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EDU20004 Understanding And Supporting Behaviour

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EDU20004 Understanding And Supporting Behaviour

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EDU20004 Understanding And Supporting Behaviour

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Course Code: EDU20004
University: Swinburne University Of Technology is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Australia


1. Differentiate behaviours displayed by students in learning environments and formulate reasons for these behaviours using behavioural and educational theories.
2. Analyse different principles, policies and practices used for establishing and maintaining a productive learning environment.


Children often display behavior within the classroom that is beyond the understanding of the teacher, which makes it difficult for the teacher to manage (Porter, 2008). It is therefore very crucial for the teacher to understand the behavior of his or her student and the reasons behind it. With this understanding, the teachers could then encourage their students to develop behavioral potentialities and social skills. Many behavioral theories are there that provide concrete response to the different behaviors demonstrated by students however; the essay will focus on Cognitive theory of Jean Piaget. Further, the essay will also highlight the cognitive development influences children’s behavior while referring to the quote as below:
“The evidence is unequivocal – children who have difficulty regulating their emotions, paying attention, initiating peer interactions and sustaining engagement in learning tasks are at risk for school difficulties.” (Bulotsky-Shearer, Dominguez & Bell, 2012, p. 421)
In addition to that, the essay will provide a reflection on behavior and its meaning in terms of the theory chosen. The essay will then formulate reasons behind the display of different behavior by students within the learning environment with the help of the theory.
Behavior according to Cognitive Theory
Jean Piaget developed the Cognitive Theory during the 1930s to explain the different behaviors demonstrated by children at different ages in their development stage (Light, 2017). The theory has three main concepts – schemas, process of adaptation and the stages of cognitive development. According to Piaget, children go through four-stages of cognitive development where they demonstrate different types of behavior. These include the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. Behavior, as per this theory refers to the observation and accumulation of knowledge from the environment. Schemas are the frameworks of the mind that assist in interpreting information. The adaptation process comprises cognitive equilibrium that means the agreement involving our contemplation process and our environments.  Assimilation and accommodation are two closely related processes that allow us to adapt to new experiences. While assimilating, we tend to interpret new experiences as per our accessible schemas. To cite an example, a child would call a horse a deer because he or she has the schema of a deer but not a horse. For her, the answer is right however; with experience, she learns to accommodate and could then demarcate between a horse and a deer. Therefore, with the help of this theory we could understand why children are immature, have a poor working memory, and have difficulty following instructions and such other issues. It is important for a teacher to understand these aspects of the children’s behavior and address those accordingly.
Behavior influenced by social and cultural factors
Apart from the above understanding, we must also understand that behavior is influenced by the different social and cultural factors. Social factors like class, ethnicity, age, gender, religion and family amongst others have a deep influence on a child’s psychology and the resulting behavior (Doherty & Hughes, 2009). Apart from these general social factors, specific factors like instability at home, peer pressure, association with the community also influence behavior. Cultural influences like the culture within the family, popular music, arts, literature, religious festivals, clothing, food habits and other factors also shape the way a child behaves (Ungar, 2015). The notion of these socio-cultural influences on children’s behavior was proposed by Lev Vygotsky, who, as opposed to Piaget believed that social, cultural and other external factors influence children’s behavior rather than just cognitive. According to Vygotsky, the way we behave is constructed by our social and cultural experiences that influence us deeply. From this view, we can easily view that children construct their knowledge by interacting within the social environment and developing relationships. He further claimed that social interaction is central to the cognitive development of children and it gives impetus to them to learn and think. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is one of the most important aspects of Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory. It is defined as the space where children can do anything but with others’ help they could do those things better (Murphy, Scantlebury & Milne, 2015). Social and cultural factors are thus evidently influential in shaping the behavior of children.
Introducing the quote and identifying behaviors
“The evidence is unequivocal – children who have difficulty regulating their emotions, paying attention, initiating peer interactions and sustaining engagement in learning tasks are at risk for school difficulties.” (Bulotsky-Shearer, Dominguez & Bell, 2012, p. 421)
In today’s learning environment, most of us are aware of the difficult behaviors demonstrated by some students within classrooms.  In the above quote, the authors claim that children with difficulties in regulating emotions, paying attention and commencing interaction with peers are in danger of experiencing school difficulties. With an understanding of the Cognitive theory of Piaget, it is possible to identify the behaviors demonstrated by students within the learning environment. In the first stage of Piaget’s cognitive development, children between the ages of 0 to 2 years learn about things through sensing. The second stage begins at age 2 and continues through age seven with children displaying egocentrism. At this stage, children find it difficult to understand other’s perspectives and hence it becomes an issue for children to initiate peer interaction. The third and fourth stages of cognitive development need not be discussed because during these stages children start to develop sense in whatever they learn and apply those as per their understanding. Behaviors like yelling, crying, throwing or scattering objects, being angry easily, sitting in a corner in silence are indicative of the fact that the child has difficulty adapting to the new environment and regulating his or her emotions. When they are unable to regulate emotions, it demonstrates their inability of self-regulation. The second stage, which is the preoperational stage, is quite useful in understanding the problems with self-regulation faced by children. Self-regulation problem could be understood when children demonstrate behaviors like anxiety, biting, trouble maintaining own happiness, growling and so on.
