Educational Psychology in the Classroom

Educational Psychology in the Classroom

Educational Psychology in the Classroom

Educational Psychology in the Classroom

Excerpt

Like other fields of the behavioral sciences, educational psychology in the last few years has experienced the development of a number of promising new trends. One of these has been the appearance of a kind of educational technology, based on learning theory and the findings of laboratory experiments. Another trend has stemmed from theories of cognitive development and has been concerned particularly with problem solving, drawing on the work of Bruner and Piaget, to name two of the more influential thinkers who have played leading roles in this movement. Still a third trend has developed from' an awakened public interest in the needs of the disadvantaged. The nation and its political leaders now seem to have realized that the schools as they are presently constituted do not give the children of the poor the kind of educational experiences that will enable them to emerge from the half-life of the urban or rural slum, where apathy, defeatism and social instability create a psychosocial prison that is as effective as any jail. The experimental programs that have been developed in an attempt to involve the disadvantaged child in the tasks of school learning may, indeed, be the most exciting development to date in educational psychology. There is a growing awareness that these programs are field laboratories in which psychological theories and laboratory research findings can be subjected to the kind of tests that will determine whether they have any practical value and whether we can actually revise educational practices sufficiently to give the disadvantaged child the advantages to which he is entitled in a free country. Early reports of these experimental programs are encouraging, but the results are not all in yet, and our conclusions must remain tentative.

Psychologists in almost every field are watching the progress of these experimental programs with interest. Theories of learning and cognitive behavior are not the only ones being tested, because theory, research, and techniques from personality, social, clinical, and developmental psychology have been incorporated into the design of the programs. Measurement psychologists have also been drawn into the scene by the demands of legislators and govern-

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