Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the
scientific study of human learning. The study of learning processes,
from both cognitive and behavioral perspectives, allows researchers to
understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive
development, affect, motivation, self-regulation, and self-concept, as
well as their role in learning. The field of educational psychology
relies heavily on quantitative methods, including testing and
measurement, to enhance educational activities related to
instructional design, classroom management, and assessment, which
serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings
across the lifespan.
Educational psychology can in part be understood through its
relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by
psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the
relationship between medicine and biology. It is also informed by
Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of
specialities within educational studies, including instructional
design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational
learning, special education, classroom management, and student
Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to
cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities,
departments of educational psychology are usually housed within
faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of
representation of educational psychology content in introductory
The field of educational psychology involves the study of memory,
conceptual processes, and individual differences (via cognitive
psychology) in conceptualizing new strategies for learning processes
Educational psychology has been built upon theories of
operant conditioning, functionalism, structuralism, constructivism,
humanistic psychology, Gestalt psychology, and information
Educational psychology has seen rapid growth and development as a
profession in the last twenty years.
School psychology began with
the concept of intelligence testing leading to provisions for special
education students, who could not follow the regular classroom
curriculum in the early part of the 20th century. However, "school
psychology" itself has built a fairly new profession based upon the
practices and theories of several psychologists among many different
fields. Educational psychologists are working side by side with
psychiatrists, social workers, teachers, speech and language
therapists, and counselors in attempt to understand the questions
being raised when combining behavioral, cognitive, and social
psychology in the classroom setting.
1.1 Early years
Plato and Aristotle
1.1.2 John Locke
1.2 Before 1890
1.2.1 Juan Vives
1.2.2 Johann Pestalozzi
1.2.3 Johann Herbart
1.3.1 William James
1.3.2 Alfred Binet
1.3.3 Edward Thorndike
1.3.4 John Dewey
1.3.5 Jean Piaget
1.4.1 Jerome Bruner
1.4.2 Benjamin Bloom
1.4.3 Nathaniel Gage
Cognitive view of intelligence
3 Conditioning and learning
5.2.2 Employment outlook
6 Methods of research
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Educational psychology is a fairly new and growing field of study.
Though it can date back as early as the days of
Plato and Aristotle,
it was not identified as a specific practice. It was unknown that
everyday teaching and learning in which individuals had to think about
individual differences, assessment, development, the nature of a
subject being taught, problem solving, and transfer of learning was
the beginning to the field of educational psychology. These topics are
important to education and as a result it is important to
understanding human cognition, learning, and social perception.
Plato and Aristotle
Educational psychology dates back to the time of
Aristotle and Plato.
Aristotle researched individual differences in the field of
education, training of the body and the cultivation of psycho-motor
skills, the formation of good character, the possibilities and limits
of moral education. Some other educational topics they spoke about
were the effects of music, poetry, and the other arts on the
development of individual, role of teacher, and the relations between
teacher and student.
Plato saw knowledge as an innate ability,
which evolves through experience and understanding of the world. Such
a statement has evolved into a continuing argument of nature vs.
nurture in understanding conditioning and learning today. Aristotle
observed the phenomenon of "association." His four laws of association
included succession, contiguity, similarity, and contrast. His studies
examined recall and facilitated learning processes.
John Locke followed by taking issue with Plato's theory of innate
learning processes. In place of this theory, he introduced a new
theory of learning based on the term "tabula rasa," which means "blank
slate." Locke explained that learning took place primarily through
experience, and we were all born without knowledge. This doctrine is
known as "empiricism," the view that knowledge is primarily built on
learning and experience.
In the late 1600s,
John Locke advanced the hypothesis that people
learn primarily from external forces. He believed that the mind was
like a blank tablet (tabula rasa), and that successions of simple
impressions give rise to complex ideas through association and
reflection. Locke is credited with establishing "empiricism" as a
criterion for testing the validity of knowledge, thus providing a
conceptual framework for later development of excremental methodology
in the natural and social sciences.
Philosophers of education such as Juan Vives, Johann Pestalozzi,
Friedrich Fröbel, and Johann Herbart had examined, classified and
judged the methods of education centuries before the beginnings of
psychology in the late 1800s.
