Educational Psychology: Definition and Functions

Educational Psychology: Definition and Functions

“Only education is able to save our societies from a possible collapse, whether violent or gradual.”

Jean Piaget

Table of contents

1 What it is

2 Functions of the educational psychologist

2.1 Prevention tasks

2.2 Direct intervention to improve educational tasks

2.3 Training, accompaniment, and family counseling

2.4 Socio-educational intervention

2.5 Research, training, and teaching

What is educational psychology?

Educational psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on learning and human development in the field of education.

Educational psychology has its basis and roots in several different learning theories. Among them, we can highlight the learning theory of Jean Piaget, the sociocultural theory of Lev Vygotsky, or the social learning theory of Albert Bandura. The last one introduces key concepts in learning according to the interactions between behavior, the environment, and personal characteristics; beliefs about individual abilities; learning through observation and models; and the guidance of one’s learning through self-regulation.

At present, this concept has evolved a lot. It is not only working with students but also the teachers are fundamental within educational psychology. Of course, it is no longer restricted to the context of school intervention only, but its boundaries are now much broader.

Let’s see below the number of competencies and tasks that an educational psychologist can develop.

Functions of the educational psychologist:

  • Evaluation and intervention in the educational needs and demands of the student.
  • Paying attention and evaluating the correct development of the student from the earliest ages, detect possible areas of improvement, and intervene if necessary in them in a direct and personalized way.
  • In the interventions, according to the scientific basis and the principles of positive psychology, the professional can draw a plan of improvement and enhance each student’s strengths, qualities, and strengths concretely and individually, their need in additional classes, in writing help, or help of a tutor.
  • Educational psychologists also focus on the problems and symptomatology that some students present and that directly affect the way they learn and their learning pace, for example, children with attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders, PAS students, or dyslexia, among others.
  • Guidance, accompaniment and professional, employment and vocational counseling. According to tastes, skills, and vocational preferences, guiding, orienting, and advising students in their professional path and career.
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Prevention tasks:

We must not forget the importance of anticipating and acting before the damage occurs. For this reason, the educational psychologist must propose, as a preventive measure, improvements, changes and modifications in the educational and social environment and in variables that may lead to future alterations. 

Examples of this can be specific programs for health education, affective-sexual education for parents and educators, or projects for early detection of special needs in students.

Direct intervention to improve educational tasks:

Directly intervene on the formative and educational functions carried out with the students, that is, to improve the teaching process as much as possible: curricular innovation, attention to diversity, etc.

Training, accompaniment, and family counseling:

The role of the educational psychologist for families is key. He/she also works hand in hand, promoting and organizing information and informing and training mothers, fathers, and AMPAS with the sole purpose of achieving the integral development of the student.

Socio-educational intervention:

The educational psychologist participates and links the social and cultural factors that influence the educational process and the educational centers, schools, institutions, and organizations.

Research, training, and teaching:

Research has more and more space in education and the psychologist is also a fundamental part in this type of tasks and functions, scientific studies, essays, surveys etc.

The educational psychology professional’s teaching and training is oriented to share and disseminate their knowledge to other educational professionals, social groups involved in education, colleagues and other psychologists, psychology students, and other professional groups.

Because of this, if you are a psychology student or you have already finished your degree and do not know what career path to follow, consider specializing as an educational psychologist, if you like the school sector, really think about it, it is a great opportunity that is booming and is just being developed.

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Ayhan Fletcher

"Subtly charming zombie nerd. Infuriatingly humble thinker. Twitter enthusiast. Hardcore web junkie."

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