What is the Importance of Peer Relationships in Learning?
Peer pressure is a behavioral pattern that starts in childhood and continues into adulthood. This pressure arises from a person’s need for peer acceptance and approval. The groups in which they are affiliated define the students. In fact, positive peers encourage each other to be both motivated and actively engaged in their academics. In addition, it influences a student’s intrinsic value towards their schoolwork and achievements. For example, if a teenager joins a group, which considers that getting good grades is important, then he/she must exhibit excellent report cards to fit in that group (Leka, 2015). Significantly, teens who strive to report good grades due to peer pressure perceive that more effort should be put in academic involvement and, at the same time, avoid misconducts.
On the other hand, negative peer influence does exist. Notably, the most attributing factor in this behavioral change is the passive acceptance of the peer-group structures. Negative peer influence mostly promotes breaking the rules at school, home, and personal values. In the learning process, peers often skip classes for various reasons and engage in other little activities like vandalism, smoking, bullying, disrespecting authorities, and engaging in sexual activities. For example, a girl who is not interested in learning may not be interested in learning because she is growing up to become someone’s wife (Leka, 2015). Due to this kind of influence, such students always underperform and report poor grades. Indeed, positive peer pressure should be applauded and rewarded by the teacher because they mostly promote good conducts and recording of excellent grades. Nevertheless, to discourage negative peer pressure, teachers should encourage a student to associate with different friends who share their beliefs, suggest that their friends undertake various activities, and get assistance from someone they trust.
Factors Influencing Moral and Pro-social Development in an Individual
In other words, pro-social behavior is described as a voluntary behavior intended to benefit or help others in society. Some of these behaviors include sharing and helping others, co-operating, donating, and volunteering. Additionally, obeying rules, conforming and agreeing to practice socially accepted behavior is also viewed as pro-social behavior. Consequently, factors influencing moral and pro-social behavior are based on contextual and individual influences. Contextual behavior refers to recognizing a situation that requires assistance, enabling oneself to assist, and involving personal responsibilities into their actions. Other factors that influence pro-sociality include environment, genetics, gender, and cultural factors.
However, parents who are supposed to model cooperative behavior by using prior discipline as opposed to being a power assertive motivate environmental factors. Genetics contribution is linked to inheritance of substantially pro-social behavior (Carlo et al., 1999). The author continues to highlight that westernized individuals display less pro-social behavior than children from other cultures. In fact, girls are more favored by pro-sociality than their male counterparts. Students who are endowed with pro-sociality are found to display better peer relationships and are relatively well adjusted than the lesser pro-social peers.
Due to the advantages exhibited by pro-sociality, the students exhibit excellent academic achievements and positive relationships with their peers and teachers, unlike their inferior pro-social peer. It is also clear that the volunteering adolescents acquire higher grades, an intrinsic motivation to their schoolwork, as well as increased academic self-esteem. (Carlo et al., 1999). To encourage moral and pro-social development amongst learners, it is important that teachers take responsibility by promoting a cordial and secure relationship with their students. Trainers should also encourage learners’ collaboration, where they work in small groups, which could provide opportunities for active mingling that would develop social understanding. Students should also be trained to apply social problem-solving skills to reduce peer rejection.
How Cultural and Ethnic differences affect Classroom or Work Environment
The world today is characterized by cultural and ethnic diversities. Therefore, for children to grow in a free world of discrimination and bias, the teachers should teach various aspects on how to embrace and overcome these ethnic and cultural differences. In the school, the cultural differences are displayed when teachers have to initiate culturally responsive decisions. Therefore, they have to avoid favoring students of one ethnicity or culture over the other. On the other hand, in the working environment, ethnic and cultural differences are displayed when people from specified races dominate certain positions (Tyler, Stevens, & Uqdah, 2003). For example, the non-Hispanic whites in the United States are employed in the white-collar jobs, while their counterparts from other races are contracted for casual laborers and other manual jobs.
