Table of Contents
Education today has been seen as a necessity for sustenance in our contemporary world and each society tries to educate its young once in the ways approved by such society. Psychology is a science concerned with the study of various types of behaviour. It studies how people think, responds, feels and learn. why they behave the way they do, what initiates and sustain their actions. Psychology has diver’s branches and views from various perspectives. Our major concern here is Educational psychology. Educational psychology can simply mean the psychology which relates to education. Educational psychology is an applied branch of psychology which deals with educational matters. It is a science concerned with learner, learning and instructional processes and different conditions of learning.
Significance of Educational Psychology to Educational Process
Educational psychology occupies a central role in the preparation of a teacher because it helps the teacher to understand better whom he is teaching and how he should teach. Expertise in a subject matter does not necessarily make the teacher effective but according to research evidence, the single most important factor in the teacher’s effectiveness is his personality including the way he relates to the children in his class. In what ways can educational psychology help the teacher to improve his effectiveness so that students can learn and perform well? The significance of educational psychology to the teacher includes:
It helps the teacher understand the learner:
Understanding how children develop. The pre-school child behaves differently from the child in lower or upper primary and the teacher realizes that handling of the children must depend on their developmental levels. So educational psychology furnishes the teacher with knowledge of the development of the child as he progresses from infancy through childhood to adolescence. The major characteristics of the different stages are discussed and these can be much untied for learning efficiency.
Understanding individual differences. Children are different one from another. Some come to school rather young others are more mature, some develop fast, others are not. Educational psychology helps to explain the ways in which individuals differ, and suggests ways of coping with these differences. Genetic and environmental factors which give rise to and affect these differences are also explained. At a times mass education, each class is heterogeneous in composition and the teacher needs to know how to assess individual differences for effective management, how to present material for effective learning in the class for effective learning and optimal development.
Understanding and educating exceptional children. Closely allied to the idea of individual differences is that of exceptionality. There are also gifted children. These children are special in some ways that makes them different from the majority of children in the class. The deaf or hard of hearing, the blind or partial blind, those who have suffered loss of limbs or any form of structural damage are physically handicapped children. There are others who are very slow in learning although they may look normal physically, but their intelligence is low. There are those children who are superior in intelligence, educational psychology equips teachers to provide learning experiences for these children first by contributing towards their identification and specifying how they can be rehabilitated.
Understanding problem behaviour of children. Educational psychology helps the teacher to acquire knowledge of children’s behavioural problems. Some are normal and will disappear with age and greater maturity. Some are genetic while others have environmental origins. For instance, some children tell lots of lies, others are aggressive, some are hyperactive, some children are truants, not only must the teacher be familiar with these, he must also know how to help children grow out of them, and how to manipulate the environment to prevent children from becoming maladjusted in school.
Teacher’s understanding of him/her self:
Self-acceptance. Many of you, will be learning about certain facts of development for the first time and these may lead to greater in-depth knowledge of yourselves. Be honest. Did you know that the noise level in your class is a reflection of your noise level? Teachers are models for learners and therefore some of the things they do mirror back out qualities. Also in learning about and trying to impart certain skills e.g. social and other adjustment skills, we cannot help assessing and improving our own skills too. The same applies to leadership qualities. Educational psychology helps us to understand and accept pour strength and weaknesses.
Appreciations of limits of the teachers’ contribution. By analyzing the various factors that influence development and learning, educational psychology makes the teacher understand what he can influence and what he cannot change. Although educational psychology encourages you to promote learning, not all children can learn to the same level even with the best of teaching techniques. Similarly, a teacher uses the instructional techniques that fit in with his personality so even when educational psychology presents many theories, techniques etc. the teacher still has to choose those with which he can profitably make use of.
Advancement of the causes of education:
Appreciation of the importance of educational intervention. One of the first things you will learn is that human abilities are not fixed, that development is not static. Because of this, the teacher can have a tremendous influence on the course of development. Educational psychology analyzes for us the influence of our environment on development, on learning and other aspects of behaviour. Sometimes, the environment has retarding effects on development and schooling. With good stimulating learning environments, the teacher can overcome such retarding effects. Educational psychology thus enables teachers not only to improve the environment by trying to convince others of the need for educational intervention for the good of our children.
Research orientation. Our people are not research conscious and yet the only way to understand our children better and improve learning is through research. The educational psychology course is based on the results of research. It, therefore, impresses on the need to conduct private child study within the classroom. It also encourages teachers to keep records of behaviour.
Improvement of instruction and learning:
Knowledge and use of a variety of techniques. It is known that when children do not learn, the teaching environment and methods are at fault. Educational psychology has proposed tested principles and techniques which promote learning. For instance, strategies to get the learner to be very active a, as well as the use of rewards and incentives, have been proposed. These techniques and principles are specified for different learning and teaching of different types of materials – skills, concepts, problems and solving, etc.
Relating materials and methods to the development level of learners. People learn materials which they find relevant. By discovering the needs, characteristic, interests and abilities of different groups of children, the curriculum, and its interpretation can be made relevant. Teaching methods too can be related to the needs and level of maturity of learners. Educational psychology provides help in deciding whether certain categories of learners would benefit most from individualized instruction, small group or whole class instruction. Indeed, the distance learning techniques-another contribution of educational psychology. But although this system is used for learners, who are far away, it can profitably be used too in class for some groups of children.
Assessment of abilities, progress of learning and learning out – outcome. Educational psychology assists the teacher not only to assess the abilities of students but also learning progress. Although some of the psychology traits can only be measured by professional psychologists, there are certainly many facets of the learner’s behaviours which the teacher has to assess. When children make mistakes the teacher may mark the mistake. Errors arise from application of correct procedures in wrong situations due to limited information.
Sometimes knowledge of abilities changes the teacher’s attitude and orientation towards learners and learning procedures. Although educational psychology enjoins the teacher to appreciate and use continuous assessment that has become mandatory since the adoption of the National Policy on Education.
Eke, E. “Child Development in a Change Cultural Context”. Ibadan: Heinemann (Nig) Educational Publishers, (In Print)