Focusing on Student Learning
A central focus of this chapter is to explore how the design of schools as specialized organizations concerned with maximizing student learning, can enable students to realize their learning potential. Accordingly, the chapter is structured as follows. First, the place of learning in school design is explicated and its connections with other school components is recognized. Second, some general conditions are identified for successful learning to take place. Third, the importance to schools of adopting a learning theory to underpin their practice is emphasized, and Gagnè’s learning theory in particular, is given special attention. Fourth, focus is placed on the significance of student learning styles and their implications for understanding how individual differences may be accommodated. Finally, the chapter reports research, some of which has only recently surfaced, showing crosscultural differences in learning, especially between Western (AngloAmerican) and Chinese students. Cross-cultural differences in learning deserve increased attention, since they signal the pitfalls and dangers of narrow ethnocentric, especially Western, accounts of teaching and learning as though they have universal application. If learning processes are influenced by culture, then important ramifications follow. Western research on effective learning may not apply in entirety to some processes of learning as experienced by, for example, Chinese students. Scholars will therefore have to exercise greater caution before making generalizations, bound the limits of their theories and take more care before assuming cross-cultural transferability of results.