Educational Psychology Essay, Research Paper
The big controversy in education today is the way children are taught. Many of the same arguments that are made regarding what is taught can also be made regarding how it is taught. Theories of educational psychology are attempts to describe how people behave in satisfying their physical and psychological needs. The various aspects of these have a base in child development and encompass physical growth, emotional and psychological changes, and social adjustments. This essay will discuss some of the different theories psychologists have given to learning and education and illustrate what I believe to be the most useful approaches to teaching theory.
There are four main theoretical approaches to educational psychology, Behaviourist, Humanist, Social Cognitive Theory, and Cognitive, each have their own viable systems for creating learning environments. However discrepancies lay between the different theories about the means and methods of what should be incorporated into learning practices including the modes by which the best learning should occur.
The basis for evaluating educational psychology needs to be related to
A theory of child and adolescent development and should reflect an attempt to relate behavioural to chronological age; that is the diverse behavioural characteristics should be related to specific stages of growth. The rules governing the transitions between these growth states also must be identified.
The Behaviourists have emphasised environment, they almost totally deny the influence of biological variables on development. Their basic assumptions are that the mind of a newborn child is a blank slate; all behaviours are determined by environmental events; and differences among children are the result of those environmental variables. Their basis for enthusiasm and motivation is on a reinforced reaction. Behaviourists encourage experimental studies and were responsible for moving child psychology into the mainstream of educational psychology. Although they contributed much to the study of children, their concepts eventually are viewed as being overly narrow (The Volume Library 1990: Volume 2).
The dominant developmental theories are Freud s theory of personality development,(later being adapted by Carl Rogers), and Piaget s theory of perception and cognition, (later to be refined by Vygotsky).Both explain human development in terms of interactions of biological determinants and environmental events (The Volume Library 1990: Volume 1). Freud s theory is based on the concept that a healthy personality and enthusiasm requires the satisfaction of instinctual needs.
In Freudian theory enthusiasm is related to personality which is composed of the id, ego, and the superego. The id is the source of instinctual drives. The role of the ego is to cope with the demands of the id while remaining within the rules of society, which in turn are represented by the superego. The physical focus of instinctual needs changes with age and the periods of different focus are called stages. Children progress through four stages, ending with adult sexuality. Freud clearly integrated biological and environmental variables in his theories (The Volume Library 1990: Volume 2).
Jean Piaget, who since the 1920 s had been writing about children s cognitive development, called himself a genetic epistemologist: a person who studies the origins of human knowledge. His theories have led to more advanced work in child psychology. This work involves both experimental and observational methods and, in accounting for behaviour, integrates biological and environmental variables. The relationship of student enthusiasm is derived from real interest, that is when the challenge is neither too easy nor too difficult for an individual s current cognitive structures . Current directions have their origins in Piaget s theory of cognitive development and particularly Vygotsky s later elaborations.
A great many determinants influence patterns of educational development and change. In recent times the re-evaluation of guide lines and statements concerning curriculum and educational procedure have focused our attentions more directly on motivation and the role of student enthusiasm for learning, most recently the adoption of the National Goals.
In April 1999, the State, Territory and Commonwealth Ministers of Education met as the 10th Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training, and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). At that meeting, they finalised the Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty First Century.
The Adelaide Declaration outlines three broad goals, with identified sub-goals, for Australian Schooling:
+ Schooling should develop fully the talents and capacities of all students.
+In terms of curriculum, students should have attained a high standard of knowledge, skills and understanding through a comprehensive and balanced curriculum.
+Schooling should be socially just.
The Humanist perspective of education I can sympathise with more than other theory student enthusiasm for learning becomes evident only when it becomes student centred. This means, among other things, that curriculum design will be driven by needs assessment; that instructional practices will be grounded in student activity; and that assessment will judge attainment of specified outcomes. For students, the most immediate stakeholders, the reward will be perceived in the ability to transfer relevant knowledge and skills to other aspects of their lives.
