For as long as educational psychology has existed, about 90 years, there have been debates about what it really is? with is Role Some people believe educational psychology is simply knowledge gained from psychology and applied to the activities of the classroom. Others believe it involves applying the methods of psychology to study classroom and school life.
The view generally accepted today is that educational psychology is a distinct discipline with its own theories, research methods, problems and techniques, “educational psychology is distinct from other branches of psychology because it has the understanding and improvement of education as its primary goal”. Both in the past and today, educational psychologists study learning and teaching and at the same time, strive to improve educational practice. But are the findings of educational psychologists really that helpful for teachers? After all most teaching is just common sense, isn’t it? Lets take a few minutes to examine these questions.
Is teaching just a Common Sense?
In many cases, the principles set forth by educational psychologists, after spending much thought, time and money sound pathetically obvious. People are tempted to say, and usually do say “Everyone knows that!” consider these examples:
Taking turns: What method should a teacher use in selecting students to participate in a primary grade reading class?
Common sense answer: Teachers should call on students randomly so that everyone should have to follow the lesson carefully. If a teacher were to use the same order every time, the students would know when there turn was coming up.
Answer based on research: Years ago, research by Odgan, Brophy, and Evertson (1977) found that the answer to this question is not so simple. In first-grade reading classes for example, going around the circle in order and giving each child a chance to read led to better overall achievement than calling on students randomly. The critical factor in going around circle may be that each child gets a chance to participate. Without some system for calling on everyone may students can be overlooked or skipped. Research suggests there are better alternatives for teaching reading than going around the circle, but teachers should make sure that everyone has the chance for practice and feedback whatever approach is used.
Helping students: When should teachers provide help for lower achieving students as they do class-work?
Common sense answer: Teachers should offer help often. After all, these lower achieving students may not know when they need help or may be too embarrassed to ask for help.
Answer based on research: Sandra Graham (1996) found that when teachers provide help before students ask, the students and others watching are more likely to conclude that the helped student does not have the ability to succeed. The student is more likely to attribute failures to lack of ability instead of lack of effort.