What Is Educational Psychology?

Educational psychology is the branch of psychology that looks at the intricacies of human learning. It focuses on how psychology and psychological methods are applied to learning and instruction as well the other factors that come into play in the teaching and learning process. Educational psychology covers the learning process of an entire lifespan—from toddlers and preschoolers to adolescents to adults. It also focuses not only on the cognitive aspects of the learning process but also the social and emotional factors that are at work when an individual starts to learn.

Educational psychology is also viewed as the science and technology of education. This puts human behavior and education as the two basic concepts of this branch of psychology. As such, it provides educators with the theories, principles and strategies to enable them to better understand their pupils and students in the classroom. Based on the research and information gleaned from the field of educational psychology, teachers are able to implement changes in their instruction to accommodate the different needs of their students.

This branch of psychology also has a wide application not only in the area of educational instruction but also in other related areas as well. The disciplines of curriculum development, classroom management, instructional design and special education draw on the knowledge gleaned from the field of educational psychology. The data and information that have made this field vitally important to education was gathered through painstaking quantitative research such as testing and measurement.

Moreover, educational psychology does not only focus on the learner, the teacher, the learning process, the learning environment and the entire learning experience but also looks at how a child grows and develops, the effect of heredity and environment in a person’s growth and the nature and development of an individual’s personality. The individual differences of each person are also taken into account in educational psychology as well as a person’s intelligence and the practices employed in guiding and counseling students.

As a career, educational psychology works on the organizational level. It is differentiated from school psychology which focuses on individual students. Educational psychologists typically collaborate with teachers, principals and administrators in crafting solutions that would improve the learning experience of students in the classroom. By conducting research, data gathering activities and testing, educational psychologists are able to determine the root cause of the problems of a particular learning environment. From there, they will then consider implementing alternative strategies and methods that would improve teaching and learning in the classroom. The initiatives that will be put in place are geared towards improving the whole spectrum of learning—emotional, social and psychological—of all the students concerned.

Educational psychology continues to grow and evolve as a science. As more research is done and new information uncovered about how a child learns, this field will continue to gain new insights and be able to come up with relevant strategies that would make the classroom more responsive to their needs. Continuing advancements in the field of educational psychology will improve the entire teaching-learning process and provide students with a more conducive environment where they can learn and develop holistically.

Career Spotlight: Educational Psychologist

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