends. As we proceed through the chapter, we’ll identify a number of developmental trends in children’s cognitive processes. Table 6.2 summarizes the assumptions just described and can help you apply them to your own teaching practice.

A Model of Human Memory
Cognitive psychologists have offered numerous explanations of how people mentally process and remember new information and events—explanations that fall into the general category of information processing theory. Some early explanations portrayed human thinking and learning as being similar to the ways computers operate. It has since become clear, however, that the computer analogy is too simple: People often think about and interpret information in ways that are difficult to explain in the relatively simplistic, one‐thing‐always‐leads‐to‐another ways that characterize computers (e.g., Hacker, Dunlosky, & Graesser, 2009a; G. Marcus, 2008; Minsky, 2006). Central to information processing theory is the concept of memory. In some instances I’ll use this term to refer to learners’ ability to mentally save previously learned knowledge or skills over a period of time. In other instances I’ll use it when talking about a particular location where learners put what they learn—perhaps working memory or long‐term memory. The process of putting what is being learned into memory is called storage. For example, each time you go to class, you undoubtedly store some of the ideas presented in a lecture or class discussion. You may store other information from class as well—perhaps the name of the person sitting next to you (George), the shape and size of the classroom (rectangular, about 15 by 30 meters), or the pattern of the instructor’s shirt (a ghastly combination of orange and purple splotches). Yet learners rarely store information exactly as they receive it. Instead, they

information processing theory
Theoretical perspective that focuses


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CHAPTER engage in encoding, modifying the information in some way. For instance, when listening to a story, you might imagine what certain characters look like—thus encoding some verbal input as visual images. And when you see your instructor’s orange and purple shirt, you might think, “My instructor really needs a wardrobe makeover”—thus assigning a specific meaning and interpretation to what you’ve seen. At some point after storing a piece of information, you may discover that you need to use it. The process of remembering previously stored information—that is, finding it in memory—is called retrieval. The following exercise illustrates this process.

encoding Changing the format of


See how quickly you can answer each of the following questions: 1. What is your name? 2. What is the capital of France? 3. In what year did Christopher Columbus first sail across the Atlantic Ocean to reach the New World? 4. When talking about appetizers at a party, we sometimes use a French term instead of the word appetizer. What is that French term, and how is it spelled?

As you probably noticed when you tried to answer these questions, retrieving some kinds of information from memory—your name, for instance—is quick and easy. Other things—perhaps the capital of France (Paris) and the year of Columbus’s first voyage (1492)—can be retrieved only after some thought and effort. Still other pieces of information, even though you may have stored them in memory at one time, may be almost impossible to retrieve. Perhaps the correct spelling of hors d’oeuvre falls into this category. Despite their common use of such terms as storage, encoding, and retrieval, information processing theorists don’t all agree about the precise nature of human memory. However, many suggest that memory has three key components: a sensory register, a working (short‐term) memory, and a long‐term memory. A three‐component model of human memory, based loosely on one proposed by Atkinson and Shiffrin in 1968 but modified to reflect more recent research findings, is presented in Figure 6.1. The model oversimplifies the nature of memory to some degree (more about this point later), but it provides a good way to organize much of what we know about how memory works.

FIGURE 6.1 A model of the human memory system
Central Executive Input Working (Short-Term) Memory


Sensory Register


Input lost

In-depth cognitive processing (often involves connecting new information to prior knowledge)

Long-Term Memory

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Please note that in referring to three components of memory, I’m not necessarily referring to three separate parts of the brain. The model of memory I describe here has been derived largely from studies of human behavior, rather than from studies of the brain. sensory register Component

If you have ever played with a lighted sparkler at night, then you’ve seen the tail of light that follows a sparkler as you wave it about. If you have ever daydreamed in class, you may have noticed that when you tune back in to a lecture, you can still hear the three or four words that were spoken just before you started paying attention to your instructor again. The sparkler’s tail and the words that linger aren’t actually out there in the environment. Instead, they’re recorded in your sensory register. The sensory register is the component of memory that holds the information you receive—the input—in more or less its original, unencoded form. Thus, visual input is stored in a visual form, auditory input in an auditory form, and so on (e.g., Coltheart, Lea, & Thompson, 1974; Cowan, 1995). The sensory register has a large capacity: It can hold a great deal of information at any one time. That’s the good news. The bad news is that information stored in the sensory register doesn’t last very long (e.g., Cowan, 1995; Dahan, 2010; Wingfield & Byrnes, 1981). Visual information (i.e., what you see) probably lasts for less than a second. For example, as a child, I never could spell out my entire first name (Jeanne) with a sparkler: The J had always faded before I got to the first n, no matter how quickly I wrote. Auditory information (i.e., what you hear) probably lasts slightly longer, perhaps for two or three seconds. To keep information for any time at all, then, learners need to move it to working memory. Whatever information isn’t moved is probably lost, or forgotten. attention processing on particular stimuli.

Sensory information, such as the light cast by a sparkler, doesn’t last very long no matter what we do. But we can preserve a memory of it by encoding it in some minimal way—for instance, by perceiving the letters Jea written in a sparkler’s curlicue tail. In the model of memory presented in Figure 6.1, the first step in this process is attention: Whatever someone mentally pays attention to moves into working memory. If information in the sensory register doesn’t get a person’s attention, it presumably disappears from the memory system. Paying attention involves directing not only the appropriate sensory receptors (in the eyes, ears, etc.) but also the mind toward whatever needs to be learned and remembered. Imagine yourself reading a textbook for one of your classes. Your eyes are moving down each page, but you’re thinking about something altogether different—a recent argument with a friend, a high‐paying job advertised on the Internet, or your growling stomach. What will you remember from the textbook? Absolutely nothing. Even though your eyes have been focused on the words in the book, you haven’t been mentally attending to the words. Young children’s attention often moves quickly from one thing to another and is easily drawn to objects and events unrelated to the task at hand. As children grow older, they become better able to focus their attention on a particular task and keep it there, and they’re less distracted by irrelevant thoughts and events. Yet even adult learners can’t keep their minds on a single task all the time (E. Barron, Riby, Greer, & Smallwood, 2011; S. M. Carlson & Moses, 2001; Dempster & Corkill, 1999). Even when learners are paying attention, they can attend to only a very small amount of information at any one time. In other words, attention has a limited capacity (Cherry, 1953; Cowan, 2007). For example, if you’re sitting in front of the television with your textbook open in your lap, you can attend to the Simpsons rerun playing on television or to your book, but not to both simultaneously. And if you’re preoccupied in class with your instructor’s desperate need for a fashion makeover, you’re unlikely to be paying attention to the lecture itself. Exactly how limited is the limited capacity of human attention? People can often perform two or three well‐learned, automatic tasks at once. For example, you can walk and chew gum simultaneously, and you can probably drive a car and drink a cup of coffee at the same time. But when a stimulus or event is detailed and complex (as both textbooks and Simpsons reruns are)

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Create stimulating lessons in which students want to pay attention.

Provide frequent breaks from sedentary activities, especially when working with students in the elementary grades.

Get students physically involved with the subject matter. In the middle school and high school grades, encourage students to take notes.

Incorporate a variety of instructional methods into lessons. Minimize distractions, especially when students must work quietly and independently.

Sources: Some strategies based on Di Vesta & Gray, 1972; Kiewra, 1989; Ku, Chan, Wu, & Chen, 2008; Pellegrini & Bjorklund, 1997; M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007.

or when a task requires considerable thought (as understanding a lecture and driving a car on an icy mountain road would), then people can usually attend to only one thing at a time (J. R. Anderson, 2005; Lien, Ruthruff, & Johnston, 2006). As teachers, we must remember that attention isn’t just a behavior; it’s also a mental process. The Into the Classroom feature “Getting and Keeping Students’ Attention” presents several effective strategies for keeping students’ minds on classroom topics.

Working memory is the component of memory where we hold attended‐to information for a short time while we try to make sense of it. Working memory is also where much of our active cognitive processing occurs. For instance, it’s where we think about the content of a lecture, analyze a textbook passage, or solve a problem. Basically, this is the component that does most of the mental work of the memory system—hence its name, working memory. Rather than being a single entity, working memory probably has several components for holding and working with different kinds of information—for example, visual information, auditory information, and the underlying meanings of events—as well as a component that integrates multiple kinds of information. As shown in Figure 6.1, working memory may also include a central executive that focuses attention, oversees the flow of information throughout the memory system, selects and controls complex voluntary behaviors, and inhibits counterproductive thoughts and actions (Aron, 2008; Baddeley, 2001; Banich, 2009; Logie, 2011). Information stored in working memory doesn’t last very long—perhaps 5 to 20 seconds at most—unless the learner consciously does something with it (e.g., Baddeley, 2001; L. R. Peterson & Peterson, 1959; W. Zhang & Luck, 2009). Accordingly, this component is sometimes called short‐term memory. For example, imagine that you need to call a neighbor, so you look up the neighbor’s number in the telephone book. But then you discover that you can’t find your cell phone. You have no paper and pencil handy. What do you do to remember the number until


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163 you have access to a telephone? If you’re like most people, you probably repeat it to yourself over and over again. This process, known as maintenance rehearsal, keeps information in working memory for as long as you’re willing to continue talking to yourself. But once you stop, the number will disappear fairly quickly. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the amount of information children can hold in working memory increases somewhat with age (Ben‐Yehudah & Fiez, 2007; Kail, 2007). Yet even adults have only so much room to simultaneously hold and think about information. To see what I mean, put your working memory to work for a moment in the following exercise. working memory Component of

of information for a short time.

central executive Component of the

maintenance rehearsal

Try computing the answer to this division problem in your head: 59)49,383

repetition of a small amount of

cognitive load

Did you find yourself having trouble remembering some parts of the problem while you were dealing with other parts? Did you ever arrive at the correct answer of 837? Most people can’t solve a division problem with this many digits unless they write it on paper. Working memory just doesn’t have enough space both to hold all that information and to perform mathematical calculations with it. Like attention, working memory has a limited capacity—perhaps just enough for a telephone number or very short grocery list (Cowan, 2010; Logie, 2011; G. A. Miller, 1956). Virtually any learning activity imposes a cognitive load—a certain amount of information that students must simultaneously think about, along with certain ways that they must think about it, in order to make sense of and remember what they’re studying (R. E. Mayer, 2011b; Plass, Moreno, & Brünken, 2010; Sweller, 1988, 2008). When we design and conduct lessons, then, we must consider just how much of a load students’ working memories can reasonably handle at any given time. For example, we should minimize information that’s irrelevant to the topic at hand. We should pace the presentation of important information slowly enough that students have time to effectively process what they’re seeing and hearing. And we might repeat the same idea several times (perhaps rewording it each time), stop to write important points on the board, and provide numerous examples and illustrations. I sometimes hear students talking about putting class material in “short‐term memory” so that they can do well on an upcoming exam. Such a statement reflects the common misconception that this component of memory lasts for several hours, days, or weeks. Now you know otherwise. Working memory is obviously not the place to leave information that you need for an exam later in the week or even information you need for a class later in the day. For such information, storage in long‐term memory—the final component of the memory system—is in order.

In the model of memory depicted in Figure 6.1, the arrow between working memory and long‐ term memory points in both directions. Effectively storing new information in long‐term memory usually involves connecting it to relevant information that’s already in long‐term memory—a process that requires bringing the “old” information back into working memory. The following exercise can give you an idea of how this might happen.

1 Study the two strings of letters below until you can remember each of them perfectly:
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2 Study the picture shown here until you can reproduce it accurately from memory.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER No doubt the second letter string was easier to learn because you could relate it to something you already knew: the words familiar words. How easily were you able to learn and remember the picture? Do you think you could draw it from memory a week from now? Do you think you could remember it more easily if it had the title “Bird’s Eye View of a Cowboy Riding a Bicycle”? The answer to the last question is almost certainly yes, because the title would help you relate the picture to familiar shapes, such as those of a bicycle and a cowboy hat (Bower, Karlin, & Dueck, 1975).

long-term memory Component of



Long‐term memory is where learners store their general knowledge and beliefs about the world, the things they’ve learned in school (e.g., the capital of France, the correct spelling of hors d’oeuvre), and their recollections of events in their personal lives. It’s also where learners store their knowledge about how to perform various actions, such as how to ride a bicycle, use a cell phone, and do long division. Much of the information stored in long‐term memory is interconnected. To see what I mean, try the next exercise.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you see the word horse? And what word does that second word remind you of? And what does the third word remind you of? Beginning with the word horse, follow your train of thought, letting each word remind you of a new word or short phrase, for a sequence of at least eight words or phrases. Write down the sequence of things that come to mind.

You probably found yourself easily following a train of thought from the word horse, perhaps something like the route I followed: horse S cowboy S lasso S rope S knot S Girl Scouts S cookies S chocolate The last word in your sequence might be one with little or no obvious relationship to horses. Yet you can probably see a logical connection between each pair of items in the sequence. Related pieces of information tend to be associated with one another in long‐term memory, perhaps in a network similar to the one depicted in Figure 6.2. FIGURE 6.2 A possible train of Information stored in long‐term memory lasts much, much longer than inforthought from horse to chocolate mation stored in working memory—perhaps a day, a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime, depending on a variety of factors that we’ll examine in upcoming sechorse saddle cow tions of the chapter. In addition to its indefinitely long duration, long‐term memory leather seems to be capable of holding as much information as a learner needs to store boots cowboy cattle there. There’s probably no such thing as “running out of room.” In fact, for reasons you’ll discover shortly, the more information already stored in long‐term memory, lariat lasso roundup the easier it is to learn new things. square rope hemp tie green dresses Girl Scouts


Boy Scouts

Historically, theorists and researchers have believed that the physiological basis for most learning and memory lies in changes in the interconnections among neurons— in particular, in forming new synapses, strengthening existing ones, or eliminating counterproductive ones (e.g., Merzenich, 2001; M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007; Trachtenberg et al., 2002). In addition, some learning may involve the formation of new neurons, especially in a small, seahorse‐shaped structure in the middle of each side of the brain—a structure called the hippocampus—and possibly also in certain areas of the cortex. New learning experiences appear to enhance the survival rate and maturation of the young neurons; without such experiences, these neurons slowly die away (Gould, Beylin, Tanapat, Reeves, & Shors, 1999; Leuner et al., 2004; C. A. Nelson et al., 2006; Sapolsky, 1999).

camping cookies

milk chocolate

cake fudge

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Within the last few years, some researchers have begun to speculate that certain star‐shaped glial cells, . cells in the brain, known as astrocytes, are just as important as neurons—possibly even more important—in learning and memory. Figure 6.3 illustrates the general nature of an astrocyte and its connections with both neurons and the local blood supply. In human beings, astrocytes far outnumber neurons, have innumerable connections with one another and with neurons, and appear to have considerable control over what neurons do and don’t do and how much neurons communicate with one another. A normal brain produces FIGURE 6.3 Two neurons, an many new astrocytes throughout the lifespan (Koob, 2009; Oberheim et al., 2009; astrocyte, and their interconnections Verkhratsky & Butt, 2007). As for where learning occurs, the answer is: many places. Key in the process is the cortex, the large, lumpy structure that covers the top and sides of the brain. The neurons area of the brain immediately behind the forehead—the prefrontal cortex—seems to be the primary headquarters for working memory and its central executive, although all of the cortex may be active to a greater or lesser extent in interpreting new input in light of previously acquired knowledge (Byrnes, 2001; Gonsalves & Cohen, 2010; Huey, Krueger, & Grafman, 2006; Nee, Berman, Moore, & Jonides, astrocyte 2008). The hippocampus is also actively involved in learning, in that it pulls together the information it simultaneously receives from various parts of the brain (Bauer, 2002; Squire & Alvarez, 1998). As you might guess, a healthy brain is essential for effective learning. The Applying Brain Research feature “Enhancing Students’ Brain Functioning” presents three general recommendations that are grounded in brain research. blood vessel CRITIQUING THE THREE‐COMPONENT MODEL
As mentioned earlier, the three‐component model just described oversimplifies— and perhaps overcompartmentalizes—the nature of human memory. For example, attention may be a part of working memory, rather than the separate entity depicted in Figure 6.1 (Cowan, 2007; R. W. Engle, 2002; Wagner, 1996). Furthermore, studies conducted by neuropsychologists and other researchers yield mixed results about whether working memory and long‐term memory are distinctly different entities (e.g., Baddeley, 2001; Nee et al., 2008; Öztekin, Davachi, & McElree, 2010; Talmi, Grady, Goshen‐Gottstein, & Moscovitch, 2005). Some psychologists have proposed that working memory and long‐term memory simply reflect different activation states of a single memory (e.g., J. R. Anderson, 2005; Cowan, 1995; Ruchkin, Grafman, Cameron, & Berndt, 2003). According to this view, all information stored in memory is in either an active or inactive state. Active information, which may include both

Provide ongoing intellectual stimulation.

Encourage students to get plenty of sleep.

Encourage physical exercise.
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is enhancement of the functioning of the central executive—that

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER incoming information and information previously stored in memory, is what people are currently paying attention to and thinking about—information I’ve previously described as being in working memory. As attention shifts, other pieces of information in memory become activated, and the previously activated information gradually becomes inactive. The bulk of information stored in memory is in an inactive state, such that we aren’t consciously aware of it; this is information I’ve previously described as being in long‐term memory. Despite its imperfections, the three‐component model can help us remember aspects of learning and memory that we should take into account as we teach. For example, the model highlights the critical role of attention in learning, the limited capacity of attention and working memory, the interconnectedness of the knowledge learners acquire, and the importance of relating new information to things learned previously.

