Today, Psychology is defined as the Science of behavioural and mental processes that can be studied through Scientific methods. Experimental psychology is a major speciality in the field of Psychology that studies the processes of sensing, perceiving, learning, and thinking about the world by conducting research on the fundamental causes of behaviour. In this post I will be focusing entirely on Learning as a sub-speciality of experimental Psychology and the role of school psychologists.
Learning is defined as a relatively permanent change in behaviour or behavioural ability of an individual that occurs as a result of practice and experience. Psychologists concerned with this sub-speciality are often known as educational psychologists. This branch of psychology consists of application of psychological principles and techniques for development of educational programs and solution of learning problems to develop a better theoretical and functional understanding of the learning processes.
The learner, learning process and the learning situation
When it comes to learning, psychologists are concerned mainly with the learner, the learning process and the learning situation. Before proceeding further, it is important to describe these three terms.
The word ‘Learner’ refers generally to the pupils who individually or collectively comprise the group on whose behalf the educational program exists and operates. The most prominent conditions that define a learner are: his abilities, aptitude, motivation and interests.
The ‘Learning Process’ means whatever people do when they learn something. This does not just include observable behaviour such as writing and talking but also includes the unobservable ones such as thinking, perceiving, identifying and remembering. Learning is a continuous process that begins at birth and continues throughout life.
Lastly, the learning situation refers to the environment in which the learner finds himself and in which the learning process takes place. It may include any factor or condition that affects the learner or the learning process such as the teacher and the classroom atmosphere.
Psychologists and learning
Psychologists associated with learning often focus on educational, social and career adjustment problems. In counselling, intelligence tests may be employed to determine the student’s general level of ability. Achievement tests are particularly valuable for reading and certain quantitative skills. Personality tests and special aptitude tests may also be useful sometimes.
Many Psychologists in this field focus specially on learning disabilities which can be defined as a disorder of one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in the usage of spoken or written language. Several psychologists are working on providing learning opportunities to special children. For example psychologists and neuroscientists are now investing into novel techniques for recognizing the source of language and reading problems such as dyslexia and creating neural processing exercises disguised as video games to considerably develop learning, reading and language in such children.
School psychologist’s work in collaboration with educators, parents, and other professionals for creating a safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that can strengthen the connections between home, school, and the community for all students. The role of educational psychologists is extremely important since the learning level of an entire generation depends on their contributions. Good guidance by an educational psychologist can help a student make the best choices for his life and choose a career that suits his or her aptitude level.