Educational psychology is a discipline within the larger field of psychology which is focused on studying how people learn. People have been curious about the processes behind learning for thousands of years, with educational psychology as a distinct scientific discipline arising in the 1800s. Advancements in this field are occurring all the time, including periodic reversals of previously stated conclusions. Some examples of famous psychologists who have performed research in this field include Jean Piaget and B.F. Skinner.
This field incorporates several disciplines from within psychology. Educational psychologists are very interested in the study of developmental psychology, which looks at the stages of human development and the processes which can impact development, and they are also interested in social and behavioral psychology, as well as abnormal psychology. As with other types of science concerned with human subjects, educational psychology is subject to a number of ethical restrictions which can make experiments challenging, with many research psychologists in this field using observation as a tool to increase knowledge.
One area of interest in educational psychology is the study of the acquisition of knowledge, with particular interest in populations who acquire knowledge in unusual ways, such as gifted children, children with developmental disabilities, and children with autism. People in this field are also interested in the role of the school environment and how the social world of a school impacts education and learning. Educational psychologists may also work on developing new treatment methods or helping teachers develop customized instruction plans for unique students.
Some educational psychologists work in the school environment, providing support to children and assisting parents and faculty members with the evaluation of children who appear to be having trouble in school. Educational psychologists can also work as consultants helping people design more effective schools and learning environments, teaching teachers about the latest developments in educational psychology, and evaluating individual troubled children by request from parents or schools.
There are many avenues of exploration within this field. Most practicing educational psychologists hold at least a master's degree, although some people can find work with a bachelor's degree. Numerous universities offer graduate programs in educational psychology with varying areas of focus, and people who are interested in pursuing this field may want to look into the type of work being done at various institutions or seek out faculty members with interests which appeal to them when deciding where they want to go to school.