Educational psychology serves as a foundation discipline for education. It acts as a guideline as well as a parameter to educational development as well as the practice of the educational process. It offers important ideas about learning and about the influences that families, business, industry and the community have on learning this way it can shed light on the dynamics that are involved in the learning process, not just the actual learning that is taking place. Within Psychology itself as a discipline, there is the Educational Psychology that majorly focuses on the study of the learner, learning and teaching. It attempts to find out ways in which the learner can most effectively be brought into fruitful interaction with the material to be learned, the learning situation and the teacher who provides the learning opportunity (Woolfolk, et. al., 2006). Therefore, Psychology in its respect is the most fundamental aspect that importantly contributes in a major way to the learning processes in schools as well as curriculum development.
Educational Psychology also enables the teacher to know the learner. The child or the learner being the key factor in the teaching-learning process, it is fundamental that the teacher or the instructor understand what the learner is going through so as to be able to know them. Educational psychology is crucial to enabling the teacher to know the attitudes, interests, aptitudes and any other capacities and abilities that could either be acquired by the learner (Love, 2009). Educational psychology further offers the ability and the opportunity to the teacher to identify the stage of development of the student as is linked with their social, emotional, intellectual, physical and artistic needs. Knowing the level of aspiration for every learner is also crucial for the teacher as well as identifying their conscious and unconscious behavior so as to be able to understand the motivations and behavior of the student (Woolfolk, et. al., 2006). The teacher through the use of the educational psychology knowledge is further able to realize the desires of the learner coupled with the other aspects of their mental health crucial for the learning process (Love, 2009). It is the awareness of the mental health and other areas of the learner that is imperative at assisting the teacher in providing the ideal guidance and help to the learner. It is made possible by the positive attitude formed towards the learner which is a fundamental step in creating a healthy relationship between the child and the teacher that significantly boosts the learning process (Love, 2009).
Curriculum development is a critical step for any educational system to be operational. The knowledge that Psychology provides also forms the backbone of the procedure of Curriculum Construction (Woolfolk, et. al., 2006). The Curriculum is an essential part of the teaching-learning process and therefore should always be accorded a lot of focus. The Curriculum should be child-centered and fulfill the motives and psychological needs of the individual because child capacities differ from stage to stage. Educational psychology helps the curriculum developers as well as the teachers to make a sound and balanced curriculum for the children all in unison with their cognitive, physical as well as emotional wellbeing.
Part of the activities involved in Psychology as a discipline is research. Educational psychologists conduct research to improve the behavior of human beings in the educational situation. Therefore, it significantly helps in developing tools and devices to measure the performance and suggest counteractive measures thus leading to a more enhanced, inclusive and productive educational process.
Educational Psychology helps in professional growth, changing the attitude and innovative thinking (Woolfolk, et. al., 2006). Inside the classroom, educational psychology has enabled the teachers to achieve proper training of pupils by achieving and directing class programs on human lives and also their reality. Moreover, the innovations by the educational psychologists in the field of education may result in the professional growth of the teacher, bring about a change of attitude among students and parents and also result in individuals being more innovative and critical in their thinking (Woolfolk, et. al., 2006). It helps in developing a more individual-oriented system.
Psychology has over the years brought about a more concise and informed understanding of the assessment strategies. Educational psychologists have been instrumental in providing techniques that teachers can use to determine how successful students have been in attaining new knowledge and skills. Today, perhaps more than ever, assessing students' knowledge and skills is a central issue in schools (Thorndike, 1912). From a teacher's perspective, the two most relevant functions of assessment are: to identify students who need educational or psychological assistance, as well as to provide information to teachers that will help them develop instructional programs to facilitate all students' functioning.
Psychology also contributes to education through the theories it presents. These approaches help to understand the characteristics of learners in childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. These are stages that people pass through as they mature and as they change regarding mental abilities, social roles, moral reasoning and beliefs about the nature of knowledge (Barry, 2012).
