This volume of the Handbook of Psychology is dedicated to the field of educational psychology. Educational psychology is focused largely on the application of psychological principles to the study of human learning and development in educational settings. Rducational psychology traces its roots to the beginnings of psychology as a field of study in the United States with the pioneering work of William James.
Research in the field of educational psychology has progressed over the past century with an explosion of research across numerous domains of this field in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
A careful reading of this volume will show that researchers in educational psychology are actively engaged in studying the complexity of learning and learner characteristics across multiple systems and sociocultural settings. We suggest that more than any other area of psychology, the field of educational psychology has had a major impact in helping to prepare children for living in an increasingly diverse, global world of rapid change. Educational psychologists over the last two decades have contributed to a burgeoning literature on individual and internal cognitive processes related to learning.
Along with our greater knowledge of cognitive processes and learner characteristics has come a concomitant increase in our understanding of the roles played by culture, ethnicity, and gender and how learning is affected by the social context of the classroom. This has led to an improved science of instruction, assessment, evaluation, and how we train our teachers, as well as to a more comprehensive view of the complex role of teachers, the instructional process, and factors across home and school environments that lead to behavioral, academic, and social success of a diverse population of students.
The chapter topics selected for inclusion in this volume reflect the field’s unique concern for and methods of studying human learning and development in educational settings. The structure and organization of this book provide a window on the current thinking about individual learners, instructional strategies, the dynamics of classroom interaction, social structures that operate in educational settings, and educational programs for exceptional learners.
We have included chapters that provide a glimpse of how the field of educational psychology has impacted and will continue to impact reforms in teacher preparation, educational research, and policy.
The five major sections of this volume cover significant cognitive contributions to learning, development, and instruction; what we know about sociocultural, instructional, and relational processes critical to successful learning; the design of effective curriculum applications; and models of teacher preparation and educational research that will influence educational reform in the future.
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