Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This section of the School&Work portal provides administrative information for the project contractual partners and for the European Commission and it is password protected.


Homepage > Training > Understanding pupils

The module focuses on the psychological aspects to be addressed and taken into account to understand the pupils’ personal aptitudes and characteristics, to identify those aspects that must be considered to personalize their education path, motivation to study and the risk factors that can lead to the decision of abandoning school.

Understanding pupils

Table of Content

Chapter 1: Introduction
The importance of understanding pupils.
A teacher needs to understand what motivates pupils, what social-economic background the pupils are bringing to the classroom, as well as the pupils’ personality traits, values, abilities and interests. During their school years pupils are changing cognitively, socially, and physically which all affect their learning and motivation to learn. Pupils are also impacted by their culture, neighbourhood, parents, friends.

Knowledge of this background and taking into consideration psychological aspects of personality development at different age phases helps the teacher understand pupils and answer such questions as: ‘How can I help this pupil to learn better?’ or ‘How can I personalize his/her educational and career path?’ Teachers can impact positively upon educational path of all their pupils, but can only do so when relationship based upon trust and appreciation has been achieved. A caring teacher can develop trust not just between teacher and pupil but also among pupils at school. Trust and acceptance is extremely important as it creates psychologically safe atmosphere in the classroom which provides the security pupils need, enhances motivation to learn and decreases the risk of abandoning school. A sense of belonging and being valued motivates pupils to continue their educational path. Teachers who continually try to understand their pupils and to address pupils’ interests, deficiencies and misconceptions will be the most successful in helping pupils to meet their own responsibilities to learn. Knowledge about pupils, meeting their needs will enable the teacher to refine lectures, class discussions, comments, illustrations, and activities so that they are more effective learning experiences. References to pupils’ interests, backgrounds, knowledge, and even anxieties can make the class seem more personal and the material more accessible.

The process of coming to know students as learners is often difficult and challenging, particularly if the students are struggling with schoolwork. A pupil’s readiness is influenced by his/her prior learning success or failure, self-esteem, sense of efficacy, cultural norms, social status within the class or group, life experience.

William Powell and Ochan Kusuma-Powell (How to Teach Now: Five Keys to Personalized Learning in the Global Classroom”) point out the following five important dimensions in the process of understanding pupils and developing their learning profiles: biological traits, cultural and societal factors, emotional and social influences, academic performance, and learning preferences.

Biological traits include child's gender, age, physical development, physical disabilities, health, motor skills, coordination, and diagnosed learning disabilities.

Cultural and societal factors include child's sense of stability, both now and in past; economic status; ethnic and racial background; cultural identity; language; religion; norms and values; and gender expectations.

Emotional and social influences include family structure, family history, recent change or loss in the family, attitude, disposition, peer status, and self-esteem.

Academic performance includes evidence of child's concrete or abstract thinking skills, reading skills, attentional focus, past success, oral language development, written language, proficiency with sequencing, proficiency with categorization, and proficiency in identifying logical arguments.

Learning preferences include interests, intelligence preferences, learning styles, production styles, and environmental influences.

Teacher’s ability to identify and meet pupils’ needs, to help them unveil their hidden potentials, inclinations, aptitudes and values leads to successful learning/teaching process and counselling. Pupils are more likely to behave and learn when their personal and psychological needs are met, particularly when they feel safe, accepted, valued, meaningful, involved, belonging, competent, loved, independent, cooperative, entertained and self-actualized.
Online Resources

Table of Content

Comments on this section

In order to post a comment it is compulsory to be logged in.

Date: 2016.09.13

Posted by Aneta - Lithuania

It provides a lot of useful information that is essential towards pupils’ understanding.

Date: 2016.09.13

Posted by Beata Višniak-Bakšienė - Lithuania

This section contains specific information that makes it possible to define the classes’ structure, provides future activities and direction.

Date: 2016.08.03

Posted by L. Barrada - Spain

For the e-learning package, I am sure I will use some of the chapters in the near future. I keep them to use them with my own resources.

Date: 2016.07.10

Posted by Palumbo Luana - Italy

This section is very important because it gives all the tools to understand the pupils’ needs, the level of their skills, their dreams about a future job. For teachers it is also useful because it offers a series of tests to know and exalt the pupils’ potentialities. Teachers can also inform pupils about the concrete possibilities of working and living abroad.
The contents of the package are undoubtedly very useful, because they permit the deep knowledge of all the possibilities offered by the labour market.
In particular the “Job profiles section offers an exhaustive explanation of how the labour market requests new profiles or is modifying the existing ones., Finally it will be important to improve the section of test so students can start to think about their skills and aptitudes

Date: 2016.07.07

Posted by I. Jacquard - France

The contents are really interesting and there are a lot of online resources.

Date: 2016.07.06

Posted by Emanuela Gheorghiu - Romania

The first module Understanding pupils highlights important theoretical psychological aspects which should be considered in order to understand and identify students’ personal aptitudes and characteristics; these aspects are useful when personalizing students’ education pathway towards the most suitable career and life style for them.
The last chapter strikes a balance between theory and practice by providing teachers and counsellors with best practices, experiences and success stories related to career planning, guidance and counselling.

Follow us

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.