Formulating reasons using Cognitive behavior theory
The problem of regulating emotions, initiating interactions with peer and self-regulation with children occur for various reasons. However, using the Cognitive theory to understand these behaviors helps formulate the reasons for these behaviors. According to the theory, children until the age of 12 remain mostly immature, as their ability to understand others’ perspectives is not developed. Further, children between the ages of two or three to seven do not have the ability to understand easy concepts like reversibility and the tendency of centration. Centration refers to the child’s tendency stay fixed on just one side of a problem, which is mentioned in the second stage of Piaget’s cognitive theory. Due to this, children do not understand or follow instructions properly thus leading to frustration. Egocentrism is another feature of this stage which reasons why children are over confident in believing that their argument or answer is right. When this happens, they fail to take into other right answers into account and start behaving irrationally especially within the learning environment. Further, some children struggle to pay attention in the class, which causes them to lag behind assignments and homework given to them by their teachers. The tendency of centration, which is seen in the second stage of Piaget’s theory can be said to be the reason behind it. Daydreaming, inability to make eye contact, falling asleep during class, fidgeting and unable to follow directions is some behaviors that indicate absence of attention. These behaviors could be attributed to the lack of metacognition or not being aware of own thought process. The concept of egocentrism in the preoperational stage explains this behavior.
Connecting to relevant policies and procedures
The Australian curriculum has wide range of policies and procedures that ensure a congenial learning environment for students.
The evident behavior of children like being bossy or isolating, pushing and manipulating others or encouraging collaborative play are indicators that they are initiating peer interactions. The policy or procedure that could encourage this behavior is the FISO Improvement Model Priority 3, Dimension 1, which is empowering students and building school pride (, 2018). Teachers must understand that students learn best when student agency is encouraged meaning when students experience autonomy and power within the learning environment. Another policy that encourages the overall development of the children including their ability to communicate efficiently with and react properly to others is the National Quality Standard (NQS) Element 5.2.2. The element states, “Each child is supported to manage their own behavior, respond appropriately to the behavior of others, and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts” (, 2018).
Learning Outcome 1 of EYLF states, “Children Have a strong sense of identity” (, 2018). The element 1.2.6 of the first learning outcome states that children have the capacity to demonstrate self-regulation. It is necessary for teachers to provide opportunities to children where they could engage and participate effectively. Behaviors like exploding in anger or being silent, growling and so on could be controlled if children are given the opportunity to engage in tasks independently.
In conclusion, it needs to be stated that the children who have problems managing behavior could be encouraged to improve themselves through the various procedures and policies. The essay has discussed the chosen quote with the help of Piaget’s Cognitive theory to explain certain behaviors demonstrated by the children within the learning environment and the reasons behind those behaviors. It was revealed from the discussion that children go through four specific stages of development as mentioned in the theory that makes them behave in certain ways. Further, the essay also focused on the social and cultural factors that influence children’s behaviors and highlighted Lev Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of behavior. Lastly, the essay linked the various policies and procedures implemented by the Australian government that supports children’s overall development by helping them manage their behaviors through various tasks and opportunities.
References: (2018). BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING THE EARLY YEARS LEARNING FRAMEWORK FOR AUSTRALIA. Retrieved from (2018). Quality Area 5 – Relationships with children. Retrieved from
Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J., Dominguez, X., & Bell, E. R. (2012). Preschool classroom behavioral context and school readiness outcomes for low-income children: A multilevel examination of child-and classroom-level influences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 421.
Doherty, J., & Hughes, M. (2009). The social and moral world of the child. Child development (pp. 377-378). England: Longman / Pearson. (2018). FISO improvement model. Retrieved from
Light, P. (2017). Social interaction and cognitive development: a review of post-Piagetian research. In Developing thinking(pp. 67-88). Routledge.
Murphy, C., Scantlebury, K., & Milne, C. (2015). Using Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development to propose and test an explanatory model for conceptualising coteaching in pre-service science teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 281-295.
Porter, L. (2008). Contrasting ideas about a discipline. In Young children’s behaviour: practical approaches for caregivers and teachers (pp. 9-18). NSW: MacLennan & Petty.
Ungar, M. (2015). Practitioner review: diagnosing childhood resilience–a systemic approach to the diagnosis of adaptation in adverse social and physical ecologies. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 56(1), 4-17.

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