The Role, Essence and Contributions of Educational Psychology to the Field of Education

By Luis, Ramiro; D'Cunha, Tina | International Journal of Education and Management Studies, December 2014 | Go to article overview

The Role, Essence and Contributions of Educational Psychology to the Field of Education


Luis, Ramiro, D'Cunha, Tina, International Journal of Education and Management Studies


Learning is a process that depends on experience and leads to long-term changes in behavior potential. Behavior potential designates the possible behavior of an individual, not actual behavior. The main assumption behind all learning psychology is that the effects of the environment, conditioning, reinforcement, etc. provide psychologists with the best information from which to understand human behavior.

The psychology of learning spans many levels, from changes in the nervous system and related molecules to applications of learning-based technology for the modification of human or animal behavior. Yet this very breadth poses problems for the student of learning. Most learning texts omit any discussion of the physiology of learning, while many others omit the applications of learning principles to the problems of human behavior.

Knowledge of the phenomena and principles of learning is critical to the understanding of the behavior of people and animals. As one learns more about the processes of learning it can devise better education systems, deal more effectively with many forms of mental illness, train parents in child-rearing practices, and help people learn how to better control their own behavior.

Learning occurs as a result of practice. It refers to most theorists' belief that for learning to occur the organism must somehow actively participate in the learning experience, as opposed to such hypothetical situations as having memories biochemically implanted in the brain. Learning theories are conceptual frameworks describing how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed, and knowledge and skills retained.

Behaviorists look at learning as an aspect of conditioning and advocate a system of rewards and targets in education. Educators who embrace cognitive theory believe that the definition of learning as a change in behavior is too narrow and prefer to study the learner rather than their environment, and in particular the complexities of human memory. Those who advocate constructivism believe that a learner's ability to learn relies to a large extent on what he already knows and understands, and that the acquisition of knowledge should be an individually tailored process of construction. Transformative learning theory focuses upon the often-necessary change that is required in a learner's preconceptions and world view.

As technology continues to transform society, those responsible for the current systems of learning and education are facing overwhelming pressure to adapt. Education technology, connected learning and the rise of the Networked Society is transforming the established concept of learning, teachers' roles and even the nature of knowledge itself.

Educational psychology

Educational psychology is that branch of psychology in which the findings of psychology are applied in the field of education. It is the scientific study of human behaviour in educational setting. According to Charles. E. Skinner, 'Educational psychology deals with the behaviour of human beings in educational situations'. Thus, educational psychology is a behavioural science with two main references human behaviour and education.

The essential knowledge and skill to do this job satisfactorily is supplied by Educational Psychology. In the words of E. A. Peel, "Educational psychology helps the teacher to understand the development of his pupils, the range and limits of their capacities, the processes by which they learn and their social relationships." In this way, the work of the educational psychologists resembles with that of an engineer, who is a technical expert. The engineer supplies all the knowledge and skill essential for the accomplishment of the job satisfactorily. In the same way Educational Psychologists, who is a technical expert in the field of education, supplies all the information, principles and techniques essential for understanding the behaviour of the pupil in response to educational environment and desired modification of behaviour to bring an all-round development of students personality. …

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