Both the education and employment sector have made mistakes that have resulted in frequent incidences of bias in either environment. However, the main mistake in both institutions is the refusal to embrace and appreciate ethnic and cultural differences. For instance, in the working environment, workers are divided into groups that are based on ethnicity and culture. On the other hand, teaching, learning activities, classroom instructions, lessons, and materials used primarily reflect on the cultural perspectives of a majority culture or races. Teachers and managers should adhere to certain strategies to promote learning and motivation in both learning and working environments. In fact, teachers should embrace cultural and ethnic discontinuity by practicing social, cognitive, emotional, and cultural needs of all their students (Tyler, Stevens, & Uqdah, 2003). Top management should promote and foster open communication amongst all their employees in the workforce. Besides, leaders should acknowledge that different cultures have a different perspective of leadership and expectations of their leader. Moreover, managers should win the trust of their employees, a situation that will motivate them to work hard.
Differences Between Learning Theories
Constructivism is a learning mode founded on the view that by reflecting on personal experiences, individuals construct their understanding of the world they live. Therefore, under constructivism, learning is the process of adjusting individual mental models for them to accommodate newer experiences. Constructivism plays a fundamental role in the learning process, including the elimination of standardized curriculum, an assessment used to eliminate grades, and standardized testing (Seal 2012). In fact, instructing students properly is part of constructivism because the teachers can focus on building connections between facts, thus, fostering new and better understanding of new concepts.
The above learning method asserts that culture is the prime determinant of an individual’s development. Significantly, human beings are the only species that have a culture, and thus, each of their offsprings develops in the context of their Intellectual culture. Interactions with the surrounding culture and other social agents propagate a child’s development. Social cognition is a crucial tool in the learning process because the interaction skills gained allows the children to interact successfully with both the curricula and their peers (Seal 2012). Moreover, once the children are taught how to scaffold their thoughts, their intellectual levels increases, and they record excellent results and quickly make independent decisions in future.
Behavioral Learning Theory
Behavioral learning theory focuses on objectively observable behaviors without involving much of mental activities. Behaviorists, through experiments identify conditioning as the global learning process. Classical conditioning, for instance, occurs whenever there is a response to a natural reflex. On the other hand, operant conditioning results whenever there is a response to a reinforced stimulus. In the learning process, the use of behavioral learning theory is very effective regardless of the reinforcement technique used, either negative or positive (Seal, 2012). Besides, teachers mostly apply behaviorism as the standard measure of rewarding or punishing their students’ behavior.
Classical and Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning is a learning mode where consequences control an individual’s behavior. On the other hand, classical conditioning is a learning method that causes a stimulus to signal either positive or adverse effects. Positive reinforcement and positive punishment should be used to change behavior. In positive reinforcement, an individual should be trained consistently and immediately rewarded once they can reliably repeat the acceptable behavior. Consequently, the positive punishment should be applied in a bid to decrease unacceptable behavior. However, if those being punished do not change after the first few applications, then the punishment is either ill-timed, or their behavior is too strongly motivated. Reinforcement could be used in correcting a student who has been showing aggressive behavior towards their peers. In such an instance, the teacher should train them on how to be respectful towards their classmates with a promise of a reward (Nicholas 2008). However, if this student does not change after several trials, then the teacher should either stop punishing the culprit because they are not prepared to modify or use an entirely different approach to solving this problem.
The classical conditioning could be applied to change behavior when there is a need to be aware of processes, make conscious choices, and condition their emotional responses (Nicholas 2008). A contingency contract is a good example of classical conditioning of an individual’s behavior. Contingency contracts are intervention tip sheets developed in the learning process to help teachers and parents provide the best opportunities for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. This agreement between teachers and pupils is focused on reinforcing both behavioral and academic goals with a promise of rewards or contingents upon achieving the agreed objectives. A behavioral contract ensures that students avoid being involved in undesirable traits like hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. In essence, the unwanted behavior could be eliminated amongst students who are geared towards delivering what they signed for in their contracts.
Carlo, G., Fabes, R. A., Laible, D., & Kupanoff, K. (1999). Early adolescence and prosocial/moral behavior II: The role of social and contextual influences. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 19(2), 133-147.
Leka, I. (2015). The Impact of Peer Relations in the Academic Process among Adolescents. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6(1 S1), 127.
Nicholas, L. J. (2008). Introduction to psychology. Cape Town: UCT Press.
Seel, N. M. (2012). Encyclopedia of the sciences of learning. New York: Springer.
Tyler, K., Stevens, R., & Uqdah, A. (2003). Cultural bias in teaching. Psychology of classroom learning: An encyclopedia. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.