What is Psychology?
The word, ‘Psychology’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘Psyche’ and ‘Logos’. Psyche means ‘soul’ and ‘Logos’ means ‘science’. Thus psychology was first defined as the ‘science of soul”.
According to earlier psychologists, the function of psychology was to study the nature, origin and destiny of the human soul. But soul is something metaphysical. It cannot be seen, observed and touched and we cannot make scientific experiments on soul.
In the 18th century, psychology was understood as the ‘Science of Mind’. William James (1892) defined psychology as the science of mental processes. But the word ‘mind ‘ is also quite ambiguous as there was confusion regarding the nature and functions of mind.
Modern psychologists defined psychology as the “Science of Consciousness”. James Sully (1884) defined psychology as the “Science of the Inner World”. Wilhelm Wundt (1892) defined psychology as the science which studies the “internal experiences’. But there are three levels of consciousness – conscious, subconscious and the unconscious and so this definition also was not accepted by some.
Thus psychology first lost its soul, then its mind and then its consciousness. At present only its behaviour exists. William McDugall (1905) defined psychology as the “Science of Behaviour”, W.B. Pillsbury (1911) and J.B. Watson (1912) also defined psychology as the science of behavior.
Behaviour generally means overt activities which can observed and measured scientifically. But one’s behaviour is always influenced by his experiences. So when we study one’s behaviour we must also study his experiences.
Psychology should, therefore, be defined as a “science of behaviour and experiences on human beings” (B.F. Skinner)
According to Crow and Crow, “Psychology is the study of human behaviour and human relationship’”.
What is Educational Psychology?
Educational psychology is that branch of psychology in which the findings of psychology are applied in the field of education. It is the scientific study of human behaviour in educational setting.
According to Charles. E. Skinner, “Educational psychology deals with the behaviour of human beings in educational situations”.
Thus educational psychology is a behavioural science with two main references– human behaviour and education.
In the words of E.A. Peel, “Educational Psychology is the science of Education”.
Education by all means is an attempt to mould and shape the behaviour of the pupil. It aims to produce desirable changes in him for the all-round development of his personality.
The essential knowledge and skill to do this job satisfactorily is supplied by Educational Psychology. In the words of E.A. Peel, “Educational psychology helps the teacher to understand the development of his pupils, the range and limits of their capacities, the processes by which they learn and their social relationships.”
In this way, the work of the Educational Psychologists resembles with that of an Engineer, who is a technical expert. The Engineer supplies all the knowledge and skill essential for the accomplishment of the job satisfactorily… for example, construction of a bridge.
In the same way Educational Psychologists, who is a technical expert in the field of Education, supplies all the information, principles and techniques essential for understanding the behaviour of the pupil in response to educational environment and desired modification of his behaviour to bring an all-round development of his personality.
In this way, it is quite reasonable to call Educational Psychology as a science and technology of Education.
Thus, Educational Psychology concerned primarily with understanding the processes of teaching and learning that take place within formal environments and developing ways of improving those methods. It covers important topics like learning theories; teaching methods; motivation; cognitive, emotional, and moral development; and parent-child relationships etc.
In short, it is the scientific discipline that addresses the questions: “Why do some students learn more than others?” and “What can be done to improve that learning?”
NATURE OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Its nature is scientific as it has been accepted that it is a Science of Education. We can summarize the nature of Educational Psychology in the following ways:
1. Educational Psychology is a science. (Science is a branch of study concerned with observation of facts and establishment of verifiable general laws. Science employs certain objective methods for the collection of data. It has its objectives of understanding, explaining, predicting and control of facts.) Like any other science, educational psychology has also developed objective methods of collection of data. It also aims at understanding, predicting and controlling human behaviour.
2. Educational Psychology is a natural science. An educational psychologist conducts his investigations, gathers his data and reaches his conclusions in exactly the same manner as physicist or the biologist.
3. Educational psychology is a social science. Like the sociologist, anthropologist, economist or political scientist, the educational psychologist studies human beings and their sociability.
4. Educational psychology is a positive science. Normative science like Logic or Ethics deals with facts as they ought to be. A positive science deals with facts as they are or as they operate. Educational psychology studies the child’s behaviour as it is, not, as it ought to be. So it is a positive science.
