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Wednesday, February 20, 20081203538502

Why Educational Psychology?

I've been struggling on how to write this paper for some time. Now that I have prepared a program of studies for my PhD program that more than fulfills the department's, the college's, and the university's requirement, my adviser asked me for a brief statement on how the doctoral degree would fulfill my requirements. That is, a short statement on what I see myself using my PhD. (If all goes well, I will be All But Dissertation in December.)

My goal is to improve the knowledge base of learners, wherever they may be. Therefore, my objective is to earn a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education.

Broadly, psychology can be divided into three general traditions. The first, academic psychology, focuses on a social organization of the science of the mind primarily centered around programmatic research. The second, clinical psychology, focuses on the care and repair of injuries to the mind that are outside of normal variation. The third, educational psychology, focuses on the improvement of the mind by adding to procedural, declarative, and conditional long-term memory. Psychology can thus be thought of as a Venn diagram, with these units both distinct and overlapping.



Educational psychology is the only branch of psychology that provides methods for helping most people most of the time: academic psychology studies people, and clinical psychology helps people if they are injured or otherwise hurt, but only educational psychology delivers broad-based tools to improve what typical people know, what they do, and how they do it. While academic and clinical perspectives certainly are valuable, actually improving the performance of general populations is simply outside of their focus. Nonetheless, in most situations, the best way to help people is to use educational psychology to add to what they know.

For its part, university training progresses through three stages. The first, the bachelor's degree, provides a learner with enough knowledge to understand the most important terms of a science. The second, the master's degree, providers a learner with enough knowledge to understand how the science of a field progresses, and to be able to read and criticize new and classic research in their field. The last, the doctorate of philosophy, allows the learner to use the core concepts of the field to develop new techniques. To be as effective an educational psychologist as I can do, I need the training required to earn a Ph.D. in the field. My goal is not simple to learn how to act according to the best research in this or that circumstance, or even to learn how to apply the newest research in a certain situation. Rather, I need the ability to utilize,manipulate, and explore the deep principles behind educational psychology. I need not only to be able to take an article and apply it to learners, but also to device, test, and analyze new approaches.

I have tried to keep this "purpose statement" on a high level. I do not discuss my specific classwork or research here, though I hope their purpose is clear. My objective is to improve the knowledge base of learners, my goal is a Ph.D. In Educational Psychology, and my program of study has been designed to make that possible.

14:15 Posted in Vanity | Permalink | Comments (10)

Comments

Interesting, especially since somebody outside the field like myself can understand it!

I wish you'd gone into more detail about the intersections between the three traditions, though. Those intersections would seem to be important since you made the point of using a Venn diagram, but WHY are they important? Do they represent distinctive subdisciplines in their own right? Do they represent fields of endeavor requiring knowledge from multiple traditions? Or do they just represent the increasing degrees of specialization one goes through as one progresses in study, with 'pure' educational psych studies happening at the most advanced level?

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, February 21, 2008

Michael,

Thanks for your kind words!

For the intersections, you should be able just to combine the definitions. For instance, the interaction of academic and educational psychology would be academica educational psychology, and may be defined as:

"a social organization of the science of the mind primarily centered around programmatic research [with respect to] the improvement of the mind by adding to procedural, declarative, and conditional long-term memory."

So, for instance, the faculty at a large university in an Educational Psychology department would regular "do" academic educational psychology.

Relatedly, the only time I mention class or classwork is in the context of my courseload. I think that educational psychology has use far outside the classroom.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, February 22, 2008

Will you in any way be connecting your interests in military/national security issues to your Ph.D studies? It would seem as if the OODA-loop could be related to studies of cognition? Although, this would probably fall under Cognitive Psychology not educational? What are your research interests?

Posted by: Seerov | Friday, February 22, 2008

So three traditions represent different goals, and the intersections represent informal situations where those goals overlap? The reason I ask is, when I started studying for my Masters in Industrial/Systems Engineering, a teacher described it the same way. Without a sketch pad:

Industrial Engineering = Intersection[Mathematics AND Mechanical Engineering AND Business Management]

Within the intersections of two of the three lies much of the coursework of the major (manufacturing methods, operations research, project and operations planning, engineering economics), many of which have whole majors devoted to them at larger universities elsewhere. But in your case, Educational Psych represents less a formal major or course set than an intention to focus on Educational goals as opposed to Clinical or Academic goals?

Posted by: Michael | Friday, February 22, 2008

Seerov,

I generally blog about what I'm interested in, so this site is a good reflection of what's interesting to me.

I think there is considerable room for educational psychology within a military/national-security frame. Educational psychology is focused on changing what people think, what they do, and how they do it: SysAdmin work has the same purpose. Cognitive psychology surely has a place, but to the extent that it is not educational psychology, it is uninterested in that vital goal.

Michael,

Lady of tdaxp is also trained as an industrial engineer, so I'm familiar with the overlap. (Computer science similarly is an overlap between electrical engineering, mathematics, and psychology.)

Psychology is a very large field, so I think the intersections in my Venn diagram can be rather formal. For instance, Academic Educational Psychology is organized around specific research programs, such as Rich Mayer's work on visual and verbal input, John Sweller's program on cognitive load, etc.

My interest is in changing long-term memory, so that's clearly educational psychology (in my opinion). Whether its inside or outside of the classroom is less an issue as whether cognitive tools are used to improve learning.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, February 23, 2008

Michael, I think Industrial Engineering has some Operations Research in it, too. (Or maybe it's more of a synonym than a component.)

Dan, I think you may have missed the mention of the linguistics aspect of computer science. And in the fanciful sense that music is a universal language, I expect computer science to converge on music composition someday (that's *not* a timely prediction). In your study of psychology, what have to run across w.r.t. to the cognitive similarities among computer programmers and musical composers, or any information technology professionals and musical field professionals? (Speaking here of the artists, both content creators and performers/operators, not to include those who constitute the business overhead of those two industries. No suits!)

Posted by: Moon | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Michael, I think Industrial Engineering has some Operations Research in it, too. (Or maybe it's more of a synonym than a component.)

Dan, I think you may have missed the mention of the linguistics aspect of computer science. And in the fanciful sense that music is a universal language, I expect computer science to converge on music composition someday (that's *not* a timely prediction). In your study of psychology, what have to run across w.r.t. to the cognitive similarities among computer programmers and musical composers, or any information technology professionals and musical field professionals? (Speaking here of the artists, both content creators and performers/operators, not to include those who constitute the business overhead of those two industries. No suits!)

Posted by: Moon | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"In your study of psychology, what have to run across w.r.t. to the cognitive similarities among computer programmers and musical composers, or any information technology professionals and musical field professionals?"

That would be interesting. One could imagine a college or university requiring its math (and heavy math using) students to take music courses to give their brains an extra boost (and their eyes a rest from textbooks) while requiring the music students to take extra math science and technology for the same reason (also to improve their job prospects until they find steady gigs).

Posted by: Michael | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm an amateur musician and a mediocre software engineer, and even I can see that music can be programmatic and code can be artistically structured. There's definitely a useful connection.

Posted by: Moon | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

nice information for my coursework help.

Posted by: Coursework Help | Monday, September 13, 2010

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