Long‐Term Memory Storage
Regardless of whether there are three truly distinct components of memory, some aspects of memory are definitely long term. Certainly human beings remember many things for a considerable length of time, and in this sense, at least, these things are in long‐term memory. It appears that information stored in long‐term memory can be encoded in a variety of forms (e.g., Barsalou, Simmons, Barbey, & Wilson, 2003; Brainerd & Reyna, 2005; Sadoski & Paivio, 2001). Some information may be encoded in a verbal form, perhaps as actual words. Things you remember word for word (e.g., your name, your address, certain song lyrics) are all verbally encoded. Other information may be encoded as imagery—as it appears perceptually. For example, if, in your mind, you can see the face of a relative, hear that person’s voice, or conjure up a mental whiff of the person’s favorite perfume or aftershave lotion, you’re retrieving images. Finally, a great deal of information in long‐term memory is probably encoded semantically—as a set of underlying meanings. All the preceding examples are instances of declarative knowledge—knowledge that relates to the nature of how things are, were, or will be. Declarative knowledge encompasses both general world knowledge (collectively known as semantic memory) and recollections of specific life experiences (collectively known as episodic memory). Not everything in long‐term is declarative in nature, however. People also acquire procedural knowledge; that is, they learn how to do things (e.g., J. R. Anderson, 1983; Phye, 1997; Tulving, 1983). You probably know how to ride a bicycle, wrap a birthday present, and multiply a three‐digit number by a two‐digit number. To perform such actions successfully, you must adapt your behavior to changing conditions. For example, when you ride a bicycle, you must be able to turn left or right when an object blocks your path, and you must be able to come to a complete stop when you reach your destination. Accordingly, procedural knowledge must often include information about how to respond under different circumstances—it involves knowing when to do certain things (either physically or mentally). In such instances it’s also known as conditional knowledge. Most declarative knowledge is explicit knowledge: Once we recall it, we’re quite conscious of what it is we know. But a good deal of procedural knowledge is implicit knowledge: We can’t consciously recall or explain it, but it affects our thinking or behavior nonetheless (P. A. Alexander, Schallert, & Reynolds, 2009; J. R. Anderson, 2005; M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007). Another difference is that declarative knowledge can sometimes be learned very quickly, perhaps after a single presentation, whereas procedural knowledge is often acquired slowly and only with considerable practice.

declarative knowledge

procedural knowledge

conditional knowledge

various circumstances.

explicit knowledge

implicit knowledge

As we consider the nature of long‐term memory storage, it’s helpful to remember that, to a considerable degree, learners construct their knowledge and understandings. In the process of constructing knowledge, learners often create well‐integrated entities that encompass particular ideas or groups of ideas. For example, beginning in infancy, they form concepts that enable them to categorize objects and events (G. Mandler, 2011; J. M. Mandler, 2007; Quinn, 2002). Some concepts, such as butterfly, chair, and backstroke, refer to a fairly narrow range of objects or events. Other concepts are fairly general ones that encompass numerous more specific concepts.

concept or events that have something in common.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

For example, the concept insect includes ants, bees, and butterflies (e.g., see Figure 6.4). The concept swimming includes the backstroke, dog paddle, and butterfly. As you can see, some words (such as butterfly) can be associated with two very different, more general concepts (such as insects and swimming) and so might lead someone to follow a train of thought such as this one: horse S cowboy S lasso S rope S knot S Girl Scouts S camping S outdoors S nature S insect S butterfly S swimming By combining numerous objects or events into single entities, concepts take some of the strain off of working memory’s limited capacity (G. Mandler, 2011; Oakes & Rakison, 2003). For instance, the concept molecule takes very little “space” in working memory despite the many things we know about molecules: their very tiny size, their essential role in the nature of matter, and so on. The Into the Classroom feature “Teaching Concepts” offers suggestions for fostering concept learning in a variety of academic disciplines. Learners also pull some concepts together into general understandings of what things are typically like. Such understandings are sometimes called schemas (e.g., Rumelhart & Ortony, 1977; Schraw, 2006; Sweller, 2010). For example, let’s return to the concept horse, which we’ve used in a couple of earlier examples. You know what horses look like, of course, and you can recognize one when you see one. Hence, you have a concept for horse. But now think about the many things you know about horses. What do they eat? How do they spend their time? Where are you most likely to see them? You probably have little difficulty retrieving many facts about horses, perhaps including their fondness for oats and carrots, their love of grazing and running, and their frequent appearance in pastures and at racetracks. The various things you know about horses are closely interrelated in your long‐term memory in the form of a “horse” schema.

FIGURE 6.4 In his classification of a butterfly as an insect, 8‐year‐old Noah identifies one characteristic that all insects have—six legs—but correctly doesn’t mention the wings, which are optional.

Teaching Concepts
Give a definition. sphere Present nonexamples, especially near misses, to show what the concept is not. mammal Highlight the characteristics that all or most examples of a concept possess.
A teacher illustrates the concept insect

Ask students to identify examples and nonexamples from among numerous possibilities. dangling participle.

Ask students to generate their own examples of the concept. Present a best example—a prototype that captures the key elements of the concept.
To illustrate the concept democracy, adjectives

Show students how various concepts are related to one another—their similarities and differences, their hierarchical relationships, and so on.
A science teacher explains that the concepts velocity acceleration

Present a wide range of examples in diverse contexts. primary chord
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Sources: Best, Dockrell, & Braisby, 2006; Brophy, Alleman, & Knighton, 2009; Carmichael & Hayes, 2001; R. G. Cook & Smith, 2006; R. M. Gagné, 1985; Ormrod, 2012; Rosch, 1977; B. H. Ross & Spalding, 1994; Tennyson & Cocchiarella, 1986.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

168 script CHAPTER People have schemas not only about objects but also about events. When a schema involves a predictable sequence of events related to a particular activity, it’s sometimes called a script. The next exercise provides an example.

theory particular phenomenon.

Read the following passage one time only.
John was feeling bad today so he decided to go see the family doctor. He checked in with the doctor’s receptionist, and then looked through several medical magazines that were on the table by his chair. Finally the nurse came and asked him to take off his clothes. The doctor was very nice to him. He eventually prescribed some pills for John. Then John left the doctor’s office and headed home. (Bower, Black, & Turner, 1979, p. 190)

You probably had no trouble making sense of the passage because you’ve been to a doctor’s office yourself and have a schema for how those visits usually go. You can therefore fill in a number of details that the passage doesn’t tell you. For example, you probably inferred that John actually went to the doctor’s office, although the story omits this essential step. Likewise, you probably concluded that John took off his clothes in the examination room, not in the waiting room, even though the story never makes it clear where John did his striptease. When critical information is missing, as is true in the story about John, schemas and scripts often enable learners to fill in the gaps in a reasonable way. On a much larger scale, human beings—young children included—construct general understandings and belief systems, or theories, about particular aspects of the world (Gelman, 2003; Keil & Newman, 2008; Wellman & Gelman, 1998.). Such theories include many concepts and the relationships among them (e.g., correlation, cause–and–effect). To see what some of your own theories are like, try the next exercise.

Consider each of the following situations: 1 People took a coffeepot that looked like Drawing A. They removed the handle, sealed the top, took off the top knob, sealed the opening to the spout, and removed the spout. They also sliced off the base and attached a flat piece of metal. They attached a little stick, cut out a window, and filled the metal container with birdseed. When they were done, it looked like Drawing B. After these changes, was this a coffeepot or a bird feeder? 2 Doctors took the raccoon in Drawing C and shaved away some of its fur. They dyed what was left black and then bleached a single white stripe down the center of the animal’s back. Then, with surgery, they put in its body a sac of super‐smelly odor, just like the smell a skunk has. After they were all done, the animal looked like Drawing D. After the operation, was this a skunk or a raccoon?
Source: Both scenarios based on Keil, 1989, p. 184.





Chances are, you concluded that the coffeepot was transformed into a bird feeder but that the raccoon was still a raccoon despite its cosmetic makeover and stinky surgery. Now how is it possible that the coffeepot could be made into something entirely different, whereas the raccoon could not? Even young children seem to make a basic distinction between human‐made objects (e.g., coffeepots, bird feeders) and biological entities (e.g., raccoons, skunks) (Gelman & Kalish, 2006; Inagaki & Hatano, 2006; Keil, 1986, 1989). For instance, human‐made objects are defined largely by the functions they serve (e.g., brewing coffee, feeding birds), whereas biological entities are defined primarily by their origins (e.g., the parents who brought them into being, their DNA) (Greif, Kemler Nelson, Keil, & Gutierrez, 2006; Inagaki & Hatano, 2006; Keil, 1987, 1989). Thus, when a coffeepot begins to hold birdseed rather than coffee, it becomes a bird

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Long‐Term Memory Storage Processes
Rehearsal Meaningful learning: Making connections between new information and prior knowledge Elaboration




Rote learning: Learning primarily through repetition and practice, with little or no attempt to make sense of what is being learned


Visual imagery

feeder because its function has changed. But when a raccoon is cosmetically and surgically altered to look and smell like a skunk, it still has raccoon parents and raccoon DNA and so can’t possibly be a skunk. By the time children reach school age, they’ve already constructed basic theories about their physical, biological, social, and psychological worlds (Flavell, 2000; Geary, 2005; Torney‐ Purta, 1994; Wellman & Gelman, 1998). They've also constructed preliminary theories about the nature of their own and other people’s thinking. In general, self‐constructed theories help children make sense of and remember personal experiences, classroom subject matter, and other new information (Gelman, 2003; Reiner, Slotta, Chi, & Resnick, 2000; Wellman & Gelman, 1998). Yet because children’s theories often evolve with little or no guidance from more knowledgeable individuals, they sometimes include erroneous beliefs about the world that can wreak havoc with new learning (more about this point later in the chapter).

theory of mind is an example .

Especially when talking about the kinds of declarative knowledge learned in school, learning theorists distinguish between two general forms of long‐term memory storage processes—rote learning and meaningful learning—and among more specific storage processes that differ considerably in their effectiveness (see Table 6.3). ROTE LEARNING Learners engage in rote learning when they try to learn and remember something without attaching much meaning to it. For example, in the “Letters and a Picture” exercise presented earlier, you would be engaging in rote learning if you tried to remember the letter string FAMILIARWORDS simply as a list of isolated letters or if you tried to remember the cowboy/bicycle drawing as a collection of random, unrelated lines and curves. One common form of rote learning is rehearsal, repeating something over and over within a short timeframe (typically a few minutes or less), either by saying it aloud or by continuously thinking about it in an unaltered, verbatim fashion. Earlier I described how maintenance rehearsal—verbally repeating something over and over—helps us keep information in working memory indefinitely. Contrary to what many students think, however, rehearsal is not a very effective way of storing information in long‐term memory. If a learner repeats something often enough, it might eventually “sink in,” but the process is slow, laborious, and not much fun. Furthermore, for reasons I’ll identify later, people who use rehearsal and other forms of rote learning often have trouble remembering what they’ve learned (J. R. Anderson, 2005; Ausubel, Novak, & Hanesian, 1978; Craik & Watkins, 1973). Verbally rehearsing information is probably better than not actively processing it at all, and rehearsal may be one of the few strategies students can use when they have little prior knowledge

rote learning Learning information in making sense of it or attaching much meaning to it.


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CHAPTER to draw on to help them understand new material (E. Wood, Willoughby, Bolger, & Younger, 1993). For example, in the opening case study Kanesha resorts to rehearsal in her efforts to remember such seemingly nonsensical bone names as the coccyx, clavicle, and patella. Ideally, however, we should encourage students to engage in meaningful learning whenever possible. MEANINGFUL LEARNING In contrast to rote learning, meaningful learning involves recognizing a relationship between new information and something already stored in long‐term memory. When we use such words as comprehension and understanding, we’re talking about meaningful learning. Here are examples that 16‐year‐old Hilary describes:
When I’m trying to study for a test, I try to associate the things that I’m trying to learn with familiar things. Like, if I have a Spanish vocabulary test, I’ll try to . . . with the Spanish words, I’ll try to think of the English word that it sounds like, because sometimes it does sound like the English word. And then our government teacher is teaching us the amendments and we’re trying to memorize them. He taught us one trick for memorizing Amendment 2, which is the right to bear arms. He said, “Bears have two arms, so that’s Amendment 2.”

meaningful learning Cognitive

elaboration Cognitive process in

The process of meaningful learning assimilation .

In the vast majority of cases, meaningful learning is more effective than rote learning for storing information in long‐term memory (R. E. Mayer, 1996; Sweller, 2010; Wittrock, 1974). It’s especially effective when learners relate new ideas not only to what they already know about the world but also to what they know or believe about themselves—for instance, to self‐descriptions or personal life experiences (Heatherton, Macrae, & Kelley, 2004; Kesebir & Oishi, 2010; Rogers, Kuiper, & Kirker, 1977). Meaningful learning takes a variety of forms. Three forms that researchers have studied in depth are elaboration, organization, and visual imagery. All three are constructive in nature: They involve combining several pieces of information into a meaningful whole. Elaboration In elaboration, learners use their prior knowledge to embellish on a new idea, thereby storing more information than was actually presented. For example, when I took a course in Mandarin Chinese in high school, I learned that the Chinese word wˇ omen means “we.” “Aha!” I thought to myself, “the sign on the restroom that we girls use says wˇ omen” (albeit without the tone mark over the o). Similarly, a student who reads that a certain species of dinosaurs had powerful jaws and sharp, pointed teeth might correctly deduce that those dinosaurs were meat eaters. And when a student learns that the crew on Columbus’s first trip across the Atlantic threatened to revolt, the student might speculate, “I’ll bet the men were really frightened when they continued to travel west day after day without ever seeing signs of land.” On average, the more students elaborate on new material—that is, the more they use what they already know to help them understand and interpret the new material—the more effectively they will store and remember it. Thus, students who regularly elaborate on what they learn in school usually show higher achievement than those who simply take information at face value (J. R. Anderson, 2005; McDaniel & Einstein, 1989; Paxton, 1999; Waters, 1982). One effective way to encourage elaboration in the classroom is to have students write about a topic—for instance, to summarize what they’ve learned, relate new concepts to their personal experiences, or express and defend certain positions on controversial topics (Bangert‐Drowns, Hurley, & Wilkinson, 2004; Shanahan, 2004). Another good strategy is to ask questions that require students to expand on something they’ve just learned—questions such as “How would you use . . . to . . . ?” and “What do you think would happen if . . . ?” (A. King, 1992, p. 309; McCrudden & Schraw, 2007). Still another approach is to have students work in pairs or small groups to formulate and answer their own elaborative questions. Different researchers call such group questioning either elaborative interrogation or guided peer questioning (Kahl & Woloshyn, 1994; A. King, 1994, 1999; Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996; E. Wood et al., 1999). In the following dialogue, fifth graders Katie and Janelle are working together to study class material about tide pools. Katie’s job is to ask Janelle questions that encourage elaboration:
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Katie: How are the upper tide zone and the lower tide zone different? Janelle: They have different animals in them. Animals in the upper tide zone and splash zone can handle being exposed—have to be able to use the rain and sand and wind and sun—and they don’t need that much water and the lower tide animals do.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Katie: And they can be softer ’cause they don’t have to get hit on the rocks. Janelle: Also predators. In the spray zone it’s because there’s predators like us people and all different kinds of stuff that can kill the animals and they won’t survive, but the lower tide zone has not as many predators. Katie: But wait! Why do the animals in the splash zone have to survive? (A. King, 1999, p. 97) Notice that the two girls are continually relating the animals’ characteristics to survival in different tide zones, and eventually Katie asks why animals in the splash zone even need to survive. Such analyses are quite sophisticated for fifth graders. Imagine what high school students, with their increasing capacity for abstract and hypothetical thinking, might be able to do! concept map organization Cognitive process among various pieces of information


Organization On average, we learn and remember a body of new information more easily when we pull it together in some reasonable way (e.g., Nesbit & Adesope, 2006; Novak, 1998; D. H. Robinson & Kiewra, 1995). Such organization involves making connections among various pieces of new information and forming an overall cohesive structure. For example, a learner might group information into categories, as you probably did in the “Remembering 12 Words” exercise near the beginning of the chapter. Another way of organizing information is to identify interrelationships among its various parts. For instance, when learning about velocity, acceleration, force, and mass in a physics class, a student might better understand these concepts by seeing how they’re interconnected—perhaps by learning that velocity is the product of acceleration and time (v = a * t) and that an object’s force is determined by both its mass and its acceleration (f = m * a). The trick is not simply to memorize the formulas (that would be rote learning) but rather to make sense of the relationships that the formulas represent. It’s often helpful to give students specific structures they can use to organize information. For example, the weblike note‐taking form shown in Figure 6.5 can help elementary students organize what they learn about tarantulas. Another effective structure is a two‐dimensional matrix or table that enables students to compare several items with respect to various characteristics—for instance, how various geographical regions differ in topography, climate, economic activities, and cultural practices (R. K. Atkinson et al., 1999; Kiewra, DuBois, Christian, & McShane, 1988; D. H. Robinson & Kiewra, 1995). A third approach is to teach students how to create concept maps—diagrams that depict the concepts of a unit and their interrelationships (Hattie, 2009; Nesbit & Adesope, 2006; learning. Novak, 1998). Figure 6.6 shows concept maps that two different students might construct after a lesson about gorillas. The concepts themselves are circled, and their interrelationships are indicated by lines with words or short phrases. Several concept‐mapping software programs (e.g., Kidspiration, MindMapper Jr. for Kids) are available for creating and modifying concept maps quickly and easily. Not only can self‐constructed organizational structures help students learn more effectively, but they can also help FIGURE 6.5 Using a form his second‐grade teacher has teachers assess students’ learning. For example, the concept provided, 7‐year‐old Tony organizes what he has learned map on the left side of Figure 6.6 reveals only spotty, fragabout tarantulas. mented knowledge about gorillas. Furthermore, the student has two ideas that need correction. First, contrary to a common stereotype, gorillas don’t regularly swing from trees, although young ones may occasionally climb a tree to escape danger. Second, gorillas aren’t especially “fierce” creatures. For the most part, they live a peaceful existence within their family group; they get nasty (e.g., by beating their chests) only when a human being, non‐family‐member gorilla, or other potential encroacher threatens their territory. Visual Imagery Earlier I mentioned imagery as one possible way in which information might be encoded in long‐ term memory. Numerous research studies indicate that visual imagery—forming mental pictures of objects or ideas—can be a highly effective method of storing information (Sadoski & Paivio, 2001; D. L. Schwartz & Heiser, 2006). To show you how effective visual imagery can be, I’ll teach you a few of the Mandarin Chinese words I learned in high school.

visual imagery Process of forming a

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



FIGURE 6.6 Two concept maps about gorillas d endangere at ou m ain nt s



CHEST PouND territory def


live in family group











it ab


oo mb ba fruit eat eat ans vegetari ) (mostly eat s bug

an wl lo ds

has m wi ate th


Pounding chest


s female have ies bab

Try learning these five Chinese words by forming the visual images I describe (don’t worry about learning the marks over the words): Chinese Word fáng mén ké fàn shū English Meaning House door guest food book Image Picture a house with fangs growing on its roof and walls. Picture a restroom door with the word MEN painted on it. Picture someone giving someone else (the guest) a key to the house. Picture a plate of food being cooled by a fan. Picture a shoe with a book sticking out of it.

Now find something else to do for a couple of minutes. Stand up and stretch, get a glass of water, or use the restroom. But be sure to come back to your reading in just a minute or two. Now that you’re back, cover the list of Chinese words, English meanings, and visual images. Then try to remember what each word means: ké fàn mén fáng shū

Did the Chinese words remind you of the visual images you stored? Did the images, in turn, help you remember the English meanings? You may have remembered all five words easily, or you may have remembered only one or two. People differ in their ability to use visual imagery: Some form images quickly and easily, whereas others form them only slowly and with difficulty (Behrmann, 2000; J. M. Clark & Paivio, 1991; Kosslyn, 1985). In the classroom we can promote the use of visual imagery in several ways. We can ask students to imagine how certain events in literature or history might have looked (Johnson‐ Glenberg, 2000; Sadoski & Paivio, 2001). We can provide visual materials (pictures, charts, graphs, etc.) that illustrate important but possibly abstract ideas (R. K. Atkinson et al., 1999; R. Carlson, Chandler, & Sweller, 2003; Verdi, Kulhavy, Stock, Rittschof, & Johnson, 1996). We can also ask students to draw their own illustrations or diagrams of the things they’re studying, such as 9‐year‐old Trisha does in Figure 6.7 (Edens & Potter, 2001; Schwamborn, Mayer, Thillmann, Leopold, & Leutner, 2010; Van Meter & Garner, 2005).

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Visual imagery can be especially powerful when used in combination with other forms of encoding. For example, students more readily learn and remember information they receive in both a verbal form (e.g., a lecture or textbook passage) and a graphic form (e.g., a picture, map, or diagram) (R. E. Mayer, 2011b; Moreno, 2006; Winn, 1991). They’re also likely to benefit from being explicitly asked to represent information both verbally and visually. DEVELOPMENTAL TRENDS IN STORAGE PROCESSES FOR DECLARATIVE INFORMATION The tendency to relate new information to prior knowledge—meaningful learning—probably occurs in one form or another at virtually all age levels (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 2002; Siegler & Alibali, 2005). More specific strategies—such as rehearsal, organization, and visual imagery—are fairly limited in the early elementary years but increase in both frequency and effectiveness over the course of childhood and adolescence. The frequency of elaboration—especially as a process that learners intentionally use—picks up a bit later, often not until adolescence, and is more common in high‐achieving students. Table 6.4 provides more detailed information on the nature of long‐ term memory storage processes at different grade levels.

