Today’s educational system is highly complex. There is no single learning approach or style that works for everyone.
That’s why psychologists working in the field of education are focused on identifying and studying learning methods to better understand how people absorb and retain new information.
Educational psychologists apply theories of human development to understand individual learning styles and inform the instructional process. While interaction with teachers and students in school settings is an important part of their work, it isn’t the only facet of the job. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. People don’t only learn at school, they learn at work, in social situations and even doing simple tasks like household chores or running errands. Psychologists working in this subfield examine how people learn in a variety of settings to identify approaches and strategies to make learning more effective.
Psychologists working in education study the social, emotional and cognitive processes involved in learning and apply their findings to improve the learning process. Some specialize in the educational development of a specific group of people such as children, adolescents or adults, while others focus on specific learning challenges such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia.
No matter the population they are studying, these professionals are interested in outcomes, teaching methods, the instructional process and different learning styles.
How much does the time of day when new information is introduced influence whether a person retains that information? What does culture have to do with how we process new ideas? How does age affect our ability to develop new skills, like language? How is in-person learning different from remote learning using technology? How does the choice of a media platform make a difference in learning?
These are all questions that educational psychologists are asking — and answering — in settings as diverse as government research centers, schools, community organizations and learning centers.
Psychologists working in education spend their time in diverse settings like government research centers, schools, community organizations and learning centers. Their research unlocks clues about the way people process information that can help every student learn.
Resources to help you pursue a career in psychology
A degree in psychology can lead to a fulfilling career that makes a difference in people’s lives.
Find out what it takes to become a psychologist who works in an education setting
The psychology of teaching and learning helps us understand the social, emotional and cognitive processes that constitute learning throughout the lifespan.