Custom Writing Services

Sample Educational Psychology Research Paper. Browse other  research paper examples and check the list of research paper topics for more inspiration. If you need a research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Feel free to contact our research paper writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.


The history of educational psychology traces a path from its origins in concerns about cultural improvement and transmission of cultural norms to philosophical issues in general education and psychology (Berliner, 1993; Charles, 1976; Glover & Ronning, 1987; Good & Levin, 2001; Grinder, 1989; Hilgard, 1996; Mayer, 2001; Walberg & Haertel, 1992; Wittrock & Farley, 1989; Zimmerman & Schunk, in press). The effects of this amalgam of antecedent contributions on its birth and development are still evident in the difficulties encountered when attempting a strict definition of educational psychology that clearly separates it from other psychological disciplines (see Berliner & Calfee, 1996). We will return to this issue later in this research paper.

Need a Custom-Written Essay or a Research Paper?

Academic Writing, Editing, Proofreading, And Problem Solving Services

Although it is not difficult to identify the emergence of educational psychology as a recognized discipline, it is somewhat more difficult to determine educational psychology’s precise lineage. It has been suggested that educational psychology may have first emerged as part of a kind of folk tradition in which adults educated their children (Berliner, 1993). This certainly makes sense intuitively, and it is quite easy to imagine not only our own grandmothers and grandfathers teaching our parents a variety of life skills but also parents and grandparents from many previous generations passing down what they considered to be the requisite knowledge and cultural norms of their day. It also seems likely that this knowledge was passed down in a dynamic rather than static way, incorporating the abilities, skills, weaknesses, and frames of reference of each generation of teacher and student.

As Berliner (1993) notes, part of the traditional Jewish Passover service is the duty of the leader of the service to tell the story of Passover to each of his sons in turn. The father, however, must tell each son the story in such a way as to emphasize the particular son’s own strengths and weaknesses. So, for example, the wise son may hear the entire story with additional commentaries, while the recalcitrant son may hear the story with an emphasis on obeying authority.

Although the folk tradition of educational psychology has probably existed since the earliest times of humans on the earth and continues to this day, most formal histories of educational psychology trace its origins to ancient philosophers and statesmen. Here we find not only the historical roots of educational practices but also the historical roots of the psychology of learning and memory.



Aristotle is sometimes pointed to as a founder of educational psychology (Berliner, 1993; Charles, 1976; Kaur, 1972). Aristotle’s book De Memoria et Reminiscentia (On Memory and Reminiscence), incorporates views of learning, association, and retention (Charles, 1976). In this book, written in 350 B.C.E., Aristotle notes that memory is a function of presentation; that is, memory is directly related to the context in which the learning occurred. There are very few, if any, modern-day educational psychologists who would disagree with this observation. Others who often share the title of founder with Aristotle include Democritus (460–370 B.C.E.), Quintilian (A.D. 35–100), and Comenius (1592–1671).

Each of these philosophers made contributions to philosophy in general and education in particular. For example, Democritus voiced the opinion that education is advantageous and that the home environment has a substantial impact on learning; Quintilian felt that good teachers, when combined with a worthwhile curriculum, might help control behavioral problems; and Comenius noted that memorization is not the same as understanding and that teachers’ own learning is optimized when they have the opportunity to teach others (Berliner, 1993). Additionally, both Aristotle and Quintilian felt that teachers should make the effort to tailor learning to the individual, taking into account the individual differences of their students (Berliner, 1993).

Although each of these early philosopher-educators can be considered forefathers of modern-day educational psychologists, it may be the views of Juan Luis Vives (1492–1540) that would resonate most closely with today’s educational psychologist. His 1531 book, De Tradendis Disciplinus (The Art of Teaching), has been called the first major book on psychology. In this book, Vives says, “We must first examine, for each type of instruction, the question of what, how, to what extent, by whom and where it should be taught.” Vives goes on to note that the teacher should be the student’s guide and should help individual students make decisions about their studies based on the student’s own interests and abilities (Ibanez, 1994).


In the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, there were strong European influences on the early development path of educational psychology as a discipline (Grinder, 1989; Hilgard, 1996). Hilgard (1996) identified four Europeans who he felt influenced both conceptions and practices in instruction, teaching, and learning: Rousseau (1712–1788) from France, Pestalozzi (1746–1827) from Switzerland, and Herbart (1776–1841) and Froebel (1782–1852), both from Germany. Rousseau’s book Émile (1762/1979) emphasized that children discover things for themselves and described some of the instructional implications of this fundamental assumption. Pestalozzi (1820/1977), a Swiss lawyer by training, developed a model school that incorporated many of the ideas that are current today in educational psychology. For example, he stressed that students must be active learners, that education involved personal growth in addition to simple knowledge acquisition, that psychology could be used as a guide for developing and implementing instructional methods, and that schools should be warm, nurturing environments.