FIGURE 6.7 This drawing by 9‐year‐old Trisha effectively illustrates the water cycle.

Some of the procedures people learn—for example, baking a cake, serving a volleyball, driving a car with a stick shift—consist primarily of overt behaviors. Many others—for examples, writing a persuasive essay, solving for x in an algebraic equation, surfing the Internet—have a significant mental component as well. Many procedures involve a combination of physical behaviors and mental activities. Procedural knowledge ranges from relatively simple actions (e.g., holding a pencil correctly or using scissors) to far more complex skills. Complex procedures usually aren’t learned in one fell swoop. Instead, they’re acquired slowly over a period of time, often only with a great deal of practice (Charness, Tuffiash, & Jastrzembski, 2004; Ericsson, 2003; Proctor & Dutta, 1995). People appear to learn simple physical procedures primarily as actual behaviors—in other words, as specific actions that, with practice, are strengthened and gradually refined (Ennis & Chen, 2011; Féry & Morizot, 2000; Willingham, 1999). Yet many complex skills, especially those that have a mental component, may also be learned as declarative knowledge—in other words, as information about how to do something ( J. R. Anderson, 1983; Beilock & Carr, 2004). Learners may initially use their declarative knowledge to guide them as they perform a new skill, but to the extent that they must do so, their performance is apt to be slow and laborious and to require a lot of concentration— that is, it consumes considerable working memory capacity. As learners continue to practice the skill, however, their declarative knowledge gradually evolves into procedural knowledge, perhaps eventually to the point that they can perform the activity quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly (we’ll look at such automaticity more closely a bit later). People who show exceptional talent in a particular skill domain—say, in figure skating or playing the piano—typically practice a great deal, often a minimum of three to four hours a day over a period of 10 years or more (Ericsson, 1996; Horn, 2008). Some of the storage processes we’ve already discussed play a role in acquiring procedural knowledge as well as declarative knowledge. For instance, verbally rehearsing a sequence of steps in a motor skill enhances people’s ability to perform the skill (Weiss & Klint, 1987). Illustrations or live demonstrations of a procedure, which presumably foster visual imagery, are also beneficial (Kitsantas, Zimmerman, & Cleary, 2000; SooHoo, Takemoto, & McCullagh, 2004; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1999). In fact, imagining oneself performing a new skill (e.g., executing a gymnastics move or a basketball shot) can enhance acquisition of the skill, although this strategy obviously isn’t as effective as actual practice (Feltz, Landers, & Becker, 1988; Kosslyn, 1985; SooHoo et al., 2004). Perhaps the most effective way to teach new procedures is to model them for students, including both the overt behaviors and the internal thought processes involved (e.g., Rittle‐ Johnson, 2006; Schunk, 1998). The Into the Classroom feature “Helping Students Acquire New Procedures” illustrates several additional strategies for facilitating procedural learning.

With age and experience, children become increasingly strategic in their efforts to remember information. Watch “Remembering a List.”

communities of practice.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Typical Long‐Term Memory Storage Processes at Different Grade Levels

experiences. W


to herself a couple of times




at the photos of four structures for topics. information Then he repeats the four



agree that sorting them into sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic more strategic approach.

of such historical characters

ISBN 1-256-96292-9
Sources: Bjorklund & Coyle, 1995; Bjorklund & Jacobs, 1985; Bjorklund, Schneider, Cassel, & Ashley, 1994; Cowan, Saults, & Morey, 2006; DeLoache & Todd, 1988; Gaskins & Pressley, 2007; Gathercole & Hitch, 1993; Kosslyn, Margolis, Barrett, Goldknopf, & Daly, 1990; Kunzinger, 1985; Lehmann & Hasselhorn, 2007; Lucariello, Kyratzis, & Nelson, 1992; Marley, Szabo, Levin, & Glenberg, 2008; L. S. Newman, 1990; P. A. Ornstein, Grammer, & Coffman, 2010; Plumert, 1994; Pressley, 1982; Pressley & Hilden, 2006; Schneider & Pressley, 1989.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Help students understand the logic behind the procedures they are learning. x terms—3x inner last x

FOIL first x, or 6x x. x x x.


When skills are especially complex, break them into simpler tasks that students can practice one at a time.

Give students many opportunities to practice new skills, and provide the feedback they need to help them improve.

Provide mnemonics that can help students remember a sequence of steps.
+ +

Sources: P. A. Alexander & Judy, 1988; J. R. Anderson, Reder, & Simon, 1996; Beilock & Carr, 2004; Ennis & Chen, 2011; Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Hecht, Close, & Santisi, 2003; Proctor & Dutta, 1995; Shute, 2008; van Merriënboer & Kester, 2008.

Students are more likely to engage in meaningful learning when they have a relevant knowledge base—that is, when they have existing knowledge to which they can connect whatever new information and skills they’re trying to master. When, in contrast, they have little relevant knowledge on which to build, they’re apt to struggle in their efforts to make sense of new information, as Kanesha sometimes does while studying bone names for her biology quiz. Occasionally students’ prior knowledge interferes with something they need to learn; this is the case when Kanesha tries to remember where the sternum is located. In general, however, a relevant knowledge base helps students learn and remember new material more effectively than they would otherwise (P. A. Alexander, Kulikowich, & Schulze, 1994; Kintsch, 2009; Schneider, 1993). For example, students will better understand scientific principles if they’ve already seen those principles in action either in their personal lives or in the classroom, and they’ll better understand how large some dinosaurs were if they have previously seen life‐sized dinosaur skeletons at a museum of natural history. Students’ prior knowledge contributes to their learning in several ways: their attention appropriately. elaborate on information—for example, to fill in missing details, clarify ambiguities, and draw inferences. organizing new information. (Bjorklund, Muir‐Broaddus, & Schneider, 1990; Haskell, 2001; Rumelhart & Ortony, 1977; P. T. Wilson & Anderson, 1986)
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Children’s knowledge about the world grows by leaps and bounds every year; on average, then, older students have more knowledge to help them understand and elaborate on new ideas and events than younger ones do (Flavell et al., 2002; Halford, 1989; Kail, 1990). When young children have more knowledge than their elders, however, they often have the upper hand

knowledge base

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER (Chi, 1978; Rabinowitz & Glaser, 1985). For instance, when my son Alex and I used to read books about lizards together, Alex always remembered more than I did because, even as a 6‐year‐ old, he knew much more about reptiles than I did. Children don’t all acquire the same knowledge bases, of course, and their differing knowledge can lead them to construct different meanings from the same situation. The next exercise illustrates this point.

prior knowledge activation Process

Read the following passage one time only:
Rocky slowly got up from the mat, planning his escape. He hesitated a moment and thought. Things were not going well. What bothered him most was being held, especially since the charge against him had been weak. He considered his present situation. The lock that held him was strong but he thought he could break it. He knew, however, that his timing would have to be perfect. Rocky was aware that it was because of his early roughness that he had been penalized so severely—much too severely from his point of view. The situation was becoming frustrating; the pressure had been grinding on him for too long. He was being ridden unmercifully. Rocky was getting angry now. He felt he was ready to make his move. He knew that his success or failure would depend on what he did in the next few seconds. (R. C. Anderson, Reynolds, Schallert, & Goetz, 1977, p. 372)

Now summarize what you’ve just read in two or three sentences.

help them make connections

What did you think the passage was about? A prison escape? A wrestling match? Or perhaps something else altogether? When the Rocky passage was used in an experiment with college students, many physical education majors interpreted it as a wrestling match, but music education majors—most of whom had little or no knowledge of wrestling—were more likely to think it was about a prison break (R. C. Anderson et al., 1977). Yet it isn’t enough that students have the knowledge they need to make sense of new material. They must also be aware that some of their existing knowledge is relevant. They must retrieve that knowledge from long‐term memory while thinking about the new material, so that they have both the old and the new in working memory simultaneously and can make the appropriate connections (Bellezza, 1986; Glanzer & Nolan, 1986; Kalyuga, 2010). As teachers, we should use students’ existing knowledge as a starting point whenever we introduce a new topic. Furthermore, we should explicitly remind students of things they know that bear directly on a topic of classroom study—an instructional strategy known as prior knowledge activation (Machiels‐Bongaerts, Schmidt, & Boshuizen, 1993; Resnick, 1989; Spires & Donley, 1998). For instance, we might begin a first‐grade unit about plants by asking students to describe what their parents do to keep flowers or vegetable gardens growing. In a secondary English literature class, we might introduce Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (in which Robin Hood is a major character) by asking students to tell the tale of Robin Hood as they know it. We should also remember that students from diverse cultural backgrounds may have somewhat different knowledge bases and adjust our starting point accordingly (E. Fox, 2009; Nelson‐Barber & Estrin, 1995; Pritchard, 1990). Furthermore, we should encourage students to retrieve relevant knowledge on their own as they study. One approach is to model this strategy for students. For example, we might read aloud a portion of a textbook, stopping occasionally to tie an idea in the text to something previously studied in class or to something in our own personal experience. We can then encourage students to do likewise, giving suggestions and guiding their efforts as they proceed. Especially when working with students in the elementary grades, we might also want to provide specific questions that encourage students to reflect on their existing knowledge and beliefs as they read and study—for instance, asking themselves, “What do I already know about this topic?” and “Might I discover that something I think about this topic isn’t correct?” (Baer & Garrett, 2010; Spires & Donley, 1998; H. Thompson & Carr, 1995).

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We can’t always blame students when they take a relatively meaningless approach to their studies. Inadvertently, some teachers tend to encourage students to learn school subjects by rote. Think back to your own experiences in school. How many times were you allowed to define a word by repeating its dictionary definition, rather than being expected to explain it in your own words? In fact, how many times were you required to learn something word for word? And how many times did an exam assess your knowledge of facts or principles without ever assessing your ability to relate those facts and principles to everyday life or to things learned in previous lessons or courses? When assignments and assessments require memory of isolated facts—and perhaps even require word‐ for‐word recall—students are apt to engage in rote rather than meaningful learning, believing that a rote‐learning approach will yield them better grades (Crooks, 1988; N. Frederiksen, 1984b; M. C. Linn & Eylon, 2011; L. Shepard, Hammerness, Darling‐Hammond, & Rust, 2005). As teachers, we should not only encourage meaningful learning through the strategies previously described—asking students to logically organize related ideas, think of new examples, speculate about implications, and so on—but we should also communicate that school topics are to be understood rather than memorized. In other words, we should encourage students to adopt a meaningful learning set. For example, we might frequently ask students to explain their reasoning, and our assignments and assessment tasks should require true understanding rather than rote memorization (Ausubel et al., 1978; Middleton & Midgley, 2002; L. Shepard et al., 2005). Ideally, students should gain a conceptual understanding of classroom topics; that is, they should form many logical connections among related concepts and principles. For example, rather than simply memorize basic mathematical computation procedures, students should learn how those procedures reflect underlying principles of mathematics. And rather than learn historical facts as a list of unrelated people, places, and dates, students should place those facts within the context of major social and religious trends, migration patterns, economic conditions, human personality characteristics, and so on. The more interrelationships students form within the subject matter they’re learning— in other words, the better they organize it—the more easily they’ll be able to remember and apply it later on (e.g., Hecht & Vagi, 2010; M. C. Linn & Eylon, 2011; J. J. White & Rumsey, 1994). Constructing an integrated understanding of any complex topic inevitably takes time. Accordingly, many educators advocate the principle Less is more: Less material studied thoroughly (rather than superficially) is learned more completely and with greater understanding (e.g., Sizer, 1992, 2004). Following are several more specific strategies for promoting conceptual understanding of classroom subject matter: Organize units around a few core ideas or issues, always relating specific content back to this core. Explore each topic in depth—for example, by considering many examples, examining cause– and–effect relationships, and discovering how specific details relate to more general principles. Regularly connect new ideas to students’ personal experiences and to things students have previously learned at school. Show students—through the statements made, the questions asked, the assignments given, and the criteria used to evaluate achievement—that conceptual understanding is far more important than knowledge of specific facts. Ask students to teach what they’ve learned to others. Teaching others encourages them to focus on and pull together main ideas in ways that make sense. (Brophy, 2004; Brophy, Alleman, & Knighton, 2009; Hatano & Inagaki, 1993; Middleton & Midgley, 2002; Perkins & Ritchhart, 2004; Roscoe & Chi, 2007; VanSledright & Brophy, 1992; J. J. White & Rumsey, 1994)

meaningful learning set that one can make sense of the

conceptual understanding

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Some things are hard to make sense of—that is, hard to learn meaningfully. For instance, why do bones in the human body have such names as fibula, humerus, and ulna? Why is Au the chemical symbol for gold? Why is Augusta the capital of Maine? From most students’ perspectives, there is no rhyme or reason to such facts.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



FIGURE 6.8 Common mnemonic techniques
Verbal Mediation
A verbal mediator

Information to Be Learned Handschuh

Verbal Mediator A glove is a shoe for the hand. Mosquitoes are at the equator.

Au principal the letters pal The humerus 2 the right to bear arms. ple

Ay, you The principal The humorous

gold pal. funny

A bear has two arms.

Keyword Method keyword method amor 1. love 2. love, amor keywords. amor means

Information to Be Learned Das Pferd horse.

Visual Image Picture a horse Picture a gust of Swan Lake. Picture a swan lake, tie Ford. mane. coughing.

Superimposed Meaningful Structure superimposed meaningful structures
Information to Be Learned Superimposed Meaningful Structure


Procedure to Be Learned

Superimposed Meaningful Structure

p m a s d


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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

When students have trouble finding relationships between new material and their prior knowledge, or when a body of information seemingly has no organizational structure (as is true for many lists), special memory tricks known as mnemonics can help students remember classroom material more effectively. Three commonly used mnemonics—verbal mediation, the keyword method, and superimposed meaningful structures—are described in Figure 6.8. Research consistently supports the effectiveness of using mnemonics in learning (e.g., R. K. Atkinson et al., 1999; M. S. Jones, Levin, Levin, & Beitzel, 2000; Pressley, Levin, & Delaney, 1982). Their effectiveness lies in their conformity with a basic principle of long‐term memory storage: Learners find some sort of meaning—even if that “meaning” is a bit contrived—in what might otherwise be nonsensical information. The artificial organization structure that some mnemonics provide is an additional plus. Imposing rhythm on a body of information—for instance, embedding the information in a song or hip‐hop lyrics—is one way of giving it structure and can be especially beneficial when music is a significant part of students’ cultures (B. A. Allen & Boykin, 1991; Barton, Tan, & Rivet, 2008; Tyler et al., 2008).

When Knowledge Construction Goes Awry: Addressing Learners’ Misconceptions
When learners construct their own understandings, there is, of course, no guarantee that they’ll construct accurate ones. Occasionally they may instead construct misconceptions—beliefs that are inconsistent with commonly accepted and well‐validated explanations of phenomena or events. In science, for example, some of students’ beliefs might be at odds with data collected over the course of decades or centuries of scientific research. And in history, students’ understandings of certain events might be inconsistent with existing historical records and artifacts from the time period in question. Figure 6.9 presents misconceptions that researchers have often observed in students—not only in children and adolescents, but occasionally in college students as well. In many instances students’ misconceptions arise out of their own well‐intended efforts to make sense of the things they see—for instance, a sun and moon that seem to “travel” across the sky. But society and culture can foster misconceptions as well. Sometimes common expressions in language misrepresent the true nature of physical events. For instance, when we talk about the sun “rising” and “setting,” children may easily conclude that the sun revolves around the earth, rather than vice versa. In addition, fairy tales and television cartoon programs may misrepresent what we know to be true in, say, physics or paleontology—as examples, you’ve probably seen cartoon bad guys run off cliffs and remain suspended in the air until they realize there’s nothing holding them up, and perhaps you’ve watched cartoon caveman Fred Flintstone riding a brontosaurus to work. Unfortunately, students can also acquire erroneous ideas from other people, occasionally including teachers and textbook authors (Brophy et al., 2009; Glynn, Yeany, & Britton, 1991; M. C. Linn & Eylon, 2011; Wiser & Smith, 2008). Regardless of how students’ misconceptions originate, they can wreak havoc on new learning. As a result of elaborating on new information—a process that usually facilitates learning— students may interpret or distort the information to be consistent with what they already “know” and thus continue to believe what they’ve always believed. For example, one eleventh‐grade physics class was studying the idea that an object’s mass and weight do not, by themselves, affect the speed at which the object falls. Students were asked to build egg containers that would keep eggs from breaking when dropped from a third‐floor window. They were told that on the day of the egg drop, they would record the time it took for the eggs to reach the ground. Convinced that heavier objects fall faster, a student named Barry added several nails to his egg’s container. Yet when he dropped it, classmates timed its fall at 1.49 seconds—a time very similar to that for other students’ lighter containers. Rather than acknowledge that light and heavy objects fall at the same rate, Barry explained the result by rationalizing that “the people weren’t timing real good” (Hynd, 1998a, p. 34). When students have misunderstandings such as Barry’s, we must work hard to promote conceptual change, a process of revising or overhauling an existing theory or belief system in such a way that new, discrepant information can be better understood and explained. Don’t let the term conceptual mislead you here: For the most part, we’re talking about changing tightly interconnected sets of ideas rather than changing single, isolated concepts.


of information.

verbal mediator


keyword method

visual image of one or more concrete keywords

superimposed meaningful structure

facilitate recall.


phenomena or events.

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conceptual change

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



FIGURE 6.9 Common student beliefs and misconceptions
In Biology

In Astronomy

of the earth.

In Climatology

In Physics an itch. inertia is

In Mathematics

In History

In Geography and Social Studies

person rich.
Sources: Brewer, 2008; Brophy et al., 2009; Chi, 2008; De Corte, Greer, & Verschaffel, 1996; Delval, 1994; diSessa, 1996; H. Gardner, Torff, & Hatch, 1996; Haskell, 2001; Hynd, 2003; Kelemen, 1999, 2004; V. R. Lee, 2010; Martínez, Bannan‐Ritland, Kitsantas, & Baek, 2008; Masters et al., 2010; K. J. Roth & Anderson, 1988; Sneider & Pulos, 1983; Tirosh & Graeber, 1990; Vosniadou & Brewer, 1987; Vosniadou, Vamvakoussi, & Skopeliti, 2008; Winer & Cottrell, 1996.

