25 December 2014

Slow Learners and Underachievers

CTET Exam Notes : Child Development and Pedagogy (CDP) 

In the last article, you studied about exceptional children or children with special needs. You would have also understood how children with special needs are often ignored or incorrectly labeled and kept away from mainstream education. The previous article also discussed the gifted, talented, and creative children.

This article would continue the discussion on exceptional children. At the end of this article, you would be able to understand the special needs of slow learners and underachievers children.

Slow Learners

Slow learners are often called dull normals. These are students who have trouble mastering learning tasks and keeping up with the classroom. As a result, many of these learners drop out of school. Their IQ levels usually liebetween 70 and 85.
Reasons for slow learning can be classified as follows:
Slow Learners and Socially and Culturally Disadvantaged, Teaching of Slow Learner, Underachievers, CDP Notes, CTET Exam Notes, Child Development & Pedagogy Study Material 

Pathological-genetic reasons include problems like mongolism, cretinism etc. 
Pathological-environmental reasons include pre and/or post natal exposure to radiation, oxygen deficiency at the time of birth etc.
Subcultural-genetic reasons include being born to parents who were themselves slow learners. 
Subcultural-environmental reasons refer to belonging to poor socio-economic background and facing protein deficiency.
Cognitive development among slow learners is between half and three fourth of normal children. In Piagetian terms, most slow learners would stop at the concrete operational stage. Cognitive development would be slower and stop earlier. Apart from cognitive development, all their other (physical, social and emotional) needs would be the same as other children.

Teaching of Slow Learner

Slow Learners and Socially and Culturally Disadvantaged, Teaching of Slow Learner, Underachievers, CDP Notes, CTET Exam Notes, Child Development & Pedagogy Study Material
Diverse methods need to be used for teaching in the classroom. Stimuli through multiple sources –auditory and visual- would help in increasing attention span and improving learning. In areas of interest, slow learners have been seen to perform beyond their expected capabilities. Such areas of interest should be identified and learning organized around these areas. Educational of slow learners should not focus on the same career goals as average children. Instead, focus should be on helping them attain personal, social and professional adequacy so that they learn to live independently in their lives. Curriculum should therefore be modified to suit their needs. Basic understanding of all subjects presented in an integrated fashion to revolve around their areas of interest should be provided.


Underachievers are children with IQ levels 85 and above but performing poorly in the classroom. IQ levels showthat they are capable of average or above average levels of achievement. However, in the classroom, such levels are not achieved, i.e. they are performing below their mental capabilities. At most times, such children are labeled as poor performers and ignored. It is assumed that they are incapable of doing well in studies.
Reasons for underachievement may lie at home or at school. Changing schools too often, not liking the teacher, general dislike for school, belonging to a group of underachievers, frequent illness resulting in absence from school and disturbance at home maybe some of the causes of underachievement.
Underachievement is most visible in languages as well as mathematics. Underachievement in reading,writing, comprehension and handwriting results in underachievement in other subjects also. Underachievers may be identified through observation and teacher made tests or through standardized tests of intelligence and achievement.
In many cases underachievers also tend to be emotionally disturbed. The school psychologist or psychiatrist should therefore work alongside the teacher in ensuring atleast average achievement by these children. Special arrangements for remedial and individual classes should be made. A mechanism of providing systematic rewards and praises should be worked out so that the child is motivated to perform better. Frequent testing can also be organized so that even slight improvements can be appreciated and recorded. Their interest areas can be identified and studies in other subjects can be arranged around the interest area. A system of contingency contracts also works well with underachievers. In a contingency contract, the student and teacher enter into a contract where the student is asked to perform or achieve a target in return of a reward which is contingent or dependent on his achievement.

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