Tag Archives: structured learning

The Importance of Understanding Context

Posted by: Lori Walls on July 8, 2011 2:27 pm

Part of being a graduate student is the task of trying to secure funding for research by writing and applying for grants. A result of the grant application process is developing a thick skin when reading the feedback rejection letters. In response to one of my recent grant applications I received comments indicating that during a period of my undergraduate studies (almost 20 years ago) I had let some of my marks slip. This resulted in the grant reviewers deeming my academic achievements as a spotty performance.  After my initial outrage I desperately wanted a chance to explain the context in which the slipping had occurred. Realizing that it was futile to explain I started to think about the influence of context on the academic and social success of the students that I currently work with and how enhancing my understanding of these factors may translate into different and more adaptive interventions.

In a recent study conducted by Dominguez, Viteiello, Fuccillo, et al. (2011) the additive and interactive effects of children’s context-specific problem behaviours and classroom quality dimensions were examined to determine their influence on  children’s approaches to learning. In this study teachers rated the problem behaviours and approaches to learning of 275 preschool children selected from an urban sample in the United States. Independent assessors conducted classroom observations to evaluate classroom quality. This study is of particular interest as it allowed “children’s needs to be addressed in a contextually and developmentally appropriate manner with the goal of promoting more successful engagement in learning opportunities” (p.177). 

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