While Rousseau and Pestalozzi made important contributions to our thinking about students, schools, subject matter, and instruction, their ideas were primarily based on their moral and ethical views and their experience. It remained for Johann Friedrich Herbart of Germany to call for a more “scientific” approach to studying educational conceptions and practices.

In 1824, Johann Herbart published Psychology as Science, regarded as one of the first treatises suggesting that educational conceptions and educational practices could be studied scientifically and that the instructional process itself was different from the subject matter being taught. Herbart was the first to provide a psychological rather than philosophical or moral substratum for his ideas and applications. Like Vives, Herbart believed that educational programs should be developed based on the interests, aptitudes, and abilities of students. Herbart’s followers, the Herbartians, developed a system of teaching that followed a “logical progression” of five steps that could be applied to nearly any subject matter: (a) prepare the student’s mind for the coming lesson (e.g., arouse students’interests and relate the new material to familiar ideas); (b) present the lesson (e.g., use appropriate means such as using storytelling with young children); (c) compare, or associate the new lesson with material previously learned (e.g., use concrete things and experiences); (d) generalization or abstraction (e.g., express ideas conceptually by using principles and general rules); and, finally, (e) require that the students use, or apply, the new material appropriately (e.g., have students practice using varied examples) (Berliner, 1993; Grinder, 1989; Hilgard, 1996).

The work of Friedrich Froebel had a very direct effect on educational thinking and practice in the United States (Hilgard, 1996). Froebel, the founder of the kindergarten movement, was a bit of a romantic and thought of kindergarten as a place to train children in cooperative living. He also wanted to foster creativity and active learning in children. In 1873 the first public kindergarten was established in St. Louis, and by 1880, America had over 400 private kindergartens. At the same time, the public school system and the idea of compulsory school attendance emerged. Many of these ideas about universal education and its purposes were influenced by the optimistic views of society and the ideas of these European philosophers and statesmen. The transition to a greater psychological basis for educational conceptions and practices was also developing during this time in America.


The subtle transition from philosophy and somewhat utopian worldviews to newer conceptions of psychology as the framework for understanding and applying educational variables was introduced to America with William James’s (1842– 1910) 1891 lecture series at Harvard on the “new psychology.” These lectures were eventually turned into a book, Talks to Teachers on Psychology. This book is sometimes regarded as the first popular educational psychology text, and there is evidence that this lecture series helped to spark the growth of educational psychology as a movement inAmerica. James spoke of psychology as a science and teaching as an art, but one that could benefit from an understanding of psychological laws and human behavior. In addition, long before the so-called cognitive revolution in psychology, James introduced the idea that consciousness could control the direction of its own attention, thus setting the stage for later work in cognition and metacognition (Berliner, 1993; Hilgard, 1996; Wittrock & Farley, 1989).

One of James’s students, G. Stanley Hall (1844–1924), earned the first PhD in psychology awarded in America. Although his degree was in psychology, Hall is most often remembered as an educator, a label he came by quite naturally. Hall, as well as his mother and father, taught school for some time. He went on to develop the first research lab in America at Johns Hopkins, where he introduced another first—fellowships for graduate students (Berliner, 1993). In Hall’s lab at Clark University (where he also served as president), he and his students systematically researched and documented problems in higher education, thus establishing the first formal graduate program specializing in education. This program was designed to furnish leaders to what was called a new educational movement in America, a movement that would facilitate the study of and research in education for years to come (Berliner, 1993).


Although his early works emphasized his interests in the intersection of philosophy and psychology, John Dewey’s (1859–1952) later work and publications focused more on educational philosophies and educational practices (Hilgard, 1996). He had his greatest influence on the field after his move to Columbia in 1904. His books Interest and Effort in Education (1913) and Schools of Tomorrow (1915) were extremely popular and influential. Much of his work on engaging children’s interest and the need for them to be active learners can be traced to the influence of the European work described earlier, but he went way beyond what had been proposed through the end of the 1800s. Anumber of his ideas about educational practice and ways to conceptualize educational processes are still current. However, it remained for others to try to refine the field and give it a more “scientific” base.