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Teachers often present new information with the expectation that it will easily replace students’ erroneous beliefs about a topic. And in fact some misconceptions are easily corrected. Yet students of all ages can hold quite stubbornly to certain counterproductive beliefs about the world, even after considerable instruction that explicitly contradicts those beliefs. Theorists have offered several possible explanations about why students’ misconceptions can be so resistant to change: Most children and adolescents have a confirmation bias. Learners of all ages (even college students!) tend to look for information that confirms their existing beliefs and to ignore or discredit contradictory evidence—a phenomenon known as confirmation bias (e.g., De Lisi & Golbeck, 1999; Hynd, 1998b; P. K. Murphy & Mason, 2006). For example, when students in a high school science lab observe results that contradict what they expected to happen, they might complain, “Our equipment isn’t working right” or “I can never do science right anyway” (Minstrell & Stimpson, 1996, p. 192). Students may believe that their existing beliefs better explain their everyday experiences. Well‐established scientific theories are often fairly abstract and sometimes seem to contradict everyday reality (D. B. Clark, 2006; M. C. Linn, 2008; Wiser & Smith, 2008). For example, in physics, although the law of inertia tells us that force is needed to start an object in motion but not to keep it in motion, we know from experience that if we want to move a heavy object across the floor, we must continue to push it until we get it where we want it (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, & Scott, 1994). And although virtually any piece of matter has some weight, a very small piece of Styrofoam may feel weightless in our hands (C. L. Smith, 2007). Some beliefs are integrated into cohesive theories, with many interrelationships existing among various ideas. In such circumstances, changing misconceptions involves changing an entire organized body of knowledge rather than a single belief (Sinatra & Pintrich, 2003; C. L. Smith, Maclin, Grosslight, & Davis, 1997; Vosniadou, 2008). For example, the belief that the sun revolves around the earth may be part of a more general earth‐centered view of things, perhaps one that includes the moon, stars, and other heavenly bodies revolving around the earth as well. In reality, of course, the moon revolves around the earth, the earth revolves around the sun, and other stars aren’t directly involved with the earth in one way or another. Yet the earth‐centered view is a much easier one to understand and accept (on the surface, at least), and everything fits so nicely together. Students may fail to notice an inconsistency between new information and their existing beliefs. Sometimes this happens because students learn the new information in a rote manner, without relating it to things they already know and believe. In other instances it occurs because existing misconceptions take the form of implicit knowledge—knowledge that students aren’t consciously aware of. In either case, students don’t realize that the material they’re studying contradicts their current understandings, and thus they may continue to apply their misconceptions when interpreting new situations (Hynd, 2003; M. C. Linn & Eylon, 2011; P. K. Murphy, 2007; Ohlsson, 2009; Strike & Posner, 1992). Students have a personal or emotional investment in their existing beliefs. For one reason or another, students may be especially committed to certain beliefs, perhaps insisting “This theory is what I believe in! Nobody can make me change it!” (Mason, 2003, p. 228). In some instances their beliefs may be an integral part of their religion or culture (Mosborg, 2002; Porat, 2004; Sinatra & Mason, 2008). In other cases students may interpret information that contradicts their existing understandings as a threat to their self‐esteem (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003; Minstrell & Stimpson, 1996; Sherman & Cohen, 2002).

confirmation bias

confirmation bias

worldviews .

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For the reasons just identified, promoting conceptual change can be quite a challenge. Not only must we help students learn new things, but we must also help them unlearn—or at least inhibit—their existing beliefs (Hynd, 2003). Following are strategies that seem to have an impact, especially when used in combination.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Identify existing misconceptions before instruction begins. As teachers, we can more easily address students’ misconceptions when we know what they are (P. K. Murphy & Alexander, 2004, 2008; Putnam, 1992). Thus, we should probably begin any new topic by assessing students’ current beliefs about the topic—perhaps simply by asking a few informal questions and probing further if students’ initial explanations are vague. As an example, an 11‐year‐old once described rain as “water that falls out of a cloud when the clouds evaporate.” The response has an element of truth— evaporation is an essential process in cloud formation—but not quite on target: In fact, rain results a bit later in the water cycle as a result of condensation. A series of follow‐up questions eventually revealed a rather unique understanding: The water “comes down at little times like a salt shaker when you turn it upside down. It doesn’t all come down at once ’cause there’s little holes [in the cloud] and it just comes out” (Stepans, 1991, p. 94). This conception of a cloud as a salt shaker is hardly consistent with scientific views of rain and should definitely be addressed during instruction. Informal preassessments of students’ current understandings will be especially important in your first few years of teaching. As you gain experience teaching a particular topic year after year, you may eventually find that you can anticipate what students’ prior beliefs and misbeliefs about the topic are likely to be. Look for—and then build on—kernels of truth in students’ existing understandings. Often students’ current understandings have a partly‐right‐and‐partly‐wrong quality (diSessa, 1996, 2006; Vosniadou, 2008). For example, the 11‐year‐old with the salt‐shaker explanation of rain correctly knew that evaporation is somehow involved in the water cycle, and such knowledge would be a good starting point for further instruction. Among other things, a teacher might (1) help the child understand how evaporation and condensation are essentially opposite processes that involve either changing from liquid form to vapor form (evaporation) or vice versa (condensation); and (2) explain how a cloud actually is water itself rather than a shakerlike water container. Convince students that their existing beliefs need revision. We can more effectively promote conceptual change when we show students how new information contradicts what they currently believe and when we demonstrate why their existing conceptions are inadequate. In Jean Piaget’s terminology, we need to create disequilibrium, perhaps with strategies such as these: Present phenomena and ask questions that lead students to find weaknesses in their current understandings. Have students conduct experiments to test various hypotheses and predictions. Ask students to provide several explanations for puzzling phenomena and to discuss the pros and cons of each one. Show how one explanation of an event or phenomenon is more plausible (i.e., makes more sense) than others. Have students apply the new ideas to real‐life situations and problems. (Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; Chinn & Samarapungavan, 2009; D. B. Clark, 2006; M. C. Linn & Eylon, 2011; P. K. Murphy & Mason, 2006; Pine & Messer, 2000; G. J. Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982; K. J. Roth, 2002; Sinatra & Pintrich, 2003; C. L. Smith, 2007; Vosniadou, 2008) Such strategies might encompass a wide variety of instructional methods, including demonstrations, hands‐on activities, teacher explanations, small‐group or whole‐class discussions, and writing assignments. But all of these strategies have one thing in common: a focus on meaningful learning rather than rote memorization. Motivate students to learn correct explanations. Students will be most likely to engage in meaningful learning and undergo conceptual change when they’re motivated to do so. At a minimum, they must be interested in the subject matter, see it as useful in helping them achieve their personal goals, set their sights on mastering it, and have sufficient self‐confidence to believe they can master it. Furthermore, the classroom should be socially and emotionally supportive of conceptual change. For example, students must feel confident that (1) their teacher and classmates won’t ridicule them for their initially erroneous or partly‐right‐but‐partly‐wrong ideas and (2) the ultimate goal of a lesson is understanding the subject matter rather than simply performing well on a quiz or assignment (Hatano & Inagaki, 2003; Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993; Sinatra & Mason, 2008).

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Monitor what students say and write for signs of persistent misconceptions. Some misconceptions and only‐partly‐correct understandings may persist despite our best efforts. Throughout a lesson, then, we should often check students’ beliefs about the topic at hand, looking for subtle signs that their understanding isn’t completely on target and giving corrective feedback when necessary. As an illustration, imagine a lesson about human vision that includes the following general principles: tion about these light rays to the brain for interpretation. light source to the object, (2) bounce off of the object, and then (3) travel to the retina. objects. A common misconception in both children and adults is that vision involves something going out from the eye to the object, rather than vice versa (K. J. Roth & Anderson, 1988; Winer & Cottrell, 1996; Winer, Cottrell, Gregg, Fournier, & Bica, 2002). Therefore, this misconception is something we would want to be on the lookout for throughout the lesson. For instance, we might show students the drawing in Figure 6.10 and ask them whether the girl can see the car. Several of them might respond, “No, she can’t see through it” or “It’s opaque.” The phrase see through is one that people often use when talking about transparent objects, but it implies that something is traveling from—not to—the eye. We would thus want to ask follow‐up questions to pin down their reasoning: “What do you mean, she can’t see through it?” “What does opaque mean?” and “What are the light rays doing?” Assessment of students’ comprehension is important after a lesson as well. We’re more likely to detect and correct misconceptions when we ask students to explain and apply what they’ve learned, rather than just spitting back memorized facts, definitions, and formulas (D. B. Clark, 2006; Pine & Messer, 2000; K. J. Roth, 1990). Even so, we must remember that true and lasting conceptual change may take considerable time and instruction—perhaps several years’ worth— especially if it involves overhauling a complex, interrelated set of student‐constructed ideas (Vosniadou, 2008). FIGURE 6.10 Can the girl see the car? If not, why not?

complex phenomena can take

Long‐Term Memory Retrieval
As you’ve already discovered, some of the information stored in long‐term memory is easily retrieved later on. Other pieces of information are harder to find, and still others may never be found at all. Retrieving information from long‐term memory appears to involve following a pathway of associations; it’s a process of mentally going down Memory Lane. One idea reminds us of another idea—that is, one idea activates another—the second idea reminds us of a third idea, and so on. The process is similar to what happened when you followed your train of thought from the word horse earlier in the chapter. If the pathway of associations eventually leads us to what we’re trying to remember, we do indeed remember it. If the path takes us in another direction, we’re out of luck. Learners are more likely to remember something later on if, in the process of storing it, they connect it with something else in long‐term memory. Ideally, the new and the old have a logical relationship. To illustrate this idea, let’s return once again to all that mail you routinely get in your mail and e‐mail boxes. Imagine that, on average, you receive five important items—five things you really want to save—each day. That adds up to more than 1,800 items a year. Over the course of 15 years, you would have more than 27,000 important things stashed somewhere in your home, on your computer, or on a flash drive or other back‐up storage device. Imagine that one day you hear that stock in a clothing company (Mod Bod Jeans) has tripled in value. You remember that your wealthy Aunt Agnes bought you some Mod Bod stock for your birthday several years ago, and you presumably decided that the paperwork documenting her purchase was important enough to save. But where in the world did you put it? How easily you find it—in fact, whether you find it at all—depends on how you’ve been storing your mail as you’ve accumulated it. If you’ve been storing it in a logical, organized fashion—for instance, all

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER the bills you’ve paid by regular mail on a closet shelf, all banking and investment paperwork in alphabetical order in a file drawer, and all electronic documents from family and friends in labeled folders on your computer—you should quickly find Aunt Agnes’s gift. But if you simply tossed each day’s mail and e‐mail randomly about, you’ll be searching for a long, long time, possibly without ever finding a trace of the Mod Bod stock. Like a home with 15 years’ worth of mail, long‐term memory contains a great deal of information. And like your search for the Mod Bod purchase, the ease with which information is retrieved from long‐term memory depends somewhat on whether the information has been stored in a logical place—that is, whether it’s connected to related ideas. By making connections to existing knowledge—that is, by engaging in meaningful learning—we’ll know where to look for information when we need it. Otherwise, we may never retrieve it again.

Even when people connect new information to their existing knowledge base, they can’t always find it when they need it. We now look at several factors affecting retrieval from long‐term memory. MULTIPLE CONNECTIONS WITH EXISTING KNOWLEDGE AND A VARIETY OF CONTEXTS Sometimes learners acquire and practice certain behaviors and ways of thinking in a very limited set of environments—say, in their math classes or science labs. When this happens, the learners may associate those behaviors and ways of thinking only with those particular environments and therefore fail to retrieve what they’ve learned when they’re in other contexts. This tendency for some responses and cognitive processes to be associated with and retrieved only in a very limited range of circumstances is known as situated learning or situated cognition (e.g., J. S. Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Robbins & Aydede, 2009). For example, if students associate principles of geometry only with math classes, they may not retrieve those principles at times when geometry would come in handy—say, when trying to determine whether a 10‐inch pizza that costs eight dollars is a better value than an 8‐inch pizza that costs six dollars. In general, learners are more likely to retrieve information when they have many possible pathways to it—in other words, when they’ve associated the information with many other things they know and with many different contexts in which they might use it. Making multiple connections is like using cross‐references in your mail storage system. You may have filed the Mod Bod paperwork in the banking/investments file drawer, but you may also have written its location on notes‐to‐self you’ve put in other places—perhaps with your birth certificate (after all, you received the stock on your birthday) and in a computer folder of family documents and photos (because a family member gave you the stock). By looking in one of these logical places, you’ll discover where to find the Mod Bod documentation. As teachers, we can help students more effectively remember classroom subject matter over the long run if we show how it relates to many other things they already know. For example, we can show them how new material relates to one or more of the following: related to addition) situations. affected historical events) inertia to how passengers are affected when a car quickly turns a sharp corner) Romeo and Juliet and students’ own interpersonal conflicts) writing skills might be used to craft an essay for a college application)

situated learning and cognition

DISTINCTIVENESS Learners are more likely to remember things that are unique in some way—for instance, things that are new, unusual, or a bit bizarre (R. R. Hunt & Worthen, 2006). For example, second graders are more likely to remember a visit to the local firehouse than, say, their teacher’s explanation

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

185 of what a noun is. And when U.S. high school students recall what they’ve learned about events leading up to the American Revolution, they’re more likely to remember the Boston Tea Party—a unique and colorful illustration of colonists’ dissatisfaction with British taxation policies—than, say, the Quartering Act or the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Certainly, learners are more likely to pay attention to distinctive information, increasing the odds that they store it in long‐term memory in the first place. But even when attention and initial learning have been the same, distinctive information is easier to retrieve than dull‐and‐ordinary information (Craik, 2006; Mather & Sutherland, 2011). EMOTIONAL OVERTONES As learners pay attention to and think about new information, their thoughts and memories sometimes become emotionally charged—a phenomenon called hot cognition. For example, learners might get excited when they read about advances in science that could lead to effective treatments for cancer, spinal cord injuries, or mental illness. Or they might feel quite sad when they read about living conditions in certain parts of the world. And they will, we hope, get angry when they learn about atrocities committed against African American slaves in the pre‐Civil War days of the United States or about large‐ scale genocides carried out in more recent times in Europe, Africa, and Asia. When information is emotionally charged in such ways, learners are more likely to pay attention to it, continue to think about it for an extended period, and repeatedly elaborate on it (Bower, 1994; Heuer & Reisberg, 1992; Zeelenberg, Wagenmakers, & Rotteveel, 2006). And over the long run, learners can usually retrieve material with high emotional content more easily than they can recall relatively nonemotional information (LaBar & Phelps, 1998; Phelps & Sharot, 2008; Reisberg & Heuer, 1992).1 It appears that students’ emotional reactions to classroom topics become integral parts of their network of associations in long‐term memory (Bower & Forgas, 2001; Siegel, 2012). Academic subject matter certainly doesn’t need to be dry and emotionless. In addition to presenting subject matter that evokes strong emotions, we can promote hot cognition by revealing our own feelings about a topic. For instance, we might bring in newspaper articles and other outside materials about which we’re excited, or we might share the particular questions and issues about which we ourselves are concerned (Brophy, 2004; R. P. Perry, 1985).


Information and events that evoke strong emotional reactions often remain vivid in memory for quite some time. In this reflection in a class journal, written more than a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, 12‐year‐old Amaryth still has strong feelings about the attacks.

for a topic.

REGULAR PRACTICE As noted earlier, rehearsal—mindlessly repeating information over and over within the course of a few seconds or minutes—is a relatively ineffective way of getting information into long‐term memory. But by “regular practice,” I mean repetition over a lengthy time span: reviewing and using information and skills at periodic intervals over the course of a few weeks, months, or years. When practice is spread out in this manner—ideally in a variety of contexts—people of all ages learn something better and remember it longer (Dempster, 1991; Proctor & Dutta, 1995; Rohrer & Pashler, 2010). When learners continue to practice things they’ve already mastered, they eventually achieve automaticity: They can retrieve what they’ve learned quickly and effortlessly and can use it almost without thinking (J. R. Anderson, 2005; Pashler, Rohrer, Cepeda, & Carpenter, 2007; Proctor & Dutta, 1995). As an example, think of driving a car, a complicated skill that you can probably perform easily. Your first attempts at driving many years ago may have required a great deal of mental effort. But perhaps now you can drive without having to pay much attention to what you’re doing. Even if your car has a standard transmission that frequently requires stepping on a clutch and shifting gears, driving is, for you, an automatic activity. Learning some knowledge and skills to a level of automaticity has a second advantage as well. Remember that working memory has a limited capacity: The active, consciously‐thinking
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hot cognition Learning or cognitive automaticity

Occasionally people may have trouble retrieving highly anxiety-arousing memories. This phenomenon, known as repression, is most likely to occur with traumatic personal events (M. C. Anderson et al., 2004; Erdelyi, 2010; Pezdek & Banks, 1996). It's unlikely to be a factor in the retrieval of classroom subject matter.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER part of the human memory system can handle only so much at a time. When much of its capacity must be used for recalling isolated facts or carrying out simple procedures, little room is left for addressing more complex situations or tasks. One key reason for learning some facts and procedures to the point of automaticity, then, is to free up working memory capacity for complex tasks and problems that require those simpler facts and procedures (De La Paz & McCutchen, 2011; Kalyuga, 2010; Stanovich, 2000). For example, second graders who are reading a story can better focus their efforts on understanding it if they don’t have to sound out words like before and after. High school chemistry students can more easily interpret the expression Na2CO3 (sodium carbonate) if they don’t have to stop to think about what the symbols Na, C, and O represent. Unfortunately, automaticity is achieved in only one way: practice, practice, and more practice. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but it does make knowledge more durable and more easily retrievable. When learners use information and skills frequently, they essentially pave their retrieval pathways—in some cases creating superhighways. This is not to say that we should continually assign drill‐and‐practice exercises involving isolated facts and procedures (e.g., see Figure 6.11). Such activities promote rote (rather than meaningful) learning, are often boring, and are unlikely to convince students of the value of the subject matter (Mac Iver, Reuman, & Main, 1995). A more effective approach is to routinely incorporate basic knowledge and skills into a variety of meaningful and enjoyable activities—problem‐solving tasks, group projects, games, brainteasers, and so on. RELEVANT RETRIEVAL CUES If you were educated in North America, then at one time or another you probably learned the names of the five Great Lakes. Yet at any given moment you may have trouble retrieving all five, even though they’re all still stored somewhere in your long‐term memory. Perhaps Lake Michigan doesn’t come to mind when you retrieve the other four. The HOMES mnemonic presented in Figure 6.8 provides a retrieval cue—a hint about where to “look” in long‐term memory. The mnemonic tells you that one lake begins with the letter M, prompting you to search among the M words you know until (we hope) you find Michigan. Learners are more likely to retrieve information when relevant retrieval cues are present to start their search of long‐term memory in the right direction (e.g., Morris, Bransford, & Franks, 1977; Tulving & Thomson, 1973). Providing retrieval cues is often useful in the classroom, especially when students have trouble recalling information that might help them remember or apply other information. For example, if a student asks what the symbol Au stands for, we might respond by saying “One day we talked about how Au comes from the Latin word aurum. Can you remember what aurum means?” Another example comes from one of my former teacher interns, Jess Jensen. A student in her eighth‐grade history class had been writing about the Battle of New Orleans, which was a decisive victory for the United States in the War of 1812. The following exchange took place: Student: Why was the Battle of New Orleans important? Jess: Look at the map. Where is New Orleans? [The student finds New Orleans.] Jess: Why is it important? Student: Oh! It’s near the mouth of the Mississippi. It was important for controlling transportation up and down the river. In the early grades, teachers typically provide many retrieval cues for their students; for instance, they remind students about tasks they need to do at certain times (“I hear the fire alarm. Remember, we must all walk quietly during a fire drill”). But as students grow older, they must develop greater independence, relying more on themselves and less on their teachers for the things they need to remember. At all grade levels we can teach students ways of providing retrieval cues for themselves. For example, if we expect first graders to get a permission slip signed, we might ask them to write a reminder on a piece of masking tape that they put on their jacket or backpack. If we give junior high school students a major assignment due in several weeks, we might suggest that they tape a note with the due date to their bedside table or add an appropriate

FIGURE 6.11 Occasional rote practice of numerals and letters can be helpful in promoting automaticity, but too much conveys the message that learning basic skills is boring and tedious. Here 5‐year‐old Gunnar has practiced writing numerals 1 through 9. Notice that he got practice in writing 9 backward!

