The Psychology of Education

On the need for an individualistic educational psychology emphasizing on the central role of the learner

Education and psychology are related in more than just one way and the psychology of education could be related to educational principles in psychology or how education as a discipline is taught within psychology as a subject and how these two disciplines merge. This is primarily the focus of educational psychology which studies how human learning occurs, what ways of teaching are most effective, what different methods should be used to teach gifted or disabled children and how principles of psychology could help in the study of schools as social systems.

Psychological education would be completely focused on learning methods as structured or imparted according to psychological and individual needs of the students. Education would differ according to culture, values, attitudes, social systems, mindset and all these factors are important in the study of education in psychology.

Educational psychology is the application of psychological objectives within educational systems and psychological education as I distinguish here is application of educational objectives in psychological processes. The first focus of using psychology in education is more general and the second approach of using education in psychology is more individualistic. However as far as present study of educational approach to psychology is concerned, there is no difference between individualistic educational psychology and general educational psychology and all interrelationships between psychology and education are considered within the broad discipline of educational psychology.

However a distinction between the more general educational psychology and more specific psychological or individualistic education could help in understanding the nuances of individualistic study and give a subjective dimension to the study of psychology in education. This could also help in making learning systems more student based and according to the needs of culture, society, individual or personal factors. This sort of study with a focus on personal/psychological aspects of learning is not just about social objectives and objectives within educational systems but also about personal goals and objectives and the psychological processes involved in learning. There has to be a clearer demarcation between education in psychology as a general study and individualistic education in psychology as a more specific and subjective discipline.

As of now educational psychology encompasses a wide range of issues and topics including the use of technology and its relation to psychology, learning techniques and instructional design. It also considers the social, cognitive, behavioural dimensions of learning but it would be necessary to make education more personal and individualistic through a special branch with a psychological focus on education so that individual needs are considered. There could be two ways in which this branch of knowledge could evolve – either by strengthening psychological education or individualistic approach to the psychology of education or by having two distinct branches of general educational psychology and individualistic educational psychology.

As in client centered approach to psychology, a psychology of education should also include further research that would highlight the need for individualistic dimensions in learning. Learning psychology is the use of psychological theories for example that of Jean Piaget and Kohler in the study of learning techniques, especially among children. I have already discussed Piaget but briefly Piaget’s theory higlights different stages of learning in children and Kohler suggested that learning occurs by sudden comprehension or understanding, however I will not go further into learning theories here. Whereas the focus of educational psychology is on learning techniques per se and the role of the learner is considered only secondary, a branch of individualistic psychology in education could help in emphasizing the role of the learner considering not just their disabilities or giftedness but also their personality patterns. This focus on personality patterns brings out the central role of understanding psychology in educational systems.

Educational psychology studies both the personal approaches to education as in giftedness, disability, learning theories applied to children and adults, and the more general objective approaches to learning as the role of schools as social or cultural systems.

The psychology of education could include the following branches:

General Educational Psychology

1. Learning Systems – As studied from individualistic learning perspectives and generalized learning perspectives, a discussion of the different theories, practices and systems or techniques of learning is an integral part of educational psychology and especially central to general educational psychology.

2. Social Systems – The use of education in social, cultural and economic systems could be considered within the psychological context and this relates to the role of education in society.

Individualistic Educational Psychology

1. Learning Systems – Learning techniques and systems or methods will have to be in accordance with the needs of the children or adult participants and according to skills of the teachers. Needs vary according to personal traits and abilities and individual needs will have to be considered during the learning process.

2. Social Systems – Individual learning psychology will have to be studied according to specific social and cultural backgrounds of the learners and thus a more subjective study of learning approaches and centralized role of the individual in the learning process considering their social, cultural or intellectual background will have to be considered.

Psychological Tips for Effective Studying

STUDY STRATEGIES

* Revise regularly- Revision should be continuous if you are to gain a deep understanding of the subject. It should not be superficial and rushed. Cramming might help you remember a few facts but it will not give you the overall understanding of a subject, which you should be studying for in your University Education.

* Be systematic- You should begin organizing a study schedule as soon as possible in the start of the semester

* Use varied techniques- besides making summaries of your lecture notes, use varying strategies for your revision. Draw up schemes showing the relationship between the concepts you have studied in your subjects or form study groups with your fellow students to discuss the different topics and the relationships between them to reinforce both understanding and recall.

* Use relationship to memorize- Understanding the relationships between pieces of information, such as their similarities and differences, and using their relationship to information already known is a definite advantage during stress of an examination.

* Practice previous exam papers- You should obtain copies of previous exam papers as early as possible in the revision process. Doing these exams in the required time limit will give you practice in applying what you have learnt to specific topics and practice in examination techniques. This will also give you a good idea of the format, time limit and the number of questions in the examination.

* Attend lectures- Pay attention in lectures and tutorials and so on for information relevant to exams. For example what topic might be expected in a test etc?