Psychology makes ideas of educational aims clearer. Different people have different perspectives on the goal of education. Education is mainly viewed as a culture, discipline, efficiency, happiness, utility, knowledge, skills, and perfection of all one's powers, development, one's statements and probably one's thoughts (Thorndike, 1912). Most people do not agree on either of the views, and therefore, psychology helps by requiring us to put our notions of the aims of education into terms of the exact changes that education is to make, and by describing for us the changes which do occur in human beings.
Psychology helps in understanding the means of education (Thorndike, 1912). It is because the intellects and characters of any one's parents, teachers and friends are paramount means of educating them. Also, the influence of any other ways, such as books, maps or apparatus, cannot be usefully studied apart from the human nature which they are to act upon (Thorndike, 1912).
Psychology enlarges and refines the aim of education (Barry, 2012). Certain features of human nature may be thought to be unimportant or even entirely valueless because of ignorance of psychology. It has therefore been considered necessary to make physical health an important aim of education. Psychology shares with anatomy, physiology, sociology, anthropology, history and the other sciences that concern changes in man's bodily or mental nature the work of providing thinkers and workers in the field of education with knowledge of the material with which they work (Barry, 2012). Similar to the way that science and art of agriculture depend on chemistry and botany, so does the art of education depend on physiology and psychology.
Another contribution of psychology in education is that it helps teachers to understand the individual differences of students (Love, 2009). Pupils differ in their likes and dislikes as well as in their potentialities. Therefore, psychology tells the teacher about the individual differences among the students in the class and also how to handle the disparities between them (Love, 2009).
Psychology also helps teachers to understand the Influence of heredity and environment on the child. Educational psychology helps the teacher to know that the child is a product of both the environment and heredity. They are the two sides of a coin (Thorndike, 1912). Both play a prominent part in the all-round development of the child. While the child is born with some innate qualities, environment helps them to be modified according to the requirements of the society.
Another contribution of psychology is to provide guidance and counseling. Today guidance to a child at every stage of life is needed because their learning styles, interests and even mental abilities, differ from one learner to the other. The course of study the child ought to undertake in future is a crucial question that can be answered well if the teacher knows the psychology of the children.
Educational psychology also helps to inculcate positive and creative discipline. The traditional slogan taken up by the teachers was “spare the rod and spoil the child" leading to the use of flogging as the principal means of instilling discipline in a child (Barry, 2012). As a result, the method proved very ineffective in most cases and also led to causing physical and psychological harm to others. However, with the increased research and understanding of educational psychology, the flogging method that was repressive was replaced with a more efficient preventive system. In the contemporary society, teachers adopt a cooperative and scientific approach to modifying the behavior of the students. Emphasis is laid on self-discipline through creative and constructive activities (Barry, 2012).
Psychology has also helped to understand the mental health of the child. Educational Psychology helps the teacher to know the factors responsible for mental ill-health and maladjustment of a student and to suggest improvement thereof. Besides this, it also provides the teacher with the necessary insight to improve his mental status to cope up with the situation (Thorndike, 1912).
In conclusion, educational psychology is the principal pillar upon which the modern education system that is enjoying more success is laid upon, ensuring the physical, social and psychological growth of the learners. The use of psychological principles in education has also made work easier for the teachers and other stakeholders involved in the educational sector. There has been an increased and adoption of better methods of instilling discipline, continued support to the learners to achieve their full potential and also created a better understanding of the physical, social and psychological changes a learner may be experiencing. It is the understanding that is imperative to ensuring that the student-teacher relationship remains in good shape and also ensuring productivity of the individual. It has helped teachers, headmasters, administrators, inspectors, guidance and counseling workers, social workers to significantly develop an impartial and sympathetic attitude towards children. Therefore, educational psychology is the important cornerstone in the education system at ensuring that learners are developed in a holistic way ensuring that their physical, psychological, emotional and social needs are met.