Education, study and knowledge

Psychology of Education and Instruction: differences

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The psychology of education and the psychology of instruction are two of the main applications of our science to the academic context. Both seek to transfer the knowledge obtained by scientific psychology to all kinds of learning situations, with special emphasis on formal child education.

Although instructional psychology is generally considered a subdivision of educational psychology, the specificities of each of these disciplines make it relevant to clarify What are the differences between them from a theoretical and practical point of view?.

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What is Educational Psychology?

The general objective of educational psychology is to analyze the factors that influence the teaching and learning processes. In this sense, the discipline deals with research on these phenomena, as well as the ways in which such knowledge can be applied in educational contexts in order to favor the learning.

However, beyond these aspects

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the definition of educational psychology is ambiguous. This is due to the fact that there are many different theoretical models within the discipline, as well as the fact that intermediate place occupied by the psychology of education in relation to psychology and education itself same.

In this sense, it cannot be considered that there is a clear agreement as to whether the basic nature of the educational psychology is theoretical or applied, to the type of content that is part of its field of study or to What are its points of union with other related scientific disciplines? with education, especially in the field of psychology.

Among the most relevant authors in the development of educational psychology we can highlight Burrhus F. Skinner for his programmed teaching and behavior modification programs, to Jean Piaget (pioneer of cognitive models in developmental and educational psychology) and Urie Bronfenbrenner, creator of the Theory ecological.

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Defining the Psychology of Instruction

Although there is also an intense debate around the definition of the psychology of instruction, most experts consider that it is a branch of educational psychology. Thus, we could say that it is not so much a separate discipline as a branch of educational psychology with characteristic specializations.

Specifically, we can say that the psychology of instruction has the objective of apply knowledge of educational psychology to teaching situations in order to enhance the effectiveness of the psychological and behavioral processes that are related to these phenomena.

This focus on the change processes involved in learning, especially the formal type, is the central characteristic of instructional psychology. However, and as we have seen, beyond this aspect it is difficult to distinguish it from the psychology of education.

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The 4 differences between these disciplines

Four criteria have been described that may be useful for distinguish between the psychology of education and that of instruction: the breadth of the object of study, the theoretical orientation that serves as a base, the level of analysis that they deal with and the learning context to which they refer.

However, at present these 4 differences are still a proposal, since the definition of both disciplines is still in dispute. It is to be expected that as the psychology of education and instruction advance, the importance of differential aspects will deepen or diminish.

1. Breadth of the object of study

The psychology of instruction has focused mainly on formal education, that is, on the empowerment of the processes involved in teaching and learning curricular content presets On the contrary, educational psychology has a broader character and it applies to teaching in general, including the informal type.

2. Theoretical and methodological orientation

Educational psychology has drawn on many theoretical and methodological approaches throughout its history; Among these, behaviorism, cognitivism, observational methods or ecological theory stand out. Instead, instructional psychology is basically identified with cognitive orientation and sometimes it is included in this area.

3. Analysis level

While educational psychology focuses on broad phenomena that affect education in general (i.e., it has a molar and macroscopic perspective), instructional psychology is more molecular and microscopic since it studies more specific aspects, for example limited to certain types of learning or situation.

4. Area of ​​application

The knowledge obtained by the psychology of education can be applied in any type of educational context. On the contrary, instructional psychology is concerned with formal, intentional, and planned teaching and has the basic objective of promoting the learning of a certain type of content.

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