8 Educational Psychologists Every eLearning Pro Should Be Familiar With
Educational psychologists make it their life’s work to explore the human mind: how it absorbs and assimilates information, and why we are so thirsty for knowledge. These luminaires shed light on learning behaviors, habits, and the inner workings of the brain. As such, their research and theories are worth being noted, especially for eLearning professionals who want to create effective online courses that facilitate long-term knowledge retention.
1. Albert Bandura
Bandura is a noted psychologist who has made significant contributions to the field of education for decades. He is best known for this Social Learning Theory, which suggests that observation is a key component of the learning process. For example, a learner watches a task demo and then repeats the process. They are able to mimic the actions of the presenter in order to achieve the desired outcome.
2. Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner is a developmental psychologist who has penned numerous research papers and books, many of which involve his Multiple Intelligences Theory. This theory states that information process occurs in a variety of different ways. According to Gardner, there are eight primary intelligences: linguistic, logic/mathematical, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. There are also two additional intelligences that may be added to that list, which are pedagogical and existential.
3. Jerome Bruner
Bruner was an American psychologist who specialized in the field of human cognitive psychology. Bruner suggested that people have “generic coding systems” that allow them to analyze and reflect on data in order to arrive at “fruitful predictions” . He also developed the Three Modes of Representation, which are enactive, iconic, and symbolic. These modes relate the storing and processing of information at different ages. For example, humans are able to store symbols, like language, once they reach the age of 7.
4. Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a Swiss clinical psychologist who introduced the theory of cognitive development. This pertains to mental models and how children view the world from an educational standpoint. However, his work is still relevant for adult learning audiences, as it deals with mental schemas and information processing. For example, Piaget suggests that a process must occur in order to accumulate knowledge and build on preexisting concepts, such as assimilation or accommodation.
5. John Dewey
Dewey wore many hats: philosopher, reformer, intellectual, and psychologist are among them. He is one of the founding fathers of functional psychology, and is best known for his work in the fields of school and civil society reform. Dewey believed that teaching others was not just a profession, but a lifelong passion. He went on making suggestions on how teachers should interact with their students and what skills they must possess. He also stated that a constant thirst for knowledge was a prerequisite.
6. David Ausubel
Ausubel was a major contributor to the fields of educational psychology and cognitive science. He is best known for his work on “advance organizers,” which help to improve knowledge assimilation and retention. According to Ausubel, educators can present new information in a way that makes it easier for the learner to process it. In order for this to occur, the learner must be able to understand the information and the “organizer” must convey the relation between the concepts. As a result, learners have the power to connect new information to pre-existing knowledge.
7. Benjamin Bloom
Benjamin Bloom was an educational psychologist who specialized in educational objectives and the Mastery Learning theory. He suggested that the educational and home setting directly impacted the learner’s ability to fulfill their potential. He also developed a taxonomy of educational objectives that involved three domains: affective, psychomotor, and cognitive. This taxonomy is based on prerequisite knowledge and skills. For example, learners must have a solid knowledge base and the necessary skill sets in order to master more complex ideas related to the topic.
8. Robert M. Gagné
Robert Gagné was an educational psychologist who is well-known for the “Conditions of Learning”. Gagné suggested that there are five primary categories of learning, which include: intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills, verbal information, and overall attitude. Furthermore, certain conditions must be present for each type of learning to occur.
These individuals left their mark on the world of educational psychology and gave us a window into the human mind. They offered us the ability to understand our learners on a more profound level, so that we can provide them with effective eLearning experiences. Even though some of them are no longer with us, their research still influences the realm of eLearning.
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Are you interested in finding out more about the psychology of learning? Read the article Top 10 Psychology Books That eLearning Professional Should Read to find out which are the 10 psychology books that every eLearning professional should have on their shelves.
- Bruner, J. S. (1957). Going beyond the information given. New York: Norton.
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The breadth and diversity of psychology can be seen by looking at some of its best-known thinkers. While each theorist may have been part of an overriding school of thought, each brought a unique perspective to the field of psychology.
The list below provides a snapshot of the careers of 10 leading psychologists and their most important contributions to the field. Developed using the rigorously generated study of “The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century” as a guide, this list is by no means exhaustive. Instead, the purpose of this list is to offer a glimpse into some of the major theoretical outlooks that have influenced not only psychology but also the larger culture.
Lawrence Kohlberg, (born October 25, 1927, Bronxville, New York, U.S.—died January 17, 1987, Boston, Massachusetts), American psychologist and educator known for his theory of moral development.
Kohlberg was the youngest of four children of Alfred Kohlberg, a successful silk merchant of Jewish ancestry, and Charlotte Albrecht Kohlberg, a Protestant and a skilled amateur chemist. When the couple divorced in 1932 after 11 years of marriage, each of the children was required by a court order to choose which parent he or she would live with. The two younger children chose their father and the older ones chose their mother.
Kohlberg graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1945. After serving in the U.S. merchant marine, he worked on a ship that had been hired by Haganah, the Zionist military organization, to smuggle Jewish war refugees into Palestine, past the British blockade. The ship was intercepted, however, and Kohlberg was imprisoned in a British internment camp in Cyprus. Returning to the U.S. in 1948, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he completed a B.A. in psychology in one year and a Ph.D. in psychology in 1958. He subsequently held teaching positions at various institutions before settling at Harvard University in 1968.
While pursuing his doctoral degree, Kohlberg became interested in Jean Piaget’s work on the moral development of children. According to Piaget, children naturally progress from a form of moral reasoning based on the consequences of an act (e.g., punishment) to one that takes the actor’s intentions into account. Kohlberg interviewed 72 lower- and middle-class white boys, presenting each with a moral dilemma: whether it would be permissible for a poor man to steal medicine for his dying wife. The children’s responses became the basis of his six-stage theory of moral development.
In stages 1 and 2, which he called preconventional, the child conceives of right acts as those that enable him to avoid punishment (stage 1) or to make a good or fair deal (stage 2). In the conventional stages, 3 and 4, right acts are those that gain the approval of others (stage 3) or that consist of doing one’s duty or following society’s rules (stage 4). Finally, in the postconventional stages, 5 and 6, the child is guided by respect for laws and moral rules (stage 5)—though he recognizes them as somewhat arbitrary and not always valid—or by abstract ethical principles such as justice and equality (stage 6). According to Kohlberg, stage 6 is only rarely achieved.
Kohlberg’s theory was highly influential, especially in psychology and education. No other account had provided such a detailed explanation of children’s moral development. Moreover, during a time when most psychologists were behaviorists, Kohlberg’s work broke new ground by concentrating on cognitive phenomena. His theory also received much criticism, however, most notably from the American psychologist Carol Gilligan, who argued that it ignored the distinct patterns of moral development exhibited by girls.
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In 1971, while doing research in Belize, Kohlberg reportedly contracted a parasitic infection that caused him to be physically ill and depressed through much of the rest of his life. In 1987, he committed suicide.
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