Meaning of Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology as an organized field of study is not old. As an independent discipline, psychology acquired separate status very recently. Formally, psychology was studied as a sub-branch of philosophy.

Therefore, its first definition from the Greek words: psyche (soul) and Logos (science) was given by the philosophers. This psychology was defined then as ”the science of soul”.

This definition was derived from the argument put forward by a Greek philosopher – Democritus – who claimed that everything is composed of indivisible unitary materials known as Atoms. Thus, people are constituted of body atoms and soul atoms. Hence, psychology as a sub-branch of philosophy was intended to study the soul of the people.

As time progressed, some contemporary philosophers questioned the nature of soul – how can soul be objectively defined, therefore, another definition was evolved for psychology with Descartes who claimed that an individual is made up of body and mind, psychology took another meaning: The science of mind.

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This definition of psychology remained in vogue for a long time. However, the same question resurfaced again – How can mind be psychology was defined as the science of consciousness on the basis that human beings are conscious of their external environment thence.

This definition was later on rejected on the ground that consciousness is a negligible portion of an individual’s total personality. Furthermore, contemporary philosophers claimed that consciousness cannot be objectively studied by absorbing an individual’s activities.

A great history was made in 19th and 20th centuries concerning the development of psychology as an independent discipline. With the coming to light of German and American philosopher psychologist, psychology was detached from philosophy and given a new definition and system of approach.

Hence, psychology was defined as a ”science of behavior” which can be observed, verified, measured and studied in a systematic manner – in fact, in a scientific way.

Psychology thus, can be simply defined as a study of individuals behavior which consist of overt actions that are as a result of his response to stimuli.

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Branches of Psychology

Psychology is sub-divided in various branches:

  • General psychology
  • Human psychology
  • Animal psychology
  • Genetic psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Experimental psychology
  • Physiological psychology
  • Industrial psychology
  • Military psychology

Educational Psychology and its Scope

This is a branch of psychology, which deals with the application of psychological theories(finding) into the field of education.

The scope of educational psychology includes the followings:

  1. Learners: His developmental characteristics, individual differences, intelligence, personality and mental health.
  2. Learning process: Theories of learning, motivation of learning, factors affecting learning; diagnosis of learning problems, etc.
  3. Evaluation: Evaluation of learning outcomes, and are of statistical methods in conducting research related to practice and theory of education.

Psychology and its Relation to Educational

The contribution of psychology to education can be viewed from two facets

Contribution to Theory of Education

This include the followings:

  • Aid teachers in understanding the developmental characteristics of learners so as to effectively impact instruction and mould the behaviour of learners.
  • Aid teachers to understand the nature of the learners process.
  • Assist teachers to provide for individual differences within learners.
  • Aid teachers to know effective methods of teaching.

Contribution to practice of Education

This include the following:

  • Curriculum planning.
  • Classroom management.
  • Using teaching aids/materials
  • Time- tabling
  • Schools administration.


The importance of psychology to the theory and practice of education can not be over emphasized. Psychology offers to education many principles and conditions that teachers need to study critically and objectively so as to facilitate classroom learning.

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