Over the years Psychology has made great contributions to education. This time the American Psychological Association (APA) groups the psychological principles specialized in different areas. Specifically within education, he has made a document that will be very useful for teachers and professors. With it they will be able to help students obtain a better and effective learning.

These 20 psychological principles are grouped into 5 distinct areas. Then they are explained individually arguing their importance. In the same way, the different applications of each one are established. Finally, in these psychological principles different useful materials are indicated to deepen the reading.

Would you like to know these psychological principles?

1. Cognitive Area: Psychological Principles to know how students think

  • Principle 1: “The beliefs or perceptions students have about their intelligence and ability affect their learning and cognitive functioning.”

Students who consider intelligence as a malleable entity tend to focus on their goals despite obstacles. In addition, these students tend to get better results compared to those who see intelligence as something they cannot modify.

  • Principle 2: “What students already know affects their learning.”

Thanks to the social interaction with their environment, students have different knowledge from which they cannot detach when facing their learning process. In this way, they tend to assimilate new knowledge according to their previous experiences and, therefore, conditioning them.

  • Principle 3: “Students’ cognitive development and learning is not limited by the general stages of development.”

Recent research allowed us to discard this theory of the phase, which indicated the need to “dose” in some way the knowledge transmitted to students according to the different stages of their cognitive development.

  • Principle 4: “Learning is context-based, so the generalization of learning to new contexts is not done spontaneously, but must be facilitated.”

For learning to be more robust, it is essential to extend it to new contexts instead of limiting itself to those already known.

  • Principle 5: “The acquisition of knowledge and skills in the long term depends largely on practice.”

The knowledge that is fixed are those that pass into the long-term memory, therefore, to fix a new skill or knowledge we must practice it or repeat it for a certain time, otherwise it is very likely that we will forget it. In addition, it is the knowledge that is fixed that has a greater possibility of evolving and becoming more complex.

  • Principle 6: “Clear, explanatory and timely feedback to students is important for learning.”

Generic and non-specific returns do not favor the correct learning of students, on the contrary, they harm

  • Principle 7: “Student self-regulation aids learning, and self-regulation skills can be taught.”

Techniques linked to self-control, correct planning and division of tasks, as well as different mnemonic techniques contribute to more effective learning if taught and applied correctly.

  • Principle 8: “Student creativity can be encouraged.”

In fact, it should be encouraged. Creativity is a fundamental skill not only in the educational field but also for solving problems of daily life, therefore, educators must convey its importance and encourage it.

2. Motivational Area: What motivates students?

  • Principle 9: “Students tend to enjoy learning and have better outcomes when their motivation is more intrinsic than extrinsic.”

The motivation and involvement with the activities facilitate learning and generate the feeling of confidence in the student.

  • Principle 10: “Students persist in the face of challenging tasks and process information more deeply when they adopt mastery goals rather than performance goals.”

Mastery goals are those that are geared towards the acquisition or improvement of skills.

  • Principle 11: “Teachers’ expectations of their students affect their students’ opportunities to learn, their motivation, and their learning outcomes.”

This happens because sometimes students tend to accept the few expectations that teachers have about them and adapt to them.

  • Principle 12: “Short-term (proximal), specific and challenging objectives are more motivating than long-term (distal), general and challenging objectives.”

As we set goals, we are somewhat stimulating our performance, so if the objectives are close our performance will increase in the same way as our efficiency.

3. Social and Emotional Area: Why are social context, interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being important for student learning?

  • Principle 13: “Learning is situated within multiple social contexts.”

Just like the individual, who is a social being, so are teachers. In this regard, psychological advice is based on the fact that teachers must be able to assess the different knowledge generated in these contexts.

  • Principle 14: “Interpersonal relationships and communication are fundamental both for the teaching-learning process and for the social and emotional development of students.”

In turn, the quality of interpersonal relationships will determine the type of bond with peers and the teacher. The latter have a better link demonstrate greater effectiveness in understanding what has been learned.

  • Principle 15: “Emotional well-being influences educational performance, learning and development.”

As human beings, students cannot let go of their emotional state when entering the classroom. Teachers must be able to understand and manage it to ensure a better learning experience.

4. Learning Context Area: Psychological Principles for Managing the Classroom Optimally

  • Principle 16: “Students can learn what the expectations of social interaction and classroom behavior are through effective training and demonstrated behavioral principles.”

The teacher must be responsible for transmitting them at the beginning of the course and reinforcing them throughout it.

  • Principle 17: “Effective classroom management is based on (a) set and convey high expectations, (b) consistently foster positive relationships and (c) provide a high level of support to students.”

All these factors contribute to generating an adequate climate in the classroom and thus favor the learning experience.

5. Assessment Area: How to assess student progress?

  • Principle 18: “Both formative and summative assessment are important and useful, but they must be applied and interpreted differently.”

The former are used to guide work in the classroom directly. The second for judgments related to the student’s progress.

  • Principle 19: “The best way to assess students’ skills, knowledge and abilities is through procedures based on psychology and well-defined standards of quality and impartiality.”

Although the evaluation methods are modified over time, it is essential that they are based on impartiality to guarantee students the treatment they deserve.

  • Principle 20: “In order to properly assess evaluation data, it is necessary to interpret them in a clear, appropriate and impartial manner.”

In line with the above principle, impartiality will ensure trust and respect on the part of students, which as mentioned in previous principles are essential for more effective learning.

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Psychological principles to improve student learning

Psychological principles to improve student learning

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