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retrieval cue a piece of information in long‐term

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

187 reminder to their cell phone calendar. One tenth grader developed several effective retrieval cues, each appropriate for certain situations: Homework is written down in my agenda book. If it is something to do when I get home, I will write it on my hand. If I have something to do in the next few days, I write it on a note card in my wallet, and whenever I go to get money, I will think to do it. WAIT TIME Wait time is the length of time a teacher allows to pass after the teacher or a student says something before the teacher says something else. In many classrooms, wait time is insufficient for most students to retrieve information that might be relevant to a teacher’s or classmate’s question or comment. For instance, when teachers ask students a question, many wait for only a very short time—perhaps a second or less—and if they don’t get a response, they ask another student the same question, rephrase the question, or answer the question themselves. Many teachers are equally reluctant to let much time elapse after students answer questions or make comments in class; on average, teachers allow one second or less of silence before responding to a statement or asking another question (Jegede & Olajide, 1995; M. B. Rowe, 1974, 1987). Students benefit tremendously simply from being given a little time to think. When teachers instead allow at least three seconds of wait time, more students participate in class—this is especially true for females and minority‐group members—and students begin to respond to one another’s comments and questions. In addition, students are more likely to support their reasoning with evidence or logic and more likely to speculate when they don’t know an answer. Furthermore, they’re more motivated to learn classroom subject matter, thereby increasing actual learning and decreasing behavior problems. Such changes are due, in part, to the fact that with increased wait time, teachers’ behaviors change as well. Teachers ask fewer simple questions (e.g., those requiring recall of facts) and more thought‐provoking ones (e.g., those requiring elaboration). They also modify the direction of discussion to accommodate students’ comments and questions, and they allow their classes to pursue a topic in greater depth than they had originally anticipated. Moreover, their expectations for many students, especially low‐achieving ones, begin to improve (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Giaconia, 1988; M. B. Rowe, 1974, 1987; Tharp, 1989; Tobin, 1987). When our objective is simple recall—when students need to retrieve classroom material very quickly, to “know it cold”—then wait time should be short. Students may sometimes benefit from rapid‐fire drill and practice to learn information and skills to automaticity. But when our instructional goals include more complex processing of ideas and issues, a longer wait time may give both our students and us the time needed to think things through.

Fortunately, people don’t need to remember everything they’ve stored. For instance, you may have no reason to remember the Internet address of a website you looked at yesterday, the plot of last week’s episode of a certain television show, or the due date of an assignment you turned in last semester. Much of the information learners encounter is, like junk mail, not worth keeping, and forgetting it enables learners to get rid of needless clutter (Schacter, 1999). But sometimes learners have trouble recalling what they do need to remember. Here we look at several possible explanations for why students may sometimes forget important information. FAILURE TO STORE OR CONSOLIDATE INFORMATION IN LONG‐TERM MEMORY As we’ve seen, a great deal of the information students encounter never reaches long‐term memory. Perhaps students didn’t pay attention in the first place, so the information never went beyond the sensory register. Or perhaps after attending to it, students didn’t continue to process it, so it went no further than working memory. Even when information does reach long‐term memory, it needs some time to “firm up” in the brain—a process called consolidation. A good night’s sleep after learning something new seems to facilitate this process (see the earlier Applying Brain Research feature). And an event

wait time Length of time a teacher

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER that interferes with consolidation—such as a serious brain injury—may cause a student to forget things that happened several seconds, minutes, hours, or even longer prior to the event (Bauer, DeBoer, & Lukowski, 2007; Wixted, 2005). DECAY Historically, many psychologists believed that once information is stored in long‐term memory, it remains there permanently in some form (Loftus & Loftus, 1980). More recently, however, some psychologists have come to the conclusion that information can slowly weaken and eventually disappear—that is, it can decay—especially if it isn’t used regularly (e.g., Altmann & Gray, 2002; Brainerd & Reyna, 2005; Schacter, 1999). INSUFFICIENT SEARCH OF LONG‐TERM MEMORY A man at the supermarket looks familiar, but you can’t remember who he is or where you met him. He smiles at you and says, “Nice to see you again.” Gulp! You desperately search your long‐ term memory for his name, but you’ve clearly forgotten who he is. A few days later you have a bowl of chili for dinner. The chili reminds you of the Chili for Charity supper at which you worked a few months back. Of course! You and the man at the supermarket had stood side by side serving chili to hundreds of people that night. Oh yes, you now recall, his name is Melville Herman. Like you, students often have retrieval difficulties: They simply can’t find something that’s actually in long‐term memory (e.g., Schacter, 1999). Sometimes they may stumble on the information later, while looking for something else. But at other times they never do retrieve it, perhaps because they’ve learned it by rote or don’t have sufficient retrieval cues to guide their memory search. INTERFERENCE Sometimes people can easily retrieve things they’ve learned but don’t know what goes with what. To experience this phenomenon yourself, try the following exercise.

Following are six more Mandarin Chinese words and their English meanings (for simplicity I’ve omitted the pronunciation marks over the words). Read the words two or three times, and try to store them in your long‐term memory. But don’t do anything special to learn the words—for instance, don’t intentionally develop mnemonics to help you remember them. Chinese jung ting sung peng ching deng English middle listen deliver friend please wait

Now cover up the list of words and test yourself. What is the Chinese word for friend? For please? For listen? For wait?



Did you find yourself getting confused, perhaps forgetting which English meaning went with each Chinese word? If you did, you were the victim of interference. The various pieces of information you stored in memory were interfering with one another—essentially, they were getting mixed up in your head. Interference is especially likely to occur when items are similar to one another and when they’re learned in a rote rather than meaningful or mnemonic‐based fashion (Dempster, 1985; Healey, Campbell, Hasher, & Ossher, 2010; Lustig, Konkel, & Jacoby, 2004). Interference was probably at work when Kanesha struggled to remember tibia and fibula—two similar‐sounding bones in the lower leg—in the opening case study.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

RECONSTRUCTION ERROR Have you and a friend ever remembered the same event quite differently, even though the two of you were equally active participants at the time? Were you and your friend both certain of the accuracy of your own memories and convinced that the other person remembered incorrectly? Constructive processes in retrieval might explain this difference of opinion. Retrieval isn’t necessarily an all‐or‐nothing phenomenon. Sometimes learners retrieve part of the information they’re seeking but can’t recall the rest. They may logically but incorrectly fill in the gaps using their general knowledge and assumptions about the world—a form of forgetting called reconstruction error (Levstik, 2011; Roediger & McDermott, 2000; Schacter, 1999). If certain details are important to remember, then, we must help students study and learn them in a memorable fashion. All of these explanations of forgetting underscore the importance of instructional strategies presented earlier: We must make sure students are paying attention, help them relate new material to things they already know, and give them frequent opportunities to review, practice, and apply the material.

Diversity in Cognitive Processes
Children and adolescents differ considerably in the various factors that influence their ability to learn and remember in the classroom—attention, long‐term memory storage processes, knowledge base, and so on. For example, on average, girls have a slight edge over boys in keeping their attention focused on classroom activities and in performing certain kinds of memory tasks, such as remembering lists and specific life events (Das, Naglieri, & Kirby, 1994; Halpern, 2006; Halpern & LaMay, 2000). And students of both genders vary in their general ability to think about, encode, and respond to new events and ideas quickly and easily (Coyle, Pillow, Snyder, & Kochunov, 2011; Danthiir, Roberts, Schulze, & Wilhelm, 2005; Demetriou, Christou, Spanoudis, & Platsidou, 2002). Some of this variability is the result of differences in working memory capacity. Students with a smaller overall capacity can have trouble remembering instructions, tackling complex problems, and staying on task; they’re also more likely than their classmates to make careless mistakes and monitor the quality of their work (Alloway, Gathercole, Kirkwood, & Elliott, 2009; Gathercole, Lamont, & Alloway, 2006). Working memory difficulties are especially common in children who have grown up in chronically stressful living conditions, often as a result of living in extreme poverty (G. W. Evans & Schamberg, 2009; Noble, McCandless, & Farah, 2007). Another important source of diversity in cognitive processing is cultural background. Different cultures foster somewhat different ways of looking at physical and social events— different worldviews—that influence how students interpret classroom subject matter. For example, students whose cultures have taught them to strive to live in harmony with their natural environment may struggle with a science curriculum that urges them to change their environment in some way (Atran, Medin, & Ross, 2005; Medin, 2005). And whereas students of European ancestry are apt to view the Europeans’ migration to North America in the 1600s and 1700s as a process of settlement, students with Native American backgrounds might instead view it as increasing invasion (Banks, 1991; VanSledright & Brophy, 1992). Children’s varying cultural backgrounds may also have prepared them to handle different kinds of learning environments and tasks. For instance, African American and Hispanic students are more likely than European American students to be comfortable in environments in which several activities are going on at once and can more easily shift their attention from one activity to another (Correa‐Chávez, Rogoff, & Mejía Arauz, 2005; Tyler et al., 2008). Students from North American, East Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures are apt to have had experience rote‐ memorizing specific facts and written materials (perhaps in the form of multiplication tables, poems, or religious teachings), whereas students from certain cultures in Africa, Australia, and Central America may have been encouraged to remember oral histories or particular landmarks in the local terrain (Purdie & Hattie, 1996; Rogoff, 2001, 2003; Rogoff et al., 2007; Q. Wang & Ross, 2007). The importance of wait time depends partly on students’ cultural backgrounds as well. For example, some Native American students may wait several seconds before responding to a

current events.

reconstruction error Construction

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER question as a way of showing respect for an adult (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Gilliland, 1988). And English language learners—students who have grown up in a non‐English‐speaking environment and are still developing their proficiency in English—are apt to require more mental translation time than their native‐English‐speaking peers (Igoa, 2007). To maximize each student’s learning and achievement in the classroom, we must take such individual and group differences into account. For example, we should be especially careful to engage the interest of—and also minimize distractions for—those students whose attention easily wanders. In addition, in our attempts to promote meaningful learning and other effective storage processes, we should relate classroom subject matter to the diverse background experiences that students have had. And we must allow sufficient wait time after questions and comments so that all students can actively think about and elaborate on topics of discussion.

Some diversity in learning and cognitive processes is the result of certain disabilities, on the one hand, or giftedness, on the other. For example, some students with disabilities have particular trouble attending to and effectively processing classroom subject matter. This is certainly true for students with learning disabilities (who, by definition, have deficits in certain cognitive processes), and it’s often true for students with attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and general intellectual disabilities as well. In contrast, many children with autism spectrum disorders can be very attentive, sometimes to the point that they have trouble shifting to new tasks. And on average, gifted students have a longer attention span and can process new ideas more rapidly and elaboratively than many of their classmates. Table 6.5 identifies commonly observed cognitive processing differences in students who have special educational needs. As teachers, we must keep in mind that students with disabilities almost invariably have strengths as well as weaknesses. For example, some students with FIGURE 6.12 In a science activity in his ADHD have a keen memory for events they’ve personally experienced and may third‐grade class, 9‐year‐old Nicholas generate more detailed narratives than their nondisabled classmates (Skowronek, copied the scientific principle “No two Leichtman, & Pillemer, 2008). And some students with autism spectrum dispieces of matter can occupy the same orders notice and remember many subtle nuances in the things they see and may space at the same time” onto a sheet of produce highly detailed and skillful drawings that are unusual for their age‐group paper. He and a lab partner then filled (I. L. Cohen, 2007; S. Moran & Gardner, 2006). a cup with water and dropped, one at The far‐right column of Table 6.5 presents many useful strategies for a time, more than a dozen small metal working with students who have special educational needs. The first of these— cubes into the cup. Here Nick recorded analyzing students’ errors for clues about possible processing difficulties—is his observations with both words and illustrated in 9‐year‐old Nicholas’s lab report in Figure 6.12. Nick’s description a drawing. of what he observed can be translated as “We poured so many cubes [that] the cup overflowed. The blocks took up all the room.” We can only speculate about why Nick wrote up the left side of the glass, across the top, and then down the other side. One possible explanation is that, with his limited language skills, Nick hadn’t yet mastered the conventional direction of written English. This hypothesis seems unlikely, however, as other samples of Nick’s writing (not shown here) correctly begin at the top of the page and proceed downward. Another possibility is that Nick was thinking about the direction of the water flow (up and out) as he wrote and either intentionally or unintentionally followed the water’s direction in his writing. His limited working memory capacity may have been a factor here: Perhaps he had insufficient mental “room” to think simultaneously about his observations plus the spellings of words and conventions of written English. Virtually all students occasionally have difficulty learning or remembering class material. Accordingly, many of the instructional strategies in Table 6.5 need not be limited to use with students with special needs. All students can benefit from guidance and support that enable them to process information more effectively.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Facilitating Cognitive Processing in Students with Special Educational Needs
Students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties




Students with social or behavioral problems

personal interests.

Students with general delays in cognitive and social functioning

Students with physical or sensory challenges

Students with advanced cognitive development

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Sources: Barkley, 2006; Beirne‐Smith, Patton, & Kim, 2006; Bulgren, Schumaker, & Deshler, 1994; Cattani, Clibbens, & Perfect, 2007; B. Clark, 1997; Courchesne et al., 1994; Fletcher, Lyon, Fuchs, & Barnes, 2007; Gathercole et al., 2006; Geary, Hoard, Byrd‐Craven, Nugent, & Numtee, 2007; Grandin & Johnson, 2005; N. Gregg, 2009; Heward, 2009; J. Johnson, Im‐Bolter, & Pascual‐Leone, 2003; G. R. Lyon & Krasnegor, 1996; Meltzer, 2007; Mercer & Pullen, 2005; S. Moran & Gardner, 2006; Piirto, 1999; M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007; Rabinowitz & Glaser, 1985; Skowronek, Leichtman, & Pillemer, 2008; H. L. Swanson, 1998; Turnbull, Turnbull, & Wehmeyer, 2010.

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



6 What Have You Learned?
As a way of summing up our discussion of learning and cognitive processes in this chapter, we now return to the chapter’s learning outcomes. ■ 6.1: Distinguish among four distinct approaches to the study of human learning, and summarize one of these approaches— cognitive psychology—in terms of five basic assumptions. In general, learning is a long‐term change in mental representations or associations as a result of experience. Over the past century, psychologists have offered a variety of perspectives on human learning, many of which fall into one of four general categories: behaviorism, social cognitive theory, cognitive psychology, and contextual theories. As teachers, we can be most effective when we’re theoretically eclectic—that is, when we draw from all of these perspectives to maximally facilitate students’ learning and achievement. Cognitive psychologists propose that the things learners do mentally with new subject matter determine how effectively they learn and remember it. Learners’ cognitive processes can often be inferred from overt behaviors—for instance, from the ways in which learners recall information they’ve previously encountered. Learners must be selective about the information they process in any depth, and they use the information they’ve focused on to construct their own, somewhat idiosyncratic understandings of physical and social phenomena. To some degree, the sophistication and effectiveness of learners’ cognitive processes depends on brain maturation over the course of childhood and adolescence.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

organized, often as concepts that are, in turn, integrated into more general schemas, scripts, and theories. To effectively acquire the kinds of declarative knowledge the school curriculum encompasses, learners should ideally engage in meaningful learning, perhaps by elaborating on or organizing new information or perhaps by engaging in visual imagery. In some cases, acquiring procedural knowledge involves learning and refining various physical behaviors; in other cases, it involves gradually converting declarative knowledge into either physical or mental actions. How effectively learners store new information and skills depends, in part, on how much they already know about the topic at hand. In the absence of relevant prior knowledge, mnemonics can enhance learners’ memory for things that are important for them to remember.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 6.2: Describe and illustrate the key components that many researchers believe may characterize the human memory system. Many cognitive theorists propose that human memory has three components. The sensory register provides temporary storage for incoming information, holding new input for two or three seconds at most. By paying attention to information, learners move it to working memory, where they actively think about and make sense of it. Attention and working memory have a limited capacity; hence, students can pay attention to and think about only a small amount of information at any one time. Furthermore, information stored in working memory has a short duration (typically less than half a minute) and so must be processed further to promote storage in long‐term memory. Long‐term memory has an extremely large capacity and an indefinitely long duration. This particular model of memory has its flaws—for example, some brain research indicates that working memory and long‐term memory aren’t as distinctly different as the model suggests—but it can help us remember many aspects of learning and memory that we should take into account when designing and delivering instruction.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 6.4: Explain how students’ self‐constructed beliefs can sometimes interfere with effective learning, and identify several ways of helping students productively revise such beliefs. Although meaningful learning is usually beneficial, it can occasionally lead students to misinterpret classroom material, especially if they have currently erroneous or only‐partly‐correct beliefs about the topic or phenomenon they’re studying. Some misconceptions may persist despite lessons and activities that present information to the contrary, in part because students are cognitively and emotionally predisposed to confirm (rather than discredit) what they currently believe and in part because students’ current beliefs may be integrated into cohesive theories that can’t easily be unraveled and revised. As teachers, we’re more likely to promote conceptual change when we determine what misconceptions students have before instruction begins, build on kernels of truth in students’ existing understandings, convince students that revision is both warranted and within their grasp, and monitor what students say and write for especially persistent misunderstandings.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 6.3: Apply your knowledge of long‐term memory storage in identifying effective strategies for enhancing students’ learning. Long‐term memory contains both information (declarative knowledge) and skills (procedural knowledge). A good deal of it is

■ 6.5: Describe six different factors that influence students’ ability to recall what they have previously learned; also describe five possible reasons why students may either forget or incorrectly remember what they have learned. Retrieving information from long‐term memory appears to be a process of following pathways of associations. In general, classroom subject matter is more memorable if it has elements that are emotionally laden or in some other way unique and distinctive. Furthermore, students are more likely to be successful in recalling what they’ve learned if they’ve connected it with numerous other things they know, if they’ve used it frequently (and perhaps learned it to automaticity), if their environment provides retrieval cues that send them down the right memory “path,” and if they’re given sufficient wait time to conduct a successful long‐term memory search. Even under the best of circumstances, however, students sometimes forget or misremember what they’ve studied, perhaps as a result of insufficient consolidation, lack of use (resulting

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

193 in gradual decay), restricted memory search, interference from competing memories, or reconstruction error.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

■ 6.6: Give examples of the diversity in cognitive processes you are likely to see in students, in some cases as a result of their cultural background or special educational needs. Many components of the human memory system—attention span, working memory capacity, prior knowledge, and so on—can vary significantly from one student to another, and as a result students have varying abilities to learn and remember classroom subject matter. Students’ cognitive processes differ, in part, as a function of their cultural worldviews, the kinds of learning tasks and environments

to which they’re accustomed, and their proficiency with the language in which instruction is being conducted. In addition, some diversity may be the result of certain disabilities. For example, students with attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder have difficulty keeping their attention on any single task for lengthy periods, whereas some students with autism spectrum disorders may have trouble shifting their attention to new tasks. Yet at one time or another, all students are likely to have trouble understanding and mastering particular topics. By identifying and facilitating cognitive processes that are most likely to lead to effective learning, teachers can better help all students achieve classroom success.
Evaluate and apply your knowledge related to this learning . outcome in

Practice For Your Licensure Exam
Vision Unit
Ms. Kontos is teaching a unit on human vision to her fifth‐ grade class. She shows her students a diagram of the various parts of the human eye: lens, cornea, retina, and so on. She then explains that people can see objects because light A from the sun or another light source bounces off those objects and into their eyes. To illustrate this idea, she shows them Picture A. “Do you all understand how our eyes work?” she asks. Her students nod that they do. The next day Ms. Kontos gives her students Picture B. She asks students to draw one or more arrows on the picture to show how light enables B the child to see the tree. More than half of the students draw arrows something like the one shown in Picture C.
1. Constructed‐response question:

Obviously, most of Ms. Kontos’s students have not learned what she thought she had taught them about human vision. A. Explain why many students believe the opposite of what Ms. Kontos has taught them. Base your response on contemporary principles and theories of learning and cognition. B. Describe two different ways in which you might improve on this lesson to help students gain a more accurate understanding of human vision. Base your strategies on contemporary principles and theories of learning and cognition.
2. Multiple‐choice question:

Many elementary school children think of human vision in the way that Ms. Kontos’s fifth graders do—that is, as a process that originates in the eye and goes outward toward objects that are seen. When students revise their thinking to be more consistent with commonly accepted scientific explanations, they are said to be a. b. c. d acquiring a new script revising their worldview undergoing conceptual change acquiring procedural knowledge

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Source: Case based on a study by J. F. Eaton, Anderson, & Smith, 1984.



Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Complex Cognitive Processes

7.1: Explain how learners’ metacognitive knowledge and skills influence their learning and academic achievement; also explain how you can promote metacognitive development in your own students. Describe various forms that transfer might take and the conditions in which transfer is most likely to occur, and apply research findings about transfer to your classroom practices. 7.3: Describe four general factors that influence problem‐solving performance; also describe teaching strategies you can use to help students successfully solve both well‐defined and ill‐defined problems. Identify several instructional strategies that can encourage students to think creatively as they tackle new tasks and problems.



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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Describe several different forms that critical thinking can take, and explain how you can help students critically evaluate what they see, hear, and read both inside and outside the classroom.


Give examples of diversity you might see in creativity, critical thinking, and other complex thinking processes as a result of students’ cultural backgrounds, disabilities, or advanced cognitive development.

When an eighth‐grade math teacher goes on maternity leave in March, substitute teacher Ms. Gaunt takes over her classes. In accordance with Massachusetts state standards, the students are expected to master numerous mathematical concepts and procedures, including working with exponents and irrational numbers, graphing linear equations, and applying the Pythagorean theorem. But many of the students haven’t yet mastered more basic concepts and operations, such as percentages, negative numbers, and long division. A few haven’t even learned such number facts as 6 x 3 = 18 and 7 x 8 = 56. Before long, Ms. Gaunt discovers that many students have beliefs and attitudes that also impede their learning progress. For instance, some think that a teacher’s job is to present material in such a way that they “get it” immediately and will remember it forever. Thus they neither work hard to understand the material nor take notes during classroom explanations. And most students are concerned only with getting the right answer as quickly as possible. They depend on calculators to do their mathematical thinking for them and complain when Ms. Gaunt insists that they solve a problem with pencil and paper rather than a calculator. Students rarely check to see whether their solutions make logical sense. For instance, in a problem such as Louis can type 35 words a minute. He needs to type a final copy of his English composition, which is 4,200 words long. How long will it take Louis to type his paper? a student might submit an answer of 147,000 minutes—an answer that translates into more than 100 days of around‐the‐clock typing—and not give the outlandishness of the solution a second thought. (It would actually take two hours to type the paper.) In mid‐April, Ms. Gaunt begins moving through lessons more rapidly so that she can cover the mandated eighth‐grade math curriculum before the upcoming statewide math competency exam. “Students can’t do well on the exam if they haven’t even been exposed to some of the required concepts and procedures,” she reasons. “Mastery probably isn’t possible at this point, but I should at least present what students need to know. Maybe this will help a few of them with some of the test items.”

curriculum? Can you identify at least three different factors that appear to be interfering with students’ learning?
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Source: Case used courtesy of a friend who wishes to be anonymous; “Ms. Gaunt” is a pseudonym.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER One factor, of course, is students’ lack of prerequisite knowledge and skills on which the eighth‐grade curriculum depends. For instance, if students haven’t learned basic number facts—let alone achieved automaticity for them—even fairly simple word problems may exceed their working memory capacity. But students’ beliefs about learning and problem solving are also coming into play. In their minds, learning should come quickly and easily if the teacher does her job. They seem not to understand that understanding classroom subject matter is an active, constructive process involving considerable effort on their part and that certain strategies (e.g., taking notes) can enhance their learning. And they view mathematical problem solving as a quick, mindless enterprise that involves plugging numbers into a calculator and writing down the result, rather than a step‐by‐ step process that requires logical reasoning and frequent self‐checking. Study skills and problem solving are examples of complex cognitive processes, processes in which learners go far beyond the specific information they’re studying, perhaps to apply it to a new situation, use it to solve a problem or create a product, or critically evaluate it. Mastering basic facts and skills is important, to be sure. But learners gain little if they can’t also do something with what they’ve learned. In this chapter we’ll look at a variety of complex cognitive processes, including transfer, problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. But we’ll begin with a particular set of complex processes that in one way or another influence all of the others: metacognition.

Metacognition and Learning Strategies
Effective Learning Strategies Factors Affecting Strategy Use Diversity, Disabilities, and Exceptional Abilities in Metacognition

Factors Affecting Transfer

Problem Solving
Problem Encoding Problem‐Solving Strategies: Algorithms and Heuristics Working Memory and Problem Solving Metacognition in Problem Solving Using Computer Technology to Teach Problem‐Solving Skills

Fostering Creativity

Critical Thinking
Fostering Critical Thinking

Diversity in Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Other Complex Cognitive Processes
Accommodating Students with Special Needs

Metacognition and Learning Strategies
The term metacognition literally means “thinking about thinking.” It encompasses knowledge and beliefs about the general nature of human cognitive processes, reflection on one’s own cognitive processes, and intentional engagement in behaviors and thought processes that enhance learning and memory. For example, you’ve undoubtedly learned by now that you can acquire only so much information so fast—you can’t possibly absorb the contents of an entire textbook in an hour. You’ve also discovered that you can learn information more quickly and recall it more easily if you put it into some sort of organizational framework. Perhaps, too, you’ve learned that you need to periodically check yourself to make sure you remember and understand what you’ve read. The more learners know about thinking and learning—that is, the greater their metacognitive awareness—the better their learning and achievement is likely to be (B. Hofer & Pintrich, 2002; Schneider, 2010). Furthermore, students who have a more advanced understanding of learning and thinking—for instance, students who realize that one’s knowledge of a topic continues to evolve over time— are more likely to undergo conceptual change when it’s warranted (Mason, 2010; Sinatra & Pintrich, 2003). As children grow older, they become increasingly aware of their own thinking and learning processes and increasingly realistic about what they can learn and remember in a given time period (see Table 7.1). With this growing self‐awareness come more sophisticated study strategies. Truly effective strategies emerge quite slowly, however, especially if young learners don’t get guidance from teachers, parents, or other adults about how to study and learn (J. E. Barnett, 2001; Schneider, 2010; Schommer, 1994a; Veenman, 2011).

complex cognitive processes


learning strategy

An important component of metacognition is controlling one’s own thinking and learning to some degree. Thanks, in part, to maturational changes in the brain, children and adolescents gradually become more capable of controlling and directing their cognitive processes in their efforts to learn something new (Eigsti et al., 2006; Kuhn & Franklin, 2006). When learners intentionally use a certain approach to learning and remembering something, they’re using a learning strategy.
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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Metacognition at Different Grade Levels




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Sources: Andre & Windschitl, 2003; Astington & Pelletier, 1996; J. E. Barnett, 2001; Bendixen & Feucht, 2010; Buehl & Alexander, 2006; Chandler, Hallett, & Sokol, 2002; Elder, 2002; Flavell, Friedrichs, & Hoyt, 1970; Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 2002; Hatano & Inagaki, 2003; Hewitt, Brett, Scardamalia, Frecker, & Webb, 1995, p. 7 (migration example); P. M. King & Kitchener, 2002; Ku, Chan, Wu, & Chen, 2008; Kuhn, 2009; Kuhn, Garcia‐Mila, Zohar, & Andersen, 1995; Kuhn & Park, 2005; Kuhn & Weinstock, 2002; Lovett & Flavell, 1990; McCrudden & Schraw, 2007; Meltzer, Pollica, & Barzillai, 2007; Muis, Bendixen, & Haerle, 2006; P. A. Ornstein, Grammer, & Coffman, 2010; Schneider, 2010; Schommer, 1994a, 1997; Short, Schatschneider, & Friebert, 1993; J. W. Thomas, 1993a; vanSledright & Limón, 2006; Wellman, 1985, 1990; J. P. Williams, Stafford, Lauer, Hall, & Pollini, 2009.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Information processing theorists have described several processes that may facilitate long‐term memory storage, including rehearsal, elaboration, organization, and visual imagery. As children grow older, they increasingly discover the benefits of these processes and use them more frequently (P. A. Ornstein, Grammer, & Coffman, 2010; Pressley & Hilden, 2006). Children gradually acquire additional strategies as well. For example, consider the simple idea that you need to devote more study time to more difficult material; children don’t use this seemingly obvious strategy until the fourth or fifth grade (Schneider, 2010). With age and experience, children also become more aware of which strategies are effective in different situations. Even so, many students of all ages (college students included!) seem relatively uninformed about effective learning strategies (Lovett & Flavell, 1990; Schneider, 2010; Schommer, 1994a; Short, Schatschneider, & Friebert, 1993). Some learning strategies are overt strategies; in other words, they’re behaviors we can actually see. Others, such as elaborating and forming visual images, are covert strategies; they’re internal mental processes we often can’t see (Kardash & Amlund, 1991). OVERT STRATEGIES To some degree, successful learning and classroom achievement are the result of certain behaviors, such as asking questions in times of confusion, keeping a calendar for assignments and due dates, devoting part of every evening to schoolwork, and so on. One especially effective overt strategy is writing about classroom subject matter (Bangert‐Drowns, Hurley, & Wilkinson, 2004; P. D. Klein, 1999; Shanahan, 2004). Here we look at research on two writing‐based learning strategies: taking notes and creating summaries. Taking notes By the time students reach the upper elementary or middle school grades, note‐ taking skills begin to play a role in their classroom achievement. In general, students who take more notes learn and remember classroom subject matter better. However, the quality of the notes is equally important. Useful notes typically reflect the main ideas of a lesson or reading assignment (A. L. Brown, Campione, & Day, 1981; Kiewra, 1985, 1989; J. Lee & Shute, 2010). Despite the advantages of note taking, many young adolescents take few or no class notes unless specifically instructed to take them (recall the infrequent note taking in Ms. Gaunt’s eighth‐grade math class). And the notes they do take differ considerably in quality. For example, Figure 7.1 shows

overt strategy

covert strategy

FIGURE 7.1 Two students’ class notes on King Midas, taken in a seventh‐grade language arts unit on Greek mythology

ISBN 1-256-96292-9 Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

199 the notes that two students took about King Midas in a Greek mythology unit in their seventh‐grade language arts class. The notes on the left provide a good overall synopsis of the King Midas story and might reasonably help the student remember the story fairly accurately. In contrast, the notes on the right are probably too brief and disjointed to be useful. Especially when students are first learning how to take notes in class, we should scaffold their efforts by giving them an idea about which things are most important to include (Meltzer, Pollica, & Barzillai, 2007; Pressley, Yokoi, van Meter, Van Etten, & Freebern, 1997). One approach is to provide a specific structure to use, such as the one shown in Figure 7.1. Another strategy, especially if students are novice note takers, is to occasionally check their notebooks for accuracy and appropriate emphasis and give constructive feedback. Creating summaries Research consistently indicates that writing a summary of material being studied can enhance learning and memory (A. King, 1992; R. E. Mayer, 2010b; Wade‐Stein & Kintsch, 2004). Creating a good summary is a fairly complex process, however. At a minimum it includes distinguishing between important and unimportant information, synthesizing details into more general ideas, and identifying critical interrelationships. It’s not surprising, then, that even many high school students have trouble writing a good summary (Hidi & Anderson, 1986). Probably the best way of helping students acquire this strategy is to ask them frequently to summarize what they hear and read (e.g., see Figure 7.2). Initially we should scaffold the process for them—for example, by providing compare–contrast tables they can fill in as they read or having them develop summaries in collaboration with peers (Spörer & Brunstein, 2009; J. P. Williams, Stafford, Lauer, Hall, & Pollini, 2009). Computer software is also available to scaffold the summarizing process (e.g., Wade‐Stein & Kintsch, 2004). COVERT STRATEGIES Students’ overt strategies—allocating time for studying, taking notes, summarizing, and so on—are probably valuable only to the extent that effective cognitive processes, or covert strategies, underlie them (Kardash & Amlund, 1991). For example, high‐achieving students tend to benefit more from note taking than low‐achieving students, perhaps because the high‐achieving students are more likely to elaborate on and organize what they’re learning as they take notes (Kiewra, Benton, & Lewis, 1987; Ku, Chan, Wu, & Chen, 2008). In addition to engaging in meaningful learning processes (e.g., elaboration, organization), two covert strategies that may be especially critical for effective classroom learning and achievement are (1) accurately identifying important information and (2) regularly self‐monitoring learning.

FIGURE 7.2 Eight‐year‐old Neville summarizes a lesson about glaciers

Identifying important information The human memory system isn’t set up to remember all the information a typical classroom curriculum presents; thus, students must be selective when studying classroom material. The things they choose to study—whether main ideas and essential supporting details or, instead, isolated facts and trivia—inevitably affect their learning and school achievement (Dee‐Lucas & Larkin, 1991; J. A. Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991; R. E. Reynolds & Shirey, 1988). Students often have trouble identifying the most important information in a lesson or reading assignment, especially when they don’t know very much about the topic. Many use relatively superficial strategies in choosing what to focus on—for instance, zeroing in on definitions and formulas, taking notes only on things their teacher writes on the board, or reading only the first sentence of each paragraph of a textbook—and miss critical ideas as a result. As teachers, we can, of course, simply tell students exactly what they should study. But we can also highlight important ideas through more subtle means: Provide a list of learning objectives for a lesson. Write key concepts and relationships on the board. Ask questions that focus students’ attention on central ideas. Students—low‐achieving ones especially—are more likely to learn the essential points of a lesson when such prompts are provided for them (Kiewra, 1989; McCrudden & Schraw, 2007;

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER R. E. Reynolds & Shirey, 1988; Schraw, Wade, & Kardash, 1993). As students become better able to distinguish between important and unimportant information on their own, we can gradually phase out our guidance. Regularly monitoring learning One powerful learning strategy is comprehension monitoring, a process of periodically checking oneself for recall and understanding. How well do you monitor your comprehension? The following exercise can help you find out.

comprehension monitoring

illusion of knowing not self‐explanation

Stop for a minute and ask yourself this question:


What have I learned from the last five pages of this book? Quickly jot down what you can recall.

Now go back and look at the five pages preceding this one. Do the notes you’ve just written include all of the major points? Is there something you thought you understood but realize now that you don’t? Is there something you never learned at all—perhaps something you were supposedly “reading” when your mind was someplace altogether different? Successful learners continually monitor their comprehension both while they study something and at some point after they’ve studied it (Hacker, Dunlosky, & Graesser, 2009b). Furthermore, when they realize they don’t understand, they take steps to correct the situation, perhaps by rereading a section of a textbook or asking a question in class. In contrast, low achievers rarely check themselves or take appropriate action when they don’t comprehend something. For example, they’re unlikely to reread paragraphs they haven’t understood the first time around (L. Baker & Brown, 1984; Haller, Child, & Walberg, 1988; Veenman, 2011). Many children and adolescents engage in little or no comprehension monitoring (J. A. Dole et al., 1991; McKeown & Beck, 2009; Nokes & Dole, 2004). When they don’t monitor their learning and comprehension, they don’t know what they know and what they don’t know; consequently, they may think they’ve mastered something when they really haven’t. Although this illusion of knowing is especially common in young children, it’s seen in learners at all levels, even college students. As paper‐and‐pencil exams become increasingly prevalent at upper grade levels, an illusion of knowing can lead students to overestimate how well they’ll perform on these assessments (Hacker, Bol, Horgan, & Rakow, 2000; Stone, 2000; Zimmerman & Moylan, 2009). My own students occasionally come to me expressing frustration with low test scores. “I knew the material so well!” they tell me. But when we begin to talk about the exam material, it usually becomes clear that they have only vague understandings of some ideas and incorrect understandings of others. Comprehension monitoring doesn’t have to be a solitary activity, of course. If students work in small study groups, they can easily test one another on classroom material and may detect gaps or misconceptions in one another’s understandings (Dunning, Heath, & Suls, 2004; Hacker, 1998; Vaughn et al., 2011). Ideally, the questions they ask one another should encourage them to elaborate on rather than simply recall what they’re studying. For example, we might teach them to ask questions beginning with such phrases as Explain why, What do you think would happen if, and What is the difference between (A. King, 1992, p. 309). Yet to be truly effective learners, students must ultimately learn how to test themselves as well. One effective strategy is self‐explanation, in which students frequently stop to explain to themselves what they’re studying (Berthold & Renkl, 2009; Fonseca & Chi, 2011; McNamara & Magliano, 2009). Another, similar approach is self‐questioning, in which students periodically stop to ask themselves questions—essentially internalizing the mutual question‐asking process they’ve previously used in small‐group study sessions (Dunning et al., 2004; Martínez, Bannan‐ Ritland, Kitsantas, & Baek, 2008; Wong, 1985). Their self‐questions should, of course, include not only simple, fact‐based questions but also elaborative ones.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


