Educational Psychology

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educational psychology

[‚ej·ə′kā·shən·əl sī‚kä·lə·jē]
A field of psychology that deals with the psychological aspects of teaching and formal learning processes.

Educational Psychology


a branch of psychology that studies growth and development during the learning process, as well as the psychological foundations of instruction and upbringing.

Educational psychology is closely related to general and child psychology and to pedagogy. Its most typical research method is the educational “transformation experiment” method—the study of the psychological development of children, adolescents, and young men and women during and after experimental teaching. The goal of such research is to determine from the great number of factors simultaneously affecting human development during the learning process those factors that have decisively influenced the aspects of personality under study.

Educational psychology became an independent branch of psychology at the turn of the 20th century; between 1906 and 1916, five all-Russian congresses on problems of educational psychology were held. However, attempts to apply psychological data to teaching had been made far earlier. Many outstanding pedagogues, including J. A. Comenius, J. Locke, J.-J. Rousseau, and J. H. Pestalozzi, had maintained that knowledge of a child’s inner life was essential. K. D. Ushinskii believed that “if pedagogy wants to educate man in every way, it must first know him in every way” (Soch., vol. 8, 1950, p. 23). The demands made on psychology by pedagogical theory and practice and by the development of the science of psychology itself caused educational psychology to become an independent branch of psychology.

Educational psychology comprises two branches: the psychology of upbringing and the psychology of instruction. The former investigates the psychological foundations of personality formation: world view, purposefulness, and inner stability, and moral and psychological qualities, feelings, and habits. It emphasizes an individual approach to children and young people, dealing with their inner world and the development of their individual capabilities. The psychology of upbringing also establishes the psychological prerequisites for the pedagogical organization of children’s and young people’s associations. A critical problem studied by the psychology of upbringing is that of the interrelationship of consciousness and behavior; the discipline seeks to clarify the conditions ensuring their unity.

The psychology of learning investigates the learning process in relation to school subjects and to skills and habits in school and at work. It also studies the role of work experience as a source of knowledge, the application of such knowledge, the influence of instruction on the development of the child’s thought processes, the transition from knowledge to conviction, and the formation of a scientific world view.

Research in educational psychology is of great value in devising specific teaching methods and in formulating curricula and writing textbooks. Such research is also of aid in establishing scientifically based educational systems in schools, in applying teaching methods, and in developing psychological theory itself.


James, W. Besedy s uchiteliami o psikhologii. Petrograd, 1919. (Translated from English.)
Ushinskii, K. D. “Chelovek kak predmet vospitaniia.” In Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 8. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Slavina, L. S. Individual’nyi podkhod k neuspevaiushchim i nedistsiplinirovannym uchenikam. Moscow, 1958.
Blonskii, P. P. Izbrannye pedagogicheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1961.
Bozhovich, L. I. Lichnost’ i eeformirovanie v detskom vozraste. Moscow, 1968.
Psikhologicheskie problemy neuspevaemosti shkol’nikov. Edited by N. A. Menchinskaia. Moscow, 1971.
Davydov, V. V. Vidy obobshcheniia v obuchenii. Moscow, 1972.
Krutetskii, V. A. Osnovy pedagogicheskoi psikhologii. Moscow, 1972.
Vozrastnaia i pedagogicheskaia psikhologiia. Edited by A. V. Petrovskii. Moscow, 1973. Chapters 7–9.


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