Dumont et al (2012) suggest that there are two primary 'gatekeepers' to learning: Emotion and Motivation.
The first gatekeeper, the emotional state of a student, directly affects their ability to learn. If a student is engaged in learning within an environment that promotes a positive state of emotion, they will be better able to utilise long-term recall, for example. Conversely, a poor emotional state will disrupt their ability to learn or to be able to recall information from the lesson at a later time.
While the emotional state of students can depend upon factors outside of the classroom, educators can seek to provide a learning enviroment that helps facilitate a postive experience for each student and therefore increase their ability to learn.
"Like emotion, the presence of positive motivation towards a learning task markedly increases the likelihood that students will engage in deep learning"1
Dumont et al propose that the role of the teacher should include providing the time, space and support for student reflection to determine the usefulness of learning strategies, as well as to provide positive support for those students who may have had negative learning experiences. In other words, teachers need to identify students' interests and help them to foster intrinsic motivation.
The Basic Principles of Motivation2
Students are more motivated to engage in learning when they:
Students direct their attention away from learning when they experience negative emotions.
Students free up cognitive resources for learning when they are able to influence the intensity, duration and expression of their emotions.
Students are more persistent in learning when they can manage their resources and deal with obstacles efficiently.
Students are more motivated to enage in learning and use motivation regulation strategies when they perceive the environment as favourable for learning.
1 Dumont, H., Istance, D., & Benavides, F. (2012) The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Innovative Learning Environments Project, p.4.
2 Dumont, H., Istance, D., & Benavides, F. (2010) The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Innovative Learning Environments Project, pp.91-107.
Personalised learning, also referred to as student-centred learning, places the personal learning needs of each student as the primary goal of education, rather than what may be the preferred, more convenient or logistically easier option for teachers. According to 'The Great Schools Partnership', personalised learning is:
"intended to facilitate the academic success of each student by first determining the learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students, and then providing learning experiences that are customized—to a greater or lesser extent—for each student." 1
There is a general consensus that the key components of personalising learning are:
Includes target-setting linked to high-quality assessment
David Miliband, an early advocate of personalised learning in the U.K. gave a speech in which he proposed that:
"decisive progress in educational standards occurs where every child matters; careful attention is paid to their individual learning styles, motivations, and needs; there is rigorous use of pupil target-setting linked to high-quality assessment; lessons are well paced and enjoyable; and pupils are supported by partnership with others well beyond the classroom." 2
Provides clear pathways through the system
Miliband later went on to state that
"Personalised learning means every student enjoying curriculum choice, a breadth of study and personal relevance, with clear pathways through the system.” 3
1 Personalised Learning (14 May 2015) in S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/personalized-learning/
2 Miliband, D. (2004) Personalised Learning: Building a New Relationship with Schools transcript of speech given at the North of England Education Conference, Belfast, 8th January 2004. www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/personalised-learning.pdf
3 Miliband, D. (2006) Choice and Voice in Personalised Learning, OECD Personalising Education, p.25
Vygotsky introduced the social aspect of learning into constructivism. He proposed that language and the conceptual schemes that are transmitted by means of language are essentially social phenomena, and therefore knowledge is not simply constructed, it is co-constructed. Vygotsky defined the "zone of proximal learning," according to which students solve problems beyond their actual developmental level (but within their level of potential development) under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.
John Dewey, often recognised as the philosophical founder of the student-centred approach to education, stated that students working together is vital to unity and success, and that "education is a social process."2
This concept was built upon by Jonassen (1994) who proposed that constructivist learning environments support:
1 Dumont, H., Istance, D., & Benavides, F. (2012) The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Innovative Learning Environments Project, p.3
2 Dewey, J. (1897) My Pedagogic Creed. School Journal, vol. 54 (3) p. 77-80.
3 Jonassen, David H. (1994) Thinking Technology: Toward a Constructivist Design Model. Educational Technology, 34, p. 35.
Being able to lock onto learning and to resist distractions either from outside or within.
Being able to draw on a wide range of learning methods and strategies as appropriate.
Being able to think profitably about learning and themselves as learners.
Being able to make use of relationships in the most productive, enjoyable and responsible way.
Building Learning Power, Guy Claxton, 2002 p.17