Better understanding, better results

This article tackles the concept of developmental readiness and its intricacies with the intention of illuminating its importance in any learning dialogue. The key factors relating to developmental readiness are defined and explored, in relation to one-to-one tuition, in the hope that in understanding them, you are better able to support the learning of your child. The role of the tutor is defined with regard to each factor throughout this article, which, while illustrating my personal approach to tuition, is not a one-size-fits all model for tuition.

Developmental Readiness
Developmental readiness is the term used to define how ready someone is to develop in their learning. In fact, developmental readiness is simply a combination of different factors that can impact on learning. They are: i) goal orientation; ii) self-efficacy; and iii) metacognitive ability. Understanding what these are, and what you can do to improve these factors, will help you better understand how learning works, and, therefore, how to learn more effectively.

Goal orientation
According to psychologist Carol Dweck (1989), people can be said to have either a performance-goal orientation or a learning goal orientation. It is important, then, to understand what these two goal orientations actually mean. Essentially, an individual either sees themselves as fixed, and unchangeable (performance goal orientation), or malleable and able to develop (learning goal orientation). Those with a fixed mind-set might avoid learning situations that may result in failure or negative judgments of their competence. Whereas, those with a learning-goal orientation will approach learning situations that may result in failure with a willingness to take those risks. Learning occurs most effectively when incorrect preconceptions are challenged, so those willing to risk failure will be more likely to fail, and, therefore, learn!
As a result, supportive behaviours that promote psychological safety must be employed in order to create an environment in which one is able to employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences. In fact, learning may be promoted, especially with those identified as having a performance-goal orientation, when incremental goal-setting steadily increases the difficulty or challenge of learning events, while also illuminating and celebrating each achieved milestone.
The role of the tutor with regard to goal orientation, then, is to provide a supportive environment in which all individuals will thrive, while also providing the skills to enable performance-goal oriented individuals to challenge their preconceptions of self, and thus become learning-goal oriented learners.

Self-efficacy is a term used to describe an individuals confidence in their own ability. High levels of self-efficacy are linked with the ability to acquire new, and often complex, skills; memory functioning; and academic performance.

Learning efficacy can be increased in four distinct ways: enacted mastery experiences, role-modelling, feedback, and physiological and psychological arousal.
Hands-on mastery experiences are high quality learning experiences that challenge an individuals current thinking. In these instances, cognitive disequilibrium is produced. These events therefore entail reflection to resolve the disequilibrium and to alter one’s mental models by incorporating new knowledge.
Through role-modelling, efficacy is built by observing successful performance by another individual conducting mastery experiences. This may convince individuals that they are also able to complete the learning task and that their capabilities for learning performance exceeds what they believed their current capabilities to be.
Formative and summative feedback can provide support for: the exploration of ideas, knowledge creation, and the self-esteem and high expectations necessary for performance.
Raising levels of psychological arousal may be achieved by tapping into individuals’ interests. This notion correlates with increasing positive feelings about a particular topic area. Greater intrinsic motivation for learners may result in a greater allocation of effort to learn.

As a result, a tutors role in increasing an individuals self-efficacy is important. Only through experienced, professional delivery of materials can an individual engage with subject material, while also develop a positive relationship with learning in the long-term.

Metacognitive ability
Metacognitive ability really refers to the idea of thinking about thinking. Thinking about thinking requires introspection over the thinking process. It will therefore provide insight into the adequacy of information people are using in their thinking, thus enabling them to identify what further information they may need to improve their thinking process.

Metacognition serves as an executive control that is critical in processing new knowledge and adapting mental models. Metacognition has been linked strongly to the effective use of: learning strategies; motivation for self-regulated learning; and overall learning performance.

Metacognitive ability may be developed through efficacy-building experiences. These experiences in turn may challenge what individuals believe they know and then they may be taught metacognitive processing strategies in order to identify what should or should not be salient during learning processes.

The importance of questioning ones own, and others preconceptions is vital! Learning arises not just from representations of conceptual material but from questioning among fellow learners as they tackle unfamiliar problems. In essence, questions enable thoughts, thoughts enable thinking, thinking enables thinking about thinking, and thinking about thinking enables progressive learning.

The role of the tutor here, then, is to promote an environment in which effective communication is established, while also advocating time for reflection and thought.

Final thoughts
So there you have it! Developmental readiness to every article! Tuition shouldnt just be about the delivery of important academic material: It should extend, challenge and motivate learning in all aspects of life! Through facilitating the growth of developmental readiness, tutors can ensure excellent results for their students upcoming assessments, while also enabling their independence, autonomy and learning in the future.

Additional resources:

Improve the Way You Write
Great Exam Results.. But What Else Do You Want for Your 11-year-old?
Why is Understanding Science Important?

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