Edward Thorndike was an established researcher when he directed his attention to educational contexts, processes, and outcomes. In a landmark study with Woodworth, he attacked the doctrine of formal discipline (very popular at the time) and demonstrated that simply “exercising the mind” resulted in only slight learning gains. In 1901, he and Woodworth published a paper demonstrating problems of transfer of learning and the need for “identical elements.” He published his first educational psychology textbook in 1903 and, in 1913–1914, published a classic three-volume educational psychology text.

In 1910, in an essay entitled “The Contribution of Psychology to Education,” appearing in the first issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, Thorndike described the role he believed that psychology could and should play in education (Thorndike, 1910). Briefly,Thorndike suggested that psychology could assist in making the aims of education more definable and measurable and that education should promote changes in the intellects, ideals, and behaviors of students.

In the founding issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, the editors ambitiously planned for future issues to focus on the topics of mental development, heredity, adolescence and child study, individual differences, and issues related to testing and measurement. Within each of these topics, matters involving general psychology, sensation, instinct, attention, habit, memory, technique and economy of learning, and perceptual processes could be explored (Charles, 1976).

Although the discipline’s primary journal was founded in 1910, it was not until 1922 that the American Psychological Association (APA) surveyed its members to determine the need for an educational psychology division within the APA (O’Donnell & Levin, 2001). It was determined, however, that there was insufficient interest in educational psychology as a discipline at that time. It was not until 1946 that enough APA members cited “psychology in education” as a key concern for psychologists that educational psychology was assigned division status as Division 15. Only three years later, in 1949, Dael Wolfle, the APA executive secretary, claimed that educational psychology had “lost its momentum,” and in the early 1950s the suggestion was made to combine educational psychology with Division 12, Clinical Psychology (O’Donnell & Levin, 2001).

Notwithstanding these problems, the discipline of educational psychology seemed quite defined in its early years. Practitioners focused on problems in education and looked for resolutions to those problems. However, these years were marred by considerable criticism of educational psychology and of educational psychologists, and it was much more likely that a psychologist working in education would refer to himself or herself as a psychologist than as an educational psychologist (Sutherland, 1988). Ironically, perhaps, America’s consternation over Russia’s advances in science and technology spurred a new interest in research and funding of education, which in turn spurred a renewed interest in educational psychology.Thus, Division 15 showed more than a seven fold increase between the years 1959 and 1967, growing from only 525 members to almost 4,000, making it one of the largest divisions within the American Psychological Association (Charles, 1976).

In the 11 years between 1977 and 1988, however, Division 15 membership declined by almost 40% (Farley, 1989). Although this decline was substantial, the 1,400-member loss still left Division 15 with more total members than many other APA divisions, and still in the top 10 in terms of total division membership. As Farley notes, this membership loss was largely due to many factors, including the creation of closely related or component divisions within the APA that drew members away from Division 15, as well as membership drifts to special societies such as the Psychonomics Society. In particular, the more education-centered organization, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), also drew members away from the APA. Many faculty and graduate students have also elected to pursue membership in one or more additional organizations that reflect their individual theoretical, research, or population interests.

These organizations are as likely to be traditionally psychology based (e.g., American Psychological Society, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) as they are to be traditionally education based (e.g., National Association of Developmental Education, the National Reading Conference). Rather than reflecting disagreement or an outgrowth of factions within educational psychology, this diversity of organizational membership instead reflects the growing recognition by contemporary educational psychologists that we are qualified—perhaps uniquely so—to serve a wide variety of public interests.


One way of tracing the history of a discipline is to examine that discipline’s documents. In the case of educational psychology, there are two primary document resources: professional journals and academic textbooks. One of the first reviews of textbooks was by Worcester (1927). Worcester’s 1927 review found an “amazing lack of agreement” in the content of educational psychological texts. One author, for example, used 30% of the textbook space for psychology and tests in primary-school subjects, while other authors neglected these topics entirely. There was also marked dissimilarity in the discussions of laboratory practices of educational psychologists, with some focusing on, for example, testing of individual differences, statistical methods, and studies of memory, while others investigated transfer of learning and intelligence testing. Most of the approximately 37 different textbooks used among the labs were, in practice, general psychology texts (Worcester, 1927). And, as Charles (1976) notes, things were not much different even 25 years later. A 1949 comparison of texts used in educational psychology classes revealed that while one author devoted a full 20% to the topic of intelligence testing, another author devoted a scant 1.5% to this same topic.

