Classification of Factors: Personal & Environment

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Classification of Factors: Personal & Environment

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Classification of Factors: Personal & Environment




To understand how we categorise the factors affecting learning, let us begin by considering the following examples:

  • Ravi is sixteen year old and wants to please his mother by getting good results in his board examinations. He is so eager to please her, that he spends long hours of concentrated time and energy on studies. He consciously tries to control other sources of distraction in his life and reduces the time spent on watching television, playing games and chatting with his friends.
  • Rita Williams wants to be a famous tennis player. To achieve her goal, she practices tennis whenever she can even though she gets no encouragement from her family. She makes it a point to watch tennis matches and maintain a good rapport with her sports teacher.
  • Yuvraj is a good student, but lately he has been scoring very low marks at school. He is not able to concentrate or pay attention and his class work and home assignments reflect a very poor quality. Sources revealed that his parents fight a lot with each other and are about to get divorced.
  • Arti and Kavita are two sisters. Arti is good at art and craft and can sketch just a anything she sees. Kavita has a car for music. She knows most songs and can sing them even if she has heard them only once. Both of them spend hours together pursuing their respective interest areas. very
  • Sayeeda is tall, attractive and has a very good figure. She wants to be a model or an air hostess and nurtures this secretly as her dream. She is too scared to share her wishes with her family, since she belongs to an orthodox family, where girls at best can pursue teaching as a career. When she tries telling her mother what she wants, she is firmly told that she can only do her B.Ed and can go to the coaching classes for these.

The above cited examples illustrate that learning is a universal phenomenon mediated by a number of factors, both personal and environmental in nature The dictum “everybody learns” is as true as its corollary, Le, everybody learns in accordance with his/her unique individualized blend of personal and environmental factors. For example, in the case of Ravi, the desire to please his mother, striving to do well on his board exams and managing his life situations appropriately constitute the key factors which influence him. For Rita Williams, it is her intrinsic desire to be a good tennis player which is paramount She is not deterred by the lack of family support and continues in make efforts to promote her love for tennis on her own and fulfil her desire to be successful

In case of Yuvraj, in spite of his innate capacity to study and perform well, his lack of achievement can be attributed to the emotional insecurity stemming from his parents divorce. As far as Arti and Kavita are concerned, their special interests and talent in art and music respectively, seem to guide their activities.

For Sayeeda, the home environment and family culture and values determine her professional choice. Her own inner interests, desires and wishes are not to be taken into cognizance.

In all the examples cited, we can find evidence of both personal and environmental factors influencing the process of learning. Learning can thus be defined as a function of the interaction of personal and environmental factors:

L=f (EF x PF)

L = learning: 

f = function: 

EF = environmental factors: 

PF = personal factors.

Personal factors are the intra individual factors like motivation, interests, abilities ete which

predispose an individual towards learning as in the case of Rita Williams, Arti and Kavita. Environmental factors on the other hand, are those contextual factors which highlight the role of the environment in learning, such as the socio-emotional, societal and cultural factors as seen in the case of Yuvraj and Sayeeda. Although the two factors represent different they operate in a common system. The environmental factors provide the context within which the personal factors operate. The learner and the learning process can only be completely understood with reference to the interaction of both environmental and personal factors. This may be diagrammatically represented as follows:

Personal Factors Influencing Learning

The process of learning is influenced by a variety of personal factors. A thorough knowledge of these factors will prove very helpful for teachers and parents in understanding and guiding their children learning. Some of the personal factors that influence the learning process may be classified as under : sensation and perception, fatigue and boredom, maturation, emotional condition, needs, interests, motivation, attention, intelligence, aptitude, attitude. etc. Let us discuss the important personal factors in the following sub-sections.

