Educational Psychology: Everything You Need to Know
Educational psychologists develop study plans and educational models to optimize the learning process and improve the administration of educational institutions. By the same token, educational psychology applies the precepts and principles of psychology to the learning taking place in schools.
Educational psychology specialists assure that the methods employed in the classroom help to clearly develop the cognitive abilities of students.
What is educational psychology?
Educational psychology is a sub-discipline of psychology, the science that studies mental processes and human behavior. The focus is on the quality of learning taking place in educational centers.
Thus, the aim is to increase the effectiveness of the teaching process and the acquisition of knowledge. In short, it analyzes in close detail how individual students develop and learn.
For example, these experts tailor study methods so learning centers perform with better effectiveness.
Psychological theories related to education
Educational psychologists develop theories about human development and the learning process. Their emphasis is on the way we relate with knowledge, which has given rise to overall improvements in learning.
Importantly, educational psychologists continue to work to advance what we know about education.
Jean Piaget: Four stages
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget determined that children experience four stages of development in their cognitive capacity, and one of his theories focused on the way that students manage to develop abstract logical thought beginning at 11 years old.
In this respect, he’s one of the most influential figures in the field of psychology.
Lev Vygotsky: learning, society, and culture
The Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky analyzed the way in which society and culture influence children’s cognitive development. Vygotsky’s studies were centered in the behavioral patterns that children adopt, depending on the social surroundings in which the child develops.
In addition, he also explored the concepts of educational scaffolding and the zone of proximal development. Both of these concepts continue to have relevance today.
The social variables of Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura was interested in how social variables and a person’s surroundings could impact the learning process. As such, Bandura emphasized a concept he called self-efficacy, which refers to the perception people have of their own abilities to overcome adversity and difficult situations.
This is an important concept for overcoming obstacles and developing coping behaviors for the daily challenges we face in reaching our goals.
The paradigms of María Montessori
María Montessori was a well-known teacher who developed many of her own theories of pedagogy. She proposed four key pillars for student education. Her research was based on the learning environment and the mind of the student, whether a child or adult.
Moreover, she was also interested in what she called the sensitive periods or those periods in which the student is more likely to learn.
Individualizing the learning process
The educational psychologist analyzes student characteristics. Likewise, they appreciate each student’s differences, which they use to strengthen their development and learning.
Creativity, motivation, communication skills, and intelligence are important aspects for the educational psychology specialist.
In this regard, motivation is fundamental; it makes the student more willing to acquire knowledge and attain his or her life goals.
The educational psychologist works to increase motivation in the student in order to strengthen learning in the classroom. This method also implements tasks that correspond to learning goals.
Learning disabilities and educational psychology
Learning disabilities are another focal point of educational psychology. When a student cannot learn in the same way as his or her peers, the psychologist begins to search for the reasons why.
Therefore, another part of an educational psychologist’s work involves treating dyslexia or other learning disabilities like attention deficit syndrome or hyperactivity.
Along with the teacher, they’ll create study plans that are adjusted to each case. The idea is to avoid any negative impact on the learning outcomes for the child, adolescent, or adult.
Disorders like depression and anxiety and the problems that arise from bullying are additional research subjects for the educational psychologist. Finally, educational psychologists apply individualized therapies and see to curricular changes if necessary.
The history of educational psychology
The first studies related to educational psychology and children exhibiting problem behavior appeared in the 1880s. Later, it wasn’t until about 1920 when experts started to address psychological problems specifically arising in children both inside and outside the classroom.
Around the same time period, experts started to pay attention to the affective aspects of learning and the emotional and social development of the student.
The first psychologists who were explicitly trained to be experts in learning only started to appear around 1955. This is when the work of educational psychologists finally became visible in schools and learning centers.
But there was an additional shift in thinking beginning in the 1970s when educational psychologists started to develop their own educational models. For instance, educational psychologists first started to experiment with applying learning models in private schools and in conjunction with parent associations.
In conclusion, the role that educational psychology plays in learning today is now clear. These specialists help each student to better achieve their full potential given their individual learning abilities.
Furthermore, they also train and support teachers and the students’ families. As a consequence, their work is fundamental for the successful development of the teaching and learning process.