As we’ve seen, students become increasingly capable of using effective learning strategies as they grow older, in part because they can better control and direct their cognitive processes. With age, too, comes an ever‐expanding knowledge base that supports students’ efforts to engage in elaboration, identify important information, and effectively monitor their comprehension. Several other factors also influence students’ choice and use of various strategies, as reflected in the following principles. Learning strategies depend partly on the learning task at hand. In some situations teachers may assign tasks for which truly effective learning strategies are either counterproductive or impossible. For instance, if we insist that facts and definitions be learned verbatim, students will understandably be reluctant to engage in elaboration and other meaningful learning processes (Turner, 1995; Van Meter, Yokoi, & Pressley, 1994). And if we expect students to master a great deal of material for a single exam, they may have to devote their limited study time to getting only a superficial impression of everything or to studying only the easy material they’re confident they can master (Son & Schwartz, 2002; J. W. Thomas, 1993b). Sometimes working memory’s limited capacity discourages metacognitive processing: If a learning task involves thinking about a lot of information all at once—that is, if it imposes a heavy cognitive load—students may have insufficient “room” in working memory to use strategies that might otherwise be effective (Kalyuga, 2010; H. S. Waters & Kunnmann, 2010). Students are likely to acquire and use new, more effective strategies only if they realize that their current strategies aren’t working. Students will come to such a conclusion only if they’ve been regularly monitoring their comprehension in previous learning tasks and become aware of their learning difficulties. Comprehension monitoring, then, doesn’t just affect students’ understanding of classroom subject matter, it also plays a pivotal role in the development of other metacognitive strategies (Kuhn, Garcia‐Mila, Zohar, & Andersen, 1995; Lodico, Ghatala, Levin, Pressley, & Bell, 1983; Loranger, 1994). In some cases, too, feedback that students haven’t yet mastered a learning task will spur them to adopt more effective strategies, at least for the short run (Starr & Lovett, 2000). Students’ beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning influence their strategy choices. I once had a conversation with my son Jeff, then an eleventh grader, about the Canadian Studies program that a local university had just added to its curriculum. Jeff’s comments revealed a very simplistic view of what history is: Jeff: The Canadians don’t have as much history as we [Americans] do. Me: Of course they do. Jeff: No they don’t. They haven’t had as many wars. Me: History’s more than wars. Jeff: Yeah, but the rest of that stuff is really boring. Once Jeff reached college, he discovered that history is a lot more than wars and other, “really boring” stuff. In fact, he majored in history and now, as a middle school teacher, actually teaches history. But it’s unfortunate that he had to wait until college to discover the true nature of history as an academic discipline. Children and adolescents have misconceptions about other subject areas as well. For example, in the opening case study, Ms. Gaunt’s students think that math consists of nothing more than a collection of procedures that yield single right answers. Furthermore, many students have misconceptions about the general nature of learning. For instance, Ms. Gaunt’s students think they should be able to learn mathematical concepts and procedures quickly and easily—with little or no effort on their part—as long as their teacher does her job. Students’ beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning are collectively known as epistemic beliefs (you may also see the term epistemological beliefs). Such beliefs often influence studying and learning (Bendixen & Feucht, 2010; B. Hofer & Pintrich, 1997; Muis, 2007). For example, when students believe that learning happens quickly in an all‐or‐none fashion (as Ms. Gaunt’s students apparently do), they’re apt to believe they’ve mastered something before they really have. Furthermore, they tend to give up quickly in the face of failure and express discouragement or dislike regarding the topic they’re studying. In contrast, when students believe that

cognitive load

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epistemic belief

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER learning is a gradual process that often takes time and effort, they’re likely to use a wide variety of learning strategies as they study and to persist until they’ve made sense of the material (D. L. Butler & Winne, 1995; Kardash & Howell, 2000; Muis, 2007; Schommer, 1990, 1994b). As another example of variability in learners’ epistemic beliefs, some students believe that when they read a textbook, they’re passively absorbing information—often in the form of isolated facts—directly from the page to their minds. In contrast, other students recognize that learning from reading requires them to construct their own meanings by actively interpreting, organizing, and applying the information. Learners who realize that reading is a constructive, integrative process are more likely to engage in meaningful learning as they read and to undergo conceptual change when they encounter ideas that contradict their existing understandings (Mason, Gava, & Boldrin, 2008; Muis, 2007; Schommer‐Aikins, 2002; Sinatra & Pintrich, 2003). Epistemic beliefs tend to evolve over the course of childhood and adolescence (Kuhn & Park, 2005; Muis, Bendixen, & Haerle, 2006; Schommer, Calvert, Gariglietti, & Bajaj, 1997). Children in the elementary grades typically believe in the certainty of knowledge: They think that for any topic there’s an absolute truth “out there” somewhere. As they reach high school, some (but by no means all) of them begin to realize that knowledge is a subjective entity and that different perspectives on a topic are sometimes equally valid. Additional changes may occur over the course of the high school grades. For example, twelfth graders are more likely than ninth graders to believe that knowledge consists of complex interrelationships rather than discrete facts and that learning happens slowly rather than quickly. And throughout adolescence, students’ epistemic beliefs become increasingly domain specific (Buehl & Alexander, 2006; Muis et al., 2006). For example, students may believe that, in math, answers are always either right or wrong (recall the students in the opening case study) but that in social studies conflicting perspectives may all have some validity. Such developmental trends are reflected in some of the entries in Table 7.1. As teachers, we must communicate to students what we ourselves know to be true about knowledge and learning: understanding interrelationships among these things.

Many elementary students think of learning primarily as a process of acquiring specific, isolated facts, as illustrated in 8‐year‐old David’s “Protoceratops” composition. Notice that David makes one meaningful connection: how a protoceratops’s length compared to his own father’s height.

passive absorption of it. complex issues, and in some cases it involves critically evaluating available evidence relative to a particular point of view. persistence and hard work.

In communicating such messages—not only in what we say but also in what we do, such as in the questions we ask, the activities we assign, and the ways in which we assess students’ learning— we increase the likelihood that students will apply effective learning strategies, critically evaluate classroom subject matter, and undergo conceptual change when appropriate (Bendixen & Feucht, 2010; B. Hofer & Pintrich, 2002; Sinatra & Pintrich, 2003). Different motives and goals call for different strategies. Motivational factors clearly influence the extent to which students use effective strategies to learn and study. Some students may be more interested in getting by with a passing grade than truly mastering classroom material. Others may think that meaningful learning and other effective strategies involve too much time and effort to be worthwhile. Still others may have so little faith in their learning ability that they expect to do poorly regardless of the strategies they use (P. A. Alexander, Graham, & Harris, 1998; Mason, 2010; Nolen, 1996; Palmer & Goetz, 1988). Ongoing instruction and guidance about effective strategies enhances learning and achievement. With every transition to a higher educational level, teachers expect students to learn more

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


When teaching academic content, simultaneously teach students how to effectively study and remember it.

clown I receive. E

o‐w‐n C believe

Occasionally ask students to study instructional material in pairs or small cooperative learning groups.

Suggest a wide variety of strategies—taking notes, thinking of new examples, forming mnemonics, summarizing, taking self‐check quizzes, and so on—each of which is apt to be useful in different situations and for different purposes. Ask students to share their strategies with one another.

bell Brussels

Scaffold students’ attempts to use new strategies— for instance, by modeling the strategies, giving clues about when to use them, and providing feedback on appropriate and inappropriate strategy use.

Make use of software that enhances students’ awareness of effective metacognitive strategies.
Betty’s Brain,

Explain the usefulness of various strategies in an age‐appropriate way.

Sources: P. A. Alexander et al., 1998; Azevedo & Witherspoon, 2009; J. E. Barnett, Di Vesta, & Rogozinski, 1981; Bulgren, Marquis, Lenz, Deshler, & Schumaker, 2011; Hacker et al., 2009b; Hattie et al., 1996; Kahl & Woloshyn, 1994; A. King, Staffieri, & Adelgais, 1998 (muscular system example, pp. 139, 141); Kinnebrew & Biswas, 2011 (Betty’s Brain example); Kucan & Beck, 1997; Kuhn et al., 1995; McCrudden & Schraw, 2007; McGovern, Davis, & Ogbu, 2008 (Minority Achievement Club example); Meltzer et al., 2007; Nokes & Dole, 2004; S. G. Paris & Winograd, 1990; Pressley, Borkowski, & Schneider, 1987; Pressley, Harris, & Marks, 1992; Pressley & Hilden, 2006; Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996; Starr & Lovett, 2000; J. W. Thomas, 1993a; Vaughn et al., 2011; Veenman, 2011; Vygotsky, 1978; C. E. Weinstein, Goetz, & Alexander, 1988; C. E. Weinstein & Hume, 1998; Wentzel, 2009; E. Wood et al., 1999.

ISBN 1-256-96292-9

material and to think about it in more sophisticated ways. Thus, the simple learning strategies children acquire in elementary school (e.g., rehearsal) become less and less effective with each passing year. All too often, however, teachers teach academic content areas—history, biology, math, and so on—without also teaching students how to learn in those content areas. When left to their own devices, most students develop effective strategies very slowly (if at all) and thus, over the years, encounter increasing difficulty in their attempts to master classroom subject matter. And when they don’t master it, they may not know why they’ve failed or how to improve their chances of succeeding the next time around (Hacker et al., 2000; Hamman, Berthelot, Saia, & Crowley, 2000; Nokes & Dole, 2004; O’Sullivan & Joy, 1994).

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Using effective learning strategies makes such a difference in students’ classroom achievement that we mustn’t leave the development of these strategies to chance. How can we help students learn how to learn? The Into the Classroom feature “Promoting Effective Learning and Study Strategies” presents several research‐based strategies. The most important of the strategies presented there is the first one: When teaching academic content, simultaneously teach students how to effectively study and remember it. Students are more likely to use effective learning and study strategies when those strategies are taught not in separate study skills classes but rather as integral parts of everyday instruction about specific academic topics (Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996; S. G. Paris & Paris, 2001; Pressley, Harris, & Marks, 1992; Veenman, 2011).

Researchers have observed cultural differences in students’ epistemic beliefs—in particular, their beliefs about what it means to learn something. From the perspective of mainstream Western culture, learning is largely a mental enterprise: People learn in order to understand the world and acquire new skills and abilities. But for many people in China, learning also has moral and social dimensions: It enables an individual to become increasingly virtuous and honorable and to contribute in significant ways to the betterment of society. From a traditional East Asian perspective, true learning isn’t a quick‐and‐easy process; rather, it comes only with a great deal of diligence, concentration, and perseverance (Dahlin & Watkins, 2000; H. Grant & Dweck, 2001; J. Li, 2005; J. Li & Fischer, 2004). Learning strategies, too, may differ somewhat from culture to culture. Consistent with a belief that learning requires diligence and perseverance, many East Asian parents and teachers encourage frequent use of rehearsal and rote memorization as learning strategies that supplement students’ efforts to make sense of material (Dahlin & Watkins, 2000; Ho, 1994; Purdie & Hattie, 1996). Rehearsal and memorization are also common in cultures that value verbatim learning of oral histories or passages of sacred text (e.g., the Bible, the Koran) (MacDonald, Uesiliana, & Hayne, 2000; Rogoff et al., 2007; Q. Wang & Ross, 2007). In contrast, many schools in mainstream Western culture are increasingly conducting activities and encouraging strategies that foster meaningful learning and conceptual understanding. Even so, Western schools typically insist that students learn certain things—such as multiplication tables and word spellings—by heart (Q. Wang & Ross, 2007). ACCOMMODATING STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS We’re especially likely to see diversity in metacognition in students who have special educational needs. Table 7.2 presents characteristics you might see in these students. Notice that many students with cognitive disabilities—and some with emotional and behavioral disorders as well—may exhibit little knowledge and use of effective learning strategies. In contrast, students who are gifted typically have more sophisticated learning strategies than their peers do. For many students with disabilities, we may have to teach metacognitive skills explicitly and with considerable scaffolding—that is, with close guidance and assistance in the use of specific learning strategies (Meltzer, 2007). For example, we might provide partially filled‐in outlines to guide students’ note taking (e.g., see Figure 7.3). We might also tell students when particular strategies (e.g., elaboration, comprehension monitoring) are appropriate and model the use of such strategies with specific classroom subject matter. Finally, we must give students opportunities to practice their newly acquired strategies, along with feedback about how effectively they are using each one.

As teachers, we must remember that our students are likely to learn differently—and often less efficiently and successfully—than we do. Almost all of them can benefit from acquiring more sophisticated understandings of what knowledge and learning involve and from regularly practicing effective strategies for mastering school subject matter.

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


Promoting Metacognitive Development in Students with Special Educational Needs
Students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties



Students with social or behavioral problems Students with general delays in cognitive and social functioning Students with physical or sensory challenges Students with advanced cognitive development -


Sources: Beirne‐Smith, Patton, & Kim, 2006; Campione, Brown, & Bryant, 1985; B. Clark, 1997; Edmonds et al., 2009; E. S. Ellis & Friend, 1991; Graham & Harris, 1996; N. Gregg, 2009; Grodzinsky & Diamond, 1992; Heward, 2009; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2007; McGlynn, 1998; Meltzer, 2007; Mercer & Pullen, 2005; Piirto, 1999; Pressley, 1995; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1992; H. L. Swanson, 1993; Turnbull, Turnbull, & Wehmeyer, 2010; Waber, 2010; Wong, 1991.

MUSCLES A. Number of Muscles 1. There are approximately ______________ muscles in the human body. B. How Muscles Work 1. Muscles work in two ways: a. They ______________ , or shorten. b. They ______________ , or lengthen. C. Kinds of Muscles 1. ________________ muscles are attached to the bones by ________________ . a. These muscles are _________________ (voluntary/involuntary). b. The purpose of these muscles is to ________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ . 2. ________________ muscles line some of the body’s __________________ . a. These muscles are __________________________ (voluntary/involuntary). b. The purpose of these muscles is to ________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ . 3. The __________________ muscle is the only one of its kind.
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a. This muscle is __________________ (voluntary/involuntary). b. The purpose of this muscle is to __________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ .

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



How students think about and study school subject matter has implications not only for how well they can understand and remember it but also for how effectively they can use and apply it on later occasions. Here we’re talking about transfer: the extent to which knowledge and skills acquired in one situation affect a person’s learning or performance in a subsequent situation. Following are examples: school, she immediately recognizes many similarities between French and Spanish. “Aha,” she thinks, “what I know about Spanish will help me learn French.” takes more notes. She decides to take more notes in her chemistry class as well, and once again the strategy pays off. “Which number is larger, 4.4 or 4.14?” Ted recalls something he knows about whole numbers: Numbers with three digits are larger than numbers with only two digits. “The larger number is 4.14,” he mistakenly concludes. In most cases prior learning helps learning or performance in another situation. Such positive transfer takes place when Elena’s Spanish helps her learn French and when Stella’s


positive transfer

negative transfer

specific transfer

general transfer

formal discipline

practice with note taking in history class improves her performance in chemistry class. In some instances, however, existing knowledge or skills hinder later learning. Such negative transfer is the case for Ted, who transfers a principle related to whole numbers to a situation in which it doesn’t apply: comparing decimals. Sometimes we see specific transfer, in which the original learning task and the transfer task overlap in content. For example, Elena should have an easy time learning to count in French because the numbers (un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq . . .) are very similar to the Spanish ones she already knows (uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco . . .). At other times we may see general transfer, in which learning in one situation affects learning and performance in a somewhat dissimilar situation. Consider, for example, Stella’s strategy of taking more notes in chemistry because of her success with note taking in history. History and chemistry don’t necessarily overlap in content, but a strategy acquired in one class helps with learning in the other. Historically, research studies have indicated that when application of academic subject matter is involved, specific transfer occurs far more often than general transfer (S. M. Barnett & Ceci, 2002; W. D. Gray & Orasanu, 1987). In fact, the question of whether general transfer occurs at all has been the subject of considerable debate over the years. Many early educators believed that certain subjects (e.g., math, Latin, formal logic) have great potential for general transfer: Because these subjects require considerable attention to precision and detail, they might strengthen students’ minds and thereby enable students to tackle other, unrelated tasks more easily. This formal discipline perspective of transfer persisted throughout the first several decades of the twentieth century. For instance, when I was in high school in the mid‐1960s, most college‐bound students at my school were encouraged to take both French and Latin—the only two languages my school offered. Taking French made a great deal of sense: Living in Massachusetts, we were within a day’s drive of French‐speaking Quebec. “But why should I take Latin?” I asked. “I can use it only if I attend Catholic mass or run across phrases like ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘e pluribus unum.’ ” My guidance counselor pursed her thin red lips and gave me a look suggesting that she knew best. “Latin will discipline your mind,” she told me. “It will help you learn better.” Most research has discredited this mind‐as‐muscle notion of transfer (Haskell, 2001; Perkins & Salomon, 1989; E. L. Thorndike, 1924). For example, practice in memorizing poems doesn’t necessarily make one a faster poem memorizer (James, 1890). And studying computer programming, though often a worthwhile activity in its own right, doesn’t necessarily help a person with dissimilar kinds of logical tasks (R. E. Mayer & Wittrock, 1996; Perkins & Salomon, 1989). We’re more likely to see general transfer when we broaden our notion of transfer to include application of general academic skills (e.g., reading comprehension, persuasive writing) and general learning strategies (e.g., taking notes) that can be applied to a wide variety of topics and contexts (J. R. Anderson, Greeno, Reder, & Simon, 2000; S. M. Barnett & Ceci, 2002; Perkins, 1995; M. I. Posner & Rothbart, 2007). Furthermore, general beliefs, attitudes, and dispositions

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

207 related to learning and thinking—for instance, recognition that learning often requires hard work, as well as open‐mindedness to diverse viewpoints—can have a profound impact on later learning and achievement across multiple domains and so clearly illustrate general transfer at work (Cornoldi, 2010; De Corte, 2003; K. J. Pugh & Bergin, 2006; D. L. Schwartz, Bransford, & Sears, 2005). And some students develop a general desire to apply what they learn in the classroom—that is, they have a spirit of transfer—that consistently resurfaces in later instructional contexts (Haskell, 2001; Volet, 1999).

Ideally, positive transfer to real‐world contexts should be a major objective in classrooms at all grade levels. When learners can’t use their basic math skills to compute correct change or balance a checkbook, when they can’t use their knowledge of English grammar in a job application or business report, and when they can’t apply their knowledge of science to an understanding of personal health or environmental problems, then we have to wonder whether the time spent learning these things might have been better spent doing something else. Although both specific and general transfer do occur, students often don’t apply the academic content they learn in particular classes to other classes or to out‐of‐school situations (Levstik, 2011; R. E. Mayer & Wittrock, 1996; Perkins, 1992; Renkl, Mandl, & Gruber, 1996). Learners are, of course, more likely to transfer what they learn at school when they approach each classroom topic with a deliberate intention to apply it. But several other factors also influence the probability of transfer, often because they influence learners’ ability to retrieve what they’ve learned when they need to use it: Meaningful learning promotes better transfer than rote learning. Instructional time is clearly an important variable affecting transfer: The more time students spend studying a particular topic, the more likely they are to apply what they’ve learned on future occasions (P. A. Alexander & Judy, 1988; Haskell, 2001; Schmidt & Bjork, 1992; Voss, 1987). Ideally, students should gain a conceptual understanding of the topic—that is, they should have the many things they’ve learned appropriately organized and interrelated. Here we see an example of the general principle Less is more: Students are more likely to transfer their school learning to new situations, including those beyond the classroom, when they study a few things in depth and learn them meaningfully instead of studying many topics superficially (Bereiter, 1995; Brooks & Dansereau, 1987; R. E. Mayer & Wittrock, 1996; Schwamborn, Mayer, Thillmann, Leopold, & Leutner, 2010). The less‐is‐more principle is clearly being violated in the opening case study. Ms. Gaunt realizes that she must move quickly in order to cover the entire eighth‐grade math curriculum, even if it means that few students will master any particular topic or procedure. Given the upcoming statewide competency exam, she may have little choice about the matter, but her students are unlikely to use what they’re learning on future occasions. Both positive and negative transfer are more common when a new situation is similar—or at least appears to be similar—to a previous one. Perceived similarity increases the chances that a new situation will provide retrieval cues that point learners in the right direction as they search long‐term memory for potentially relevant knowledge and skills (Bassok, 2003; Di Vesta & Peverly, 1984; Haskell, 2001). For instance, when Elena first encounters number words in her French class (un, deux, trois), the words should quickly trigger recall of similar‐sounding Spanish words (uno, dos, tres). However, we should note that the similarity of two situations, although usually promoting positive transfer, can sometimes lead to negative transfer instead (e.g., Sun‐Alperin & Wang, 2008). To see what I mean, try the following exercise.

less‐is‐ more

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Quickly estimate an answer to this division problem: 60 ÷ 0.38

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Is your answer larger or smaller than 60? If you applied your knowledge of division by whole numbers, you undoubtedly concluded that the answer is smaller than 60. In fact, the answer is approximately 158, a number much larger than 60. Does this exercise remind you of Ted’s erroneous conclusion—that 4.14 is larger than 4.4—based on his knowledge of how whole numbers can be compared? Many students at all levels, even in college, show negative transfer of whole‐number principles to situations involving decimals and fractions (M. Carr, 2010; Ni & Zhou, 2005; Tirosh & Graeber, 1990). Working with decimals appears, on the surface, to be similar to working with whole numbers. The only difference— a very important one, as it turns out—is a tiny decimal point. To minimize negative transfer, we teachers must be sure to point out differences between two superficially similar topics. For example, Ted’s teacher might have identified some of the specific ways in which decimals are different from whole numbers. As another example, I find that students in my educational psychology classes often have trouble correctly understanding certain concepts (e.g., maturation, socialization, short‐term memory, reinforcement) because the meanings of these words in psychology are quite different from their meanings in everyday conversation. So when I first introduce one of these concepts, I take great pains to contrast the different meanings. Even so, the everyday meanings regularly intrude into some students’ thinking about course content, especially if the students don’t continually monitor their own thinking and understanding.

