Course Exam—EDPY 200

Educational Psychology

EDPY 200 (Educational Psychology) is an introductory three-credit course primarily for pre-service teachers.  However, it is also designed to be useful to newer teachers and to students in professional programs in counselling and psychology.  There are no prerequisites for this course and EDPY 200 does have a challenge for credit option.

Educational Psychology is comprised of fourteen units, including three quizzes (weighing ten percent each), three reflective learning papers each worth twelve percent, and a final exam that weighs thirty-four percent.  To pass this course, students must complete each of the quizzes and reflective learning papers, and must achieve a minimum averaged grade of “D” (fifty percent) on the reflective learning papers.  A minimum grade of at least fifty percent on the final exam and an overall grade of fifty percent or higher is also required to pass the course.

Dr. Andrew Chiarella has been the course coordinator for EDPY 200 since it was created in 2010.  On top of EDPY 200, he also tutors and coordinates PSYC 289 (Psychology as a Natural Science), EDPY 310/PSYC 310 (Learning and Instruction, EDPY 480 (Learning with Technology.  If you would like to learn more about PSYC 289, read my Course Exam Article!

He joined Athabasca University in 2009 after completing his doctorate in Educational Psychology at McGill University.  Speaking about EDPY 200, he notes that “This course will soon be revised as a new edition of the text is due out this year.”

When asked to describe EDPY 200 to someone who has not yet taken it, he states “Educational Psychology 200 is a traditional first course in educational psychology for pre-service teachers (B.Ed.  students).  Sometimes students in other similar programs like Early Childhood Education (ECE) will also take such a course.  As an introductory course it shares much in common with introductory psychology courses, though the topics covered are more focused on the work in psychology that would be of interest to teachers, primarily in K-12 education.  This includes core areas in educational psychology like various perspectives on learning and instruction, of course.  Developmental psychology is also prominently covered: social, cognitive, and moral development.  As well, other aspects of human psychology that could be applicable or valuable in a school setting are covered.  For instance, concepts and theories from social psychology like stereotypes and prejudice are discussed: how teachers might teach in a more culturally relevant way is also described.  The course also covers individual differences and learners’ needs.  This includes a discussion of student disabilities and how schools in Canada can adopt an inclusive approach to education.”

When asked about the structure of the course, he states “The course involves completing three quizzes and three assignments which are called Reflective Learning Papers.  The quizzes are multiple choice and have thirty-five questions each (single attempt).  There is also a typical three-hour final exam which is multiple-choice and has ninety questions.”

He continues, “For the assignments, students select a topic – one from each of the three different chapters – and summarize the topic and then explain why it was interesting to them and how they could implement it in their classrooms.  As such they do this for nine (three topics in each of the three papers) of the fourteen chapters.  The papers are quite focused and concise and so are limited to five pages in length (about one and a half pages per topic).”

When asked what kind of work ethic students will need to have to be successful in this course, Dr. Chiarella responds that “Students will need to set aside several hours to read each chapter, to respond to the study guide questions, and to complete the workbook tasks.  There are essentially about preparing good notes and comprehending the material as well.  Students will also need to make note of topics that interest them that they would include in their papers.  Writing each paper will probably take a few hours for most students.”

For students who are currently enrolled in this course or who are looking to enroll in the future, he suggests the best way to handle it is to “Complete the quizzes and the assignments following the recommended study schedule provided.  Do not leave either to the end.  Students who are having difficulty understanding some of the concepts and theories in the course will often be unaware of it until they receive feedback.  This is especially the case for the papers where the tutor can respond to any misconceptions or misunderstandings revealed in the summary.”

Asked about what kind of students should take EDPY 200, Dr. Chiarella responds “As noted above, I would recommend this course to Bachelor of Education and Early Childhood Education students (who are students visiting AU, as we do not offer these programs).  It could also be of interest to any Athabasca University program student who is considering teaching, whether K-12, higher education, or elsewhere.  While this course is more focused on younger students (K-12), much of the content about learning and instruction would be applicable to other educational settings.”

He hopes that students will take away and develop “a better understanding of some of the ways that working in psychology can positively impact instruction decisions.  And I would hope that students gain an appreciation for the role of research in education, broadly speaking: how it allows us to examine student differences, as well as their commonalities and determine how instruction can be better designed to promote learning.”

The most challenging aspect of the course, according to Dr. Chiarella is “for some students, the emphasis on research findings is somewhat new.  The emphasis on this is probably somewhat different from other courses offered in education.  As well, some students are overconfident with respect to their judgement of their own learning (or understanding).  I suspect that this occurs in psychology courses when the ideas described – research findings and theories about them – just seem to “make sense” and even be obvious: although they are not but seem that way once you read about them.  In such cases, students can just feel that it makes sense and so it is easy and will be remembered well.  Students sometimes need to stop and remind themselves they are reading a textbook and that the ideas described were not that obvious to many at some time in the past.  They should ask themselves about the implications of the ideas being described and consider how studies could have turned out differently and consider how a subtly different situation may have changed the results.  Since different theories exist about learning they should consider how they differ in key ways.  For which different learning situations would these theories most readily apply, for instance?”

Whether EDPY 200 (Educational Psychology) is a course requirement for your degree or program, or if the topics above is of interest to you, this course will have you learning introductory psychology concepts, from a teacher’s perspective!

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