CTET Exam Notes : Child Development and Pedagogy (CDP) 

Topic  : Individual differences among learners

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES:     Meaning, Significance and Cause

In education, ever since the most ancient times, students have been differentiated on the basis of age as difference in age levels entitles the children to differing levels of education.
As the child's age gradually increases, the subjects of his education can be made more complex and difficult. In addition to differences in age, another factor is the difference in levels of intelligence. Besides this, educational attainments were also considered to be important. In this manner, during the ancient and the medieval periods, individual difference was believed to be the capacity of attaining skills  in a particular subject. In modern schools, other kinds of skills and abilities, and peculiarities of personality in individuals are also taken into consideration.

According to Skinner, "Today we think of individual differences as including any measurable aspect of the total personality."  From  this  definition  of  individual  differences  it  is evident that it comprehends every aspect of the human personality, albeit all aspects that is in some manner measurable.

Aspects of this nature can be many such as variability, conformity, difference in the rate of learning and development of mutual relationship between the various characteristics of personality, etc. In this manner, various individual differences of physical and mental development, nature, learning ability, specific abilities, interest and personality, etc.

Definition: Individual differences are the variations from one person  to  another   on   variables  such   as self-esteem,   rate of cognitive development or degree of agreeableness. Historically, psychological science has overlooked individual differences in favor of focusing on average behavior.

Differences that separate individual from one another and make one as a unique individual in oneself are termed as individual differences.

Osborne considers individual differences as dissimilarity between persons      that      distinguish      them      from      one      another.

The nature of individual differences can be summarized as follows

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, The nature of individual differences, Educational   significance   of   individual   difference, Causes of individual difference, CDP Notes, CTET Exam Notes, Child Development & Pedagogy Study Material

1)  Individual differences are differences in the degree : All persons do have common human traits. But the amount and proportions of such traits differ from person to person leading to uniqueness of personality and behaviors. The concept of individual differences refers to quantitative differences found among individuals in respect of a specific traits or various traits.

2)  Normal distribution of traits: All measures of traits that contribute to individual difference tend to distribute themselves according to the laws of normal probability curve.

3)  There exist both inter-individual and intra-individual differences: individuals not only differ among themselves with respect to a specific trait but differences may be also noticed within the same individual   when   he   is   studied   in   respect   of   various   traits.

Educational   significance   of   individual   difference

Some of the important implications of individual difference in education are the following:

1)As far as possible individual method of instruction may be adopted.
2)As every student has his peculiar differences individual attention should be paid by the teacher.
3)As individuals differ in their interest and abilities a large number of subjects of study should be provided by the school, so that student may have wide choices in selection of the subject they offer for study.
4)  Individual differences call for individualized curriculum, methods of teaching, evaluation techniques etc.
5)  Individuals differ widely in their abilities, needs, interests, aptitudes, attitudes, etc. Therefore it is essential that arrangements should be made to provide educational and vocational guidance to the pupils individually

Causes of individual differences are:

1.   Difference in Growth Rate: Some children grow rapidly and some grow slowly. Some grow mentally at a faster rate, some at a very slow rate. Some grow physically and mature early; some grow late. The different parts of the organism grow at different rates. Each child has his own growth rate.

2.   Difference in Socio-Economic Backgrounds: Some of the differences are caused by differences in socio-economic backgrounds. These differences are seen in pupils' reaction patterns. Differences in socio-economic backgrounds may lead to differences in diet, cultural opportunities, ideals, attitudes and in family behaviour habits.

3.   Interaction of Heredity and Environment: A large number of individual differences are caused by the interactive process of heredity and environment. To each child, heredity provides a potential. The dynamic forces of the environment act upon that potential in a different way.

4.   Physiological Differences: The layman and the scientist both realize and recognise that differences exist among individuals in the innate ability to learn. Certainly, a mongoloid or a micro cephalic do not learn with the facility of a normal individual.

It is a fact though it may not be obvious that among the pupils who appear to be normal, there are also enormous differences in degrees of ability. These differences are attributed to basic physiological differences.

The basic physiological differences may be, for example, due to visual difficulty or hearing difficulty or other sensory disability or glandular dysfunction or dietary deficiency. A child who appears to be normal may be having any or some of these difficulties with the consequent impairment of learning.
For example, visual difficulty which is evidenced by rubbing the eyes, leaning forward to see the board, tilting the head, hearing difficulty which is displayed by turning one side of the head towards the source of sound, asking that questions be repeated, and other sensory difficulties like speech defects, inattention and listlessness cause individual differences in learning.

Teachers must recognize that some of the individual differences arise because of basic physiological differences. They must recognize that these differences exist and demand that teachers should not force all children to learn at uniform rate.

When children begin to show indifference, failure, boredom inattention, tantrums, they indicate through these symptoms that teachers are expecting too much or too little from them. Pupils with
sensory difficulties should be given differential treatment.

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