What are the domains in which educational psychology divides learning?

What are the domains in which educational psychology divides learning? Explain briefly with the help of suitable examples.

Today’s educational system is highly complex. There is no single learning approach that works for everyone.

That’s why psychologists working in the field of education are focused on identifying and studying learning methods to better understand how people absorb and retain new information.

Educational psychologists apply theories of human development to understand individual learning and inform the instructional process. While interaction with teachers and students in school settings is an important part of their work, it isn’t the only facet of the job. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. People don’t only learn at school, they learn at work, in social situations, and even doing simple tasks like household chores or running errands. Psychologists working in this subfield examine how people learn in a variety of settings to identify approaches and strategies to make learning more effective.

Psychologists working in education study the social, emotional, and cognitive processes involved in learning and apply their findings to improve the learning process. Some specialize in the educational development of a specific group of people such as children, adolescents, or adults, while others focus on specific learning challenges such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia.

No matter the population they are studying, these professionals are interested in teaching methods, the instructional process, and different learning outcomes.

How much does the time of day when new information is introduced influence whether a person retains that information? What does culture have to do with how we process new ideas? How does age affect our ability to develop new skills, like language? How is in-person learning different from remote learning using technology? How does the choice of a media platform make a difference in learning?

These are all questions that educational psychologists are asking — and answering — in settings as diverse as government research centers, schools, community organizations, and learning centers.

Today’s educational philosophies are based heavily in educational psychology. Educational psychologists study human development to understand how people learn. There are many different learning styles that impact a person’s ability to learn new information, focus on tasks, and retain knowledge. The continued study of educational psychology is critical for creating teaching methods that support a diverse population of learners. Teachers can benefit from a foundation in educational psychology, as it enables them to understand “why” and “how” their students respond to the classroom environment the way they do. Such a foundation also prepares teachers with enhanced knowledge of specific teaching methods and educational material.

Educational psychology is rooted in the fact that all learners are unique and that students have different abilities and educational needs. To maximize each student’s academic potential, schools must present classroom material in a number of different ways to create each student’s optimal learning environment. This is especially true in special education classrooms, where students may struggle with physical or cognitive disabilities. Teachers who understand psychology can present students with a variety of learning tools to minimize gaps created by disabilities.

When special education teachers understand educational psychology, they know how to create a learning environment that feels safe for each student. Because noise, light or other children can easily overstimulate special needs children, the learning environment becomes an important part of their learning experience. When teachers understand the cognitive and physical characteristics of their student’s abilities and disabilities, they are better able to reduce distractions and triggers in the classroom.

Teaching special education is an opportunity to support a child’s health and success in school and beyond. It is important for special needs students to learn how to function socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. Special education teachers with foundations in educational psychology become strong advocates for their students, and they commonly refer students to and connect students with resources that support their growth. For example, some special needs students may benefit from specific interventions, such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, counseling, art therapy, or physical therapy.

The study of educational psychology has been critical in the development of assistive technologies for special needs students. These technologies support a diverse population of learners at home and in school. Through the use of computers, various tools can compensate for specific cognitive or physical disabilities. For example, children with dyslexia benefit from programs that read text out loud or that record audio for them to listen to repeatedly. The emergence of such technology has had measurable benefits for the special needs community and those working in schools to support them.

Candidates who earn an online master’s in special education graduate with advanced knowledge about the intersection of educational psychology and special education — as well as the “how” and “why” of human development and learning. In order to support the academic and personal lives of special needs students, as well as their future careers, it is essential that teachers find the right teaching tools, create the right learning environment, and connect special needs students with the right support.

Educational psychologists study learners and learning contexts — both within and beyond traditional classrooms — and evaluate ways in which factors such as age, culture, gender, and physical and social environments influence human learning. They leverage educational theory and practice based on the latest research related to human development to understand the emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of human learning.

Educational psychology can influence programs, curricula, and lesson development, as well as classroom management, approaches. For example, educators can use concepts from educational psychology to understand and address the ways rapidly changing technologies both help and harm their students’ learning. In addition, educational psychologists play an important role in educating teachers, parents, and administrators about best practices for learners who struggle with conventional education methods.

As psychologists, these professionals often work directly with children — and in collaboration with parents and teachers — to improve a child’s learning outcomes. However, educational psychologists can also pursue careers as researchers, consultants, and teachers in a variety of contexts, including schools, community organizations, government research centers, and learning centers.

Behaviorist learning theories first emerged in the late 19th century from the work of Edward Thorndike and Ivan Pavlov. They were popularized during the first half of the 20th century through the work of John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, and others.

Behaviorism defines learning as observable behavioral change that occurs in response to environmental stimuli. Positive stimuli — or “rewards” — create positive associations between the reward and a given behavior; these associations prompt one to repeat that behavior. Meanwhile, negative stimuli — or “punishments” — discourage the behaviors associated with those stimuli. Through this process of conditioning, people learn to either repeat or avoid behaviors.

Because early behaviorists tried to legitimize psychology as a science, their theories emphasized external, scientifically measurable behavioral changes in response to similarly measurable stimuli.

Although they admit that thought and emotion influence learning, behaviorists either dismiss these factors as phenomena beyond the realm of scientific inquiry (methodological behaviorism) or convert internal factors into behavioral terms (neobehaviorism/radical behaviorism).

Assuming that changes in behavior signify learning, methodological behaviorists see no fundamental difference between human and animal learning processes, and they often conduct comparative research on animals.

Behaviorism relies on the prediction or analysis of behavior based on causal stimuli, while education uses the process of positive and negative reinforcement to encourage or discourage behaviors. This school of thought emphasizes behavior’s learned causes over its biological one; therefore, behaviorism deeply values the ability of education to shape individuals.

