You are here: Home / Important learning and teaching events / Classroom and context variables

Classroom and context variables

Prepared by John Church, PhD, School of Educational Studies and Human Development

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

When learning and teaching are occurring in schools, learning depends not only on the variables referred to in earlier sections of this chapter but also on a number of additional variables related to the fact that teaching is occurring in the group setting of the classroom. When teaching has to be carried out with groups of 25 to 30 learners simultaneously the effects of that teaching depend upon many additional factors: the teacher’s ability to translate vaguely stated curriculum objectives into specific lesson objectives, variability with respect to what the learners have learned already, variability in children’s ability to tutor each other, the teaching resources which are available to the teacher, the extent to which these resources enable the teacher to meet the learning needs of individual children, and so on.

This chapter identifies the most important of the contextual variables which operate to facilitate or hinder learning in the context of the classroom. The discussion is organised under the following section headings:

  • Section 1: school-wide and class-wide factors
  • Section 2: the diagnostic and teaching resources immediately available to the teacher (including teacher knowledge and the prior knowledge of the students)
  • Section 3: the extent to which instructional activities can be individualised to meet the needs of students with different learning histories
  • Section 4: the extent to which the context allows learning opportunities which are sufficient for each individual learner to achieve desired learning outcomes
  • Section 5: the extent to which the teacher is able to monitor the progress of individual students from day to day and
  • Section 6: the extent to which the teacher is able to adapt on-going teaching to meet the unique learning needs of individual children.