EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY – IT’S MEANING AND NATURE
Dr. Santhosh Areekkuzhiyil
Dept of Educational psychology
Govt. College of teacher Education, Thalassery
Educational psychology is a field of psychology in which psychological knowledge and methods are used to study the processes of teaching and learning. Educational psychology combines psychology and education by applying the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes to educational goals. Thus it is an applied branch of psychology.
Educational psychologists have seriously involved in researches which have so much educational implications. They study how people change while growing from infancy to old age. Psychologists thus discover what kinds of behaviour are typical of students at different ages. Educators use such information to develop effective teaching methods for various age groups.
Educational psychologists analyse individual differences among students and determine the effect of these differences on their learning process. Attitudes, aptitudes, intelligence, social adjustment, and such other characteristics vary among students and these will influence students learning. By understanding these differences, teachers can develop better instructional strategies as well as instructional materials.
Educational psychologists also study the principles of learning. Such researches provide teachers with information about how students learn and what stimulates them to learn. Educators use this information to design course curriculum. Educational psychologists also help to develop tests and other materials for evaluation of learning outcomes and ascertaining learning difficulties..
Learning, as a field of psychology, examines how lasting changes in behaviour are caused by experience, practice, or training. The psychologists who study learning are interested in the importance of rewards and punishment in the learning process. They also explore how different individuals and species learn, and the factors that influence memory.
Motivation, as a field of psychology, is the study of what conscious and unconscious forces cause human beings and other animals to behave as they do. Motivational psychologists focus on bodily needs, sexual drives, aggression, and emotion.
Perception, in psychology, is the study of how an organism becomes aware of objects, events, and relationships in the outside world through its senses. Psychologists in the field of perception analyse such topics as vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and movement.
Personality refers to the characteristics that make individuals different from one another and account for the way they behave. Personality psychologists investigate how an individual's personality develops, the chief personality types, and the measurement of personality traits.
Physiological psychology examines the relationship between behaviour and body structures or functions, particularly the workings of the nervous system. Physiological psychologists explore the functions of the brain, how hormones affect behaviour, and the physical processes involved in learning and emotions
Educational Psychology as a Branch of Applied Psychology
As discussed above educational psychology is nothing but one of the branches of applied psychology. It is an attempt to apply knowledge of pure psychology to the field of education. It consists of application of psychological principles and techniques to human behaviour in educational situations. In other words, Educational Psychology is a study of the experience and behaviour of the learner in relation to educational environment. In order to develop a clear understanding of the term educational psychology it is necessary to understand the meaning of psychology and education separately.
Psychology had its formal beginning when Wilhelm Wondt established his psychological laboratory in Leipzig, Germany in 1879. But in real sense, interest in psychology as a discipline dates back to the work of Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers.
Psychology – The Science of Soul
The Greek Philosophers conceived psychology as a science of soul, as early as 400 B.C. In fact, the term psychology literally means the science of soul. Etymologically, it is composed of two Greek words “Psyche” and “Logos” means soul and science respectively. Goeckel named it as psychologia. Soul is a being which dwells on the body and with the end of life it leaves the body. Soul is a metaphysical idea. It can neither be perceived or imagined nor its nature and function can be studied by scientific methods of observation, experiment etc. Therefore, definition of psychology as the science of soul has been discarded by the modern psychologists.
Psychology – The Science of Mind
Some regard psychology as the science of mind. Historically the French philosophers like Descartes (1596-1650) and the Britisher philosophers like Locke considered psychology as the science of mind. Descartes tried to understand body mind relationship in terms of their interaction, the study of nervous system, and interest of references as innate actions, etc.
The definition of psychology as the science of mind is not acceptable at present. Mind is an ambiguous concept like the soul. It is not at all possible to carry on scientific observation and experimentation on mind. This definition also does not include the overt behaviour of man and animal which are also important subject matter of psychology. Therefore, the definition of psychology as the science of mind has been discarded.