Juan Vives (1493–1540) proposed induction as the method of study and
believed in the direct observation and investigation of the study of
nature. His studies focus of humanistic learning, which opposed
scholasticism and was influenced by a variety of sources including
philosophy, psychology, politics, religion, and history. He was one
of the first to emphasize that the location of the school is important
to learning. He suggested that the school should be located away
from disturbing noises; the air quality should be good and there
should be plenty of food for the students and teachers. Vives
emphasized the importance of understanding individual differences of
the students and suggested practice as an important tool for
Vives introduced his educational ideas in his writing, "De anima et
vita" in 1538. In this publication, Vives explores moral philosophy as
a setting for his educational ideals; with this, he explains that the
different parts of the soul (similar to that of Aristotle's ideas) are
each responsible for different operations, which function
distinctively. The first book covers the different "souls": "The
Vegatative Soul;" this is the soul of nutrition, growth, and
reproduction, "The Sensitive Soul," which involves the five external
senses; "The Cogitative soul," which includes internal senses and
cognitive facilities. The second book involves functions of the
rational soul: mind, will, and memory. Lastly, the third book explains
the analysis of emotions.
Johann Pestalozzi (1746–1827), a Swiss educational reformer,
emphasized the child rather than the content of the school.
Pestalozzi fostered an educational reform backed by the idea that
early education was crucial for children, and could be manageable for
mothers. Eventually, this experience with early education would lead
to a "wholesome person characterized by morality." Pestalozzi has
been acknowledged for opening institutions for education, writing
books for mother's teaching home education, and elementary books for
students, mostly focusing on the kindergarten level. In his later
years, he published teaching manuals and methods of teaching.
During the time of The Enlightenment, Pestalozzi's ideals introduced
"educationalisation." This created the bridge between social issues
and education by introducing the idea of social issues to be solved
through education. Horlacher describes the most prominent example of
The Enlightenment to be "improving agricultural production
Johann Herbart (1776–1841) is considered the father of educational
psychology. He believed that learning was influenced by interest
in the subject and the teacher. He thought that teachers should
consider the students' existing mental sets—what they already
know—when presenting new information or material. Herbart came
up with what are now known as the formal steps. The 5 steps that
teachers should use are:
Review material that has already been learned by the student
Prepare the student for new material by giving them an overview of
what they are learning next
Present the new material.
Relate the new material to the old material that has already been
Show how the student can apply the new material and show the material
they will learn next.
The period of 1890–1920 is considered the golden era of educational
psychology where aspirations of the new discipline rested on the
application of the scientific methods of observation and
experimentation to educational problems. From 1840 to 1920 37 million
people immigrated to the United States. This created an expansion
of elementary schools and secondary schools. The increase in
immigration also provided educational psychologists the opportunity to
use intelligence testing to screen immigrants at Ellis Island.
Darwinism influenced the beliefs of the prominent educational
psychologists. Even in the earliest years of the discipline,
educational psychologists recognized the limitations of this new
approach. The pioneering American psychologist
William James commented
Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never
generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediate inventive
mind must make that application, by using its originality".
James is the father of psychology in America but he also made
contributions to educational psychology. In his famous series of
lectures Talks to Teachers on Psychology, published in 1899 and now
regarded as the first educational psychology textbook,[citation
needed] James defines education as "the organization of acquired
habits of conduct and tendencies to behavior". He states that
teachers should "train the pupil to behavior" so that he fits into
the social and physical world. Teachers should also realize the
importance of habit and instinct. They should present information that
is clear and interesting and relate this new information and material
to things the student already knows about. He also addresses
important issues such as attention, memory, and association of ideas.
