Educational Psychology

Understand how students process and absorb information through studying this course in educational psychology. Find out about age-appropriate learning methods, how to improve memory and the importance of motivation in the classroom.

Course CodeBPS105
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Educational psychology is concerned with understanding how humans develop in terms of language, memory and learning processes and how to apply that knowledge to learning environments. Children at different stages of development respond better to different educational approaches. Some approaches are best suited to groups and others to individuals. Study this course to find out about different approaches to teaching and learning and their benefits or disadvantages in different situations.       

Understand how people develop is the first step to
helping anyone learn.

This course will help you to understand how and why people learn, and how to apply that understanding to bring about changes in people of all ages. This course will benefit a wide range of people, but especially those wishing to adopt the principles of educational psychology in an educational setting:

  • Teachers in a classroom
  • Supervisors in a workplace
  • Instructors in a gymnasium
  • Life coaches, business coaches, sports coaches, consultants or anyone else.

Learn the knowledge, wisdom and everyday theory that every teacher requires, to resolve the dilemmas that occur teaching on a daily basis.


Although there are no hard and fast rules to becoming a good teacher, good teaching practice can be learned. Teachers need to engage in critical thinking if they are to keep abreast of teaching. That is they need to be systematically identifying problems, exploring the evidence, and finding the answer. In addition, those teachers who are constantly checking their teaching practices and attending seminars on the latest principles will make more effective teachers.

Whatever your reason for studying educational psychology, it is necessary to understand the basic principles which underlie the theories involved. Wherever possible when studying psychology, it is a good idea to quote names and dates of research, as all theories need to be supported by scientific evidence.

A lot of contemporary research has built on theories developed many years ago.

Comment from one of our Educational Psychology students:

  " I found the course interesting, challenging, and rewarding"       J. Beer

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction -Development & Learning Theory
    • Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
    • Schemes
    • Assimilation and Accommodation
    • Equilibration
    • Piaget’s Stages of Development.
  2. Behavioural Learning
    • The Evolution of Behavioural Theories of Learning
    • Thorndike’s Theory of the Law of Effect
    • Skinner’s Theory of Operant Conditioning
    • Principles of Behavioural Learning; Reinforcers
    • Positive and Negative Reinforcement
    • The Premack Principle
  3. Information Processing
    • Information Processing Theory
    • A Model of Information Processing
    • Perception
    • Gestalt Psychology
    • Attention
    • Short-Term Memory
    • Long-Term Memory
    • Division of Long-Term Memory
  4. Memory Retention & Loss
    • Remembering and Forgetting
    • Interference
    • Inhibition and Facilitation
    • Primacy and Recency
    • Learning Strategies
  5. Individual Needs
    • Effective Instruction
    • The QAIT Model
    • Quality of Instruction
    • Appropriate Levels of Instruction
    • Incentive;Time
    • Between-Class Ability Grouping
    • Within Class Ability Grouping
    • Effective Use of Ability Groups
    • Mastery Learning
    • Outcomes-Based Education
    • Individualised Instruction
  6. Constructivist Learning
    • What is the Constructivist View
    • Top Down or Bottom Up Processing
    • Generative Learning
    • Discovery Learning
    • Reception Learning
    • Activating Prior Knowledge
  7. Motivation
    • Intrinsic Motivation
    • Extrinsic Motivation
    • Factors Affecting Motivation
    • Motivational Theories
    • Behavioural Learning Theory
    • Human Needs Theory; Dissonance Theory
    • Cognitive Dissonance Theory
    • Personality Theory
    • Attribution Theory Expectancy Theory;
    • Improving Motivation
    • Nurturing Interest/Curiosity
    • Providing Incentive to Learn

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss theories of development and learning.
  • Explain behavioural theories of learning
  • Describe how Information Processing Model Works
  • Describe processes involved in memory loss and retention
  • Describe different methods of effective instruction to cater for individual needs.
  • Explain the relevance of constructivist learning in education
  • Differentiate definitions of motivation and the application of motivation to learning


   - Long term learning is valuable and effective!

   - Short term learning is of questionable value.

Long term learning involves repetition, reinforcement and revisiting what you are learning in different contexts at different times. Each new encounter with the facts will strengthen your memory and broaden your capacity to apply those facts.

When education is fast tracked; it may be possible to pass exams; but there is usually at a massive trade off. For any learning to be sustained; it needs to be reinforced over a period of time. Through repetition; what you learn gets remembered both consciously and subconsciously; and the learning can be drawn on to be used again and again years afterwards.

Memorizing something so that it can be regurgitated in an exam, can help you pass an exam; but you may not understand the subject in depth; and what you learn may be lost soon afterwards.  This type of learning is called "rote" and is defined as follows. 


  • DON'T CHOOSE SHORT TERM LEARNING! Education is not just about temporarily absorbing facts then regurgitating them during an exam, only to forget them months later. It is about changing the way you think. ACS is NOT assessment based. Our courses are structured to teach you how to improve your thought processes, which you will apply over a lifetime, not just a semester.

  • With ACS, you are taught by people who are active in industry. If you want to learn Psychology, learn from someone who has sat in the Therapist's chair. If you want to learn writing, learn from a widely published author. To learn about learning; you can't do better than learning from an effective teacher. We have been both teaching educational psychology and applying it to our courses for decades.

  • Our courses are purposefully flexible, designed to incorporate a student's own experience. They are personalised, and that helps the learning to remain with the student long after the award has been received. eg. Agriculture students report on their findings at a farm; psychology students work through long misunderstood emotional situations in their lives. This is how a student actually EXPERIENCES the learning.

A Perspective on Social Cognition

Educational psychology is a relatively new discipline; but through the research and observations of many prominent psychologists over the last century our understanding of how people learn has expanded greatly; and it continues to expand.
This is an exciting area of study; and one where there is still a lot to be explored and discovered.

One of the early educational psychologists was Lev Vygotsky was born in the Russia in 1896. He was responsible for the social development theory of learning. He proposed that social interaction influences our cognitive development. Central to his theory is the belief that biological and cultural development does not occur in isolation. Vygotsky approached development differently to Piaget. Piaget developed that development had four main periods of cognitive growth – sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operations and formal operations. Piaget’s theory suggested that development had an end point, whereas Vygotsky believed that development is a process that is to be analyzed rather than a product to be obtained. He argued that the process begins at birth and continues until death, so it is too complex to be defined in stages.

Vygotsky argued that the development process is life long and is dependent on social interaction and social learning that leads to cognitive development. Vygotsky calls this the zone of proximal development. This is the distance between the actual development level shown by independent problem solving and the level of potential development shown by problem solving with adult guidance or with help from peers - so if a child can perform a task with help from an adult or peer that they could not achieve on their own. The zone of proximal development bridges the gap between what IS known and what CAN be known. Vygotsky argued that learning occurs in this zone.

Where Might This Course Lead?

Lots of people know things that other people would love to learn. Musicians know how to make music, many people can speak a second language, and others are skilled at a trade. Most people can read and write, some better than others. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

For those who understand how people learn; and couple that with knowledge or skill they already possess, there is an opportunity to teach. Graduates may use this course as a first step toward becoming a professional teacher, trainer or lecturer; but for others this may be a way to start something new or enhance something you are already doing in your life, for example, as a:

  • Music teacher
  • Life coach
  • Language teacher
  • Adult education teacher
  • Youth leader
  • Workplace trainer
  • Teacher's aide in a school
  • Rehabilitation worker
  • Tour guide
  • Product demonstrator or marketing officer

The course is also appropriate in other roles that require an understanding of how to learn.

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