The effect of a learning development program on the academic functioning of the adolescent
Grobler, Adelene Ann
MetadataShow full item record
Councellors are constantly being faced with the dilemna of academic failure of students displaying the required intellectual abilities. It would seem that factors pertaining to effective study skills, habits and attitudes play an important role in this situation. Furthermore, the shortage of manpower with respect to both the teaching profession and counsellors implies a neglect of instruction in this field, resulting in academic-failure and associated emotional problems pertaining to lowered self-esteem and unsuccessful career development. This study aimed to supply answers to these needs by the implementation of a learning development program for adolescents. Being directed at the adolescent population, it was necessary to review the normal development of the adolescent, his cognitive development and cognitive styles employed. The latter also served to emphasize the importance of cognition in the development of a learning development program. Aspects such as the formal operational stage of cognitive development (Piaget) and the field dependent and field independent cognitive styles (Witkin) received attention. Suggestions followed pertaining to an integrated approach, incorporating both styles. Motivation was regarded as an important catalyst to the learning process and suggestions were made with respect to the acquisition and enhancement of achievement motivation in learning. Furthermore, a review of recent strategies implemented to improve academic functioning was made and conclusions were reached with respect to the effectiveness of certain orientations. From these theoretical considerations involved in the learning process of the adolescent, a learning development program was developed on the principles of the General Systems Theory, cybernetics and psycho-education The General Systems Theory approach enabled the trainer to regard the adolescent as a self-regulating open system, capable of energy exchange with his environment. This energy exchange between systems was regarded in terms of the principles of the cybernetic cycle. These, in turn, formed the basis of the theoretical model underlying pscho-education. The implications of psycho-education included the following: (a) an orientation towards preventative services; (b) the consideration of man's development across his entire life-span; (c) the development of more complex systems; (d) the activation of a cyclic process, ensuring feedback to the system; and (e) the development of psycho-education. The program was therefore developed on the grounds of these considerations and in this way aimed to improve academic functioning in the adolescent. For the purpose of this study, academic functioning was considered in terms of academic achievement, study habits and attitudes and time structuring. The program reflected the following structuring: (a) situation analysis; (b) formulation of goals; (c) implementation of strategies; and (d) feedback (control) to the system. The program was implemented to a sample (N = 30) of std. 7 hostel pupils of an English secondary school for boys. These subjects were selected at random and randomly ascribed to an experimental and control group (N = 15). The selection of an experimental and control group met the requirements of a before after control experimental design which was implemented to determine the effect of the program. The effect of the independent variabLe (program) on the dependent variables (achievement, study habits and attitudes and time structuring) was determined by the comparison of before and after measures of the experimental and control groups. The effect of the program on the dependent variables was determined by the implementation of the following measuring instruments: (a) achievement - average achievement and achievement in History - mark schedules; (b) study habits and attitudes - The Survey of Study Habits and Attitudes (~SHA); and (c) time structuring - a time record. On these measuring instruments, the before and after measures were compared with regard to the experimental and control groups. These results were obtained by the implementation of the t-test for independent groups. In this way a number of hypotheses were formulated and tested with respect to the effectiveness of the program in improving academic functioning. Academic functioning was considered to be a function of: (a) achievement (average achievement and achievement in History); (b) study habits and attitudes; and (c) time-structuring. The hypotheses were formulated with respect to the effect of the program on all these dependent variables. It appeared that the program had no significant effect on academic functioning as determined by achievemert, study habits, attitudes and time-structuring. Reasons for this may be found in terms of: the time of implementation of the program; the unrealistic goals with respect to the amount wished tobe achieved in the limited time available; the period prior to post-test re-evaluation and the contamination between groups.