Socioeconomic Status and Learning & Teaching

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The focal point of the paper is to examine the effects of poverty on learning and teaching, impoverished circumstances affecting school performance, concluding with what teachers have to offer students from such extenuating circumstances. This is an important issue of the modern world and the consequences of poverty are multifold. Lack of proper education and learning is just a part of it but it is an important part for not only the student but for the future of a nation. Thus, this paper would examine the issues and evaluate the circumstances and would conclude the paper with appropriate recommendation that would be the inference of the entire study.


Poverty is an economic condition under which individuals, families and other societal groups have a deficiency of resources that are required to thrive on a particular type of diet, take part in societal activities, and possess the amenities and living conditions, which are habitual or at least popular and encouraged in the society they live in. It can be further classified into absolute poverty where the affected do not have the capability to make ends meet, and relative poverty which refer to the circumstances under which the afflicted do not have the capacity to partake in the regular activities of day-to-day livelihood. However, apart from these, one of the most significant drawbacks of poverty is its affect on education and learning (Johnson, 2005).

Regrettably, the advances in living standards have failed to create a fair and beneficial environment for all sects of the society in an indistinguishable fashion. As financially impoverished families make great efforts to provide for basic requirements such as rations, lodging and the ever-escalating expenditures on energy, education expenditures usually end up as one of the bottom few on the priority roll. Poor children are more prone to experience learning, teaching and education tribulations that go on with their prolonged effects during later life (Johnson, 2005).

Poverty and learning

In the article ‘Probing the reasons’ by Rev. James E. Jones published in Los Angeles Sentinel in August 19, 1963, the level of citizenship that is ascribed to the African-American population of Los Angeles is extremely low. The author enumerates the dismal level of life of the African-American population with profound humane approach. The author investigates the reason of marginalization of the African-American population in the context citizenship and indicates several reasons with poverty being the major driving force. The author indicates the low facility of fundamental rights like education and employment. The underemployment results in low payment such as 75c an hour leading to low income and dismal situation in life that leads to low level of the citizenship in context of standard and facilities. The article also reports that there are several complaints regarding the issue but the authorities are yet to take any positive action making the African-American population cocooned in a subculture that is detrimental to citizenship and this leads to anti-social activities like riots (Leatherman, 2007). It is obvious that under such conditions education, teaching and learning would take back seat and this is exactly what is happening today.

Additionally, research studies like Siegel (2007) or Johnson (2005) indicate that students with unprivileged economic background had a tendency to not only fail in their class work, but they had a high dropout rate as well, when compared to their counterparts that had no such drawbacks (Siegel, 2007). Accordingly, Johnson (2005) has noted, “Despite the progress, the promise of the law has not been fulfilled” (Johnson, 2005). When IDEA was reauthorized in 1997, the intention was to explore a potential solution to a majority of these problems, in addition to the introduction of significant changes in as far as educational services provision for those students that have unprivileged backgrounds are concerned. One amongst the leading important changes is the new prerequisite that unprivileged children need to be introduced and exposed to the curriculum for special care in education (Siegel, 2007).

According to Mastropieri & Scruggs, (2007) a number of parents to children that are without any unprivileged background have also voiced their concern of a possible reduction in terms of attention and time that their children stands to receive, in the event that they are integrated into the same classes with their counterparts with unprivileged background. The issue of students labeling has also been raised (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2007). In this case, certain individuals within a learning setup that has implemented a mainstreaming program could be seen to view the plight of special training from the point of view of their unprivileged background, devoid of fully comprehending the facts that characterizes mainstreaming. Sometimes, the attitudes that individual within an education environment that practices mainstreaming have regarding students with unprivileged background are negative in nature. The implication here then could be that such a negative attitude may influence the behavior of these individuals as they attempt to assist the students with special education needs adjust to the mainstreaming program. In light of this, labels may therefore be seen to contribute towards the attitudes of teachers regarding their students who could be in need of special education.

A further criticism of the application of instruments and labels has also sufficed since labels bear a correlation with predetermined ideas regarding characteristics and behaviors that have the potential to result in negative attitudes (Lambe & Bones, 2006). Students with unprivileged background are the recipient of negative attention, in addition to the fact that they are often required to survive within an otherwise hostile learning environment. According to a research study that was carried out by Sharma (2006), the authors indicate that the respondents to this study, in this case teachers, concurred that they were in support of inclusion/mainstreaming. Of the 7, 385 teachers that the study surveyed, 65 percent of these (4, 801) were in full support of the inclusion/mainstreaming concept (Sharma, 2006). This is where the contribution of teachers becomes extremely important in the context of education, teaching and learning under poverty.

