16 Oct. 1996
The field of psychology that deals with the ability to solve educational
problems and to improve educational situations is the field of educational
psychology. Educational psychology is sometimes referred to as an applied field,
meaning, one in which the objective is to solve immediate practical problems
The beginnings of educational psychology were initiated by Aristotle in
his formulation of the laws of association. These laws: similarity, contrast,
and contiguity, supplemented by frequency, are the beginnings to an experimental
science (Piaget 9). As the science began to develop, the educational
psychologists did little more than administer mental tests, which started with
the Stanford-Binet test (IQ test). Today, the science has been expanded to
include counseling students, teachers, administrators, and parents, in an effort
to help make the school environment one which is most effective in promoting
learning. As an example, if a student in school commits a disciplinary action,
instead of being indiscriminately punished, that student would be sent to see
the school psychologist to find out the causes of the students misbehavior and
deal with them accordingly (Frandsen 92).
Though studies of educational surveys, there were nine major factors
that increased learning. These nine factors can be placed into three groups:
student aptitude, instruction, and psychological environments. Student aptitude
includes (1) ability or prior achievement as measured by score on educational
test; (2) development as indexed by chronological age or stage of maturation;
and (3) motivation or self-concept as shown by personality tests and students'
perseverance on learning tasks. Instruction can be thought of as (4) the amount
of time students engage in learning and (5) the quality of the instructional
experience. Psychological environments include: (6) the "curriculum of the
home," (7) the morale of the classroom social group, (8) the peer group outside
school, and (9) the amount of leisure-time television viewing. These are the
factors that influence academic achievement and behavioral learning (A.A.E. 66).
Educational psychology does not only hold true for humans, but also for
animals. Ivan Pavlov displayed the principle of association by applying it to
the salivary reflex. He trained his dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell
alone if previously they had so responded to meat and the bell together. In
another case, B. F. Skinner trained pigeons to play a form of table tennis by
rewarding the birds with food pellets each time they hit a ball into a
designated trough (James 66).
This area of psychology is used today to teach specific subjects such as
foreign languages, arithmetic and mathematics, reading, writing, spelling, and
the sciences. However, teaching of these subject requires a person that
displays "readiness." This "readiness" is most commonly found in early ages and
the older one is, the less "readiness" they have to learn (Frandsen 2).
Psychology is still a young science, and human nature is exceedingly
complex. However, in the educational setting it has made remarkable advances in
the past half century or more, though the cultural lag has delayed many of the
advantages that might otherwise have accrued. With the development of
television and of lesson programming for teaching machines, coupled with a
public awakening, dramatic and revolutionary changes may be expected in the
foreseeable future (Piaget 179+180).
Academic American Encyclopedia (A.A.E.). Danbury, Conn.: Grolier Incorporated,
Frandsen, Arden N. How Children Learn. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company,
James, William. Talks To Teachers. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1900.
Piaget, Jean. Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child. New York:
Orion Press, 1970.