Stress the following areas in your revision:

o Points emphasized in class or in the text

o Areas the Professor has advised for study

o Questions in study guides, past questions and reviews at the end of textbook chapters.

STUDY HABITS

* Decide what to study (choose a reasonable task) and how long or how many chapters, pages, problems, etc. Set and stick to deadline.

* Do difficult tasks first. For procrastination, start with an easy interesting aspect of the project.

* Have special places to study. Take into consideration, lighting, temperature, and availability of materials.

* Study 50 minutes and then take a 10 minutes break. Stretch, relax, have energy snack.

* If you get tired or bored, switch task/activity. Stop studying when you are no longer being productive.

* Do rough memory tasks and review, especially detail, just before you fall asleep.

* Study with a friend. Quiz each other compare notes and predicted test questions.

STUDY SKILLS

o Physical environment- Choose situations, which make you feel comfortable, for example a particular space in the library, in your own home or study room in halls of residence.

o Plan a time table- Use a time schedule to prioritise study times and try to stick to your schedule.

o Mental activity- Remember that your concentration span is limited. So do not sit for 3-4 hours at a time starting at one page of notes. Wait for an hour or so reading and making extra notes. Draft out or use real exam questions from past papers and consider how little you know and understand

o Stop to take a break- Have a coffee or short walk and mentally review what you have achieved. Return to your studies.

o You will find that the process of activity and review will be useful and will help you to set a pattern of study.

o Quality of study- Remember that it is not time itself spent on studying which matters, it is the quality of the exercise of studying. Develop an understanding of the material you are working on. Information simply committed to memory will rarely see you safely through your exams.

o Choice of material- Don’t shy away from material which you find most difficult to understand because if you do it will be precisely this material which will be problematic for you in the exam. Take this material first.

o Problems- If there are sections of the syllabus, which you cannot understand, try to find the appropriate lecturer to help you. But try not to leave this until the day before the exam. Ask someone on the same course as you. If these strategies don’t work for you try using a variety of different textbooks, some authors explain difficult concepts better than others.

CONCENTRATION

Concentration is the ability to direct one’s thinking in whatever direction one would

intend. We all have the ability to concentrate sometimes.

Think of the time when you were engrossed in super novel or in a cinema -Total

concentration. But at other times your thoughts are scattered and you mind races from

one thing to another. Learn and practice concentration strategies.

Poor concentration- External causes

-Internal causes

REVISION

Revision is a process of looking over past work as preparation for examination. It is an activity which can produce good results and reduce ‘exam nerves’ if it is carefully planned and carried out in a systematic way. Black coffee and sleepless nights just before your exams rarely allow you to do justice to your talents.

Towards end of a course, a review of your completed written work and of past examination papers will often indicate the existence of close links between exam questions and essays, assignments and project work. On this basis, you select your own best work and use it for revision. Work, which has been less successful, should contain advice from a tutor and this can be followed up.

What revisions can do for you:

* Extends your ability to assess your own knowledge and understanding.

* Provides an opportunity to analyze this in relation to the requirements of the examination.

* Enable you to pass examination and gain recognition for your talents.

GUIDELINES FOR SUCCESSFUL REVISION

* Make sure you know well in advance the topics to be covered in the particular exam.

* Keep copies of all course documents, projects, essay questions, title of assignments and reading list on file.

* Make this the basis of your revision. Resist the temptation to try to start your course all over again from the beginning.

* Review your own the assessed work, making a selection of that with the best grade.

* Compare your own work with the question asked as past question papers.

* At this stage it is vital that you will have enough material to answer all the likely questions.

* If you decide on to expand what you have already got, look at less successful papers and see if you can improve them by careful editing, filling in gaps, correcting errors of fact or understanding.

* Reduce each piece of work to note form.

TIME MANAGEMENT

Avoid overload.

Organize your hours to include ample time for rest, relaxation, sleep, eating, exercising and socializing.

Break the study time into manageable amounts of time to avoid boredom and loss of concentration. Sessions lasting 20-30 minutes are the best Studying for six half hour sessions is much more effective than studying for 3 straight hours.

Don’t put everything off until the last minute.

PRACTICE EFFECTIVE STUDY TECHNIQUES

Have appropriate study environments.

Split large task into more manageable tasks.

Read for comprehension rather than get to the end of the chapter.

Be prepared to ask questions as they come up during study, rather than waiting until just before and exam.

Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your projects.

Read the syllabus as soon as you get it and note all due dates( and milestone times) on your calendar.

Be a model student.

Be attentive and participative in the class and punctual, prepared and eager to learn.

BE ABLE TO BE FLEXIBILE

The unexpected happenings, e.g. Sickness, need to be able to fit into our schedule.

Know how to rearrange your schedule when necessary (so that it doesn’t manage you, but you manage it).

HAVE A VISION

Don’t forget the big picture.

Why are you doing the task? Is it important for your long-term goals?

Have and follow a personal mission statement (personal and career) Are your activities ultimately helping you to achieve your goals.

Know what is important to you.

(What do you value most)

Have a positive attitude.