Educational psychologist

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Functions of educational psychologist
For the academic journal, see Educational Psychologist (journal).

An educational psychologist is a psychologist whose differentiating functions may include diagnostic and psycho-educational assessment, psychological counseling in educational communities (students, teachers, parents and academic authorities), community-type psycho-educational intervention, and mediation, coordination, and referral to other professionals, at all levels of the educational system. Many countries use this term to signify those who provide services to students, their teachers, and families while other countries use this term to signify academic training in the discipline of educational psychology, with no intention of preparing persons to provide services.

Specific facts[edit]

Psychology is a so well developed discipline that allows different specializations: a) clinical and health psychology, b) work and organizational psychology, c) educational psychology, etc.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] What differentiates an educational psychologist from other psychologists or specialists is constituted by an academic triangle whose vertexes are represented by three categories: teachers, students and curricula (see diagram). The use of plural in these three cases assumes two meanings: a) the traditional or official one and b) other more general derived from our information and knowledge society. The plural also indicates that nowadays we can no longer consider the average student or teacher, or a closed curriculum, but the enormous variety found in our students, teachers and curricula. The triangle vertexes are connected by two-directional arrows, allowing four-fold typologies instead of the traditional two-way relationships (e.g., teacher-student). In this way, we can find, in different educational contexts, groups of good teachers and students (excellent teaching/learning processes and products), groups of good teachers but bad students, and groups of bad teachers and good students, producing in both cases lower levels of academic achievements. In addition, we can find groups of bad teachers and bad students (school failure). This specific work of an educational psychologist takes place in different contexts: micro-, meso- and macro-systems.[8] Microsystems[disambiguation needed] refer to family contexts, where atmosphere, hidden curriculum, and expectations and behaviors of all family members determine, to a large extent, the educational development of each student. The term mesosystem refers to all variety of contexts found in educational institutions, knowing that different variables such as geographical location, institution marketing or type of teachers and students, etc., can influence the academic results of students. Macrosystem has a much more general and global nature, leading us, for example, to considerer the influence that the different societies or countries have on educational final products. One illustrative example of this level can be the analyses carried out on data gathered by the PISA reports.This approach would be the essence of educational psychology versus school psychology for many of U.S. educational researchers and for Division 15 of APA.

Specific functions[edit]

The most noteworthy function is, without a doubt, formal (rather than informal) assessment.[9] This evaluation involves collecting information, in a valid and reliable way, about the three target groups of the triangle diagram (in their respective contexts): teachers, students and curricula.[10] Evaluation is divided in at least two main types: diagnosis (dysfunctions detection such as physical, sensory and intellectual impairments, dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, pervasive development disorders or autism spectrum disorders) and psycho-educational evaluation (detection of curriculum difficulties, poor school atmosphere or family problems, etc.). Evaluation implies detection, and, thanks to this, Prevention.

A second function, very relevant too, is psychological counseling.[11] This must be directed to: a) students, in their various dimensions (intellectual, obviously, but also their social, affective and professional dimensions); b) parents, as ‘paraprofessionals’ who may implement programs, selected or developed by educational psychologists, to solve their child/student problems; c) teachers, to whom will be offered psycho-educational support to face psychological difficulties that may be found when implementing and adapting curricula to diversity shown by students; d) academic authorities, who will be helped in their decision-making, regarding the teaching (teaching process) and administrative duties (providing necessary support for students with specific educational needs, decisions about promotion to the next level, and so on).

A third function based on communitarian interventions, with three main facets: corrective, preventative, and optimizing interventions.[12][13][14][15] If disruptive behavior occurs in particular moments and contexts, then a corrective intervention is required. If the aim is school violence reduction, then tertiary preventive intervention programs are needed. If an early diagnosis of learning difficulties is carried out, then psychologist has undertaken secondary prevention. If the aim is to use psycho-educational programs to prevent future school failure, then a primary preventative intervention program is put into practice. The complement to all of these interventions is constituted by a series of optimizing activities, meant for the academic, professional, social, family, and personal improvement of all agents in educational community, especially learners.