Content analyses have also been performed on the founding journal in the field of educational psychology, the Journal of Educational Psychology. In an examination of 641 articles reviewed by decade from 1910 to 1990, O’Donnell and Levin (2001) delimited different “central themes.” They found that articles in the teaching category decreased from 30% to a mere 0.03% and that articles in the intelligencetesting category dropped from 13.3% to 0.0%. Articles in the learning category, however, increased by almost 47 percentage points—from 13.3% to 60%. Ball (1984), in a content analysis of articles published during the first 75 years of the Journal of Educational Psychology, found similar trends.

Ball notes that while there has continued to be a strong research content core, the emphasis of the research has shifted over the years. For example, in the early days of the Journal of Educational Psychology, the emphasis was on practical issues related to teachers and teaching; the 1940s and 1950s ushered in increased interest in personal and social issues; and the 1970s and beyond reflected a growth in theoretical rather than strictly practical areas, especially in motivation and psycholinguistics. Ball (1984) also noted a trend toward both more multi-authored articles and longer articles; additionally, he noted that the number of women in the field had increased substantially.


The beginnings of instructional psychology as a field of study are often traced to World War II and its demand for rapidly trained soldiers and officers who could operate more technicallyadvancedequipment.WhenArthurMeltondevelopedthe Air Force Human Resources Lab (AFHRL), he and the people he trained and worked with, such as Robert Glazer and Robert Gagne, helped to develop guidelines for learning, retention, and transfer of new knowledge and skills based on psychological principles. After the war, AFHRL remained a vibrant research and development center, although many of its researchers and developers went into academic positions. Their work continued as the postwarera’s GI bill gave low-cost loans and scholarships to returning military personnel to further their education. Methods were needed to deal with this more diverse and expanded population of students in America’s high schools, community colleges, and universities.

Another boost to funding and interest in instructional psychology occurred when the Russians launched an unmanned space vehicle, Sputnik, in 1957. Along with the fears that America was losing its technological superiority was a call for massive increases in science and mathematics curricula and courses, and effective teaching/learning methods.Building on techniques developed during World War II, new types of audio-visual aids were developed, such as motion picture projectors and audiotapes (Glaser, 1962). Given the dominance of behaviorism in psychology during much of this period, it also witnessed the development of programmed-instruction teaching machines and, ultimately, computer-assisted instruction. However, this is also the period during which the trend began towardadaptingclassroompracticestotheneedsofindividual students (Gage, 1964). The field of educational psychology, which absorbed instructional psychology, was definitely on center stage. However, there was a lingering feeling that even with the modern technologies, perhaps we were missing a big piece of the learning/education/transfer puzzle.


Cognitive psychology has had a major influence on the development of educational psychology. In a seminal chapter in the Annual Review of Psychology, 1977,Wittrock and Lumsdaine pointed out the importance of a cognitive perspective and the somewhat bankrupt contributions of behaviorism for further development in instructional and educational psychology. The chapter had a strong impact on educational psychologists. Educational psychology was finally on the road to being a discipline within psychology whose focus was on the psychology of all components of educational processes and practice. No longer was it only an application of other areas within psychology (although these other areas continue to influence it).

One reason the cognitive psychology revolution is viewed by many as an improvement over the days of experimenting with rats and pigeons is that it helped to focus researchers’ attention on realistic rather than artificial contexts. This shift provided researchers with the opportunity to examine students in their own environment—the classroom (Mayer, 2001). As Mayer notes, psychology needed something real to study, and education provided it. This has, of course, proven to be a symbiotic relationship, because psychology was able to provide to education established scientific methodological frameworks that education had previously lacked. Mayer’s view of the historical relationship between education and psychology in the twentieth century seems to be quite apt: First, there was a time during which psychologists developed theories and left it to educators to apply the theories; next came a period during which psychology resolutely focused on theoretical issues that were unrelated to educational issues, and education resolutely focused primarily on practical issues; and, now, we have an era in which psychology and education seem to be working more hand-in-hand, combining the strengths of both groups to work for the mutual benefit of each group, as well as for the public (Mayer, 1992, cited in Mayer, 2001).

