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Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology

17 August, 2016

Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as institutions. Although the terms “educational psychology” and “school psychology” are often used interchangeably, researchers and theorists are likely to be identified as educational psychologists, whereas practitioners in schools or school-related settings are identified as school psychologists. Educational psychology is concerned with the processes of educational achievement among the general population and sub-populations such as gifted kids and those subject to specific disabilities.

Educational psychology can in part be understood through its connection with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the link between medicine and biology. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialties within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are typically housed within faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks.

Applications in Instructional Design and Technology

Instructional design, the systematic design of materials, activities and interactive environments for learning, is widely informed by educational psychology theories and research. For example, in defining learning goals or objectives, instructional designers often use a taxonomy of educational objectives made by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues. Bloom also researched mastery learning, an instructional strategy in which learners only advance to a new learning objective after they have mastered its prerequisite objectives. Bloom discovered that a combination of mastery learning with one-to-one tutoring is very effective, resulting to learning outcomes far exceeding those normally achieved in classroom instruction. Gagné, another psychologist, had earlier developed an influential method of task analysis in which a terminal learning goal is expanded into a hierarchy of learning objectives connected by prerequisite relations.

Applications in Teaching

Research on classroom management and pedagogy is conducted to guide teaching practice and make a basis for teacher education programs. The goals of classroom management are to create an environment conducive to learning and to develop students’ self-management skills. More specifically, classroom management thrives to create positive teacher-student and peer relationships, control student groups to sustain on-task behavior, and use counseling and other psychological methods to aid students who present persistent psychosocial problems.

Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect

This term was introduced by Herbert W. Marsh and hypothesized that the capabilities of students are related with the ability of their peers in school: Thus, academic self-concepts depend not only on one’s academic accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those in the school that a student attends. Consequently low- or medium-ability students might prefer to attend a low-ability school instead of a high-ability school.

Pupils can receive additional motivation from low- or medium-ability pupils in their class because their own achievements appear more significant, are more honored and they may be encouraged to keep their edge over the other pupils. This is especially true for pupils with lack of self-confidence. Some parents send their children with the explicit recommendation of psychologists to schools that are known for a moderate level of proficiency.

A contrary effect is the reflected glory effect (or assimilation effect), which recounts the stimulation a pupil may obtain from a school with a high level of proficiency.