Alfred Binet published Mental Fatigue in 1898, in which he attempted
to apply the experimental method to educational psychology. In this
experimental method he advocated for two types of experiments,
experiments done in the lab and experiments done in the classroom. In
1904 he was appointed the Minister of Public Education. This is
when he began to look for a way to distinguish children with
developmental disabilities. Binet strongly supported special
education programs because he believed that "abnormality" could be
cured. The Binet-Simon test was the first intelligence test and was
the first to distinguish between "normal children" and those with
developmental disabilities. Binet believed that it was important to
study individual differences between age groups and children of the
same age. He also believed that it was important for teachers to
take into account individual students strengths and also the needs of
the classroom as a whole when teaching and creating a good learning
environment. He also believed that it was important to train
teachers in observation so that they would be able to see individual
differences among children and adjust the curriculum to the
students. Binet also emphasized that practice of material was
important. In 1916
Lewis Terman revised the Binet-Simon so that the
average score was always 100. The test became known as the
Stanford-Binet and was one of the most widely used tests of
intelligence. Terman, unlike Binet, was interested in using
intelligence test to identify gifted children who had high
intelligence. In his longitudinal study of gifted children, who
became known as the Termites, Terman found that gifted children become
Edward Thorndike (1874–1949) supported the scientific movement in
education. He based teaching practices on empirical evidence and
measurement. Thorndike developed the theory of instrumental
conditioning or the law of effect. The law of effect states that
associations are strengthened when it is followed by something
pleasing and associations are weakened when followed by something not
pleasing. He also found that learning is done a little at a time or in
increments, learning is an automatic process and all the principles of
learning apply to all mammals. Thorndike's research with Robert
Woodworth on the theory of transfer found that learning one subject
will only influence your ability to learn another subject if the
subjects are similar. This discovery led to less emphasis on
learning the classics because they found that studying the classics
does not contribute to overall general intelligence. Thorndike was
one of the first to say that individual differences in cognitive tasks
were due to how many stimulus response patterns a person had rather
than a general intellectual ability. He contributed word
dictionaries that were scientifically based to determine the words and
definitions used. The dictionaries were the first to take into
consideration the users maturity level. He also integrated pictures
and easier pronunciation guide into each of the definitions.
Thorndike contributed arithmetic books based on learning theory. He
made all the problems more realistic and relevant to what was being
studied, not just to improve the general intelligence. He developed
tests that were standardized to measure performance in school related
subjects. His biggest contribution to testing was the CAVD
intelligence test which used a multidimensional approach to
intelligence and the first to use a ratio scale. His later work was
on programmed instruction, mastery learning and computer-based
If, by a miracle of mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged
that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page
two become visible, and so on, much that now requires personal
instruction could be managed by print.
John Dewey (1859–1952) had a major influence on the development of
progressive education in the United States. He believed that the
classroom should prepare children to be good citizens and facilitate
creative intelligence. He pushed for the creation of practical
classes that could be applied outside of a school setting. He also
thought that education should be student-oriented, not
subject-oriented. For Dewey, education was a social experience that
helped bring together generations of people. He stated that students
learn by doing. He believed in an active mind that was able to be
educated through observation, problem solving and enquiry. In his 1910
book How We Think, he emphasizes that material should be provided in a
way that is stimulating and interesting to the student since it
encourages original thought and problem solving. He also stated
that material should be relative to the student's own experience.
"The material furnished by way of information should be relevant to a
question that is vital in the students own experience"
Jean Piaget (1896–1980) developed the theory of cognitive
development. The theory stated that intelligence developed in four
different stages. The stages are the sensorimotor stage from birth to
2 years old, the preoperational state from 2 years old to 7 years old,
the concrete operational stage from 7 years old to 10 years old, and
formal operational stage from 11 years old and up. He also believed
that learning was constrained to the child's cognitive development.
Piaget influenced educational psychology because he was the first to
believe that cognitive development was important and something that
should be paid attention to in education. Most of the research on
Piagetian theory was carried out by American educational
The number of people receiving a high school and college education
increased dramatically from 1920 to 1960. Because very few jobs
were available to teens coming out of eighth grade, there was an
increase in high school attendance in the 1930s. The progressive
movement in the United State took off at this time and led to the idea
of progressive education. John Flanagan, an educational psychologist,
developed tests for combat trainees and instructions in combat
training. In 1954 the work of Kenneth Clark and his wife on the
effects of segregation on black and white children was influential in
the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. From the 1960s
to present day, educational psychology has switched from a behaviorist
perspective to a more cognitive based perspective because of the
influence and development of cognitive psychology at this time.
Jerome Bruner is notable for integrating Piaget's cognitive approaches
into educational psychology. He advocated for discovery learning
where teachers create a problem solving environment that allows the
student to question, explore and experiment. In his book The
Education Bruner stated that the structure of the material
and the cognitive abilities of the person are important in
learning. He emphasized the importance of the subject matter. He
also believed that how the subject was structured was important for
the student's understanding of the subject and it is the goal of the
teacher to structure the subject in a way that was easy for the
student to understand. In the early 1960s Bruner went to
teach math and science to school children, which influenced his view
as schooling as a cultural institution. Bruner was also influential in
the development of MACOS, Man a Course of Study, which was an
educational program that combined anthropology and science. The
program explored human evolution and social behavior. He also helped
with the development of the head start program. He was interested in
the influence of culture on education and looked at the impact of
poverty on educational development.
