Educational Psychologists: Helping Students Learn and Thrive

Published: December 5, 2016 / 8 Comments

Educational Psychologist

Many of us take learning for granted. Going to school, college or university and being taught is something we just do. But, in fact, there are many conditions – biological and environmental – that contribute to learning. It is the job of the educational psychologist to explore these conditions in order to optimise the learning experience for children and young people, thereby helping them to achieve their full potential in life.

What Is Educational Psychology?

In a nutshell, it’s a branch of psychology that is concerned with understanding and improving how students acquire a variety of capabilities through formal instruction in a classroom setting.

In Handbook of Educational Psychology, prominent American educational psychologist Professor David Berliner describes the discipline as “one that uses psychological concepts and research methods to understand how the various characteristics of students, teachers, learning tasks and educational settings interact to produce the everyday behaviours common in school settings.”

Berliner identifies certain factors that affect how teachers teach and students learn. These include the learner’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development; cultural, social, emotional, and intellectual differences; learning and problem-solving processes; self-esteem; motivation; and testing and measurement procedures.

What Does An Educational Psychologist Do?

Essentially, these trained professionals study how students of all ages learn. While investigating how students process emotional, social and cognitive stimuli, they make assessments based on the student’s reactions, using this analysis to identify learning, social and behavioural issues that impede his or her learning. Barriers to learning may include everything from learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, to bullying, anxiety, and low levels of confidence or poor self-esteem. Educational psychologists work with a wide range of people, including parents, teachers, social workers, counsellors, and speech and language therapists, to support these students.

Recently, educational psychology has expanded beyond the school classroom to assist adults in educational settings. However, although educational psychologists are able to help learners of all ages, they differ from general psychologists in that, where the latter have a broad overview of the study of psychology as it pertains to mental health and psychological functioning, educational psychology is a more specialised field dealing specifically with the psychology of education and learning.

Where Does An Educational Psychologist Work?

Educational psychologists typically work with schools or educational institutions, or as independent or private consultants. The work of an educational psychologist can either be directly with a child (assessing progress, providing counselling) or indirectly (through their work with parents, teachers and other professionals). Direct work involves some form of assessment to uncover a child’s learning difficulty through consultation with professional colleagues, observation, interviews or use of test materials. Recommendations are then made to determine the most appropriate educational provision for that child and interventions might include devising learning programmes as well as collaborative work with a teacher.

Educational psychologists are also often hired by schools or learning institutions to work with staff in developing and implementing successful educational programmes for students. They provide advice and training on how schools might help children to learn and develop and they recommend methods, or develop strategies in partnership with schools, to help children learn more effectively. Strategies may include teaching approaches, improvements to learning environments, advice on curriculum materials and behaviour support.

Thinking of a Career in Educational Psychology?

This multi-dimensional job requires a number of core competencies, including various personality traits, from being a good listener and having a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others to being both a creative and critical thinker.

As far as professional qualifications are concerned, you will need five years’ full-time formal education in Psychology in order to register as an educational psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). This tuition should comprise the following:

  • A three-year Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Psychology or the equivalent thereof; plus
  • An Honours Degree in Psychology; plus
  • A Master’s Degree in Psychology approved by the HPCSA.

You will also need to have successfully completed an approved 12-month full-time internship as well as the National Examination of the Professional Board for Psychology in the Educational Psychology category.

SACAP’s Bachelor of Applied Social Science degree is a comprehensive undergraduate psychology degree programme that provides the perfect springboard for those wishing to progress to Honours and Masters in order to become an educational psychologist. To find out more, click here.

 

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Your Comments on “Educational Psychologists: Helping Students Learn and Thrive”

  1. Lelanie Cronje

    To whom it may concern.

    I have a few questions.
    1) Which course will assist me more to obtain a postgraduate degree in Educational Psychology?
    2) When does applications close?

    I obtained my degree in Education at the University of the Free State in 2012. I completed my honors in 2013 in Guidance, counselling and learning support at the University of Pretoria. I am currently completing my masters degree in Learning support.

    Kind Regards
    Lelanie Cronje

    Reply
    • Marketing Team

      Hello Lelanie,
      It would be best to chat to our Admissions team directly. Please complete our online enquiry form so that one of our admissions staff can contact you: http://bit.ly/1rE7KKi Alternatively, you’re welcome to request a call from our Admissions team here: http://bit.ly/21RL6uo

      Reply
  2. Elmarie

    Good day

    I am planning to apply for the Masters degree in Educational Psychology. Do you perhaps offer internships for students after completion of the degree?

    Reply
    • Marketing Team

      Hello Elmarie.
      We only have work integrated learning for our students who have enrolled to study with us. Please fill out our online form so that one of our admissions staff can contact you. Click here to fill out our form: http://bit.ly/1rE7KKi

      Reply
  3. Hlamalani Sesana

    Hi
    I did counselling at UNISA abd would like to study Psychology but my matric results does not qualify what can I do ?

    Reply
    • Marketing Team

      Hi Hlamalani,

      Our minimum requirements are a National Senior Certificate with 45% in English. This, however, differs from programme to programme. We’d love to send you some information via email. Can you please provide us with your contact details here: http://bit.ly/1rE7KKi Alternatively, you’re welcome to request a call from our Admissions team here: http://bit.ly/21RL6uo

      Reply
  4. Sphiwe

    Do you offer masters in educational psychology?

    Reply
    • Marketing Team

      Hi Sphiwe,

      We unfortunately do not offer a masters degree in Educational Psychology

      Reply