The Role of Educational Psychology in Teacher Professional Development

Good teachers don’t just incite meaningful learning, they hold the power of molding futures too. Such is the power of dynamic teaching that takes into consideration, various aspects of modern pedagogy, to make teaching diligent, intensive and thorough. It is imperative then, that teaching programs encompass several other aspects that influence learning.

No matter how advanced education system and teaching methods get, they cannot be deployed effectively without the right assessment and understanding of learners. Classrooms comprise of different kinds of learners. A skilled teacher is expected to be familiar with not just varied methods of teaching, but different nuances of learning too. Teachers must thus be trained to delve deeper and tap into the learning potential of different learners, and create appropriate programs.

An understanding of educational psychology can be highly beneficial for teachers, to make learner assessment easier, and adapt suitable teaching methods, ensuring no student gets left behind.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology is the scientific study of human learning in educational settings. It lays emphasis on factors that affect learning such as learner differences, individual learning capabilities, hindrances to learning, effect of learning environments, etc., and takes into consideration, intelligence, cognitive development, motivation, self-regulation, social and emotional processes. It studies the relationship between human behavior and education, while also assessing how one affects the other. Educational psychology also observes the learning capacities of learners in different settings and approaches, to conclude learning strategies that work best.

Why Should Teachers Be Familiar With Educational Psychology?

Teaching programs in recent times, are increasingly encouraging teachers to have a deeper understanding of educational psychology. Teaching methodologies, no matter how advanced and comprehensive, will not have the desired outcome, if students don’t relate to them, in their respective learning capacities.
Here are some aspects that highlight the need for educational psychology in teaching.

Learner Assessment

Education system has long outgrown the “one size fits all” approach. Parents and schools encourage customized learning that suits student needs. It is important for a teacher to determine the type of learners in the class, to design learning plans accordingly. Students may belong to any of the three categories of learners – behavioral, cognitive and constructive. When equipped with the knowledge of these learner styles, teachers have a deeper understanding of students and their learning preferences.

Goal Setting

When there is no ambiguity in the understanding of learners within a class, it is easier to help students set goals that match their learning styles. Goals that are set with such diligent approach, are more likely to encourage students to achieve and surpass them, thus developing confidence and motivating them to set higher standards.

Customized Learning

Despite the same curriculum, one concept can be taught using different methods, to ensure effective learning. Educational psychology familiarizes teachers with the seven different learning styles i.e., visual, auditory, verbal, kinesthetic, logical, interpersonal and intrapersonal, to help them balance and utilize the same, and ensure students learn through styles that best suit them.

Focused Coaching

When a teacher is well versed with strength and weaknesses of a student, even the ones that are not evidently noticeable, it provides more scope for focused coaching and improvement strategies.

Classroom Management

When a teacher truly understands the learning style, behavior and needs of the students, classroom management becomes much easier. A teacher that doesn’t judge a student by his outward behavior, but has enough knowledge about the reason and logic behind such behavior, will be in a better position to take the right course of action, and encourage corrective actions when needed.

Safe Learning Environment

In a class room that recognizes, accepts and appreciates learner differences, students find themselves in a safe environment. A safe environment encourages them to be their authentic selves and be more open to learning. It is much easier for teachers to help a student learn and grow, when he is not preoccupied with his differences.

Peer Relationships Among Students

Safe learning environments encourage better peer relationships and student collaborations. Teaching methods such as collaborative learning, group discussions, student conferences are all more effective in such an environment, where differences are celebrated and not bullied.

Progress and Feedback

The art of conveying a feedback, is as critical as the succeeding course of action itself. When trained to look beyond the trajectory of outward appearances and behaviors, teachers can analyze and convey feedback in ways that incite positive responses.

Counselling

The role of a teacher doesn’t just begin and end within the confines of a classroom or teaching. The best teachers are often considered mentors, philosophers and guides who help students overcome challenges that may or may not have anything to with their academics. When teachers are trained in educational psychology, they are better equipped at counselling students with regards to academics, learning, peer relationships or any issue that hinders the overall development of a student.

Changing times demand change in educational and teaching methodologies to serve students better. Impactful learning can only be paved through prominent teaching. The more deep rooted teaching programs are, the better teachers they create. This in turn encourages students to have a positive outlook towards schooling and education on the whole.

- Jiji Tharayil

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