ED 631- Putting It All Together Portfolio

This course has been a journey through all facets of educational psychology, which included the investigation of various learning theories, student development theories, student motivations, and the establishment of effective learning environments based on all of these factors.  As a new teacher, I am still discovering a lot about my students and how they best learn.  This class shed light on WHY students do the things they do, and how I can best use this information to structure my classroom and lessons to be most successful and comfortable for my students.  

We have studied learning theories extensively in the Teaching Fellows program, which spans all of the major branches of behaviorism and constructivism.  The basis of behaviorism is to control and encourage positive behaviors from students in order to condition their minds and skills for success.  Managing student behaviors is critical in shaping how they learn, as learning itself is a skill.  

Constructivism takes multiple forms, but the basis is that all student understanding is linked to other aspects of their life, whether that be social, other educational, or personal structures in their lives.  To be the most effective teachers, we should try to build new knowledge and understanding off of previously-constructed scaffolds.  This encourages cross-linking information, which strengthens retention and understanding. 

High-schools students are in the peak of their developmental years, as adolescence is a tumultuous time where hormones and free thoughts begin to emerge and flood their fresh minds.  The physical and cognitive development of adolescents is investigated in Week 3 BreadCrumbs.  Students must also go through social development as they struggle to make and maintain different types of relationships in their lives.  The social development theory of Erikson and Maslov's motivational development theory are discussed in Week 4 Breadcrumbs.  The moral development theories of Gilligan and Kohlberg are discussed in Week 5 breadcrumbs.

Student motivation is also multi-faceted, and there are multiple factors that contribute or hinder student motivation in school.  I spent the bulk of my time on this topic because I think that motivation is the number one factor when it comes to engagement and retention of knowledge.  I don't care how smart you are, if you lack motivation you won't accomplish anything.  I struggle with this personally all the time, so I think it is only appropriate that I give the appropriate credence to this factor when it comes to my students and my class.

Skinner's theory of behavioral motivation is discussed in Week 6 breadcrumbs.  We would ideally like to encourage student interests in our content area, but this isn't always easy.  In Week 7 breadcrumbs I investigate student attributions and their effects on student motivation and drive.  Self-efficacy and students' belief that they can accomplish a specific task has huge effects on motivation in school and is investigated in Week 8 breadcrumbs.  Deci and Ryan investigate the psychological needs of students as it relates to student motivation in their need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.  This theory is further discussed in Week 9 breadcrumbs.   

It is important to take all of these factors into consideration when designing learning environments and lessons for developing adolescents.  We need to keep their lens in mind - that these are ever-changing, ever-raging (hormonally) teenagers who are grappling with all sorts of issues inside and outside of the classroom.  With a better understanding of these struggles and changes that are occurring internally, we as teachers can be more-informed and better-prepared when attempting to impart information and develop skills in these 'under construction' individuals.

To target student motivation, it is suggested to take a TARGET approach (I'm so punny).  Lessons need to be tailored to our students so that we are aiming for each student's zone of proximal development, where they feel challenged but not overwhelmed by the task at hand.  This ideology is investigated in Week 10 Breadcrumbs.  

In order for students to feel safe to explore new things and learn new skills, we as teachers must create safe, clean, organized, and content-rich learning environments that are conducive to curious discovery and skill-building.  The physical arrangements and establishment if classroom rules and procedures is investigated in Week 11 Breadcrumbs.  General classroom management practices for establishing accessible tasks and managing student behavior is outlined in Week 12 Breadcrumbs.  Different classroom structures that can be utilized to facilitate critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving are outline in Week 13 Breadcrumbs

Teaching is more psychological and anthropological than perception alone would lead one to believe.  I know that I am learning as much from my students as they are (hopefully) learning from me, and I am very grateful for that.  Teenagers are famed as a tough crowd, but I like to think of them as sponges if accessed correctly.  Yes they can be moody, irrational, and emotional, but they are also extremely perceptive and receptive when appropriately stimulated.  By having a better understanding of where students are coming from, I can be a better leader to get them to where they want to be.  

Overall I would say that this class was a success for me.  I accomplished my original task of investigating and understanding student motivation and how to best enhance this with the construction of successful learning environments.  This being a self-directed class proved to be a bit challenging for me (apologies!) but I am proud of myself for staying on top of it and completing the course on time.  I do wish that we had more communication / face-to-face interactions throughout the course (I miss our witty banter) but I do appreciate your (Dr. Ardito's) feedback and encouragement throughout.  

Best of luck, and cheers!

Rachel DeMayo


    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito


      You did a terrific job with this. I really liked how you raised some key points here and then linked to the full, breadcrumby discussions.

      I was particularly struck by this:

      Teaching is more psychological and anthropological than perception alone would lead one to believe.

      I just spent this semester working with a group of undergraduate adolescent teacher candidates, and tried to impress upon them that you cannot teach (or teach effectively) without knowing who you are. I think I was trying to say what you said so eloquently.

      I also loved this:

      This being a self-directed class proved to be a bit challenging for me (apologies!) but I am proud of myself for staying on top of it and completing the course on time.  I do wish that we had more communication / face-to-face interactions throughout the course (I miss our witty banter)

      I, too, have missed our witty banter. I hope we get to work together again at some point. And I think you should feel great about how well you managed yourself and your work in this course.

      Thanks for a great semester.

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    ED 631 - Educational Psychology- Spring 2018

    Here is our online home for ED 631 for Spring 2018.