Benjamin Bloom (1913–1999) spent over 50 years at the University of
Chicago, where he worked in the department of education. He
believed that all students can learn. He developed taxonomy of
educational objectives. The objectives were divided into three
domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. The cognitive domain
deals with how we think. It is divided into categories that are on
a continuum from easiest to more complex. The categories are
knowledge or recall, comprehension application, analysis, synthesis
and evaluation. The affective domain deals with emotions and has 5
categories. The categories are receiving phenomenon, responding to
that phenomenon, valuing, organization, and internalizing values.
The psychomotor domain deals with the development of motor skills,
movement and coordination and has 7 categories, that also goes from
simplest to complex. The 7 categories of the psychomotor domain
are perception, set, guided response, mechanism, complex overt
response, adaptation, and origination. The taxonomy provided broad
educational objectives that could be used to help expand the
curriculum to match the ideas in the taxonomy. The taxonomy is
considered to have a greater influence internationally than in the
United States. Internationally, the taxonomy is used in every aspect
of education from training of the teachers to the development of
testing material. Bloom believed in communicating clear learning
goals and promoting an active student. He thought that teachers should
provide feedback to the students on their strengths and weaknesses.
Bloom also did research on college students and their problem solving
processes. He found that they differ in understanding the basis of the
problem and the ideas in the problem. He also found that students
differ in process of problem solving in their approach and attitude
toward the problem.
Nathaniel Gage (1917 -2008) is an important figure in educational
psychology as his research focused on improving teaching and
understanding the processes involved in teaching. He edited the
book Handbook of Research on Teaching (1963), which helped develop
early research in teaching and educational psychology. Gage founded
the Stanford Center for Research and Development in Teaching, which
contributed research on teaching as well as influencing the education
of important educational psychologists.
Applied behavior analysis, a research-based science utilizing
behavioral principles of operant conditioning, is effective in a range
of educational settings. For example, teachers can alter student
behavior by systematically rewarding students who follow classroom
rules with praise, stars, or tokens exchangeable for sundry
items. Despite the demonstrated efficacy of awards in changing
behavior, their use in education has been criticized by proponents of
self-determination theory, who claim that praise and other rewards
undermine intrinsic motivation. There is evidence that tangible
rewards decrease intrinsic motivation in specific situations, such as
when the student already has a high level of intrinsic motivation to
perform the goal behavior. But the results showing detrimental
effects are counterbalanced by evidence that, in other situations,
such as when rewards are given for attaining a gradually increasing
standard of performance, rewards enhance intrinsic motivation.
Many effective therapies have been based on the principles of applied
behavior analysis, including pivotal response therapy which is used to
treat autism spectrum disorders.
Among current educational psychologists, the cognitive perspective is
more widely held than the behavioral perspective, perhaps because it
admits causally related mental constructs such as traits, beliefs,
memories, motivations and emotions. Cognitive
theories claim that memory structures determine how information is
perceived, processed, stored, retrieved and forgotten. Among the
memory structures theorized by cognitive psychologists are separate
but linked visual and verbal systems described by Allan Paivio's dual
coding theory. Educational psychologists have used dual coding theory
and cognitive load theory to explain how people learn from multimedia
Three experiments reported by Krug, Davis and Glover demonstrated
the advantage of delaying a 2nd reading of a text passage by one week
(distributed) compared with no delay between readings (massed).
The spaced learning effect, a cognitive phenomenon strongly supported
by psychological research, has broad applicability within
education. For example, students have been found to perform better
on a test of knowledge about a text passage when a second reading of
the passage is delayed rather than immediate (see figure).
