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What is Educational Psychology?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon221931 — On Oct 14, 2011

best of luck to all.

By cafe41 — On Sep 27, 2010

Sunny27-I know the field of educational psychology is a growing one with a lot of opportunities.

For the school systems across the country educational psychologists are sought after and considered a critical shortage area.

This means that these psychologists that consider working for the school system will usually have elevated pay along with a tuition assistance benefit or loan forgiveness up to a certain amount.

The only condition is that the psychologist has to work for the school system a certain number of years in order to fully obtain the benefit.

By Sunny27 — On Sep 27, 2010

Mutsy-IQ tests measure how the mind processes information and the speed at which it does. Most educational psychology schools require a practicum in which the psychology student actually works in clinical setting and begins working with patients in a supervised setting.

This is part of the end of the educational psychology program. There are licensing requirements for this degree which most accredited schools will easily prepare you for.

Some students seek a PsyD, which is a doctorate in clinical psychology that will allow the student the ability to perform therapy.

A PhD educational psychology student is seeking to perform research in the field and will be eligible to teach at most universities and perform assessments.

They can not however, offer therapy, but they can perform testing for detection of learning disabilities and potential gifted profile for advanced educational programs.

By mutsy — On Sep 27, 2010

Oasis11- An educational psychology doctorate is required in order to do research and usually to go on to a clinical private practice.

These psychologists will perform a battery of tests in order to isolate any learning disabilities or exceptional intelligence.

Many educational psychologists will perform IQ tests in order to determine if a child qualifies for gifted programming. These tests can also identify children that are gifted but may also have learning disabilities.

These problems are difficult for the teachers to detect because the advanced mental capacity that these students have in some areas does not equate equally to all other areas.

Often these students are labeled lazy by teachers because they are not perceived as learning disabled because of their other exceptional capabilities.

By oasis11 — On Sep 27, 2010

An educational psychology job requires an educational psychology degree which is usually in the form of an educational psychology masters.

An advanced masters such as an EdS or a specialist degree is required to be an educational psychologist in a school setting.

These psychologists are often assigned a number of schools and work about the same hours as a teacher. They provide educational assessments to determine learning disabilities within the student population.

The also perform psychological assessments to determine the nature of the child’s problem. Often an educational psychology job will require meeting with the child’s parents in order to understand the child’s learning disabilities as well as other factors that might be contributing to the problem.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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