Psychology – The Science of Consciousness
Psychology has also been defined as the science of consciousness. Historically such a definition has been propounded by the Leipzing school of psychologists led by Withelm Wundt (1832-1920). Wundt defined psychology as the science of immediate experience with consciousness being the main subject matter. He postulated that conscious experience can be reduced in to elements and the primary aim psychology is the analysis of conscious experience in to its elements.
But the definition of psychology as the science of consciousness is not acceptable. That is because mental life does not consist only of consciousness. There are unconscious and subconscious mental process which influence our behaviour in various ways without our knowledge.
Psychology – The Science of Experience
Titchner (1867 – 1927), the leader of the structuralists defines psychology as the science of conscious experience which is dependent upon the experiencing person. To give an example the physicit and the psychologist may be investigating about sound. But whole the former investigates the phenomena as such; the latter is interested as to how it is perceived by the observer. The mind is nothing but the sum total of the conscious experiences as perceived by a person. The subject matter of psychology is the study of such conscious experience which constitutes mind. The method of study of conscious experience is through the introspection of a trained observer.
Psychology – Study of Behaviour
Watson (1878-1958), an American brought about a revolution in psychology called behaviourism. He argued that psychology is to be regarded as a science and as a science it is to limit itself to the study and analysis of publicly observable events such as the behaviour of the subject rather than subjective matters like his private mental states. He defined psychology as “the science of behaviour.”
What is Behaviour
Behaviour is classified in three categories according to its content :
a) Cognitive behaviour where it dominantly knows or thinking, e.g., solving questions.
b) Affective behaviour where the dominance is of feeling, e.g., the emotional experience of anger, fear, jealousy etc.
c) Conative behaviour where the dominance is of motor activity, e.g., cycling, playing hockey etc.
Definitions of Educational Psychology
Educational psychology has been defined differently by different authors and psychologists. Some well known definitions are given below.
1. Crow and Crow: “Educational psychology describes and explains the learning experiences of an individual from birth through old age.”
2. Charles E. Skinner: “Educational Psychology is that branch of psychology which deals with teaching and learning.”
3. Trow: “Educational Psychology is the study of psychological aspects of educational situations.”
4. Stephen: “Educational Psychology is the systematic study of the educational growth and development of a child.”
5. F.A. Peel : “Educational Psychology is the science of education.”
6. Walter B. Kolesnik : “Educational Psychology is the study of those facts and principles of psychology which help to explain and improve the process of education.”
7. Anderson : “Educational Psychology is a subject to be studied, an area or field of knowledge, a set of application of laws and principles from a wide field of knowledge to a social process a set of tools and techniques, and a field of research. While General psychology is a pure science, Educational psychology is its application in the field of education with the aim of socialising man and modifying his behaviour.”
8. Judd : “Educational Psychology is the science which explains the changes that take place in the individuals as they pass through the various stages of development.”
Meaning of Educational Psychology
Educational Psychology is one of the many branches of applied psychology, dealing mainly with problems, process and products of education. Educational Psychology attempts to apply the theories and practice of psychology in the field of education. It applies the psychological methods and techniques in teaching. Educational psychology helps in understanding the capacities, potentials and limitations of the child. It study the learners, teaching learning process, the factors facilitating learning, the learning environment etc.
Nature of Educational Psychology
1. Educational psychology is a positive science
2. Educational psychology is a behavioural science
3. Educational psychology is an applied science
4. Educational psychology is human experimental psychology
5. Educational psychology is a social science
6. Educational psychology is a couselling psychology
7. Educational psychology is an educational science
Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialities within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences.
Aims and Objectives of Educational Psychology
The following are the aims and objectives of educational psychology.
1. To give insight to the teachers about the nature of child
2. To help the teachers in finding out ways and means of social adjustment for the child
3. To provide knowledge about the principles and methods of learning
4. To study about emotions and their importance
5. To give knowledge about the character formation of the child
6. To help in planning instruction according to the age, ability and aptitude of the child.