Educational psychology research has confirmed the applicability to
education of other findings from cognitive psychology, such as the
benefits of using mnemonics for immediate and delayed retention of
Problem solving, according to prominent cognitive psychologists, is
fundamental to learning. It resides as an important research topic in
educational psychology. A student is thought to interpret a problem by
assigning it to a schema retrieved from long-term memory. A problem
students run into while reading is called "activation." This is when
the student's representations of the text are present during working
memory. This causes the student to read through the material without
absorbing the information and being able to retain it. When working
memory is absent from the readers representations of the working
memory they experience something called "deactivation." When
deactivation occurs, the student has an understanding of the material
and is able to retain information. If deactivation occurs during the
first reading, the reader does not need to undergo deactivation in the
second reading. The reader will only need to reread to get a "gist" of
the text to spark their memory. When the problem is assigned to the
wrong schema, the student's attention is subsequently directed away
from features of the problem that are inconsistent with the assigned
schema. The critical step of finding a mapping between the problem
and a pre-existing schema is often cited as supporting the centrality
of analogical thinking to problem solving.
Cognitive view of intelligence
An example of an item from a cognitive abilities test
Each person has an individual profile of characteristics, abilities
and challenges that result from predisposition, learning and
development. These manifest as individual differences in intelligence,
creativity, cognitive style, motivation and the capacity to process
information, communicate, and relate to others. The most prevalent
disabilities found among school age children are attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disability, dyslexia, and
speech disorder. Less common disabilities include intellectual
disability, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and
Although theories of intelligence have been discussed by philosophers
since Plato, intelligence testing is an invention of educational
psychology, and is coincident with the development of that discipline.
Continuing debates about the nature of intelligence revolve on whether
intelligence can be characterized by a single factor known as general
intelligence, multiple factors (e.g., Gardner's theory of multiple
intelligences), or whether it can be measured at all. In practice,
standardized instruments such as the
Stanford-Binet IQ test and the
WISC are widely used in economically developed countries to
identify children in need of individualized educational treatment.
Children classified as gifted are often provided with accelerated or
enriched programs. Children with identified deficits may be provided
with enhanced education in specific skills such as phonological
awareness. In addition to basic abilities, the individual's
personality traits are also important, with people higher in
conscientiousness and hope attaining superior academic achievements,
even after controlling for intelligence and past performance.
Main article: Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development
Developmental psychology, and especially the psychology of cognitive
development, opens a special perspective for educational psychology.
This is so because education and the psychology of cognitive
development converge on a number of crucial assumptions. First, the
psychology of cognitive development defines human cognitive competence
at successive phases of development.
Education aims to help students
acquire knowledge and develop skills which are compatible with their
understanding and problem-solving capabilities at different ages.
Thus, knowing the students' level on a developmental sequence provides
information on the kind and level of knowledge they can assimilate,
which, in turn, can be used as a frame for organizing the subject
matter to be taught at different school grades. This is the reason why
Piaget's theory of cognitive development
Piaget's theory of cognitive development was so influential for
education, especially mathematics and science education. In the
same direction, the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development
suggest that in addition to the concerns above, sequencing of concepts
and skills in teaching must take account of the processing and working
memory capacities that characterize successive age levels.
Second, the psychology of cognitive development involves understanding
how cognitive change takes place and recognizing the factors and
processes which enable cognitive competence to develop.
capitalizes on cognitive change, because the construction of knowledge
presupposes effective teaching methods that would move the student
from a lower to a higher level of understanding. Mechanisms such as
reflection on actual or mental actions vis-à-vis alternative
solutions to problems, tagging new concepts or solutions to symbols
that help one recall and mentally manipulate them are just a few
examples of how mechanisms of cognitive development may be used to
Finally, the psychology of cognitive development is concerned with
individual differences in the organization of cognitive processes and
abilities, in their rate of change, and in their mechanisms of change.
The principles underlying intra- and inter-individual differences
could be educationally useful, because knowing how students differ in
regard to the various dimensions of cognitive development, such as
processing and representational capacity, self-understanding and
self-regulation, and the various domains of understanding, such as
mathematical, scientific, or verbal abilities, would enable the
teacher to cater for the needs of the different students so that no
one is left behind.
Main article: Constructivism
Constructivism is a category of learning theory in which emphasis is
placed on the agency and prior "knowing" and experience of the
learner, and often on the social and cultural determinants of the
learning process. Educational psychologists distinguish individual (or
psychological) constructivism, identified with Piaget's theory of
cognitive development, from social constructivism. A dominant
influence on the latter type is Lev Vygotsky's work on sociocultural
learning, describing how interactions with adults, more capable peers,
and cognitive tools are internalized to form mental constructs.
