Educational Psychology

What is Educational Psychology?

Nerdy definition: "The application of psychology and psychological methods to the study of development, learning, motivation, instruction, assessment, and related issues that influence the interaction of teaching and learning." (Elliott,, 2000)

Plain English definition: "Trying to figure out how people learn so we can teach them more effectively."

The philosopher William James said that a knowledge of ed psych is important for three reasons: “first, to provide the underpinnings for beliefs about instruction; second, to prohibit teachers from making certain egregious errors; and third, to provide intellectual support to teachers for some of their pedagogical decisions” (Berliner, 1993). In other words, the study of educational psychology gives us a foundation to help make better decisions about how we teach.

Learning Theories


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Questions to ask about Educational Psychology:

  • What makes a good teacher?
  • What is a theory?
  • How can theories be useful?
  • What is the role of research in educational psychology?
  • How can this research be useful for teachers?
  • What are the different types of educational and psychological research?
  • What are the advantages and trade-offs of these different types of research?

The materials on this site will help you with the following:

  1. Apply learning theories to the resolution of teaching and learning problems.
  2. Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of learning theories, and how these strengths and weaknesses influence the applicability of the theory to a given circumstance.
  3. Critically examine personal theories and beliefs about teaching and learning.
  4. Collaborate with others to discuss issues and solve instructional problems.
  5. Recognize and create assessment instruments that are valid measures of learning.
  6. Apply principles of motivation to improve teaching and learning.

Interested in learning more about educational psychology? Check out these reviews of online psychology degree programs from across the country - including industrial psychology degree programs.

Materials in this section of the site were created by Suzy Cozy, Becky Rocque, Richard Culatta, and Trav Johnson


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