Sensation and Perception

Apart from the general health of the students, sensation and perception are the psychological factors which help in learning. Sensation is at the core of perception. There are five sense organs: Le skin, ears, tongue, eyes and nose. These sense organs are the gateways of knowledge and help in perception of various stimuli in the environment. Any defect in any of the sense organs will affect learning and hence acquisition of knowledge. For example, defects of vision such as myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism, ctc., cause headaches, nausea and general disinclination to study. A blind person depends upon the sense of touch or skin for learning and thus acquires knowledge and skills, as he can not visualise the objects. The stimuli are perceived and assimilated, and hence learnt through various sense organs. In this way we can say that sensation and perception are the bases of knowledge and learning.

Fatigue and Boredom

It is virtually boredom or lassitude rather than fatigue which bothers the students. The difference between the two is that fatigue is mental or physical tiredness which decreases in efficiency and competency to work. Boredom, on the other hand, is a lack of desire and an aversion to work. Such an aversion makes one feel fatigued without being actually fatigued. Studying seldom causes fatigue. It is mainly boredom which, besides causing the impression of fatigue, decreases student efficiency in learning.

Age and Maturation

Learning is directly dependent upon age and maturation. No learning can take place unless an individual is mature enough to learn. Some children can learn better at an earlier age while others take more time to learn the same content.

Mental age increases with the chronological age and ceases at about the age of sixteen years. Increase in age means intellectual maturation which helps in solving difficult problems. The principle of maturation wams us against enforcing learning on a child when he is not mature enough to leam the specific skills. Teachers should explain this principle to parents who are over ambitious or over enthusiastic in sending their children to school at a very early age.

Emotional Conditions

Desirable emotional conditions enhance the quality and speed of leaming Happiness, joy and satisfaction are always favourable for any type of learning. Adverse emotional conditons, on the other hand, hinder learning. Many studies have established the fact that emotional strain, stress, tensions. disturbances, etc., are extremely inimical to scholastic pursuits.


A need is the lack of something which, if provided, would facilitate a child’s usual behaviour. The lack of something is experienced by the child. The child then tries to perform that activity which culminates in the satisfaction of the need. Thus, the needs are associated with goals. Among human beings, the needs are relatively permanent tendencies which seek satisfaction in achieving certain specific goals. When these goals are achieved, the particular need is satisfied or met for the time being, but it recurs sooner or later and energises further activity. The needs in human beings can be physiological such as need for oxygen, food, water, etc. They may be social such as the need for affection, recognition, self-regard, etc. Social needs are however, quite different from physiological needs. Social peeds might originate after physiological needs are satisfied. These needs have a complex structure and dominate the individual’s behaviour.

There is not equal urgency in the satisfaction of all needs. Some have to be satisfied before others can manifest themselves In schools, children are not expected to do any intellectual thinking unless their physiological needs are satisfied. Poor, starved children may concentrate less on attainment of knowledge than on food Similarly very cold or hot classrooms or over-crowded seats will not be conducive to good learning. Likewi se the need for safety, love and esteem, all act as powerful motives in the learning situations. If the child is afraid of the teacher or feels unsafe while in the school on account of too much beating or some other form of punishment, no learning can take place. Similarly, his needs for warmth and affection are very stimulating and hence results in effective learning.


Various types of interests of the students can be exploited to facilitate their learning. The interests during carly infancy are mostly limited and short lived. As the child grows older his interests diversify and stabilize. You, a school teacher, should have thorough knowledge of children’s interests. You can eliminate much drudgery, monotony and boredom from the school work if you make your instruction lively and stimulating and arouse student interest in it.

Once the student’s interest is aroused in an activity you should expend more effort on it. No learning can be achieved without proper expenditure of effort on it. Students can even overcome distraction, fatigue und boredom if they feel interested in your instruction and class activities. It has often been found that, in most cases, fatigue in reality is loss of interest in the learning activity. Interest, should be exploited to yield results of greater quantity and quality learning in school.

In such cases of conflicting interests a lot of hesitancy, wastage, frustration and unhappiness is bound to follow. What is needed is education at home and school which helps/trains children to achieve a healthy balance in their interests. They should be trained to budget their time in such a manner as to pay a reasonable attention to various interests, scholastic, athletic, social etc., within the time at their disposal.


