Instructional Design relies heavily on educational psychology. That’s why it’s essential for eLearning professionals to have a good grasp of the basics of psychology and understand how the human mind thinks and learns. In this article, Christopher Pappas from eLearning Industry highlights 10 educational psychology terms that every Instructional Designer should know.
Whether you are working with an eLearning team or meeting a potential client, it’s always wise to have a few key psychology principles and terms locked away in your long-term memory banks. After all, educational psychology can help you to better understand learning behaviors and cognitive processes. It will also help you to design more powerful and practical eLearning courses for online learners. Here are 10 psychology terms you may want to add to your eLearning professional glossary, as well as 3 tips that can help you take full advantage of educational psychology in your next eLearning course design.
- Pedagogy: A discipline that centers on the theory and practice of educational pursuits, both online and in face-to-face learning environments. Pedagogy in eLearning involves studying the best methods to convey information to learners, as well as how online facilitators can teach their audiences. It covers a wide range of concepts, from more comprehensive educational endeavors, such as developing a curriculum, to projects with a smaller scope, like developing an effective scenario-based online training.
- Assimilation: Incorporating new ideas, concepts, or experiences into the existing mental schema. This may also involve tying new information to preexisting knowledge. There are a variety of factors that can influence the rate of assimilation, such as distractions, emotional states, an online learner’s characteristics, and learning motivation. For example, an online learner with a short attention span may not assimilate information as rapidly or effectively as an online learner who is completely focused.
- Constructivism: A cognitive development approach that relies on the active participation of the learner. In essence, learners are encouraged to construct their own understanding and perception of reality by drawing upon their personal experiences and belief systems.
- Intentionality: Refers to the act of doing something with dedication and purpose. For example, an employee may intentionally complete an online scenario because they know it will improve their work performance. Or an Instructional Designer might include interactive simulations in an eLearning course design in order to engage the audience. Every action and choice is geared towards achieving a specific outcome.
- Self-regulation: This is one of the primary components of self-guided eLearning courses. Self-regulation involves thinking and acting without relying on the thoughts or opinions of others. It typically requires a great deal of determination, mental focus and self-control, as the online learner must be able to overcome challenges and apply the knowledge they have learned in order to achieve their objectives.
- Theories of development: A term that encompasses two sub-categories which take two opposing viewpoints on human development:
- Continuous: suggests that humans develop gradually as they age. This is a slow process that does not have any distinct stages.
- Discontinuous: human development takes place over time as a sequence of events or stages. These stages are dictated by a variety of traits and other factors that are present at birth.
- Self-concept: An individual’s perception of their own talents, skills, and abilities. This also relates to values, belief systems, and strengths or weaknesses. Self-concept can be used in eLearning experiences to inspire online learners and drive them to succeed. For example, if a learner believes that they are good at mathematics, they will go above and beyond to improve upon their weaknesses so that they live up to their perception.
- Knowledge construction: Making online learners aware of how their knowledge absorption is influenced by their belief system, personal values, experience, and background. In essence, online learners can only truly benefit from the experience if they are able to apply their preexisting knowledge.
- Scaffolding: Support resources that are given to an online learner in order to help them achieve their goals. This might involve praise, dividing a task into more manageable steps, or offering tips that can help them overcome an obstacle. As the online learner progresses, resources are slowly removed. The primary goal is to give the online learner the guidance they need to eventually become self-confident and empowered. The result is that they will be able to participate in self-guided learning activities without any assistance.
- Multiple intelligences: A theory first introduced by Dr. Howard Gardner, which stipulates that there are eight distinct types of intelligence, including: logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, linguistic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligences. Instead of viewing intelligence as an all-encompassing ability, the theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that different learners can excel in different modalities.
3 educational psychology tips for every Instructional Designer
- Allow learners to go at their own pace.
As an Instructional Designer, you need to remember that all online learners absorb and assimilate information at different rates, and in different ways. This is why it’s often beneficial to create self-guided activities that allow them to go at their own pace.
- Use positive reinforcement to boost motivation.
Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to boost learner motivation. Offer learners personalized praise when they perform well, as well as constructive criticism for those who might be struggling. Immediate feedback is always best.
- Offer variety of eLearning activities.
There are number of different learning methods an Instructional Designer needs to consider. While one online learner might be more visual, another may absorb information more rapidly when it is in written form. Incorporate a wide range of learning activities to accommodate every member of your audience. You can determine their preferred learning need through surveys, eLearning assessments, and interviews.
Keep in mind that these psychology terms are just a small snippet from the educational psychology dictionary. So, why not take a few minutes every week to commit a few more to memory and research the ones that pique your curiosity. You might be surprised by what a difference a word makes, especially if you discover a new Ιnstructional Design theory or idea that you can integrate into your eLearning course design.
Now that you’ve added 10 new psychology terms to your ID vocabulary, consider reading some psychology books that every eLearning professional should have on their shelves. Read the article Top 10 Psychology Books That eLearning Professional Should Read to learn more about how the brain works and why learners absorb certain pieces of information more rapidly than others.