Elaborating on Vygotsky's theory,
Jerome Bruner and other educational
psychologists developed the important concept of instructional
scaffolding, in which the social or information environment offers
supports for learning that are gradually withdrawn as they become
Conditioning and learning
An abacus provides concrete experiences for learning abstract
To understand the characteristics of learners in childhood,
adolescence, adulthood, and old age, educational psychology develops
and applies theories of human development. Often represented as
stages through which people pass as they mature, developmental
theories describe changes in mental abilities (cognition), social
roles, moral reasoning, and beliefs about the nature of knowledge.
For example, educational psychologists have conducted research on the
instructional applicability of Jean Piaget's theory of development,
according to which children mature through four stages of cognitive
capability. Piaget hypothesized that children are not capable of
abstract logical thought until they are older than about 11 years, and
therefore younger children need to be taught using concrete objects
and examples. Researchers have found that transitions, such as from
concrete to abstract logical thought, do not occur at the same time in
all domains. A child may be able to think abstractly about
mathematics, but remain limited to concrete thought when reasoning
about human relationships. Perhaps Piaget's most enduring contribution
is his insight that people actively construct their understanding
through a self-regulatory process.
Piaget proposed a developmental theory of moral reasoning in which
children progress from a naïve understanding of morality based on
behavior and outcomes to a more advanced understanding based on
intentions. Piaget's views of moral development were elaborated by
Kohlberg into a stage theory of moral development. There is evidence
that the moral reasoning described in stage theories is not sufficient
to account for moral behavior. For example, other factors such as
modeling (as described by the social cognitive theory of morality) are
required to explain bullying.
Rudolf Steiner's model of child development interrelates physical,
emotional, cognitive, and moral development in developmental
stages similar to those later described by Piaget.
Developmental theories are sometimes presented not as shifts between
qualitatively different stages, but as gradual increments on separate
dimensions. Development of epistemological beliefs (beliefs about
knowledge) have been described in terms of gradual changes in people's
belief in: certainty and permanence of knowledge, fixedness of
ability, and credibility of authorities such as teachers and experts.
People develop more sophisticated beliefs about knowledge as they gain
in education and maturity.
Motivation is an internal state that activates, guides and sustains
Motivation can have several impacting effects on how
students learn and how they behave towards subject matter:
Provide direction towards goals
Enhance cognitive processing abilities and performance
Direct behavior toward particular goals
Lead to increased effort and energy
Increase initiation of and persistence in activities
Educational psychology research on motivation is concerned with the
volition or will that students bring to a task, their level of
interest and intrinsic motivation, the personally held goals that
guide their behavior, and their belief about the causes of their
success or failure. As intrinsic motivation deals with activities that
act as their own rewards, extrinsic motivation deals with motivations
that are brought on by consequences or punishments. A form of
attribution theory developed by Bernard Weiner describes how
students' beliefs about the causes of academic success or failure
affect their emotions and motivations. For example, when students
attribute failure to lack of ability, and ability is perceived as
uncontrollable, they experience the emotions of shame and
embarrassment and consequently decrease effort and show poorer
performance. In contrast, when students attribute failure to lack of
effort, and effort is perceived as controllable, they experience the
emotion of guilt and consequently increase effort and show improved
The self-determination theory (SDT) was developed by psychologists
Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. SDT focuses on the importance of
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in driving human behavior and
posits inherent growth and development tendencies. It emphasizes the
degree to which an individual's behavior is self-motivated and
self-determined. When applied to the realm of education, the
self-determination theory is concerned primarily with promoting in
students an interest in learning, a value of education, and a
confidence in their own capacities and attributes.
Motivational theories also explain how learners' goals affect the way
they engage with academic tasks. Those who have mastery goals
strive to increase their ability and knowledge. Those who have
performance approach goals strive for high grades and seek
opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. Those who have
performance avoidance goals are driven by fear of failure and avoid
situations where their abilities are exposed. Research has found that
mastery goals are associated with many positive outcomes such as
persistence in the face of failure, preference for challenging tasks,
creativity and intrinsic motivation. Performance avoidance goals are
associated with negative outcomes such as poor concentration while
studying, disorganized studying, less self-regulation, shallow
information processing and test anxiety. Performance approach goals
are associated with positive outcomes, and some negative outcomes such
as an unwillingness to seek help and shallow information
Locus of control is a salient factor in the successful academic
performance of students. During the 1970s and '80s, Cassandra B. Whyte
did significant educational research studying locus of control as
related to the academic achievement of students pursuing higher
education coursework. Much of her educational research and
publications focused upon the theories of
Julian B. Rotter in regard
to the importance of internal control and successful academic
performance. Whyte reported that individuals who perceive and
believe that their hard work may lead to more successful academic
outcomes, instead of depending on luck or fate, persist and achieve
academically at a higher level. Therefore, it is important to provide
education and counseling in this regard.