Even though the advent of cognitive psychology in the 1970s encouraged researchers to examine more realistic contexts and situations, many researchers still tended to deconstruct their findings into isolated parts. Rather than viewing students as a whole, they often broke students’behaviors into components, which might then be used to construct new models, or even to reconstruct old models (Paris & Paris, 2001). Even the didactic methods and suggestions derived from this work were often nothing more than isolated pieces of advice. For example, common didactic methods for improving students’ academic success included options such as summarizing text, direct instruction for using specific strategies, and a tendency to instruct students to employ the same tactics and strategies across subjects and situations. And, in spite of the rationale that cognitive psychology afforded for using realistic situations, much of the research was still conducted in laboratory contexts. It was only quite recently that these methods changed.

Now, for example, the emphasis is more on examining text from within the reader’s frame of reference than it is on merely summarizing text; making strategies adaptive, functional, and tailored to the individual learner is considered to be as important as simply teaching specific strategies; and, finally, strategies should be dynamic rather than static across different disciplines—elaboration strategies in math, for example, are quite different from elaboration strategies in a literature class. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the acknowledgment that it is impossible to examine whether or not specific techniques and strategies are effective unless they are tested in the classroom or other educational settings using students’ own curricula (Paris & Paris, 2001).


Another approach to tracing a discipline’s history is to examine the current state of the discipline, for all disciplines are, ultimately, a culmination of precedents. In educational psychology, this current state can be represented by looking at a small sampling of recent definitions, directives, theories, methodologies, and applications in the field of educational psychology.

Some of the definitions of educational psychology today are broad: Berliner (1993), for example, states: “Our fundamental goal should be to understand and improve education in our society.” Other definitions are more specific: Good and Levin (2001) assert, “The heart of work in educational psychology is to produce theoretical and well-researched psychological knowledge that has the potential for enhancing learning and socialization in various settings.”

The directives to practicing educational psychologists come from both institutions and individuals. The mission of the APA’s Division 15, Educational Psychology, is “to provide a collegial environment for psychologists with interests in research, teaching, or practice in educational settings at all levels to present and publish papers about their work in the theory, methodology, and applications to a broad spectrum of teaching, training, and learning issues” (American Psychological Association, 2000).

And, somewhat in contrast to the early days of educational psychology, with its emphasis on the purely practical components of teachers and teaching, Pintrich (2000b) directs educational psychologists, now and in the future, to do work that merges the primarily applied goals of the past with the present and future goals of furthering the more theoretical, scientific, and fundamental understandings of learning, development, cognition, and motivation. Furthermore, Pintrich charges that, as scientists, educational psychologists should also work to gather and provide sound evidence to support our conclusions and conceptual models (Pintrich, 2000b). Although there are some who believe that the discipline of educational psychology is too often in a state of flux, others commend the ability of the discipline to change itself in ways appropriate to meeting the changing needs and demands of society (O’Donnell & Levin, 2001).

Mayer (2001) suggests that educational psychology has substantial strengths whose energies can be directed toward making considerable contributions to both the psychology of the subject matter itself and the teaching of cognitive strategies. This is congruent with the message in Pintrich’s farewell address after his fifth year as editor of Educational Psychologist. In this address, Pintrich reviewed several themes he saw as emergent in the field of educational psychology. Although he cited a focus on the individual learner as one of these themes, Pintrich emphasized that educational psychologists could no longer consider the dimensions of cognition, motivation, and social interaction in isolation from the individual (Pintrich, 2000b).

This being said, however, what is the current state of educational psychology? What contributions are educational psychologists making now? Who are these changes affecting? Most importantly, perhaps, is the question about what directions educational psychology and its practitioners will take in the future. Again, a look at the direction of recent research in the area provides clues that can be used to help answer these questions.


Several recent trends in educational psychology show great promise for the present as well as for the future. One of these trends is greater emphasis on the development of models that can be used not only to explain and predict students’successes but to aid students directly in achieving academic success. Many of the existing and evolving models have been designed and developed to provide an easily negotiated bridge between the theoretical and the concrete. Thus, although these models do explain and predict in the same way as more traditional models, they can also be used within a curricular or other setting to foster student success. Another difference is that many of the current models are constructed such that the individual components within the model can be assimilated and integrated with the other components of the model. The focus is not on the individual elements as much as it is upon the emergent properties that are apparent when the components are interacting. These emergent properties are similar to the concept of the gestalt: The whole is greater than a simple sum of the parts.

Many of these newer models focus on conceptions of broad theoretical and applied interests in the area of self-regulation. Someofthesemodelsareinstructional,emphasizingthedevelopment of self-regulation skills through specific instruction; other models provide teachers with directions for implementing specific tools and strategies (Zimmerman, 1998).

