Educational psychology plays an integral role in the education system because it provides a way to evaluate and improve learning systems, curriculum, and regulation to provide the resources needed for all students to be successful. As student populations continue to grow in number and diversify, qualified educational psychologists will increasingly be needed to identify the techniques and tools educators can utilize to create an environment for all students to learn.
Educational Psychology Overview
Educational psychologists have a diverse background of coursework and practical clinical experience that includes evaluation of student and institution needs, research, human development, cognitive behaviors, motivation, socio-cultural concepts, emotional challenges, and developmental behaviors.
Specializations include curriculum development, developing regulations and guidelines, creating or evaluating tools and techniques, working directly with students or teachers, or focusing on human development and research.
In addition to working with students to examine behaviors and issues related to learning, educational psychologists are involved with observation of the educational system as a whole, and how these factors influence the learning of students on a micro and macro level. Part of this involves the observation of teachers, programs, and the education environment.
Educational psychologists are employed by numerous organizations and institutions. In schools, from pre-kindergarten programs to the collegiate level, educational psychologists might work directly with students in a counseling capacity or in an administration-based role. Working directly with students, educational psychologists identify areas in which students have difficulty or need additional assistance, identifying the paths to take for improvement and success. In the administration role, educational psychologists observe and evaluate the staff and programs to identify areas that are functioning optimally and those that need improvement to provide an overall successful program based on a district’s individual needs.
Universities and educational consulting firms also utilize educational psychologists for much of the same observation and evaluation ability in relation to learning. Using these skills, educational psychologists conduct research, developing new theories and ideas to use for curriculum and services improvement for all grade levels.
Educational psychologists are also employed by government agencies. The understanding educational psychologists have of a variety of factors that influence education is a helpful addition to teams that develop regulations and guidelines for school districts and other educational institutions.
Increase in Educational Psychology Demands
One factor in the increase in the number of educational psychology positions is an overall increase in the number of students enrolled in primary, secondary, and post-secondary educational institutions in both private and public sectors. In addition, a growing percentage of today’s student population requires adjustments for diversity and multi-cultural issues.
Others factors that have increased the need for educational psychologists include bullying in schools and the number of children of all ages who have difficulty adjusting to the education environment because of external factors. The increase in the number of students with learning disabilities and developmental delays has also increased.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the school psychology and counseling field is expected to grow 19 percent by 2020 with an estimated additional 53,400 positions in the field. General psychology is projected to increase by 22 percent.
For additional information on the employment outlook for educational psychologists, visit the American Psychological Association careers section.