The quote by Dr Atkin below illustrates well the humanistic approach to knowledge and the suggestion that other modes of teaching may be only adequate in a superficial manner. When what is being learned is motivated from within, or when it is perceived to have intrinsic worth, and there is a felt need to learn, the learning which occurs will have deep personal meaning and the learner is transformed. When learning is motivated externally, when it is perceived to have little intrinsic or personal worth, but there is a high felt need to learn, the learning that occurs tends towards purely functional learning. It does not hold deep personal meaning, and it does not transform the learner. Usually when whatever created the felt need for the learning is removed the learning is quickly forgotten. It served the purpose for the time being . (Atkin, 99)
A key example in demonstrating the teacher/student enthusiasm and relationship and education as a whole, is explained by Sheldon Solomon. In Solomon’s lecture on education,(9/9/19990) he discusses critical thinking and aesthetic awareness. Both, form creativity, and creativity equals change. Change, in the sense of altering ideas or approaching concepts from different angles, as you become more educated and mature. Creativity allows you to take your ideas in any direction that you wish. When you start your education in primary school you learn very easy concepts. As you proceed, you build upon early ideas with more advanced concepts. Your intuition increases through education and you have a broader background of facts and information to use.
In addition to critical thinking, aesthetic awareness includes a change of your emotions. Deep visions start forming with all the information you have gathered through the years. Visions, in the sense of what the future will bring to one’s life and what can be accomplished in the years to come. With these visions, students can determine what they want to do with the rest of their life. In addition, Professor Solomon includes a “dynamic interaction between active students and active teachers”, as one of the four integral parts of a solid education.
1.Students and teachers should work together to decide what and how they will be taught.
2The role of the teacher is to keep the students interested, while the task of the students is to do what is asked of the teacher.
3 When students and teachers work together to find an effective and interesting way to learn material, the students don’t have any excuse but take full advantage of the education that is being presented to them.
4To ensure student interest, a re-evaluation of the teaching methods should be reviewed every so often to keep the level of enthusiasm.
One of the most important aspects of a person’s education is the direction in which it takes you. The course the student wants to take is up to his or her imagination. As Alfred North Whitehead states, “imagination is not to be divorced from the facts: it is a way of illuminating the facts. It works by eliciting the general principles, which apply to the facts, as they exist, and then by an intellectual survey of alternative possibilities, which are consistent with those principles. In enables men to construct an intellectual vision of a new world, and it preserves the zest of life by the suggestion of satisfying purposes” (Whitehead, 15).
I believe that capturing student’s enthusiasm and interests involves acts of incorporating imagination in the classroom and being encouraged by the teacher. If this happens, students will use their talents to their fullest potential s “illuminating the facts.” Standard curriculum in schools can incorporate imagination as the key to students understanding boring information that they think they’ll never use again in their life. An example of this is teaching mathematics, word for word, right out of the textbook in primary school. The kids do the work mostly because they are required to do so rather than the desire to learn. If maths is taught with objects on tables and a group interaction of the specific lesson is incorporated, a better understanding of the material will occur.
These objects are the things that get you to imagine concepts and personal ideas. From an idea, imagination can spark the brain to open up to other possibilities and renditions of their original idea. A personal concept of an idea gives forth a creative personalised understanding.
We as teachers must provide encouragement and interest with our students. Students want to accomplish work for themselves but also need the respect from their teachers to feel positive about their learning. When the teacher works at the level of the student it makes both feel equal, and better communication occurs, a friendship develops. Both student and teacher work together to reach this understanding of knowledge.
The Human Experience of Education involves a solid student/teacher relationship, as well as both student and teacher incorporating imagination into the teaching process. Both student and teacher must work together to reach an understanding of education in the classroom; this enables students to grasp full advantage of the material being taught by the teacher. Knowledge in most cases, allows you to see yourself, and to understand what you can produce. The most important aspect of education is change. Change is basically what education is; you are becoming educated and expanding your mind or in other words changing it. The more educated you become, the more able you are to approach the world, and the better off you are to introduce new thoughts to your society.
It is obvious by the cloud of contention surrounding educational psychology that there will always be a disagreement of opinion about what and how students should learn, but in the end, I think that it is the responsibility of the students and their teachers to find this equality. My belief is that both students and teachers must work together in a predominantly humanistic approach to reach the ideal education. If teachers weren’t viewed as the dictators of life but rather education tools, I believe that students would get a little more out of the average education. Most importantly, teachers would be able to see the enjoyment of teaching, and find their jobs more rewarding.
Dr.Atkin, J. (August 1999) Reconceptualising the Curriculum for the Knowledge Era: Part One- The Challenge. IARTV Seminar Series no.86 Jolimont Victoria
McInerney,D,M. and McInerney,V. (1998) Educational Psychology-Constructing Learning 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall, Sydney.
The Southwestern Company (1990). The Volume Library, Volume 2, Psychology, Nashville, Tennessee, 882 – 891