5. Educational psychology is an applied science. It is the application of psychological principles in the field of education. By applying the principles and techniques of psychology, it tries to study the behaviour and experiences of the pupils. As a branch of psychology it is parallel to any other applied psychology. For example, educational psychology draws heavily facts from such areas as developmental psychology, clinical psychology, abnormal psychology and social psychology.
6. Educational psychology is a developing or growing science. It is concerned with new and ever new researches. As research findings accumulate, educational psychologists get better insight into the child’s nature and behaviour.
W.A. Kelly (1941) listed the nature of Educational Psychology as follows:
i. To give a knowledge of the nature of the child
ii. To give understanding of the nature, aims and purposes of education
iii. To give understanding of the scientific methods and procedures which have been used in arriving at the facts and principles of educational psychology
iv. To present the principles and techniques of learning and teaching
v. To give training in methods of measuring abilities and achievement in school subjects
vi. To give a knowledge of the growth and development of children
vii. To assist in the better adjustment of children and to help them to prevent maladjustment
viii. To study the educational significance and control of emotions and
ix. To give an understanding of the principles and techniques of correct training.
Thus, educational psychology is an applied, positive, social, specific and practical science. While general science deals with behaviour of the individuals in various spheres, educational psychology studies the behaviour of the individual in educational sphere only.
SCOPE OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
The scope of educational psychology is ever-growing due to constantly researches in this field. The following factors will indicate the scope of educational psychology:
1. The Learner. The subject-matter of educational psychology is knitted around the learner. Therefore, the need of knowing the learner and the techniques of knowing him well. The topics include – the innate abilities and capacities of the individuals, individual differences and their measurements, the overt, covert, conscious as well as unconscious behaviour of the learner, the characteristics of his growth and development and each stage beginning from childhood to adulthood.
2. The Learning Experiences. Educational Psychology helps in deciding what learning experiences are desirable, at what stage of the growth and development of the learner, so that these experiences can be acquired with a greater ease and satisfaction.
3. Learning process: After knowing the learner and deciding what learning experiences are to be provided, Educational Psychology moves on to the laws, principles and theories of learning. Other items in the learning process are remembering and forgetting, perceiving, concept formation, thinking and reasoning, problem solving, transfer of learning, ways and means of effective learning etc.
4. Learning Situation or Environment. Here we deal with the environmental factors and learning situations which come midway between the learner and the teacher. Topics like classroom climate and group dynamics, techniques and aids that facilitate learning and evaluation, techniques and practices, guidance and counselling etc. For the smooth functioning of the teaching-learning process.
5. The Teacher: The teacher is a potent force is any scheme of teaching and learning process. It discusses the role of the teacher. It emphasizes the need of ‘knowing thyself’ for a teacher to play his role properly in the process of education. His conflicts, motivation. Anxiety, adjustment, level of aspiration etc. It throws light on the essential personality traits, interests, aptitudes, the characteristics of effective teaching etc so as to inspire him for becoming a successful teacher.
Though the entire scope of Educational Psychology is included in the above mentioned five key-factors, it may be further expanded by adding the following:
6. It studies Human Behaviour in educational situations. Psychology is the study of behaviour, and education deals with the modification of behaviour; hence, educational psychology pervades the whole field of education.
7. It studies the Growth and Development of the child. How a child passes through the various stages of growth and what are the characteristics of each stage are included in the study of educational psychology.
8. To what extent Heredity and Environment contribute towards the growth of the individual, and how this knowledge can be made use of for bringing about the optimum development of the child; form a salient feature of the scope of educational psychology.
9. Educational psychology deals with the Nature and Development of the Personality of an individual. In fact, education has been defined as the all-round development of the personality of an individual; personality development also implies a well-adjusted personality.
10. It studies Individual Difference: Every individual differs from every other individual. It is one of the fundamental facts of human nature which have been brought to light by educational psychology. This one fact has revolutionalised the concept and process of education.
11. It studies the nature Intelligence and its Measurement. This is of utmost importance for a teacher.
12. It Provides Guidance and Counselling: Education is nothing but providing guidance to the growing child.
We can conclude by saying that Educational Psychology is narrower in scope than general psychology. While general psychology deals with the behaviour of the individual in a general way, educational psychology in concerned with the behaviour of the learner in an educational setting.