Activities and Materials for Teaching Ed Psych

If you are teaching ed psych, here are some suggestions for activities you might want to present several possibilities to your students and let each one choose the assignment that holds the greatest appeal for him or her. One of the following activities might serve as a useful way to introduce educational psychology to your students.

The following materials are available to help teaching Educational Psychology

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EdPsych Handouts

EdPsych PowerPoint Presentations

OOPS Survey- Taken from the Ormrod textbook, this survey helps to identify some common edpsych misconceptions.

Answers to OOPS Survey [PPT] Presents answers to OOPS questions and introduces the main types of research.

The following are examples of projects:


Community Building Activities

Play a cooperative game that encourages the students to get to know each other. Below are a few examples:

One and OnlyGet it TogetherPots & Pans

As a Rule

Write About the Characteristics of a Good Teacher

Invite the students to write a short paper about the characteristics of one or more memorable teachers they have had. Some specific questions that might be worth considering are listed below:

Who was my favorite elementary school teacher? Why?
What subject did I learn particularly well? Why?
What teacher inspired me to work hard? How?
What teacher did I particularly dislike? Why?
What were some of the personal traits of a teacher that I liked a great deal?
Did any teacher change the course of my life? How?

You might want to share ideas as a class and use a mind map or other organizational form to highlight common threads among the responses.

(For more information, contact Olin Campbell)

Teacher Spotlight

This assignment allows for a semester-long exploration of what constitutes good teaching.

Each class period invite several students to take 2 minutes to descrbe an academic teacher who had a significant influence on them. Have them discuss why the teacher had a significant influence, how they felt anout what the teacher did for them and what specific competencies and characteristics made that teacher great.

For a final project you can ask the students to write a one-page summary about the most commonly mentioned competencies and characteristics of great teachers.

For more information, contact Trav Johnson or Tim Bothell

Research Webquest

Invite the students to explore the research webquest found at You can assign a short paper in conjunction with this exercise or simply invite students to discuss some of the interesting studies they encountered.

For more information, contact Diana West

Teaching Who We Are

Use the following activity as a semester project. You might want to invite your students to discuss Parker Palmer's article, The Heart of a Teacher (listed in suggested readings) before you announce this assignment.

Invite each student to do something this semester that will make him or her a better person, hence a better teacher. You might want to ask your students to respond to the following questions as they plan their project:

* What is my individual project?
* Why is this an important area in which to improve? What has this (problem) cost me?
* How will my life be different whent I accomplish this goal (now, 2years from now, 10 years from now)?
* Why have I not done this successfully before?
* What is the gift this (problem) has given me?
* Is it really worth it?
* Should I go for broke or strike a balance?

Students should not choose a goal they already feel compelled to do (I have to exercise every day!). It must be something they are anxious to do to become better (more interesting, happy, loving, congruous, courageous, well-rounded, Christ-like, etc.) people. Set any additional guidelines that you feel are appropriate.

For more information, contact Lois Bobo

Research Interview

Invite your students to interview one of their professors or one or two inservice elementary teachers about how research has influenced their teaching. They could write a short paper about their findings or they could work in small groups to compile their information and report to each other in class. Students might find some of the following questions useful as they conduct their interviews:

* Do you teach differently than you did when you began teaching? Why?
* Do you ever read research studies in professional journals?
* How do you stay abreast of the latest research in education?
* How has the study of educational psychology effected your teaching?
* Have you ever conducted a research study of your own?
* What kinds of conclusions have you reached through informal research (your day-to-day observations of your students)?

As you discuss the value of research in educational psychology, you might want to use one of the following in-class activities:

Give an Educational Psychology Pretest

On pages 4 & 5 of Ormrod's Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Ormrod provides an informal true/false pretest using questions that researchers in educational psychology have attempted to answer. You could present these questions verbally and use student responses as a springboard for discussion. A few of the questions are listed below, but you will find a complete copy of the pretest and Ormrod's answers in the IPT 301 file under Chapter 1:

* When we compare boys and girls, we find that both groups are, on average, very similar in their mathematical and verbal apptitudes. (False)
* Students often misjudge how much they know about a topic. (True)
* When a teacher rewards one student for appropriate behavior, the behavior of other students may also improve. (True)
* Anxiety sometimes helps students learn and perform more successfully in the classroom. (True)
* The best way to learn and remember a new fact is to repeat it over and over again. (False)

Conduct a Correlational Study

Do a quick corellational study among your students. Give them each a 3 X 5 card and ask them to anonymously submit their high school GPA, their ACT score, the number of children in their family, and their favorite subject in high school (or any other variables that might be of interest). Have MiniTab or SAS up and running and ready to enter the data. Have someone enter the data and determine the correlation between variables (or enter the data later and return with the results the next class period).

Illustrate Different Kinds of Research Studies

Share examples of relevant correlational, descriptive and experimental studies. Check the IP&T files under "Research Studies" for possibilities.

Invite Student Questions

Invite students to ask questions they have about teaching and learning that research studies might help to answer. Have them consider their own elementary school experiences. Did they learn to read phonetically? Did they learn through the whole language approach? Which is better? Why is balanced literacy so popular now? Is it really more effective? Is it better to learn algorithms first, then learn underlying principles in mathematics, or the other way around? Is it better to have a deep understanding of what multiplication is before you begin to memorize the times tables? Should school start later in the day so that school children can get more sleep? Is there any evidence that a block class schedule works better than teaching every subject every day? Do older elementary children do better when they stay with one teacher all day or when they rotate from class to class like junior high students? What does research say about these things?

Keep a record of these questions and come back to them during the semester when appropriate.

Personal Examples

Share a personal example of a question you had that research helped (or is helping) to answer. The following example is taken from an IP&T student who began studying educational psychology because of experiences she had with her own children:

"I was troubled by the fact that my son wasn't learning to read in the first grade, but I did not think his teacher was doing him any good by applying pressure. Still, I wondered how much of an impact his apparent lack of reading ability might have on his future performance in school.

The initial research studies I read indicated that reading skill is a good indicator of future academic performance. However, deeper study led me to realize that this result was largely a function of how public schools are typically structured (children learn to read in first grade, then they read to learn in subsequent grades and are often left behind in other subjects when they do not read well). My studies of research on reading led me to conclude that poor reading ability in early grades is not a measure of intelligence or an indicator of potential. I happened on one extensive study titled "School Can Wait" in which the researchers concluded that children allowed to learn to read at their own pace without pressure, usually catch up to and sometimes surpass their peers. This study led me to move my son into a multi-age school where he could learn at his own pace. He finally learned to read at about the age of nine. He is now a junior in public high school taking honors English and AP classes. Reading is one of his favorite pastimes. His Stanford reading scores were in the 98th percentile.

I know that there is still a strong emphasis on learning to read in the first grade. I am anxious to conduct my own research that explores the possibility that this emphasis might actually be detrrimental to some children."

Research Webquest

Invite students to browse some of the available online journals in educational psychology


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