Educational Psychology

Understand how and why people learn; and how to apply that understanding to bring about changes in people of all ages. Anyone helping others learn, formally or informally, directly or indirectly can benefit from this course.

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

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Understanding How People Learn is the Key to Better Teaching

Study how and why people learn, and how to apply that learning to bring about changes in people of all ages. This course will benefit a wide range of people, from parents (understanding of how their children develop) to teachers/trainers and welfare workers or leisure professionals (eg. youth leaders).

Comment from one of our Educational Psychology students: 
"I found the course interesting, challenging, and rewarding" J. Beer

Learning is Complicated!

Different people learn in different ways. Some people learn by processing information, others have a preoccupation with collecting information and remembering it, without really thinking about it much at all. Differences such as these (and other things) are inherent and need to be understood so that an education program can cater appropriately to different types of learners.

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.

Some People Never Learn?

      ....Find out why.

Who is this Course For?

This course has relevance to many areas of work and life. It is applicable to any situation where people of any age are involved in learning, both in our private and professional lives; for example:
  • Anyone dealing with the development of children; as a teacher, parent, club leader (eg. Scouts or guides) or even a Sunday school teacher
  • Play leader in an after school or holiday program
  • Dance or music teacher; swimming teacher
  • Sports coach (amateur/voluntary or professional)
  • Workplace supervisor, training officer or anyone who needs to educate staff to do a better job at work.

It is also relevant for those wishing to pursue research or work as an educational psychologist.

This course develops your understanding of the theory and practice of educational psychology; helping you to solve problems you confront when helping others to learn. It gives you a foundation to be more effective in any situation where you need to improve learning outcomes.

Poor Learning Increases Risks in Later Life

If learning as a toddler and pre-schooler is flawed, the foundation is flawed, and this can make learning at school more difficult. Even with a perfect pre-school learning experience; things can still happen in primary school, secondary school or university, which disturbs the foundation that is needed for the years that follow. 
  • If a child fails to grasp the fundamentals of mathematics in one year, this will make maths far more difficult in the following year, and if not corrected, the problem will simply compound year after year
  • If a perfect student faces a crisis in secondary school or early university (e.g. Death of a relative, health problem, etc.); this can be distracting, and break the foundation they are building for the following year. If not corrected, the problem can compound, and their capacity to learn will rapidly diminish over a relatively short period. A break from education for any reason can mean the child also misses essential learning that will help in the future and does not build upon existing learning.
The way in which a child responds to formal learning can be influenced significantly by both their genetics and also their upbringing prior to starting school (nature and nurture). There is a lot of debate within psychology as to whether a child’s nature or nurture is more important. Our nature is our genetics and inheritance. Nurture is how we are brought up, how we are influenced by our parents, siblings, extended family, teachers, friends and the wider community. . Within psychology, it is often agreed that most behavioural traits are a result of an interaction between nature and nurture. It is hard to determine the amount of influence of nature and nurture. For example, a child has very intelligent parents and the parents ensure the child is intellectually stimulated with appropriate toys, books and so on. The child is intelligent. Is this due to the genetic inheritance from the intelligent parents or because the child is stimulated intellectually? OR is it a mixture of nature and nurture.
“Research shows about half our nature or personality, which is what drives us. How we learn and what we feel about learning is largely inherited. That leaves that choice that about half that we can have a direct influence on, either to mould and create circumstances and environments for our children and also to mould and create ideal learning situations for ourselves.
As a child reaches adolescence, the way in which they respond to formal learning can also be influenced by other factors, such as their existing intellectual ability, their capacity to read and write, their listening skills, their educational skills, such as note taking, paying attention, being on time etc., and their powers of comprehension and so on. But it can also be influenced by other factors, such as the involvement of their parents in their education, parental encouragement, their peer group culture etc. For example, if a child belongs to a peer group where it is not considered “cool” to study, then the adolescent may be less inclined to study that an adolescent who is friends with other children who also study. If the child enjoys learning or finds a subject interesting, they are more likely to pay attention and want to learn than if they find a subject boring or hard. The teacher can also influence how a child learns. If the child does not like the teacher or the teacher does not like the child, then it can influence how the child responds to the learning situation.
The way in which an adult learns is also affected by the factors above, interesting, their nature and nurture, how they pay attention, and so on, but other factors also come into play with adults, such as – 
  • Their previous learning experiences
  • Whether they are forced to study and do not wish to
  • If they are busy in other areas of their life and the learning puts additional pressure on them
  • Whether they have time to study
  • Whether they are committed to study
  • If they enjoy what they are studying
  • If they are interested in what they are studying
  • Whether they receive support from other members of their family and friends  ...And so on....

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Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head fo
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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