An example of a model based on this integrative approach to student learning that incorporates both the cognitive and motivational aspects of learning was developed by Pintrich and his associates (Hofer, Yu, & Pintrich, 1998). This model, which draws on the earlier work of Garcia and Pintrich (1994), is based on a four-by-four matrix. The resulting cells, cognitive knowledge/beliefs, cognitive and metacognitive strategies for regulation, motivational/self-knowledge beliefs, and motivational strategies for regulation, can be conceptually separated from each other. More importantly, perhaps, the cells can be combined and recombined by students as they learn the specific strategies congruent with each cell (Hofer et al., 1998).

An example of a conceptual model being widely used in practice is the Model of Strategic Learning (Weinstein, Husman, & Dierking, 2000). Variations of this model have been used successfully in university “learning to learn” courses for more than 20 years. This model focuses on variables impacting strategic learning, that is, learning that is goal driven. Weinstein’s Model of Strategic Learning has at its core the learner: a unique individual who brings to each learning situation a critical set of variables, including his or her personality, prior knowledge, and school achievement history. Around this core are four broad components focusing on factors that, in interaction, can tremendously influence the degree to which students set and reach learning and achievement goals. These four components are referred to as skill (i.e., learning strategies and prior knowledge and skills), will (i.e., motivation and positive affect toward learning), selfregulation (i.e., metacognitive comprehension monitoring and time management) and the academic environment (i.e., available resources and social support). Although instruction is encouraged in each of the elements, the interaction among the elements for different learning tasks and goals is most important.

ThemodelsdevelopedbyPintrich,Weinstein,Zimmerman, and their associates also provide a useful illustration for another trend in educational psychology. As previously mentioned, many current models in educational psychology use theoretical underpinnings as a base from which to expand to real-life and real-world educational and training settings. However, these real-life and real-world settings are no longer composedsolelyofformaleducationalsettings,nordotheyincorporate only the typically aged K–12 or college student.

A recently published book, Handbook of Self-Regulation (2000), incorporates chapters on the relationship between personality factors and self-regulation (Kuhl, 2000; Matthews, Schwean, Campbell, Saklofske, & Mohamed, 2000); communal models of self-regulation (as opposed to the Western, traditionally individualistic models of self-regulation) (Jackson, MacKenzie, & Hobfoll, 2000); the use of self-regulatory strategies in organizational settings (Vancouver, 2000); the examination of the relationship between self-regulation and health behaviors (Brownlee, Leventhal, & Leventhal, 2000; Maes & Gebhardt, 2000); and the function of self-regulation in clinical settings for the treatment of distress (Endler & Kocovski, 2000) and chronic illnesses (Creer, 2000). Although it could be argued that what has changed is more a matter of terminology than of substance—in the early 1900s, for example, “will psychologists” used the terms volition and will-power in much the same way as we now use the term selfregulation—what has changed is that in the 2000s we are attempting to identify and describe the components of selfregulation empirically, using sound research and statistical methodology in favor of earlier, often faulty methods of introspection and self-report (Kuhl & Beckman, 1985). We are also focusing on these components in interaction in these varied educational settings.

Perhaps one of the most important trends in educational psychology has been the move away from viewing the learner as a generic template and toward viewing the learner as an individual, each with his or her own cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational strengths and weaknesses. Part of the task here is for educational psychologists to work to expand and move beyond the current concept of education, which tends to focus on the core of learning, cognition, and motivation, to a model of education that also encompasses an individual’s affect, values, caring, mental health, adjustment, coping, and adaptation (Pintrich, 2000b).

One way educational psychologists have succeeded in expanding the core concepts of learning, cognition, and motivation has been to use these constructs as nuclei around which more detailed constructs are built and can revolve. Already mentioned is the idea of a strategic learner, a student or trainee of any age, in any setting, who becomes skilled at learning to learn. In contrast to many earlier conceptions of education, it is now accepted that meaningful learning is not simply the ability to memorize chunks of material but the ability to learn, develop, transfer, and use a wide variety of strategies that can be adapted to both content and context in the service of learning, achievement, and performance goals. Any student’s desire to learn, practice, and apply these strategies, however, must also be accompanied by an appropriate motivational system (Pintrich, 2000a). Not surprisingly, therefore, research in motivational theories has grown tremendously over the past decade, and it is common for many current publications and textbooks in the field of educational psychology to include substantial text devoted to both the theory and practice of motivation and the regulation of motivation (Alexander, 2000).

