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Psychology of Education and Instructional Psychology: differences

Psychology of Education and Instructional Psychology: differences

April 4, 2024

The psychology of education and the psychology of instruction they are two of the main applications of our science to the academic context. Both seek to transfer the knowledge obtained by scientific psychology to all kinds of learning situations, with a special emphasis on formal education for children.

Although the psychology of instruction is generally considered a subdivision of educational psychology, the specificities of each of these disciplines make it relevant to clarify what are the differences between them from a theoretical and practical point of view .

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What is the Psychology of Education?

The general objective of the psychology of education is to analyze the factors that influence the teaching and learning processes. In this sense, the discipline deals with research around these phenomena, as well as the ways in which such knowledge can be applied in educational contexts in order to favor learning.

However, beyond these aspects the definition of educational psychology is ambiguous . This is due to the fact that there are many different theoretical models within the discipline, as well as the intermediate place occupied by the psychology of education in relation to Psychology and Education in themselves.

In this sense, it can not be considered that there is a clear agreement about whether the basic nature of educational psychology is theoretical or applied, to the type of content that is part of its field of study or what are your points of union with other related scientific disciplines with education, especially in the field of psychology.

Among the authors that have been most relevant in the development of educational psychology we can highlight Burrhus F. Skinner for his programs of programmed teaching and behavior modification, to Jean Piaget (pioneer of cognitive models in the psychology of development and education) and Urie Bronfenbrenner, creator of the Ecological Theory.

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Defining the Psychology of Instruction

Although there is also an intense debate around the definition of the psychology of instruction, most experts consider it to be a side of the psychology of education. Thus, we could say that it is not so much a separate discipline as a branch of the psychology of education with characteristic specializations.

In particular, we can say that the psychology of instruction has the objective of Apply the knowledge of educational psychology to teaching situations in order to enhance the effectiveness of the psychological and behavioral processes that are related to these phenomena.

This focus on the processes of change involved in learning, especially in the formal type, is the central feature of the psychology of instruction. However, as we have seen, beyond this aspect it is difficult to distinguish it from the psychology of education.

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The 4 differences between these disciplines

Four criteria have been described that may be useful for distinguish between the psychology of education and that of instruction : the breadth of the object of study, the theoretical orientation that serves as the basis, the level of analysis of which they are engaged and the learning context to which they refer.

However, currently these 4 differences do not stop being a proposal , since the definition of both disciplines is still in dispute. It is to be hoped that as the psychology of education and that of instruction progresses, the importance of the differential aspects will be deepened or minimized.

1. Amplitude of the object of study

The psychology of instruction has focused mainly on formal education, that is, on the empowerment of the processes involved in teaching and in the learning of pre-established curricular contents. By cons, the psychology of education has a broader character and it applies to education in general, including informal education.

2. Theoretical and methodological orientation

Educational psychology has drunk from many theoretical and methodological approaches throughout its history; among these stand out behaviorism, cognitivism, observational methods or ecological theory. Instead, the psychology of instruction is basically identified with cognitive orientation and sometimes it is included in this field.

3. Level of analysis

Whereas the psychology of education focuses on broad phenomena that affect education in general (that is, it has a molar and macroscopic perspective), the psychology of instruction is more molecular and microscopic since it studies more concrete aspects, for example limited to certain types of learning or situation.

4. Scope of application

The knowledge obtained by the psychology of education can be applied in any type of educational context. By cons, the psychology of instruction is related to formal, intentional and planned teaching and has the basic objective of promoting the learning of a certain type of content.

Educational psychology (April 2024).

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