Behaviorist learning theory distinguishes between classical and operative conditioning. The former involves natural responses to environmental stimuli, while the latter involves the reinforcement of response to stimuli. Using a process often called “programmatic instruction,” educators use operative conditioning to reinforce positive and correct negative learnings that often accompany classical conditioning.

Behaviorist theories ascribe to a reductionist approach, which dictates that breaking the behavior down into parts is the best way to understand it. Other schools of thought critique behaviorism for underemphasizing biological and unconscious factors, denying free will, equating humans with animals, and overlooking internal learning processes or types of learning that occur without reinforcement.

Writings of European philosophers and reformers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827), Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1841), and Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (1782–1852) stressed the value of activity, prior experience, and interest. All these ideas are consistent with current work in educational psychology.

Psychology and key ideas in education.

Developments in education continued to be closely tied to psychologists in the first half of the twentieth century. In fact, in 1919, Ellwood Cubberly dubbed educational psychology a “guiding science of the school” (p. 755). It was not uncommon for psychologists such as Thorndike, Charles H. Judd, or their students to be both presidents of the American Psychological Association and authors of materials for teaching school subjects or measuring achievement in reading, mathematics, or even handwriting. The work of Thorndike, Alfred Binet, Jean Piaget, and Benjamin Bloom illustrate earlier connections between psychology and education.

Thorndike, teaching, and transfer. 

Although Thorndike is most well known in psychology for his research on learning that paved the way for B. F. Skinner’s later studies of operant conditioning, his impact in education went beyond his studies of learning. He developed methods for teaching reading and arithmetic that were widely adopted, as well as scales to measure ability in reading, arithmetic, handwriting, drawing, spelling, and English composition. He supported the scientific movement in education–an effort to base teaching practice on empirical evidence and sound measurement. His view proved narrow as he sought laws of learning in laboratories that could be applied to teaching without actually evaluating the applications in real classrooms. It took fifty years to return to the psychological study of learning in the classroom, when the Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik in 1957 startled the United States and precipitated funding for basic and applied research on teaching and learning. Thorndike also had a lasting effect on education by demonstrating that learning Greek, Latin, and mathematics did not “exercise the mind” to improve general thinking abilities. Partly because of his research, the required study of the classics decreased.

Binet and assessments of intelligence. 

About the time that Thorndike was developing measures of reading and arithmetic abilities, Alfred Binet was working on the assessment of intelligence in France. Binet, a psychologist and political activist in Paris in the early 1900s, was charged with developing a procedure for identifying students who would need special education classes. He believed that having an objective measure of learning ability could protect students of poor families who might be forced to leave school because they were assumed to be slow learners. Binet and his collaborator Théodore Simon identified fifty-eight tests, several for each age group from three to thirteen, that allowed the examiner to determine a mental age for a child. A child who succeeded on the items passed by most six-year-olds, for example, was considered to have a mental age of six, whether the child was actually four, six, or eight years old. The concept of intelligence quotient, or IQ, was added after Binet’s procedure was brought to the United States and revised at Stanford University to become the Stanford-Binet test. The early Stanford-Binet has been revised four times as of 2002, most recently in 1986. The success of the Stanford-Binet has led to the development of several other modern intelligence tests.

Piaget and the development of thinking. 

As a new Ph.D. working in Binet’s laboratory, Jean Piaget became intrigued with children’s wrong answers to Binet’s tasks. Over the next several decades, Piaget devised a model to describe the thinking behind these wrong answers and to explain how humans gather and organize information. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is based on the assumption that people try to make sense of the world and actively create their knowledge through direct experience with objects, people, and ideas. Maturation, activity, social interaction, and equilibration (the constant testing of the adequacy of understanding) influence the way thinking and knowledge develop. Piaget believed that young people pass through four stages in their cognitive development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal-operational. Piaget’s theory transformed education in mathematics and science and is still a force in the early twenty-first century in constructivist approaches to teaching.

Bloom and the goals of instruction. 

Also during the 1950s and 1960s, the results of a project directed by Benjamin Bloom touched education at all levels around the world. Bloom and his colleagues developed a taxonomy, or classification system, of educational objectives. Objectives were divided into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. A handbook describing the objectives in each area was eventually published. These taxonomies have been included in hundreds of books and articles about teaching and testing. Teachers, test developers, and curriculum designers use taxonomies to develop instructional objectives and test questions. It would be difficult to find an educator trained in the past thirty years who had not heard of Bloom’s taxonomy in some form. The cognitive domain taxonomy was revised in 2001 by Lorin W. Anderson and David R. Krathwohl.

Moving toward contemporary educational psychology.

In the 1960s a number of educational psychologists developed approaches to teaching that foreshadowed some of the contemporary applications and arguments. Jerome Bruner’s early research on thinking stirred his interest in education. Bruner’s work emphasized the importance of understanding the structure of a subject being studied, the need for active learning as the basis for true understanding, and the value of inductive reasoning in learning. Bruner believed students must actively identify key principles for themselves rather than relying on teachers’ explanations. Teachers should provide problem situations stimulating students to question, explore, and experiment–a process called discovery learning. Thus, Bruner believed that classroom learning should take place through inductive reasoning, that is, by using specific examples to formulate a general principle.

David Ausubel disagreed. He believed that people acquire knowledge primarily through reception rather than discovery; thus learning should progress not inductively from examples to rules as Bruner recommended, but deductively: from the general to the specific, or from the rule to examples. Ausubel’s strategy always began with an advanced organizer–a technique still popular in the twenty-first century–which is a kind of conceptual bridge between new material and students’ current knowledge.

Leave a Reply