For a broader coverage related to this topic, see Educational
Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives: categories in the
Instructional design, the systematic design of materials, activities
and interactive environments for learning, is broadly informed by
educational psychology theories and research. For example, in defining
learning goals or objectives, instructional designers often use a
taxonomy of educational objectives created 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 highly effective, producing
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 relationships. The following list of technological
resources incorporate computer-aided instruction and intelligence for
educational psychologists and their students:
Intelligent tutoring system
Computer-supported collaborative learning
Technology is essential to the field of educational psychology, not
only for the psychologist themselves as far as testing, organization,
and resources, but also for students. Educational Psychologists whom
reside in the K- 12 setting focus the majority of their time with
Education students. It has been found that students with
disabilities learning through technology such as IPad applications and
videos are more engaged and motivated to learn in the classroom
setting. Liu et al. explain that learning-based technology allows for
students to be more focused, and learning is more efficient with
learning technologies. The authors explain that learning technology
also allows for students with social- emotional disabilities to
participate in distance learning.
A class size experiment in the United States found that attending
small classes for 3 or more years in the early grades increased high
school graduation of students from low income families.
Research on classroom management and pedagogy is conducted to guide
teaching practice and form a foundation 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
strives to create positive teacher–student and peer relationships,
manage student groups to sustain on-task behavior, and use counseling
and other psychological methods to aid students who present persistent
Introductory educational psychology is a commonly required area of
study in most North American teacher education programs. When taught
in that context, its content varies, but it typically emphasizes
learning theories (especially cognitively oriented ones), issues about
motivation, assessment of students' learning, and classroom
management. A developing Wikibook about educational psychology gives
more detail about the educational psychology topics that are typically
presented in preservice teacher education.
In order to become an educational psychologist, students can complete
an undergraduate degree in their choice. They then must go to graduate
school to study education psychology, counseling psychology, and/ or
school counseling. Most students today are also receiving their
doctorate degrees in order to hold the "psychologist" title.
Educational psychologists work in a variety of settings. Some work in
university settings where they carry out research on the cognitive and
social processes of human development, learning and education.
Educational psychologists may also work as consultants in designing
and creating educational materials, classroom programs and online
courses.Educational psychologists who work in k–12 school settings
(closely related are school psychologists in the US and Canada) are
trained at the master's and doctoral levels. In addition to conducting
assessments, school psychologists provide services such as academic
and behavioral intervention, counseling, teacher consultation, and
crisis intervention. However, school psychologists are generally more
individual-oriented towards students.
Many colleges and high schools are starting to teach students how to
teach students in the classroom. In colleges educational psychology is
starting to be a general education requirement.
Employment for psychologists in the United States is expected to grow
faster than most occupations through the year 2014, with anticipated
growth of 18–26%. One in four psychologists are employed in
educational settings. In the United States, the median salary for
psychologists in primary and secondary schools is US$58,360 as of May
2004. Colleges offer and allow someone to obtain an PHD in
In recent decades the participation of women as professional
researchers in North American educational psychology has risen
Methods of research
Educational psychology, as much as any other field of psychology
heavily relies on a balance of pure observation and quantitative
methods in psychology. The study of education generally combines the
studies of history, sociology, and ethics with theoretical approaches.
Smeyers and Depaepe explain that historically, the study of education
and child rearing have been associated with the interests of
policymakers and practitioners within the educational field, however,
the recent shift to sociology and psychology has opened the door for
new findings in education as a social science. Now being its own
academic discipline, educational psychology has proven to be helpful
for social science researchers.
Quantitative research is the backing to most observable phenomena in
psychology. This involves observing, creating, and understanding a
distribution of data based upon the studies subject matter.