A fourth function, or specific activity, is referral of those suffering dysfunctions to other professionals, following a previous diagnostic evaluation, with the aim to coordinate future treatment implementation. This coordination will take place with parents, teachers and other professionals, promoting collaboration among all educational agents in order to get the fastest and best case resolution. This second triangle represents the essential components of school psychology, for some European researchers or division 16 of APA.

Academic requirements[edit]

Nowadays it is a specific Doctoral degree (Masters in Scotland) which generally completes the professional preparation of educational psychologists. A degree in psychology (although necessary and essential) now seems not to be enough, since they are not designed to achieve the necessary specialization. In this Doctorate in Educational Psychology, it is essential a main course which prepares educational psychologists for carrying out diagnostic and psycho-educational assessment, psychological counseling to the educational communities, and all types of communitarian interventions (corrective, preventive and optimizing). Trainees also develop external professional practices (where the specific coordination, evaluation, counseling, and intervention functions will be put into practice)on placement in local authorities, as well as a final thesis. Equally, there are a series of theoretical areas that, due to their relevancy in the teaching/learning contexts, should be included, such as: classroom diversity, drug-dependency prevention, developmental disorders, learning difficulties, new technologies applied to educational contexts and data analysis and interpretation. In sum, taking into account all of this, perhaps educational psychologists will be able to meet adequately demands found in different educational institutions.

The following qualifications are required: an undergraduate degree in psychology and a BPS accredited Doctorate in Educational Psychology (3 years), or for Scotland only, an accredited Masters in Educational Psychology. Whilst teaching experience is relevant, it is no longer an entry requirement. At least one year's full-time experience of working with children in educational, childcare or community seetings is required and for some courses this may be two years' experience.

To use the term Educational Psychologist, you will need to be registered with the Health Professionals Council (HPC), which involves completing a course(Doctorate or Masters) approved by the HPC.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cameron, R. J. (2006). Educational psychology: The distinctive contribution. Educational Psychology in Practice, 22, 289-304.
  2. ^ Fagan, T. K., & Wise, P. S. (Eds.). (2007). School psychology: Past, present and future (3rd ed.). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists. ISBN 978-0-932955-71-5.
  3. ^ Jimerson, S. R., Oakland, T. D., & Farrel, P. T. (Eds.).(2007). The handbook of international school psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN 978-1-4129-2669-0.
  4. ^ Mayer, R., & Alexander, P. A. (Eds.) . (2010). Handbook of research on learning and instruction. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-80461-5.
  5. ^ Reynolds, W. M., & Miller, G. J. (Eds.).(2003). Handbook of psychology. Vol. 7: Educational Psychology. New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-38406-9.
  6. ^ Wittrock, M. C. (1992). «An empowering conception of educational psychology». Educational Psychologist, 27, 129-141.
  7. ^ Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (2003). Educational psychology: A century of contributions. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. ISBN 978-0-8058-3682-0.
  8. ^ Bonfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-22457-4.
  9. ^ Watkins, M. W., Crosby, E. G., & Pearson, J. L. (2001). Role of the school psychologist: Perceptions of school staff. School Psychology International, 22, 64-73.
  10. ^ Fernández, J. (2008). Assessment of teaching quality: A circular model of evaluation. Madrid: Editorial Complutense. ISBN 978-84-7491-943-1.
  11. ^ Erchul, W. P., & Sheridan, S. M. (Eds.).(2008). Handbook of research in school consultation: Empirical foundation for the field. New York: Erlbaum. ISBN 978-0-8058-5336-0.
  12. ^ Burns, M. K., Codding, R. S., Boice, C. H., & Lukito, G. (2010). Meta-analysis of acquisition and fluency math interventions with instructional and frustration level skills: Evidence for a skill-by-treatment interaction. School Psychology Review, 39, 69-83.
  13. ^ Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (1986). Linking assessment to instructional intervention: An overview. School Psychology Review, 15,318-323.
  14. ^ Shonkoff, J., & Meisels, S. J. (Eds.).(2000). Handbook of early childhood intervention (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-58573-6.
  15. ^ Turner, R. K., & Reese, H. W. (Eds.).(1980). Life-span developmental psychology: Intervention. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-704150-6.

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