Much of the contemporary conflict within the discipline of educational psychology can be better understood when differences in epistemological stances are taken into account (O’Donnell & Levin, 2001). As O’Donnell and Levin suggest, there are essentially two epistemological stances, resulting in two different research traditions. Some educational psychologists take the positivistic or postpositivist position. These researchers emphasize explanation, prediction, and control, and research often focuses on hypotheses and experiments. Researchers with a preference for critical theory and constructivism have more interest in arriving at an understanding of the construct under study. Because the method used in this research is frequently qualitative, the increased understanding of the construct often occurs on the part of both the researcher and the participant (McCaslin & Hickey, 2001; O’Donnell & Levin, 2001). As Pintrich (2000b) notes, educational psychologists should, however, be well beyond the quantitative-qualitative debate. Instead, our concern should now be on providing valid and reliable evidence that supports our conceptual models and conclusions.


In American society now more than ever, educational psychologyismovingintothepublic’sconsciousnessandintothe classroom. For example, typing the term “strategic learning” into a public computer search engine (i.e., not PsychINFO or a similar database) yields more than 5,000 hits; the term “selfregulated learning” produces almost 3,200 additional hits.

The future of educational psychology is bright and full of exciting challenges. The dawn of the Information Age is challenging our most fundamental conceptions of learning, instruction, assessment, and appropriate outcomes in relation to education and training. The importance of core research and development areas in educational psychology, such as motivation, self-regulation and strategic learning is expanding rapidly. These are exciting times to be an educational psychologist.


