Learner Characteristics: Characteristics of adolescent

Learning: Learning is a natural process of growth or change in a process which is manifested as a new modes or patterns of behaviour. It is a permanent change in behaviors and is the result of reinforced practice through the process of stimulus and response.

Learning is basically psychological in nature; few definitions are offered by psychologist are:

1. Gates " learning is modification of behaviour through experience"
2. Crow and Crow " learning involves the acquisition of habits, knowledge, and attribution."
3.  Skinner " learning is a process of progressive behaviour adaptation."

learning has also been defined as permanent change in the capacity for performance.

Characteristics of adolescent Learners

  1. Adolescence is a crucial and significant period.It extends from 12/13 years to 18/19 years
  2. Adolescence can be subdivided into two parts - i) Early adolescence (12/13 - 16/17 years) ii) Late adolescence (17 years to 18/19 years).
  3. It is the stage when boys and girls move from childhood to adulthood physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
  4. It is a stage of gaining sexual maturity and a stage of attaining legal maturity.

Let us discuss the characteristics of adolescence. It is important for school teachers and parents to understand these characteristics, without which they can not be expected to be able to deal effectively with the adolescents. The distinguishing characteristics of this period are:

Characteristics of young adolescent intellectual development include:
  • Moving from concrete to abstract thinking.
  • An intense curiosity and wide range of intellectual pursuit, few of which are sustained over the long term.
  • High achievement when challenged and engaged.
  • Prefers active over passive learning experiences.
  • Interest in interacting with peers during learning activities.
  • An ability to be self-reflective.
  • Demand the relevance in learning and what is being taught.
  • Developing the capacity to understand higher levels of humor, some of which may be misunderstood by adults to be sarcastic or even aggressive. 
Characteristics of young adolescent social development include:
  • Modeling behavior after that of older students, not necessarily that of parents and other adults.
  • Experimenting with ways of talking and acting as part of searching for a social position with peers.
  • Exploring questions of racial and ethnic identity and seeking peers who share the same background.
  • Exploring questions of sexual identity in visible or invisible ways.
  • Feeling intimidated or frightened by the initial middle school experience.
  • Liking fads and being interested in popular culture.
  • Overreacting to ridicule, embarrassment, and rejection.
  • Seeking approval of peers and others with attention-getting behaviors.
  • As interpersonal skills are being developed, fluctuates between a demand for independence and a desire for guidance and direction
Characteristics of young adolescent physical development include:
  • Restlessness and fatigue due to hormonal changes.
  • A need for physical activity because of increased energy.
  • Developing sexual awareness, and often touching and bumping into others.
  • A concern with changes in body size and shape.
  • Physical vulnerability resulting from poor health/dietary habits or engaging in risky behaviors.
  • Bodily changes that may cause awkward, uncoordinated movements.
Characteristics of young adolescent emotional and psychological development include:
  • Mood swings marked by peaks of intensity and by unpredictability.
  • Needing to release energy, with sudden outbursts of activity.
  • A desire to become independent and to search for adult identity and acceptance.
  • Self-consciousness and being sensitive to personal criticism.
  • Concern about physical growth and maturity.
  • A belief that their personal problems, feelings, and experiences are unique to themselves.
  • Overreacting to ridicule, embarrassment, and rejection.
  • Seeking approval of peers and others with attention-getting behaviors.
Characteristics of young adolescent moral development include:
  • An understanding of the complexity of moral issues (question values, cultural expressions, and religious teachings).
  • Being capable of and interested in participating in democracy.
  • Impatience with the pace of change, and underestimating how difficult it is to make social changes.
  • Needing and being influenced by adult role models who will listen and be trustworthy.
  • Relying on parents and important adults for advice, but wanting to make their own decisions.
  • Judging others quickly, but acknowledging one’s own faults slowly.
  • Show compassion and are vocal for those who are downtrodden or suffering and have special concern for animals and environmental issues.
Previous Year Questions

Q) Which of the learner characteristics will influence his/her perspective in a course of study? [2019]

i) Learner’s commitment

ii) Parents interest in the learner

(iii) Prior knowledge of the learner

(iv) Skill of the learner in the concerned area

(v) Family size of the learner

(vi) Socio-economic background of the family to which the learner belongs

Choose the correct answer from the options given below:

(1) (i) (iii) and (iv)

(2) (i), (ii) and (Iii)

(3) (iii), (iv) and (v)

(4) (iv), (v) and (vi)
Answer: (1)

Q) Which of the following learner characteristics are likely to influence the effectiveness of teaching aids and evaluation systems to ensure positive results? [2016]

(A) Learner’s family background, age and habitation.

(B) Learner’s parentage, socio-economic background and performance in learning of the concerned subject.

(C) Learner’s stage of development, social background and personal interests.

(D) Learner’s maturity level, academic performance level and motivational dispositions.

Answer: (D)


1. At the Turning Point The Young Adolescent Learner:  Turning Points Transforming Middle Schools.  www.turningpts.org
2. Teaching and Learning with Young Adolescents; Section
2: The Adolescent Learner.  www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/sp/intermed/diversity/sec2.PDF 3. This We Believe:  Successful Schools for Young Adolescents. National Middle School Association.


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