Developmental Stages, Student Diversity and the Importance of Feedback

All educational institutions, regardless of location or type will have students with varying rates of physical, social and emotional, intellectual ability, communication and speech development, who will have diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. In almost all educational institutions, students will come from diverse backgrounds and have varied individual needs.  This diversity emerges from language, gender and religion, culture, learning styles, ability and disability, economic status, student interests and motivation. All of which will need to be taken into consideration by the teachers of today.

In relation to varying rates of physical, social and emotional, intellectual and communication and speech, many theories have been established over time relating to the development of these areas. For example, one of the prominent theorists in the area of psycho-social development is Eric Erikson, who believes that the ego of an individual develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future. Erikson places emphasis on the adolescent period, noting that it is a crucial stage for developing a person’s identity.

Erikson’s graph of Developmental stages:

Approximate Age Virtues Psychosocial crisis Significant relationship Existential question Examples
0-2 years Hope Basic trust vs. mistrust Mother Can I trust the world? Feeding, abandonment
2–4 years Will Autonomy vs. shame and doubt Parents Is it okay to be me? Toilet training, clothing themselves
4–5 years Purpose Initiative vs. guilt Family Is it okay for me to do, move, and act? Exploring, using tools or making art
5–12 years Competence Industry vs. inferiority Neighbours, school Can I make it in the world of people and things? School, sports
13–19 years Fidelity Identity vs. role confusion Peers, role model Who am I? Who can I be? Social relationships
20–39 years Love Intimacy vs. isolation Friends, partners Can I love? Romantic relationships
40–64 years Care Generativity vs. stagnation Household, workmates Can I make my life count? Work, parenthood
65-death Wisdom Ego integrity vs. despair Mankind, my kind Is it okay to have been me? Reflection on life

Furthermore, the following document provides a good overview in relation to children’s development including principles of development stages, sequences of development, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, communication and speech development, maturation factors affecting growth and development and understanding how to observe these developments.

Understanding Children’s Development (PDF)

Being primarily involved in Physical education and health education, the physical development of individual students play a crucial part in which type of activities and skill progressions can be used for each age group. There will obviously be differences in development within a class and lessons will have to be adjusted to suit these needs. Giving every student multiple opportunities to respond individually within a lesson can not only increase skill progression and learning, but also confidence.

In relation to student diversity, all students are entitled to participate and learn about health and physical education including those with disabilities and those from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. The Australian Curriculum (ACARA) is committed to developing a high-quality curriculum for all Australian students, one that promotes excellence and equity in education.

In my opinion the following is a perfect explanation in regards to participation and student diversity:

“Teachers take account of the range of their students’ current levels of learning, abilities, strengths, goals and interests and make adjustments where necessary. The three-dimensional design of the Australian Curriculum, comprising learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities, provides teachers with flexibility to personalise learning and cater for the diverse needs of students across Australia. The Health and Physical Education curriculum uses the principles of the universal design for learning framework to ensure that the curriculum is inclusive of all learners and values diversity by providing for multiple means of representation, action, expression and engagement.”  – ACARA

In some classes in which I have students with a disability, I have allocated every student a piece of equipment to use at their own pace to focus on individual skill progression and development. In this case there may be a time limit or end point, however the student is focused on themselves and not worried about what their peers are thinking or doing. Ultimately my goal in a physical education lesson is to gain full participation, get students active and help them understand the benefits of physical activity.

“Many students with disability are able to achieve educational standards commensurate with their peers’ provided that necessary adjustments are made to the way in which they are taught and to the means through which they demonstrate their learning. Adjustments to the practical delivery of movement-based lessons will be necessary to ensure that some students with physical disability can access learning, participate and achieve on the same basis as their peers. Teachers may also need to consider adjustments to assessment of students with disability to ensure that student achievement and demonstration of learning are appropriately measured.” – ACARA

In physical education, it is very possible to account for students with a wide range of abilities and development, including those with a disability, as it’s possible to give each student individual opportunities to respond. This can be achieved by setting up several stations during the skill development phase and monitor students skill progression as individuals. These individual activities allow for students who need a little extra help or time to develop a skill, to develop it in their own time. This also allows for gifted students to excel at their own pace and master certain physical skills. The station set up also gives the teacher extra time to spend with students who need further guidance and help to reinforce the key teaching points. In certain situations, I have placed a reliable and able student in each station rotation group in order to help fellow students. This encourages student independence and can help with motivation.

Full Range of Abilities – Year 8 Gymnastics – Station Rotations

Students With a Disability – ACARA

I have taken care to provide extra support during classroom lessons, to those students who use English an additional language. I achieve this by asking to make sure they have understood what is necessary to complete the task and make sure I explain it to them clearly until they grasp the concept. On certain occasions I have used other capable students in a buddy system with students who need that little bit of extra help. Using a feedback sheet, I can monitor which students are falling behind, which students are excelling and which students need help understanding certain words or concepts. The sheet is handed to students at the end of a lesson or topic for them to fill out and return. The information on these sheets can prove to be very useful in helping those students who use English as additional language.

Feedback Sheet – Language and Concepts (This simple feedback sheet is mainly used for students in year seven and eight in the health education setting)

The English as an Additional Language or Dialect: Teacher Resource has been developed to support teachers as they develop teaching and learning programs using the Australian Curriculum from foundation to year 10. Any teacher who wishes to further their education of teaching students who use English as an additional language can refer to the following documents:

English as an Additional Language – Learning Progression

English as an Additional Language – Overview and Advice

“While the aims of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education (F–10) are the same for all students, EAL/D students must achieve these aims while simultaneously learning a new language and learning content and skills through that new language. These students may require additional time and support, along with teaching that explicitly addresses their language needs. Students who have had no formal schooling will need additional time and support to acquire skills for effective learning in formal settings.” – ACARA

Understanding each student individually can further enhance learning and participation. Through the use of verbal or written feedback a teacher can discover the best ways in which each student learns, which will enable the teacher to modify or scaffold the learning program to suit students on an individual needs basis. Being provided this information and using it effectively can have a significant impact on improving student learning. Allowing the students some input can also have a positive effect on behaviour and motivation. This feedback also allows for better teaching in the future, knowing how each student individually responds.

Student Learning Feedback Sheet – Example feedback sheets that can be handed out to students (Mostly relevant to classroom activities)

In the future, I am aiming to develop a portfolio and understanding of each individual student. This will be achieved by collecting academic records, student hobbies and interests, strengths and weaknesses or any other information which would be beneficial. I will plan learning that caters for a variety of student skills, knowledge and ability and overall diversity, paying particular attention to individual students when necessary. I also plan to converse with my colleagues in order to discover what strategies they have used  to in their development of teaching strategies that cater for the needs of diverse groups of students.

It is my responsibility to ensure that all students have an opportunity to fully participate in any learning activity in order to reach their potential while embracing the differences of others. Further information regarding the health and physical education Australian Curriculum can be found at the ACARA website.

Student Diversity in Health and Physical Education – ACARA

This article relates to the following Professional standards: 

  • 1.1
  • 1.2
  • 1.3
  • 1.5
  • 1.6
  • 3.1
  • 3.5
  • 3.6
  • 4.1
  • 6.2

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