For tonight’s homework assignment, memorize all 50 states in the U.S.A. in reverse alphabetical order.

Meaningless mental “exercises” such as this one have little or no benefit. Not only do they not “strengthen” students’ minds, but in fact they’re likely to communicate the message that schoolwork is often a waste of time.

Principles and theories are more easily transferred than discrete facts. Specific facts certainly have an important place in the classroom. For instance, students should know what 2 + 3 equals, what the Berlin Wall signified, and where to find Africa on a globe. Yet by themselves, facts have limited usefulness in new situations. On average, general principles, rules, and theoretical explanations are more widely applicable than specific facts and information (S. M. Barnett & Ceci, 2002; Bransford & Schwartz, 1999; Haskell, 2001; M. Perry, 1991). The more we can emphasize general principles—for example, that adding two positive whole numbers always yields a larger number, that a country’s citizens sometimes revolt when their government officials act unjustly, and that the cultures of various nations are influenced by their locations and climates—the more we facilitate students’ ability to transfer what they learn. Especially as they get older, some students acquire an ability to apply general principles to topics quite different from those they’ve previously studied. For example, in one research study, fifth graders and college students were asked to develop a plan for increasing the population of bald eagles, an endangered species in their state (Bransford & Schwartz, 1999). None of the students in either age‐group had previously studied strategies for eagle preservation, and the plans that both groups developed were largely inadequate. Yet in the process of developing their plans, the college students addressed more sophisticated questions than the fifth graders did. In particular, the fifth graders focused on the eagles themselves (e.g., How big are they? What do they eat?), whereas the college students looked at the larger picture (e.g., What type of ecosystem supports eagles? What about predators of eagles and eagle babies?) (Bransford & Schwartz, 1999, p. 67). Thus, the college students were drawing on an important principle they had acquired in their

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

209 many years of science study: Living creatures are more likely to survive and thrive when their habitat supports rather than threatens them. Transfer is more common when information and skills are perceived as being relevant to diverse disciplines and real‐world situations. Unfortunately, many students tend to think of academic subject areas as context bound—that is, as being distinct disciplines that are completely separate from one another and from real‐world concerns (P. A. Alexander & Judy, 1988; S. M. Barnett & Ceci, 2002; Perkins & Simmons, 1988; Renkl et al., 1996). For example, when baking cookies, an 11‐year‐old might ask a parent, “Do two one‐quarters make two fourths? I know it does in math but what about in cooking?” (K. J. Pugh & Bergin, 2005, p. 16). The context‐bound nature of some school learning may prevent students from retrieving what they’ve learned in situations where it might be useful. A study with high school students (Saljo & Wyndhamn, 1992) provides an illustration. Students were asked to figure out how much postage they should put on an envelope that weighed a particular amount, and they were given a table of postage rates that would enable them to determine the correct amount. When students were given the task in a social studies class, most used the postage table to find the answer. But when students were given the task in a math class, most of them ignored the postage table and tried to calculate the postage, in some cases figuring it to several decimal places. Thus, the students in the social studies class were more likely to solve the problem correctly—as a former social studies teacher myself, I suspect that, in that context, they were well accustomed to looking for information in tables and charts. In contrast, many of the students in the math class drew on strategies they associated with math, using formulas and performing calculations, and thus overlooked the more efficient and accurate approach. Fortunately, not all school learning remains “stuck” in school or in a particular classroom. People regularly use some of the skills they’ve learned in their daily lives—reading, arithmetic, map interpretation, and so on. But we can increase the transferability of school subject matter by regularly relating it to other disciplines and to the outside world (R. E. Clark & Blake, 1997; Perkins, 1992; J. F. Wagner, 2010). For instance, we might show students how human digestion provides a justification for categorizing food into several basic food groups or how principles of economics have indirect impacts on global climate change. Numerous and varied opportunities for practice increase the probability of transfer. The more that students practice using what they’ve learned to address real‐world tasks and problems—and the more diverse those tasks and problems are—the greater the probability that students will apply school subject matter in future situations, including those outside the classroom (Gijbels, Dochy, Van den Bossche, & Segers, 2005; Gresalfi & Lester, 2009; J. F. Wagner, 2010). Especially important are authentic activities—activities similar or identical to those that students will eventually encounter in the outside world. For example, when students are learning basic arithmetic principles, they might be asked to apply those principles in determining best buys at a discount store, dividing items equitably among friends, running a school book sale, and so on. Arithmetic will then be associated in long‐term memory with all these situations, and when the need arises to determine which of two purchases yields the most for the money, relevant arithmetic procedures should be readily retrieved. Ideally, students should discover that much of what they learn at school truly has wide applicability—in other words, school topics become context free (A. Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989; Cox, 1997; Perkins & Salomon, 1989). Transfer increases when the cultural environment encourages and expects transfer. All too often, it seems, students are encouraged to acquire school subject matter for mysterious purposes — for example, “You’ll need to know this in college” or “It will come in handy later in life.” Ideally, we should instead create a culture of transfer—a learning environment in which applying school subject matter to new situations, cross‐disciplinary contexts, and real‐world problems is both the expectation and the norm. For instance, we might regularly encourage students to ask themselves, “How might I use this information?” as they listen, read, and study (R. A. Engle, 2006; Haskell, 2001; M. C. Linn, 2008; Pea, 1987; Sternberg & Frensch, 1993). authentic activity

culture of transfer

situated learning and cognition

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Problem Solving
Problem solving involves using—that is, transferring—existing knowledge and skills to address an

unanswered question or troubling situation. The world presents innumerable problems that differ widely in content and scope, as illustrated in the next exercise. Sometimes problems are straightforward and easy to solve. Problem 1 requires only simple addition and subtraction procedures, which easily yield a correct solution: 10 cents. Problem 2 FIGURE 7.4 How long do the roof planks of this treehouse need to be?

How many of these problems can you solve? 1. You buy two apples for 25 cents each and one pear for 40 cents. How much change will you get back from a dollar bill? 2. You’re building a treehouse with the shape and dimensions illustrated in Figure 7.4. You need to buy planks for a slanted roof. How long must the roof planks be to reach from one side of the treehouse to the other? 3. As a teacher, you want to illustrate the idea that metal battleships float even though metal is denser (and thus heavier) than water. You don’t have a toy boat made of metal. What can you use instead to demonstrate that a metal object with a hollow interior can float on water? 4. Tropical rainforests provide homes for many species of animals and plants (including some plants useful in modern medicine), and they help to reduce the rapid increase in carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. Yet each day tens of thousands of acres of tropical rainforest disappear, largely as a result of farmers’ efforts to create new farmland by slashing and burning existing vegetation. What steps might be taken to curtail this alarming rate of deforestation?

? 5ft. 2ft. 4ft.

(Figure 7.4) is more difficult, partly because you probably don’t encounter such problems very often. But if you’ve studied geometry, you’ve almost certainly learned the Pythagorean theorem: In any right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Looking at the top part of the treehouse (from the dashed line upward) as a triangle, we can find the length for the roof planks (x) this way: (Slanted side)2 = (Horizontal side)2 + (Vertical side)2 x 2 = 42 + (5 - 2)2 x 2 = 16 + 9 x 2 = 25 x=5 Problems don’t always have a single correct solution, of course. A variety of objects (e.g., a metal pie plate, bucket, or thimble) might be used to solve Problem 3. And you might identify several possible ways of addressing Problem 4, but you probably wouldn’t know which ones could successfully curtail rainforest destruction until you actually implemented them. Problems differ considerably in the extent to which they’re clearly specified and structured. At one end of this clarity‐and‐structure continuum is the well‐defined problem, in which the goal is clearly stated, all information needed to solve the problem is present, and only one correct answer exists. Calculating correct change after a purchase (Problem 1) and determining the length of planks needed for a treehouse roof (Problem 2) are well‐defined problems. At the other end of the continuum is the ill‐defined problem, in which the desired goal is unclear, information needed to solve the problem is missing, or several possible solutions exist. Finding a suitable

problem solving

well‐defined problem

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

211 substitute for a metal ship (Problem 3) is somewhat ill defined: Many objects might serve as a ship substitute, and some might work better than others. The rainforest destruction problem (Problem 4) is even less defined: The goal (curtailing deforestation) is ambiguous, we’re missing a lot of information that would help us solve the problem (e.g., what alternatives might replace farmers’ slash‐and‐burn practices?), and there’s no single correct solution. On average, ill‐defined problems are harder to solve than well‐defined ones. Most problems presented in school are well defined. As an example, let’s return to the typing problem in the opening case study: Louis can type 35 words a minute. He needs to type a final copy of his English composition, which is 4,200 words long. How long will it take Louis to type his paper? Notice that all the information needed to solve the problem is provided, and there’s no irrelevant information to lead students astray. And there’s only one correct answer, with no room for debate. Yet the real world presents ill‐defined problems far more often than well‐defined ones, and students need practice in dealing with them. Furthermore, when students regularly encounter ill‐defined problems in the school curriculum, they may acquire more sophisticated epistemic beliefs—in particular, they may begin to realize that many topics and issues don’t have easy, clear‐ cut right and wrong answers (Rule & Bendixen, 2010). Taking the perspective of cognitive psychology (especially information processing theory), you might think of problem solving as involving five basic steps: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Encoding the problem Retrieving one or more strategies that might be useful in solving the problem Choosing the most appropriate strategy or set of strategies Carrying out the chosen strategy or strategies Evaluating the quality of the problem solution obtained (steps based loosely on Polya, 1957) ill‐defined problem

Cognitive factors we’ve previously identified as affecting transfer—thorough understanding of a topic, perception of relevance to diverse academic disciplines and to real‐world situations, and so on—certainly affect learners’ ability to carry out these steps successfully. Researchers have identified additional factors related to four general categories: problem encoding, problem‐solving strategies, working memory capacity, and metacognition.

At Step 1 in the problem‐solving process, learners might mentally represent a problem—that is, they might encode it—in a variety of ways. As an example, see whether you can solve the problem in the following exercise.

Consider this problem: Old MacDonald has a barnyard full of pigs and chickens. Altogether there are 21 heads and 60 legs in the barnyard (not counting MacDonald’s own head and legs). How many pigs and how many chickens are running around the barnyard? Can you figure out the answer? If you’re having trouble, think about the problem this way: Imagine the pigs standing upright on their two hind legs, with their front two legs raised over their heads. Therefore, both the pigs and the chickens are standing on two legs. Figure out how many legs are on the ground and how many must be in the air. From this information, can you determine the number of pigs and chickens in the barnyard?

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Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Because there are 21 heads, there must be 21 animals. Thus there must be 42 legs on the ground (21 * 2), which leaves 18 pigs’ legs in the air (60 - 42). There must therefore be 9 pigs (18 , 2) and 12 chickens (21 - 9). There are, of course, several ways you might approach the pigs‐and‐chickens problem. But if you initially had trouble solving it—perhaps because your algebra skills are rusty—you may have struggled to encode it in a way that led you to an easy solution. Students often have difficulty solving mathematical word problems because they don’t know how to translate the problems into the procedures they’ve learned (K. Lee, Ng, & Ng, 2009; R. E. Mayer, 1992; Walkington, Sherman, & Petrosino, 2010). At other times students may encode a problem in a seemingly logical way that nevertheless fails to yield a workable result. As an example, take a stab at the next problem.

How might you stand a candle upright in front of a bulletin board attached to the wall? You don’t want the candle to touch the bulletin board, because the flame might singe the board. Instead, you need to place the candle about a centimeter away from the board. How can you accomplish the task using some or all of the following materials: a small candle (birthday cake size), a metal knitting needle, matches, a box of thumbtacks, and a 12‐inch ruler?
Source: Based on Duncker, 1945. Knitting needle

Bulletin board


Box of tacks


Plastic ruler

As it turns out, the ruler and knitting needle are useless in solving the problem. Piercing the candle with the knitting needle will probably break the candle, and you’re unlikely to have much luck balancing the ruler on a few tacks. (I speak from experience here, as my own students have unsuccessfully tried both strategies.) The easiest solution is to turn the thumbtack box upside down or sideways, attach it to the bulletin board with tacks, and then attach the candle to the top of the box with either a tack or melted wax. Many people don’t consider this possibility because they encode the box only as a container of tacks and so overlook its potential use as a candle stand. When learners encode a problem in a way that limits possible solutions, they’re the victims of a mental set. Mental sets, then, interfere with Step 2 in the problem‐solving process: retrieving potentially useful strategies from long‐term memory. Mental sets sometimes emerge when learners practice solving a particular kind of problem (e.g., doing subtraction problems in math or applying the formula E = mc2 in physics) without also practicing other kinds of problems at the same time. Such repetitive practice can lead students to encode problems in a particular way without really thinking about them—in other words, it can lead to automaticity in encoding. Although automaticity in the basic information and skills needed for problem solving is often an advantage because it frees up working memory capacity (more about this point shortly), automaticity in encoding problems can lead students to solve them incorrectly (E. J. Langer, 2000; Luchins, 1942; Rohrer & Pashler, 2010). Several teaching strategies can help students effectively encode problems, without falling victim to counterproductive mental sets: Present problems in a concrete form; for example, provide real objects that students can manipulate, or present an illustration of a problem’s components. Encourage students to make problems concrete for themselves; for example, encourage them to draw a picture or diagram. Highlight aspects of problems that students can competently solve, and when those elements appear again in a different problem, point out that the same information can be applied or the same approach to problem solution can be used. Give problems that look different on the surface yet require the same or similar problem‐ solving procedures. Mix the kinds of problems that students tackle in any single practice session.

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mental set

Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Have students work in cooperative groups to identify several ways of representing a single problem—perhaps as a formula, a table, and a graph. (Anzai, 1991; Brenner et al., 1997; Z. Chen, 1999; L. S. Fuchs et al., 2003; R. E. Mayer, 1992; Mayfield & Chase, 2002; Prawat, 1989; Rohrer & Pashler, 2010; Sherman & Bisanz, 2009; Turner, Meyer, et al., 1998)

At the heart of successful problem solving, of course, are the strategies learners have available to them, as reflected in Steps 2, 3, and 4 of the problem‐solving process described earlier. Some problems can be successfully solved with an algorithm, a specific sequence of steps that guarantees a correct solution. For example, by dividing 4,200 by 35, we can easily determine that Louis will need 120 minutes (2 hours) to type his English composition. And by using the Pythagorean theorem and simple algebra, we can correctly calculate the length of a treehouse’s slanted roof. Yet the world presents many problems for which no algorithms exist. There are no rules we can follow to identify a substitute metal ship, no set of instructions to help us address worldwide rainforest destruction. In fact, few algorithms exist for solving problems outside the domains of mathematics and science. In the absence of an algorithm, learners must use one or more heuristics, general problem‐solving strategies that may or may not yield a successful outcome. For example, one heuristic we might use in solving the deforestation problem is this: Identify a new behavior that adequately replaces the problem behavior (i.e., identify another way that rainforest farmers can meet their survival needs). Both types of problem‐solving strategies—algorithms and heuristics alike—are often specific to particular content domains. But here are several general problem‐solving heuristics that can be helpful in a variety of contexts: Identify subgoals. Break a large, complex task into two or more specific subtasks that can be more easily addressed. Round complex numbers up or down. Estimate mathematical solutions by converting hard‐ to‐work‐with numbers to simpler ones. Use paper and pencil. Draw a diagram, list a problem’s components, or jot down potential solutions or approaches. Draw an analogy. Identify a situation analogous to the problem situation, and derive potential solutions from the analogy. Brainstorm. Generate a wide variety of possible approaches or solutions—perhaps including some that might seem outlandish or absurd—without initially evaluating any of them. After a lengthy list has been created, evaluate each item for its potential relevance and usefulness. “Incubate” the situation. Let a problem remain unresolved for a few hours or days, allowing time for a broad search of long‐term memory for potentially productive approaches. (J. E. Davidson & Sternberg, 1998, 2003; De Corte, Op’t Eynde, Depaepe, & Verschaffel, 2010; Halpern, 1997; Minsky, 2006; Sweller, 2009a; Zhong, Dijksterhuis, & Galinsky, 2008) TEACHING PROBLEM‐SOLVING STRATEGIES Occasionally students develop problem‐solving strategies on their own. For instance, many children invent simple addition and subtraction strategies long before they encounter arithmetic at school (Bermejo, 1996; Ginsburg, Cannon, Eisenband, & Pappas, 2006; Siegler & Jenkins, 1989). But without some formal instruction in effective strategies, even the most inventive students may occasionally resort to unproductive trial and error to solve problems. Following are research‐based recommendations for teaching problem‐solving strategies: algorithm For Teaching Algorithms
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Describe and demonstrate specific procedures and the situations in which each can be used. Provide worked‐out examples of algorithms being applied, and ask students to explain what’s happening at each step.


Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Eighth Edition, by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Published by Pearson. Copyright © 2014 by Pearson Education, Inc.


CHAPTER Help students understand why particular algorithms are relevant and effective in certain situations. When a student’s application of an algorithm yields an incorrect answer, look closely at what the student has done, and locate the trouble spot (e.g., see Figure 7.5). For Teaching Both Algorithms and Heuristics Teach problem‐solving strategies within the context of specific subject areas—not as a topic separate from academic content. Have students tackle problems within the context of authentic activities. For example, in problem‐based learning, students acquire new knowledge and skills while working on a complex problem similar to one that might exist in the outside world. Engage in joint problem‐solving activities with students, modeling effective strategies and guiding students’ initial efforts. Provide scaffolding for difficult problems (e.g., break them into smaller and simpler problems, give hints about possible strategies, or provide partial solutions). Have students solve problems in pairs or small groups, in which they share ideas about problem‐solving strategies, model various approaches for one another, and discuss the merits of each approach. (Barron, 2000; M. Carr, 2010; Crowley & Siegler, 1999; Hmelo‐Silver, 2004; Hmelo‐Silver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2007; Hung, Jonassen, & Liu, 2008; Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006; R. E. Mayer, 1985; Renkl, 2011; Rittle‐Johnson, 2006; D. L. Schwartz, Lindgren, & Lewis, 2009; Wentzel & Watkins, 2011)

FIGURE 7.5 Thirteen‐ year‐old Malika incorrectly simplifies the expression 6(2x + y) + 2(x + 4y) as 14x + 10y. The correct answer is 14x + 14y. Where did Malika go wrong?