  1. Alexander, P. (2000). Humble beginnings, ambitious ends: Special issue on motivation and the educational process. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 1–2.
  2. American Psychological Association. (2000). Membership dues statement (No. 7). Washington, DC: Author.
  3. Ball, S. (1984). Educational psychology as an academic chameleon: An editorial assessment after 75 years. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(6), 993–999.
  4. Berliner, D. C. (1993). The 100-year journey of educational psychology: From interest to disdain, to respect for the practice. In T. K. Fagan & G. R. VandenBos (Eds.), Exploring applied psychology: Origins and critical analyses (pp. 41–78).Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  5. Berliner, D. C., & Calfee, R. C. (Eds.). (1996). Handbook of educationalpsychology.NewYork:MacmillanLibraryReferenceUSA.
  6. Brownlee, S., Leventhal, H., & Leventhal, E. A. (2000). Regulation, self-regulation, and construction of the self in the maintenance of physical health. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 369–416). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  7. Charles, D. C. (1976). Ahistorical overview of educational psychology. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 1, 76–88.
  8. Creer, T. L. (2000). Self-management of chronic illness. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of selfregulation (pp. 601–630). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  9. Dewey, J. (1913). Interest and effort in education. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  10. Dewey, J., & Dewey, E. (1915). Schools of tomorrow. New York: Dutton.
  11. Endler, N. S., & Kocovski, N. L. (2000). Self-regulation and distress in clinical psychology. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 569–600). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  12. Farley, F. (1989). Challenges for the future of educational psychology. In F. Farley & M. C. Wittrock (Eds.), The future of educational psychology (pp. 19–29). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  13. Gage, N. L. (1964). Theories of teaching. In E. R. Hilgard (Ed.), Theories of learning and instruction (63rd yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Pt. 1, pp. 268–285). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  14. Garcia, T., & Pintrich, P. R. (1994). Regulating motivation and cognition in the classroom: The role of self-schemas and selfregulatory strategies. In D. H. Schunk & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Self-regulation of learning and performance: Issues and educational applications (pp. 127–153). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  15. Glazer, R. (1962). Training research and education. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  16. Glover, J. A., & Ronning, R. R. (1987). Historical foundations of educational psychology. New York: Plenum Press.
  17. Good, T. L., & Levin, J. R. (2001). Educational psychology yesterday, today, and tomorrow: Debate and direction in an evolving field. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 69–72.
  18. Grinder, R. E. (1989). Educational psychology: The master science. In F. Farley & M. C. Wittrock (Eds.), The future of educational psychology (pp. 3–18). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  19. Hilgard, E. R. (1996). History of educational psychology. In D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 990–1004). New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA.
  20. Hofer, B. K., Yu, S. L., & Pintrich, P. R. (1998). Teaching college students to be self-regulated learners. In D. H. Schunk & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Self-regulated learning: From teaching to self-reflective practice (pp. 57–85). New York: Guilford Press.
  21. Ibanez, R. M. (1994). Juan Luis Vives (1492–1540). Prospects: The quarterly review of comparative education, 3, 743–759.
  22. Jackson, T., MacKenzie, J., & Hobfoll, S. E. (2000). Communal aspects of self-regulation. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 275–302). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  23. Kaur, A. (1972). History of educational psychology in the U.S.A. during 1880–1940. Indian Educational Review, 7(1), 123–140.
  24. Kuhl, J. (2000). A functional-design approach to motivation and self-regulation: The dynamics of personality systems and interactions. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 111–170). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  25. Kuhl, J., & Beckman, J. (1984). Introduction and overview. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckman (Eds.), Action control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 1–8). New York: Springer.
  26. Maes, S., & Gebhardt, W. (2000). Self-regulation and health behavior: The health behavior goal model. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 343–368). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  27. Matthews, G., Schwean, V. L., Campbell, S. I., Saklofske, D. H., & Mohamed, A. A. R. (2000). Personality, self-regulation, and adaptation: Acognitive-social framework. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 171–201). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  28. Mayer, R. E. (2001). What good is educational psychology? The case of cognition and instruction. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 83–88.
  29. McCaslin, M., & Hickey, D. T. (2001). Educational psychology, social constructivism, and educational practice: A case of emergent identity. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 133–140.
  30. O’Donnell, A. M., & Levin, J. R. (2001). Educational psychology’s healthy growing pains. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 73–82.
  31. Paris, S. G., & Paris, A. H. (2001). Classroom applications of research on self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 89–101.
  32. Pestalozzi, J. H. (1977). How Gertrude teaches her children. In D. N. Robinson (Ed.), H. Pestalozzi: Significant contributions to the history of psychology, 1750–1920 (Series B, Vol. 2, pp. 17–391). Washington, DC: University Publications of America. (Original work published 1820)
  33. Pintrich, P. R. (1994). Continuities and discontinuities: Future directions for research in educational psychology. Educational Psychologist, 29(3), 137–148.
  34. Pintrich, P. R. (2000a). An achievement goal theory perspective on issues in motivation terminology, theory, and research. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 92–104.
  35. Pintrich, P. R. (2000b). Educational psychology at the millennium: A look back and a look forward. Educational Psychologist, 35(4), 221–226.
  36. Rousseau, J. J. (1979). Emile or, On education (A. Bloom, Trans.). New York: Basic Books. (Original work published 1762)
  37. Sutherland,M.(1988).Educationalpsychology:Thedistractedhandmaiden. Educational and Child Psychology, 5(1), 13–18.
  38. Thorndike, E. L. (1903). Educational psychology. New York: Teachers College Press.
  39. Thorndike, E. L. (1910). The contribution of psychology to education. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1, 5–12.
  40. Thorndike, E. L. (1913a). Educational psychology. Vol. 1: The original nature of man. New York: Teachers College Press.
  41. Thorndike, E. L. (1913b). Educational psychology. Vol. 2: The psychology of learning. New York: Teachers College Press.
  42. Thorndike, E. L. (1914). Educational psychology. Vol. 3: Mental work and fatigue, and individual differences and their causes. New York: Teachers College Press.
  43. Thorndike, E. L., & Woodworth, R. S. (1901). The influence of one mental function upon the efficiency of other functions. Psychological Review, 8, 247–261, 384–395, 553–564.
  44. Vancouver, J. B. (2000). Self-regulation in organizational settings: A tale of two paradigms. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 303–342). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  45. Walberg, H. J., & Haertel, G. D. (1992). Educational psychology’s first century. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 6–19.
  46. Weinstein, C. E., Husman, J., & Dierking, D. R. (2000). Selfregulation interventions with a focus on learning strategies. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 728–749). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  47. Wittrock, M. C., & Farley, F. (Eds.). (1989). The future of educational psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  48. Wittrock, M. C., & Lumsdaine, A. A. (1977). Instructional psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 28, 417–459.
  49. Worcester, D. A. (1927). The wide diversities of practice in first courses in educational psychology. Journal of Educational Psychology, 18, 11–20.
  50. Zimmerman, B. J. (1998). Developing self-fulfilling cycles of academic regulation: An analysis of exemplary instructional models. In D. H. Schunk & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Self-regulated learning: From teaching to self-reflective practice (pp. 1–19). New York: Guilford Press.
  51. Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (in press). History of psychology in biography. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get discount 10% for the first order. Promo code: cd1a428655