Intervention of teachers

There are a number of learning styles that can be used by teachers teaching a diverse student population. These learning styles are categorized into three main types and are visual, tactile and auditory learning styles (Jeffrey, 2009). Visual learning incorporates use of photographs, graphic representations such as graphs and diagrams and DVD or video clips. Visuals are of vital importance to not only those students with hearing disabilities but also those who are in the inclusion program/class (Villegas & Lucas, 2002). Visual learners tend to respond better to learning when they view things for instance photographs, charts or diagrams as they stimulate their thinking, allowing them to better understand matters in a way that listening or reading does not do (Clausen-May, 2005). As aforementioned, children in the third grade class are in their developing stage and tend to grasp what they are being taught more easily. Visual learners are usually good at spelling despite being forgetful of names, prefer fashion and colorful things, prefers diagrams and charts as he/she is able to better understand the subject matter and takes time thinking before understanding lectures (Irvine & Armento, 2001).

Auditory learning style is whereby a student prefers listening as compared to other learning styles in order to be able to understand better the subject matter. Applications for instance audio cassettes, pod casts or CD as well as real-time communication whereby a guest speaker or live broadcast is present, are used for auditory learning style (Gay, 2000). Such students tend to have the ability to not only read slowly but also follow spoken directions well (Sternberg & Zhang, 2001). They also have the tendency of saying out a word once they have listened to it and remember how it sounded in order to recall it. Teachers teaching third grade students from a diverse student population have observed that those children who are better with auditory learning style are not afraid to speak in class and are good at explaining things to their peers (Kirylo, 2004). Underprivileged student population means having students with distinct names distinctively pronounced and children preferring auditory learning style are able to recall names as compared to other children preferring other learning styles and thus more care is necessary.

The third category of learning styles, the tactile or kinesthetic style consists of students who learn through either doing things or through experience (Clausen-May, 2005). Being a third grade student means that one is active and is not in a position to pay attention to something for a long period. Such students tend to become bored more quickly when listening to class lectures as compared to the rest of the students (Jeffrey, 2009). Teachers have observed that such student are not good at spelling but prefer reading adventure books. They also perform better on short or multiple-choice examinations.

Research has shown that by the time children reach second or third grade, they are considered to be more visual and therefore application of textbooks in the learning process is important for their academic development (Gay, 2000). Currently where modern technology is rapidly being embraced in the educational system, many schools are still using traditional teaching and learning styles such as use of textbooks. This can pause and be a disadvantage for those classrooms having diverse students with different abilities and capabilities in that those third grade students who may tend to be slow learners will have a problem catching up with their peers (Sternberg & Zhang, 2001). In addition, those students from racial or ethnic minority groups who are not as fluent in English as their classmates may have a difficult time in trying to understand the language.

However, keeping in mind that by keying assessment and teaching techniques to the diverse manner in which these students tend to learn and think educators will be able to enhance intelligence within the students (Clausen-May, 2005). Therefore, in situations where some students are better able to understand by use of textbooks, teachers should establish different learning times for these specific students for instance through inclusion of tuition.

Computer-based approaches to learning have recently been subjected to more demanding area of evaluation as compared to the more traditional approaches to learning. Elementary teachers are now in a position to use virtual manipulative in teaching mathematical concepts in that they are able to related dynamic visual images to abstract symbols (Irvine & Armento, 2001).


Modern technology has brought with it an interactive white board, which is a touch sensitive screen working together with a computer or a projector. This has proved effective when used in a learning environment in that it includes manipulating text and images, which can be helpful especially in teaching third grade children from a diverse student population. Interactive white boards also allow teachers to demonstrate or use software without having to connect to a computer (Villegas & Lucas, 2002). In situations where students are required to hand in presentations, interactive white boards show case these presentations while enhancing learning materials. Multi-media files can be of great advantages to those students with underprivileged background or those who are not quick to learn because lack of academic environment, which is so common in a poverty oriented background. However, education, teaching and learning under poverty can be enumerated as a part of the greater picture. Social work theory as it relates to person in “environment, systems, and risk and resilience have great relevance in adolescent welfare” (Sharma, 2006).


Clausen-May, T. (2005). Teaching Math to Pupils with Different Learning Styles. London: SAGE.

Gay, G. (2000). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Irvine, J. J., and Armento, B. J. (2001). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Grades. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Jeffrey, L. M. (2009). Learning Orientations: Diversity in Higher Education. Learning & Individuals Differences, 19, (2), 195-208.

Johnson, A. P. (2005). Making connections in elementary and middle school social studies. London: Sage

Kirylo, J. (2004). One Special Education Class, One Professor: A Long-lasting Impact. Focus on Inclusive Education. A Quarterly ACEI Newsletter for the Education Community, 1(3), 5-6.

Lambe, J., & Bones, R. (2006). Student teachers attitudes to inclusion; implications for Initial Teacher Education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 24(3), 117-126.

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Sternberg, R. J., and Zhang, L. (2001). Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles. New York: Routledge.

Villegas, A. M., and Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 20 – 32.

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ChalkyPapers. "Socioeconomic Status and Learning & Teaching." July 21, 2022.