When you mention the word psychology, people generally think of clinical psychology. However, psychology is a much broader field than that. Basically it is the science of human behavior and mental processes. There are many different professions within the field. An example of this is the educational psychologist, which we are going to focus on today.
The purpose of this article is to show the reader what the function of an educational psychologist is. And also the current situation of the profession in Spain. The profession is not well known, but educational psychologists perform a much-needed job and contribute to quality education. In today’s world, they have a lot of obstacles to overcome and burdens to bear, which complicate their work.
What is an Educational Psychologist?
The task of an educational psychologist is to study and intervene in human behavior within the context of education. Their ultimate goal is to develop the capacity of people, groups and institutions. Now the word “education” must be understood in its broadest sense, including all forms of training, learning and personal and collective development.
The field of study and work in which educational psychologists work is related to the cognitive processes associated with or arising from learning. They think about and develop their work on all psychological levels, including social, personal, biological and health.
Educational psychologists are often confused with other professions, such as teachers, counselors and child psychologists. Although they are all very different professions, it is necessary that they all work together to provide the child with a good education.
- Teachers are tasked with studying teaching and teaching models.
- Guidance counselors guide people throughout their academic and professional lives.
- Child psychologists treat mental disorders that arise in childhood.
As with any science, there are two important aspects of educational psychology: theory and practice. On the theoretical side, you see psychologists conducting research and developing and further developing theories and processes about educational psychology. On the practical side, educational psychologists use knowledge from academic research to improve the quality of education.
The functions of educational psychology
Next, we will explain the functions of educational psychology according to the General Council of Psychologists of Spain:
- Intervention, according to the educational needs of the students. First, the educational psychologist must study and respond to the educational needs of the students. Then they can interact with them to improve their teaching experience.
- Occupational and career guidance functions and advice. The main goal here is to help develop students’ skills. By helping them take stock of their personal and professional goals and skills, students can determine the direction of their own education and make their own decisions.
- Preventive functions. The educational psychologist must intervene to prevent possible educational problems. In addition, it is important to take into account all those involved. These are parents, teachers, children, counselors, and so on.
- Improving teaching methods : It is very important to pay attention to teaching methods. Teachers should study and apply the best teaching techniques to enable students to learn and grow well.
- Family training and guidance. The family is an important part of education. By studying and then mentoring family members, they can develop effective models for family education. This will improve the lives of everyone in the family.
- Socio-educational intervention. Education does not only occur in the academic and family life of the person. Everything in the area plays a role. It is the educational psychologist’s responsibility to investigate how the current social system affects education. That way they can intervene where necessary.
- Research and Education. Finally, to fulfill all other functions, research is needed to know which direction to take. And all research would be useless without education that passes the knowledge on to other professionals and students.
The current state of educational psychology
Educational psychologists today face many problems. The main ones are a lack of recognition, little government support, professional confusion and a hostile education system.
In fact, most people have never heard of an educational psychologist. So they have no visibility. This makes it more difficult to disseminate their knowledge and obtain funding for research. It is necessary to see the work of these experts in order to increase awareness of their field. In this way, the quality of education can improve.
Moreover , public institutions do not even recognize educational psychology. People who study it are seen by the government as counselors or teachers. The lack of support is reflected not only in the way they are labeled, but also in the few resources allocated to the field.
Due to the poor organization of the state, there is confusion about the different functions of educational psychologists. In one position, one person can act as a teacher, educational psychologist and guidance counselor. Instead of one person doing the work of many, there should be a team of professionals working on quality education.
The current education system is full of problems that complicate the practice of educational psychologists. In fact, it seems that the purpose of the current system is different from what it was originally designed for.
Finally, politicians make decisions that ignore the recommendations of scientific research. Taking good initiatives in a system that is not working will not solve the problem. Instead, the education system needs structural changes if it is to be worthy of the name “education”.
Education is very important and has great influence on future generations. That is why we need to spread knowledge about educational psychologists and the difficult role they play.