Running head: How the Environment Plays a Role in Learning




How the Environment Plays a Role in Learning



Humans are complex creatures and due to this psychologists have gone out of their way to understand and as a result have come up with different theories to explain this complexity. In order to fully explain the human beings, psychologists have divided humans into domains depending on the stage of life. Different psychologists have studied the human being and have come up with theories explaining why individuals behave in particular mannerisms. Many psychologists have listed the environment as one of the factors that affect human learning. The environment can frame an individual’s conceptualization, processing of information, perception and the overall learning and development process. (Izawa, 1993).

Environment is listed as one of the major contributors to the learning process. It has a very high impact on the knowledge that is inflicted on us. While comparing the environment to student learning, environment means external factors that affect the classroom or the learning process. These include classmates, bullies, timetables, lecturers among others. In an organization point of view the learning process comprises both the organization and the staff members. The environment of an organization involves the company mission and vision, core values as well as the overall strategic plans. The company resources and the annual goals and implementation processes constitute the organizational environment. (Ormond, 2004.)

One of the major contributors to the theories of learning is Jean Piaget, who came up with the ‘theory of cognitive development’. According to Piaget’s theory there are four development stages of a child’s development from the inherent impulses to complex activities. The four stages include; Sensorimotor Stage (Age 0-2) – In the sensorimotor stage, the rational compositions are mainly involved with the mastery of material objects.

How the Environment Plays a Role in Learning

Pre-operational Stage (Age 2-7) – This stage involves the mastery of signs and symbols.

Concrete Operational (Age 7-11) – In the concrete stage, children learn mastery of modules, associations and figures and how to rationale. Formal Operational (early teens after 11)

The last stage deals with the mastery of ideas and contemplation. In Piaget’s theory the environment contributes since children exposed to different environments tend to master objects, signs and symbols differently, and tend to rationalize things in a different means. Therefore according to Piaget the environment serves as a catalyst to learning and overall development. (Ormond, 2004.)

In organizations aspects such as the technology also serve as the environment and they promote the extent of learning. Over time many changes have taken place in organizations because technology has been consistently advancing. Just a decade or so ago the postal system and the fax machine were the fastest ways to get things done. In today’s environment we use emails and scans for the majority of written correspondences. (Edelman, 2006)

In the days gone by, in-person conferences were a daily ritual but in our fast pace world of cell phones and conference call the slow means have been replaced and it is now possible for people across the United States to purchase, finance and close deals without ever leaving their homes. Individual today cannot live without a blackberry and a computer. Individuals and corporate have to work daily with all of the available advances in Technology. They are constantly in different computer programs to help with daily activities of the office. (Frank, 2003).

Companies are also using all types of office equipment to actively stay in touch with their clients. Without the new world of cell phones, email, multi line phone systems and faxes it would take weeks to do what is done today in just a matter of hours. Firms rely heavily on the latest advancements in the coffee world to stay hip and alert daily, they help create a complex marketing structure. As the technological laws change, so does our Education and the learning in order to stay current with all the advancements. Our learning needs are evolving in such a way that it includes; online methods to stay in contact with customers and the suppliers. With

How the Environment Plays a Role in Learning

this advance changes in the technological environment employees and the managers are put on their toes to improve their knowledge so as to keep in touch with the trend. (Hammond, 2003.)

According to Adler a psychologists well known for his theory of personality explains that the sense of self and the ego are central core of any human beings personality. Our ego is formed by the external factors that surround our lives. The community we live in and the external world forms our reason and common sense. The ego affects our interpersonal skills, our defenses, self esteem and our feeling of self worth. (Frank, 2003)

According to Adler the way an individual sees himself in the society and the kind of society that an individual lives in can affect his behavior and personality. The environment affects our ego which in turn affects the way we perceive learning and other development perspectives. (Frank, 2003)

Abraham Maslow is another psychologist who is celebrated for his 1943 paper commonly known as the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, where he did a study on a group of people in those early times that he in his own perspective where self actualized. He came up with a pyramid of needs with the more essential needs at the base of the pyramid.

According to Maslow the physiological needs which include the aspects of life that an individual cannot leave without, for example water, food, sleep, breathing among others. After the physiological needs are satisfied the next class of needs is the Safety needs which are the needs of job, body, and family and property security.

The next level of need is a love and belonging need. After the sense of belonging is achieved

How the Environment Plays a Role in Learning

the next hierarchy of needs is the esteem needs and finally the need for self actualization. According to Maslow, the characteristics of a self actualized person are moral, creative, and impulsive, accept facts and are not discriminatory. According to Maslow only 2% of people in the world will attain the stage of self actualization. In his study he stated that among the reasons why most people will not be self actualized is the influences that come from the environment. Due to external factors such as the pressures from the macro environment people tend to lack perception and objectivity and see humanity as a manifestation of them. People then become egocentric and they lack a meaning and direction to life. (Izawa, 1993).

During Maslow’s study he picked out a number of people in the society then that he believed were self-actualized. In his selection all the people are learned and people who possess attributes of morality, creativity, and are impulsive. They accept facts and are not discriminatory. It is clear that the environment has been and still is a very important aspect in learning. External factors influence an individual’s perspective and the way they view thing and this in turn affects their desire to learn and how the accept learning and development concepts. (Izawa, 1993).


Chizuko Izawa (1993). Cognitive Psychology Applied. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, New Jersey Hove London.

Darling Hammond, (2003.)The Learning Classroom: Theory into Practice. Detroit Public Television and Mort Crim Communications,

Edelman, (2006) Second nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge. New Haven, Yale University Press.

Frank, (2003). Triebe and their Vicissitudes: Freud’s Theory of Motivation Reconsidered.

Psychoanalytic Psychology.

How the Environment Plays a Role in Learning

McDevitt, T. & Ormond, (2004.)Child development: Educating and working with adolescents.

Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

Ormond, (2004.). Piaget’s Theory Applied to an Early Childhood Curriculum. Boston: American Science and Engineering.