Researchers use particular variables to interpret their data
distributions from their research and employ statistics as a way of
creating data tables and analyzing their data.
Psychology has moved
from the "common sense" reputations initially posed by Thomas Reid to
the methodology approach comparing independent and dependent variables
through natural observation, experiments, or combinations of the two.
Though results are still, with statistical methods, objectively true
based upon significance variables or p- values.
Learning theory (education)
List of educational psychologists
List of publications in psychology
List of educational psychology journals
Living educational theory – an educational psychology action
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Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Subject:Educational psychology
Wikiversity has learning resources about Educational psychology
Wikisource has the text of a 1920
Encyclopedia Americana article about
Psychology Resources by Athabasca University
Division 15 of the American Psychological Association
Education Section of the British Psychological Society
Learning & Instructional Design:
Classics in the
History of Psychology
The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing
Psychology of Educational Quality-Transformational Quality (TQ)
Applied behavior analysis
Industrial and organizational
Sport and exercise
Human subject research
William James (1842–1910)
Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936)
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
Edward Thorndike (1874–1949)
Carl Jung (1875–1961)
John B. Watson (1878–1958)
Clark L. Hull (1884–1952)
Kurt Lewin (1890–1947)
Jean Piaget (1896–1980)
Gordon Allport (1897–1967)
J. P. Guilford (1897–1987)
Carl Rogers (1902–1987)
Erik Erikson (1902–1994)
B. F. Skinner (1904–1990)
Donald O. Hebb (1904–1985)
Ernest Hilgard (1904–2001)
Harry Harlow (1905–1981)
Raymond Cattell (1905–1998)
Abraham Maslow (1908–1970)
Neal E. Miller (1909–2002)
Jerome Bruner (1915–2016)
Donald T. Campbell (1916–1996)
Hans Eysenck (1916–1997)
Herbert A. Simon (1916–2001)
David McClelland (1917–1998)
Leon Festinger (1919–1989)
George Armitage Miller (1920–2012)
Richard Lazarus (1922–2002)
Stanley Schachter (1922–1997)
Robert Zajonc (1923–2008)
Albert Bandura (b. 1925)
Roger Brown (1925–1997)
Endel Tulving (b. 1927)
Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987)
Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)
Ulric Neisser (1928–2012)
Jerome Kagan (b. 1929)
Walter Mischel (b. 1930)
Elliot Aronson (b. 1932)
Daniel Kahneman (b. 1934)
Paul Ekman (b. 1934)
Michael Posner (b. 1936)
Amos Tversky (1937–1996)
Bruce McEwen (b. 1938)
Larry Squire (b. 1941)
Richard E. Nisbett (b. 1941)
Martin Seligman (b. 1942)
Ed Diener (b. 1946)
Shelley E. Taylor (b. 1946)
John Anderson (b. 1947)
Ronald C. Kessler (b. 1947)
Joseph E. LeDoux (b. 1949)
Richard Davidson (b. 1951)
Susan Fiske (b. 1952)
Roy Baumeister (b. 1953)
Schools of thought
Dyslexia and related specific developmental disorders (F80–F83, 315)
Expressive language disorder
Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder
Specific language impairment
Speech and language impairment
Speech sound disorder
Tip of the tongue
Dysgraphia (Disorder of written expression)
Developmental coordination disorder
Developmental verbal dyspraxia
Developmental verbal dyspraxia also known as Childhood apraxia of
Auditory processing disorder
Sensory processing disorder
Learning problems in childhood cancer
Management of dyslexia
Dyslexia in fiction
Languages by Writing System
People with dyslexia
Topics in education
Aims and objectives
Types of institutions
Stages of formal education
Early childhood education
Junior high school
Senior high school
Education by region
Education in Africa
Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)
São Tomé and Príncipe
States with limited
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Canary Islands / Ceuta / Melilla (Spain)
Mayotte / Réunion (France)
Saint Helena / Ascension Island / Tristan da
Cunha (United Kingdom)
Education in Asia
East Timor (Timor-Leste)
United Arab Emirates
British Indian Ocean Territory
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Education in Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
States with limited
Isle of Man
Education in North America
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
British Virgin Islands
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Turks and Caicos Islands
United States Virgin Islands
Education in Oceania
Federated States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
of New Zealand
and other territories
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
Wallis and Futuna
Education in South America
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands