Posted: June 22nd, 2021

Impact of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on Students

This report will attempt to tell that how Maslow’s (1962) hierarchy of needs theory has made a major contribution to teaching and classroom management in classroom.
The research follows through the development and learning course in learners with learning disabilities. The learners are of different ages and abilities. The lesson where I was a spectator first and foremost focus on how learners learn. Here most of the lessons are done by teamwork or working in pair or by fellowship to create research and share result.
Before going to co-teach the sessions I carefully observe the lessons for few weeks and in the end took over the section. Throughout the time I follow the instruction of my mentor and engaged with learners at the same time as they take tasks. The purpose of the report is to assess the effectiveness of using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory to teaching.

While performing this research drawback have appeared that could have an impact on the results. Because no access to learner profiles,that were not given to me due to our DBS check was still progress, there is incomplete knowledge of learners and only my own observation and discussion with a mentor and supporting staff.
Because I was observing and shadowing the lessons at the time of research, lesson was planned by lecture and I had restricted input into the sessions. This made it hard to assess if group work was the ideal teaching style for the learners as there were no substantive evaluation that could be made. Permission for research to carried out was given by lecturer and learners as well as members of supporting staff.
All involved were made aware of the confidentiality and identity of those involved were kept anonymous (BERA, 2011). Then things got more difficult and complicated when after few weeks of observing college rearrange the learner groups that mean i have to deal with a whole new group of learners.
Literature Review
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was developed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ also known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which expresses that people purpose to get together their desires in the shape of a hierarchy.
When these basic needs are not met, learners will not be able to focus on learning.

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Physiological Needs

These are the fundamental needs food, clothing, shelter, and adequate sleep etc for each learner at infancy. Complimentary lunch programs have helped a lot however there is still a concern to ensuring that learners have clothing, healthy personal hygiene habits, and adequate sleep at school.


Safety and security needs endeavor to reduce injustice, irregularity, and the risk of emotional or physical harm. Teachers can help make learners feel safe by providing a routine or a predictable world and by clearly define procedures and rules for learners. Belongingness
Learners seek to defeat belief of isolation and want to feel loved and cared from teachers or other learners. As teachers ensure that our learners are appreciated and take advantage of every opportunity to reinforce positive learner behaviour and self-esteem.

Self Esteem

Learners feel confident in themselves and that they have a place in the world it is admiration and appreciation from oneself and from those around them.


