Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice


This paper would seek to examine an important branch or division of psychology; educational psychology.

“The branch of psychology that specializes in understanding teaching and learning in educational settings (Santrock, 2001, p.6).

It is a type of psychoanalysis which aids in the process of learning itself as the person is able to carry out research and as a result, gain knowledge and understanding instead of merely adhering to the pre conceived or common notions.

This process has been used in a number of establishments ranging from preschools, primary schools, secondary schools where the educators have made effective use of this methodology.

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The aim of this paper would be provide a concrete understanding of this concept and what it hopes to achieve while at same time providing case where theses aims have actually been met.

Even policy makers have made effective use of this method in order to garner support for certain policies which they believe to be useful; for serving the public. Educational psychology in itself is a broad term and includes a wide ranging of learning activities ranging from cognitive development, attachment, behavior management, learning, motivation, social interaction and friendship, strategies of teaching, curriculum designing amongst some of the long list.

The area of educational psychology that this paper would be examining would be that of ability and achievement. What is the difference between the two and what do they aim to achieve and whether it has been done so? Ability can be defined as the potential that is in all of us and yet only some g on to realize their potential; achievement.

As defined by Slavin: “a general aptitude for learning or an ability to acquire and use knowledge or skills” (Slavin 2003).

However, there are certain fundamental weaknesses in all of us that allow us to be specialized in whatever we are at good at and yet equally poor at something else.

The aim of teaching the distinction between ability and achievement and carrying out intelligence tests to prove that very difference is done to make people realize their potential while allowing them to focus on their own specializations. As we all know intelligence is one thing and our actual ability and achievements are enhanced by our activities outside the learning “place” itself.

According to Charles Spearman, abilities are correlated with each other and he came up with the two intelligence theory. According to him there are specific factors which measure intelligence. However, at the same time there is another widely held theory which has been given much importance- Robert Sternberg’s theory of triarchic theory.

According to him, intelligence has many components and the external environment can play an important role in defining the abilities. This can be verified by the factor that many of the children who were exposed to certain educational and professional backgrounds took on those professionals when they grew up.

The above theory has three important elements; the practical ability, creative ability and analytical ability. Practical ability allows the person to adapt to his background and shape one’s development. This can result in the person backing away from traditional roots, and choosing a separate environment from which the person has been used to.

The creative ability results in seeking unfamiliar ground and the analytical ability can result in a person becoming a finance analyst despite having an artsy background.

According to Howard Garner, people have various ways of understanding and looking at the world which includes having different set of skills (Coolican 2007).

Hence, a person whose intelligence quotient is more inclined towards math would become a scientist or a mathematician, while a musical person would indulge in some field related to music and so on. These approaches result in aiding teachers to help and guide the students according to their level of intelligence and according to their special ability. A musician cannot be converted into a mathematician and vice versa. The teachers would hence need to consider alternative methods which would allow them to teach to the best of their faculties while at same making effective use of the learner’s skills.

The reason for measuring ability is done in order to establish each person’s special capacity and skills which can be done through a number of standardized testing methods, evaluation methods etc. (Snowman 2006)

As can be notified through a number of average tests, aptitude tests each person is provided with an insight into what their capacity is. An example can be taken of the standardized test known as the SAT or the Act which tests for the person’s verbal and math abilities. Usually those do better on the math side are more prone towards analytical field while those who score better on the verbal test usually go on to do something in the field of writing and research.

However, whether this form of educational psychology has been successful in achieving its goals of establishing the different abilities and the special set of skills through a number of counter-productive measures has to be established. Important factors have to be noted such as the genetic and external environment factors which can result in a variation of the actual capacity from that established the intelligence test’s value.(Mitchell 2008)

The example can be given of Bill Gates who did not do well in his academic field and yet went on to prove himself as a computer whiz while that of Albert Einstein has become more or less a famous story. It has been noticed that if certain ability is there naturally but if not nurtured can never come out in the open due to unfavorable external influences.

Cases can be given of those people who live in extremely hostile settings and hence are not able to carry out what the have been given as nature’s gift. Their hidden talents are not able to come out. Who knows how many geniuses have been undiscovered due to unfavorable environment settings?

By having this form of educational psychology being taught, the people can be made aware of their capabilities but at same time it has to be realized that the environment can play a huge role in the final definition of those capabilities.

List of References

  1. Baron, R.A & Kalsher, M.J (2005) Psychology from science to practice. London: Pearson Education.
  2. Slavin, R.E (2003) Educational psychology: Theory and practice (7th edition) London: Allyn & Bacon
  3. Snowman, J. & Bilehler, R. (2006) Psychology applied to teaching (11th edition) Boston: Houston Mifflin.
  4. Santrock, J.W (2001) Educational psychology. London: McGraw Hill
  5. Coolican, H. (2007) Applied psychology. (2nd ed) L0ndon; Hodder Arnold
  6. Mitchell, G. (2008) Psychology in education. In D. Matheson (ed) An introduction to the study of education, (3rd ed) (pp. 70-84) London; David Fulton

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice." August 19, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice." August 19, 2023.