Motivation is the heart of the learning process. It generates the will in an individual to do something. Adequate motivation not only engages the student in an activity which results in learning, but also sustains and directs learning. Two types of motivation are commonly recognised. These are: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation


Intelligence as expressed by an 1.Q. score on an intelligence test is positively related to learning Generally, students with higher 1.Q. learn rapidly, However, higher IQ in itself is no guarantee for rapid learning, since other factors such as needs interest, motivation, etc., of the students and the methods used for learning are also important.


A student who possesses appropriate aptitude for a particular subject of study or skill, will learn better and retain it for a longer time. On the other hand, he will require relatively longer time to study a subject for which he lacks natural aptitude. He is liable to forget it soon besides feeling bored and unhappy all the time while learning it. Hence, it is extremely desirable to analyse the aptitude of students before prescribing courses of study for them.


The learning process is also influenced considerably by the attitude of the student. If he is alert, attentive and interested in the material to be learnt, he is bound to have a favourable attitude towards it. Such an attitude will enable him to tackle the learning situation economically, pleasantly and effectively. Conversely. if he is inattentive and is uninterested in the material his attitude is bound to be unfavourable. This will hinder the smooth leaming of the material in hand besides involving undue strain and tension in the learner

Environmental Factors

Environmental influences begin from the time of the conception of the child in the womb of the mother Mother’s mental, physical and emotional conditions influence the development of foetus in the womb. The external environment starts from the time of birth of the child. Its (external environment) refers to the surroundings which prevail in home, school and locality. At these places, the child interacts with members of the family, teachers, classmates or peers and neighbours and establishes relationships with them. The relationship with the members of the

society, and the surroundings may affect the development of the child and also the way he leans. Some of the environmental factors are discussed as follows:

Surrounding : Natural, Social and Cultural As the title of the sub-section indicates, we shall discuss the natural, social and cultural environment the child interacts with and get influenced.

Natural surroundings cover the climatic and atmospheric conditions. These conditions affect learning directly. It has been found that high temperature and humidity reduces mental efficiency, For a limited time, humidity and high temperaturevcan be tolerated but prolonged humidity and high temperature become unbearable and decrease mental efficiency. The intellectual productivity and creativity of people living in hot regions are much lower. Likewise, the morning time is always better for mastering difficult tasks. Mental efficiency decreases due to increased humidity and temperature, Studies on the academic progress of evening school students shows losses of efficiency varying from one to six per cent.

Social surroundings include especially the environment of home, school and locality. Physical conditions at home such as large family, small family. (specific place of the study), insufficient ventilation, improper lighting, uncomfortable temperature, noisy home environment due to use of radio, TV, etc., noisy neighbourhood, constant visits by friends or relatives, etc., influence the intellectual learning of the student The socio-emotional factors such as child rearing practices, reward and punishment, scope for freedom and independence in activities and decision making. play and study facilities, ambitions and aspirations of the parents, disorganisation and discord among birth positions such as eldest. the youngest or single child has their definite influence on learning. For example, a student who comes from a very poor family and never had any intellectual stimulation at home remains dull and unresponsive in the class. In some societies there is a strong sex bias. Girls are directly or indirectly told that education is not meant for them. In the middle class families, on the other hand, parents are rather over-ambitious. They wish their children to make quick academic progress, grow up and find a respectable vocation preferably a white collar job. Such children, therefore get sufficient incentive from their families: This, of course, is most favourable to scholastic learning, although an overdose of family emphasis on acquiring academic excellence might affect the child’s mental and physical health adversely, Similarly, school activities. study facilities and teaching methods and behaviour of teachers, principals and non-teaching staff have an impact upon learning. If the school atmosphere is unconducive, it adversely affects the learning process, Locality also has an influence on a child. If the locality is bad, the learning will be ineffective to some extent.