A teacher can have a great effect on the students path towards self-actualization. Learners become creative and begin to discover and form, designing information outside their basic needs and serving others.
Links with other theorists
Maslow’s theory of motivation theory is easy to understand and can be easily grasped and applied. It is theory is dynamic because it presents motivation as a changing force. It accounts for both interpersonal and intra-personal variations in human behaviour.
Like Maslow, Rogers (1951) developed his own theory of self-actualization by using empirical evidence from his own clinical observations to develop his theory. Both Maslow and Rogers believe that gaining recognition more important than gaining self-actualisation.
Frederick Herzberg (1964) developed a two-factor motivation theory related to satisfaction in the workplace. It could be clam that Maslow’s work was then the motivation for Herzberg’s theory.
Maslow was very affected by the work of Alfred Adler. Adler assume that the driving force behind all human behaviour was to strive for perfection which he saw as the desire to fulfil one’s potential.
Clayton Alderfer developed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by categorising the hierarchy into his ERG theory (Existence, Relatedness and Growth).
Contemporary research by Tay and Diener (2011) has tested Maslow’s theory {From 2005 to 2010} by analysing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries representing every major region of the world.
Maslow’s theory rapt on a biased sample of self-actualised highly educated individuals (such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, William James, Aldous Huxley, Beethoven) later (1970) did study females, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa. This makes it difficult to generalise his theory to females and individuals from lower social classes or different ethnicity.
In making causal relationships it is very difficult to empirically test Maslow’s concept of self-actualisation.
Wahba and Bridwell (1976) taken in-depth review and concluded that the proof for the hierarchical order of the needs proposed by Maslow is light.
Hofstede (1984) stated that hierarchy was costly in ethnocentricity and based upon a Western ideology and does not consider the disagreement in the cultural needs of societies and their unique social and academic needs.
Cianci and Gambrel (2003) said that HON is too simple and it does not reflect on societal needs at a picky time.
Kenrick Griskevicius Neuberg and Schaller (2010) said Maslow does not consider complexity to sex caused from both physiological and psychological needs across the hierarchical range.
Tay and Diener (2011) have verified that the ranking of needs varies with age and does not appear to be the same across all age groups
Methodology and Findings
Taking care of physiological needs is duty that is shared between teacher and students.The teacher must be aware of the student’s needs, however the students must also keep the teacher informed of their needs, such as if a student is having a difficult time breathing, or if they are thirsty. Water bottles and water breaks, Focused attention practices,  Physical surroundings,  Food,  Instrumental Music.
At my placement first 5 weeks I had group strength of  16 learners from different ethnic backgrounds. This strength of learners considered as a very large group and at times three learners with wheelchairs users. we were only 3 supporting staff including myself helping the teacher, with every learner with different needs and support required.
Without having access to ILP it was hard for me to understand the behaviors of these learners that how they react to things a time but one thing was common in them that they all wanted to be there that is what I understood after having a conversation with some learners and staff.
College was the place where they feel safe a sense of belongingness and express themselves loudly, you can see them talking to everyone doesn’t matter which class of group they belong to but at the same time, there were some learners struggling to adjust to the environment.
There was one learner I interacted was very difficult to start with but when I had chance to spend some time with him during the lesson I find out he was very keen to learn new skills and want to live independently, work and earn his living like every normal person while struggles to understand his limitation which frustrates him a times. but he tries to give his 100% when he asked to do any activity.
What I understand from the interaction with this learner I can clearly see he was working through the third and fourth stage of Maslow’s pyramid of need where he was showing touch of belongingness and trying to accomplish his psychological needs to be on the track of living  an independent life. there was another learner who was also very keen to move on with life but he keep walking out of the class saying he can’t do this, support staff usually leave him with the counseling officer.
After having a word with the counseling officer I found out he was upset because of going through break up situation which again related with stage three of belongingness. By rearranging the groups last week made things hard for them as they all are now in different group and different learners which did make this difficult for some of them.
In all honestly, changes are not easy for almost everyone and with persons with learning disabilities it makes thing even more difficult for them as most of them its very hard for them adjust with new group and even new teachers and supporting staff. But only things keep them coming back to college they want to move with life but this kind of changes put them one step back of that pyramid of needs and start to work on things again which is not always easy for everyone.
I think that group exercises increase one’s feeling of belongingness in a classroom environment. Keeping a light hearted and fun class will improve affectionate bonds between classmates. Some teachers did recommend either online or face to face groups activities to their learners can help them create friendships with each other. Some teachers arrange Games, group work and teamwork exercises  to apply this stage of the hierarchy, because interaction helps students feel more involved, such as
Expert Day: Students get to demonstrate personal expertise.
Display skills as a class: Create and design quizzes, assignments, and instruction for peers.
The teacher encourages the student when they have done well, but also push them to achieve their highest potential. Students can use lesson plans incorporated with technology to step outside of the classroom and realize their potential in real world scenarios. Some institute find it as way to apply this in education is to have students who are very good in a subject.
Applying Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchy to education is a very effective way to assess lesson plans, SOL and educational programs. Like the rungs of a ladder, each need has to be met before progressing to the next level. By asking whether the five needs are being met in their school or classroom, educators can assess how well they are applying Maslow’s hierarchy to their teaching practice. Students may move back and forth on the hierarchy, so it is important to have ongoing assessments of how well their needs are being met.
A new study suggested Abraham Maslow was right. University of Illinois researchers tested Maslow’s theory and revealed that people actually do feel happier when their basic needs are met.
The researchers used data collected over five years from over 150 countries. The information gathered pertained to positive and negative emotions resulting from various basic needs, including food, shelter, money, safety, respect, social relations, and autonomy. The researchers also discovered that those who felt their life was positive did so more when their most basic needs of food, shelter, and money were met. The higher needs, autonomy, respect, and social support, were linked to a feeling of joy.
Professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Illinois, Ed Diener, and lead author of the study said
Diener said.
“Thus life satisfaction is not just an individual affair, but depends substantially also on the quality of life of one’s fellow citizens,”
Diener further said.
“Our findings suggest that Maslow’s theory is largely correct. In cultures all over the world the fulfilment of his proposed needs correlates with happiness”.
He added, “Another revision of his theory is that we found that different needs produce different types of well-being.”
So, as a teacher, how can you make sure your learners’ physiological needs are met? Make sure you provide adequate lighting, space, ventilation (heating or cooling), refreshments or drinking water at least, offer toilet breaks, etc.
Each level allows students the ability and motivation to increase. Each student can move up in the hierarchy with the proper support of the teachers and school staff who must focus on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in teaching and education.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still a major, well-known aspect of modern psychology. The hierarchy of needs has recently been adapted for use in hospice care (Zalenski & Raspa, 2006), for use in urban planning, development, and management (Scheller, 2016), and even for the study of policing (de Guzman & Kim, 2017).
Interestingly, the Scheller and de Guzman & Kim papers both adapted the hierarchy of needs to communities rather than to individuals. These recent studies show that the hierarchy of needs has influenced modern psychology in ways that Maslow may not have predicted.

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