What Is Educational Psychology?

What is Educational Psychology and Why It is Important?

Educational psychology is a field that explains how people learn, including instructional processes, teaching methods, and individual variances. The prime objective here is to understand how and what makes people learn and how do they keep up with new information.

Educational psychology not only focuses on the learning process of the early years but includes the emotional, social, and cognitive processes that are involved in learning all through an individual’s lifespan.

The importance of educational psychology cannot be overlooked. It brings along several other disciplines like cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, and developmental psychology.

Educational Psychology – History And Significant Figures

Educational psychology is relatively a newly emerged discipline that has experienced remarkable growth in the last few decades. Until the 1800s, psychology did not emerge as a discrete discipline; the earlier interest in the field of educational psychology was mainly powered by educational philosophers.

  • Johann Herbart is considered to be the father of educational psychology. He believed that an individual’s interest in an area had a great influence on the learning outcome. He believed that teachers must take into account this aspect while deciding on the most appropriate types of instructions.
  • William James – philosopher and psychologist made significant contributions. His seminal 1899 text “Talk to Teachers on Psychology” is the first textbook on educational psychology.
  • Alfred Binet – a French psychologist developed his popular IQ tests. These tests were mainly designed to aid the French government to identify kids who had developmental delays and create special educational programs.
  • John Dewey had a great influence on education. His ideas were progressive, as he believed that schools should focus on students rather than on subjects. He encouraged active learning, advocating that practical experience was a crucial aspect of the entire learning process.
  • More recently, Benjamin Bloom – an educational psychologist defined a crucial taxonomy designed to describe and categorize different educational objectives.  The three top-level domains he focused on were affective, cognitive and psychomotor learning objectives.

Educational Psychology and Its Different Perspectives

Educational psychology comes with different perceptions when considering a problem. Different perspectives focus on certain elements that influence an individual’s learning, including their behaviors, experiences, cognition, and much more.

The Developmental Perspective

This part focuses on how kids learn new skills as they develop. By understanding how kids think about different phases of development, an educational psychologist can better understand what a child is capable of as they grow. This helps the educators create learning materials and methodologies best aimed at specific age groups.

The Behavioral Perspective

The behavioral perspective focuses on the fact that all actions are a result of conditioning. Psychologists relying on the behavioral perspective believe in the principles of operant conditioning, which further explains how learning takes place.

For instance, teachers may reward a student by giving them perks in the form of their desired items such as toys or candies. This aspect focuses on the fact that the students will learn when they are rewarded for their good behavior and punished for bad behavior.

This technique perhaps is helpful in some cases, the behavioral approach has been critiqued for failing to account for such elements as emotions, attitudes, and intrinsic motivations for learning.

The Cognitive Perspective

The cognitive aspect has become a lot more common in recent times, primarily because it focuses on things as emotions, memories, beliefs, and motivation that adds to the entire learning process. The theory is to understand how people learn, think, remember, and process information.

The cognitive perspective is based on the fact that an individual learns as a result of their motivation, and not because of any perks.

Educational psychologists following the cognitive perspective believe in understanding how a child becomes motivated to learn, how they remember it, solve issues, among several other things.

Experiential Perspective

This aspect focuses that an individual’s life experiences influence how they learn things. This approach is very much similar to the cognitive perspective which considers the thoughts, experiences, and feelings of an individual.

This technique may help a person to find the actual meaning in what they learn instead of feeling that this particular approach does not apply to them.

Educational Psychology Career Opportunities

Educational psychologists do prefer to work with administrators, educators, teachers, as well as, students to understand more about the technique and methodologies that help people learn best. This usually comprises of finding means to identify struggling students who may require additional assistance, develop programs for them, come up with new and interesting learning techniques.

Most educational psychologists also prefer to work with schools directly. Some are professors or teachers, while others assist teachers to come up with new learning techniques and develop new coursework. Being an educational physiologist, you may become a counselor; assisting students to cope well with their learning barriers.

Some educational psychologists prefer research work. They may work for organizations or the government, influencing decisions about finding the best ways for children to learn in schools.

A bachelor’s or master’s degrees are a prerequisite for pursuing careers in the field of Education Psychology. If you want to work in a school or university, you may have to complete adoctorateas well.

107 thoughts on “What Is Educational Psychology?”

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