Cultural demands and social expectations also influence learning. The spirit of culture is reflected in its social and educational institutions. Children’s learning, therefore, is greatly determined by the demands and expectations of their culture. Thus, for instance, in an industrialized culture the emphasis mostly centres mechanical sciences and preparing children for highly mechanised vocations. In an agriculture based community, on the other hand, the educational process focusses on preparing its members for those skills which are suited to the needs of an agrarian community

The philosophical elements of culture also influence the spirit of children’s learning. Children in a democratic culture tend to acquire democrative and values and attitudes. A feudal, aristocratic or dictatorial culture, on the other hand, promotes autocratic modes of thought and behaviour

Relationship with Teacher, Parents and Peers

The teacher is an important constituent in the instructional process. She/he plays an important role in shaping the behaviour of students. The way he teaches and manages the students has effect on their learning. An authoritarian teacher will create an aggression and hostility among students while a democratic teacher will create a participatory climate for learning. The democratic environment leads students to constructive, thoughtful and cooperative behaviour. Generally, students learn better in democratic set up because they like democratic procedures. The teacher is no more an instructor or the director of learning in a democratic set up. She/ he helps his/her students in their learning. The teachers no more dominate the scene, they can get better results by decentralizing authority. increasing independence of students. They can attend to the comments and questions of the students: They can encourage students to participate in learning activities in and outside the class. There should be more emphasis on activity centred classroom where student’s active participation in the teaching-learning process is encouraged and the teacher acts as a guide to promote leaming

Relationship with parents plays a vital role in the learning process of the student. If the child-parents relationship is based on mutual respect and faith, it can provide the child a congenial atmosphere which in turn can facilitate his/her learning. A distorted and unhealthy environment, on the other hand, adversely affects the learning of the student. The upward mobility brings resistance on the part of the student to leam. Students in such families find themselves unable to cope up. A subtle but powerful influence on the growing child arises from his/her position among the children in the family. The parents of the first born expect the child to act like miniature adults and hence the first-born are found to encounter a variety of expectations and stresses. Whereas parents tend to be more relaxed in their do’s and don’ts with the last-bom. Factors like traumatic events at home, separation or death can also precipitate learning problems in the normal child.

A healthy peer group relationship also plays an important role in learning. Student-student relationship in the classroom, school, society, etc., create a particular type of emotional climate. The climate solely depends upon their relationships. Sound relationships provide a tension free environment for the student to learn more and compete in the class. If the relationship among peers is not good, it adversely affects their learning. Therefore, to improve the classroom learning climate, free discussion should be there. You should help your students understand each other in formal or informal meetings. They should be encouraged to meet each other and their teachers freely. If any misunderstanding is created or developed, it should be immediately clarified so as to maintain the healthy climate and cordial relationship among peers.

Media Influence on Learning

Media has been considered an important component of transmitting information. Media can be divided into two broad categories-print and non-print media. Print media refers to texts or printed materials. It is economical and has traditionally been used for pedagogical purposes.

But, it may not be the only or the perfect medium to impart education. Non-print media, also known as modern electronic media, have certain unique qualities which, in certain cases, facilitate learning much faster than the print medium. These helps meet diverse learning objectives more efficiently than the printed

matter. Certain non-print media formats and delivery systems contribute well to student’s learning activities, For example, audio tapes or computers can be used effectively to drill and practice in language and learning arithmetic. Electronic media can help promote the discovery approach to learning. For example, a film can be exploited for discovery teaching in the physical sciences. Students keep watching the various sections of the film until they perceive the relationships between the visuals. Then they are curious to find out the principles that explain those relationships. Likewise, in the social sciences various media can be used to present students with visual and auditory experiences that provide related inquiry. Films and stimulation are often used to present real-life or laboratory learning situations to students.

The role of the electronic media has proved effective for teaching students. These excite the student psychologically and prepare/motivate them to participate in teaching-learning activities. Non-print media perform following functions:

  • Direct attention,
  • Arouse motivation,
  • Increase student’s concentration, and
  • Help them actively involved in the learning process.

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