What is Educational Psychology?
If you are interested in understanding how people learn, student outcomes, and the instructional process, you may want to become an educational psychologist. This branch of psychology deals with not just early childhood learning processes but also the emotional, social, and cognitive processes involved in learning throughout our lives. Educational psychologists help to improve learning outcomes for people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Students and professionals who want to make a difference in the lives of young and older people alike may want to consider getting their master’s or Ph.D. in educational psychology. Below is more information about this interesting and growing field.
Educational Psychology Overview
Educational psychologists apply human development theories to understand how individuals learn, and to improve the instructional process. Interacting with teachers and students is an important part of educational psychology, but it is not the only critical facet of the job. (APA.org).
Learning is lifelong, and educational psychologists frequently help adults to learn better at work, in social situations, and even doing simple life tasks. Psychologists in this specialty study how people learn in different settings to pinpoint approaches and strategies to improve the learning process.
Some educational psychologists work with specific groups, such as children, adults, or adolescents. Others are involved in certain learning challenges, such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, or dyslexia.
Educational psychologists work with administrators, educators, teachers, and students to understand more and how to assist people in learning better. This often involves working with students who need extra help and developing programs designed to help students who are struggling with learning. (Verywellmind.com). Some of the different areas that educational psychologists focus on are:
- Understanding how different types of technology can be used to help the educational process.
- Designing innovative learning materials to help students learn more efficiently.
- Working with students who may need more specialized instruction to learn.
- Creating curriculums to maximize learning with different student groups.
- Studying how students and adults learn in group settings.
- Assisting students who have been identified as gifted.
How Does Educational Psychology Help the Learner?
The educational psychologist aims to understand how student or adult learns and find the best way to improve learning outcomes. They work with children and adults to find their learning strengths and weaknesses, help them tap into their best learning resources, and build new strategies to overcome learning challenges and boost educational performance. (Melbournechildpsychology.com.au).
Educational psychologists work with learners to understand how the process and learn information and look for innovative ways to increase performance. It also is not just intelligence and raw learning ability that influences outcomes. The educational psychologist also studies the learner’s emotional problems, motivation, attitudes, behavior, and self-esteem to understand how each aspect can be tapped to enhance learning.
Many educational psychologists perform a learning assessment on the student to determine what needs to be improved to better their learning performance:
- Gauge specific learning strengths and weaknesses in the student’s learning skills
- How they are achieving academically compared with what is expected for the child’s or person’s age of education level
- Environmental and family problems
- Other factors that affect how the person learns
Once a learning assessment has been performed, the psychologist will make recommendations including early educational intervention programs, learning strategies to implement, and how the learner can deal with environmental and emotional issues to improve the learning process.
How Can You Become an Educational Psychologist?
Your first step is to earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Next, you should earn your master’s degree in educational psychology. Many master’s programs are available online, so you can attend college from the comfort of your own home.
Some of the courses you may take in a master’s in educational psychology program are: (Walden.edu)
- Lifespan Development
- Educational Psychology
- Themes and Theories of Psychology
- Psychology of the Exceptional Individual
- Theories of Learning
- Culture and Psychology
- Research Theory, Design, and Methods
As you are earning your master’s degree, you will need to have supervised clinical hours in educational psychology to complete your program. At that point, you can apply for your psychologist license in your state. Some educational psychologists may want to earn their Ph.D. as well because there are more employment opportunities with a terminal degree, such as working as a college professor.
What Do You Need to Apply to the Program?
Every admissions office has different standards for its applicants, but most will require most of the following to apply for a master’s or Ph.D. in educational psychology program.
- College transcripts: You need official transcripts of all bachelor’s and master’s degree courses, if applicable.
- Letters of recommendation: Educational psychology programs are competitive, so good recommendations from professors and employers are vital.
- Prerequisites: If you have a bachelor’s in psychology, you probably will have the prerequisites you need to be admitted to a master’s program. If your degree is in another field, you may be required to take several remedial psychology courses.
- Personal essay: How well you write is critical to be admitted to any master’s in psychology program.
What Do Exams and Licensing Involve?
Educational psychologists must be licensed by their state. You will need to have at least your master’s degree in educational psychology to qualify for licensure. Students also generally need at least one year of supervised professional experience in an educational psychology program. Once you have met these requirements, you qualify to take the psychology licensing examination in your state.
Is The Job Outlook for an Educational Psychologist Good?
The general job outlook for psychologists in the US is strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for psychologists will increase by 14% by 2028, much faster than average when compared to other occupations. (BLS.gov).
Employment for educational, school, clinical and counseling psychologists will grow because of higher demand for mental health services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, research centers, and more. Demand for psychologists is increasing as people are often turning to psychologists to help with their learning and personal problems.
Employment for educational and school psychologists is growing because of the understanding of the connection between learning and mental health. Educational psychologists are needed more today to work with students, particularly those with learning disabilities, special needs, and behavior problems. Educational psychologists are also needed to understand the factors inside and outside school that affect how students learn. When they understand these issues, administrators and teachers can use them to better the learning process.
Further Resources for Candidates in Educational Psychology
If you need more information about the educational psychology field, please review the following resources:
- 9+ Online Ph.D. in Educational Psychology Programs: Note that different universities offer different types of doctoral programs. Some offer a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, while others have a Ed.D. in Educational Psychology.
- Salary Outlook with PhD in Educational Psychology: Educational psychology has grown beyond preschool and elementary schools to help adults in educational settings. Adults who have learning disabilities may benefit from working with educational psychologists.
- How Much Do Educational Psychologists Make?: Educational psychologists apply human development theories to understand how individuals learn and absorb the instruction process.
- Educational Psychology APA Division 15: The American Psychological Association provides this environment for educational psychologists interested in teaching, research, or practice in various educational settings to present and publish papers about educational psychology.
- National Association of School Psychologists: The largest national association of school psychologists provides helpful resources for those interested in educational psychology.
- APA Dictionary of Psychology: Common terms used in all branches of psychology.
Now that you know more about what educational psychology is and how to become one, you need to get started on your master’s program!