Educational Psychology Essay Questions

PSYC 3120: Psychoeducational Aspects of Early Childhood Education
Course Objectives

Last Modified: December 2004

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There are Power Point Presentations available for some of the objectives. If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer, simply click on the term "Power Point Presentation." If you are using Netscape Navigator (4.2 or before), right click on the "PPT Presentation" and save the file to your harddrive. If you do not already have the Power Point program, you can download the PowerPoint 97 Viewer.] Guidelines for writing an essay are provided at the end of the objectives.

Page numbers refer to Eggen & Kauchak (2004)

Forward to: Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4Unit 5Unit 6Unit 7Unit 8


1.Define and differentiate the following terms: (2-12)  [PPT Presentation]

    a. Psychology
    b. Education
    c. Schooling
    d. Educational Psychology
    e. Teaching
    f. Learning

2. Define and contrast descriptive, correlational and experimental studies, giving examples of how each of these have be used in educational psychology. Define and contrast the four basic methods used to collect data in educational psychology (systematic observation, participant observation, paper/pencil, and clinical), giving an example of how each has been used in the study of important variables in educational psychology. In your discussion, define and differentiate the following terms: fact, concept, principle, hypothesis, theory, and law. (Study Guide) (12-31)  [PPT Presentation]


Name and define the stages of mastery an individual is likely to pass through on the way to becoming an expert professional educator. Discuss the major influences and give examples of appropriate activities or goals for each stage. Define and differentiate critical thinking and self-regulated learning as they apply to classroom teachers. [Trotter, 1986] [PPT Presentation]

4. Draw and discuss the significant aspects of the model of the teaching/learning process presented in class (or discussed in one of the required readings), giving specific examples of the types of variables considered in educational psychology. Describe relationships among variables you discuss.[Cruickshank, 1985] [PPT Presentation #1] [PPT Presentation # 2] [PPT Presentation # 3]

UNIT #2Return to top

1. Define and contrast the three types of behavioral learning theories, (contiguity, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning) giving examples of how each can be used in the classroom. (194-213) [PPT Presentation]

2. Compare and contrast the four methods used to modify behavior in operant conditioning (positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and response cost), giving original examples of how each can be used in the classroom. Include in your answer a discussion of the four schedules of reinforcement, describing the likely response pattern associated with each. Give original examples of how each can be used in the classroom. (200-213) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation] [PPT Presentation - Behavior Modification]

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1. Define cognition and differentiate among the stage, levels-of-processing, parallel distributed processing, and connectionist models of information processing. Draw and describe a model of the stage approach to information processing to learning, giving original examples as to how you as teacher could use this theory to structure the learning process to help students learn better. (Be sure to define the following terms: rote rehearsal, elaborative rehearsal, declarative, procedural, and imagery organizations of knowledge.) (234-276) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation -- Overview] [PPT Presentation -- Information Processing] [PPT Presentation -- Stage Model] [PPT Presentation --Using the Theory]

2. Name and define the six levels in Bloom's Taxonomy for the Cognitive Domain. Describe how each level fits with the cognitive theory of learning.  (464-467) [PPT Presentation--Domains]

3. Discuss Piaget's theory of cognitive development, giving examples of how this theory could impact teachers' behavior.(Be sure and discuss both the process and stage aspects of this theory). Compare and contrast this with Vygotsky's views. How do these theories relate to a constructivistic view of learning? (32-63; 279-298) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation] [PPT Presentation--Stages] [PPT Presentation--Constructivism]

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1. Discuss the process of instructional planning and describe why it is an important teacher behavior. Compare and contrast goals and objectives. Rewrite poorly written instructional objectives in a behavioral objective format  according to the standards set forth by Mager. Write a general/specific instructional objective according to the style developed by Gronlund that addresses all six levels of Bloom's taxonomy of the cognitive domain..(460-472) [PPT Presentation--Planning] [PPT Presentation--Objectives] [Video--Aligning Standards]

2. Describe why classroom instruction is an important teacher behavior. Name and define the specific events of instruction that would be included in your model of direct instruction and give an example of a teacher behavior and a student behavior for each event. (472-490) (Study guide) [McCarthy, 1985; Rosenshine, 1995]  [PPT Presentation--Overview] [PPT Presentation--Direct Instruction]

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1. Compare and contrast the constructivistic learning approach and a direct or explicit teaching approach, giving specific examples of how these should be considered when teachers design classroom activities. (32-63; 279-298; 472-490) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation--Constructivism][PPT--Constructivism in Spanish] [Video--Cooperative Learning]

2. Describe the importance of classroom management and its impact on academic learning time. Name and describe three general categories of the events of classroom management from a behavioral perspective, giving examples of specific teacher activities for each category. (424-459) (Study Guide) [Randolph & Evertson, 1994] [PPT Presentation] [Video-- Classroom Mangement]

3.Using the research on the first-week management behavior of effective classroom teachers, state what you would do during your first week as a new teacher and why you would do that. Discuss the difference between focusing on increasing on-task behavior or decreasing off-task behavior (Give specific, original examples, not just generalities.). [PPT Presentation]

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1.   Determining whether learning occurs in the classroom is a vital task for a classroom teacher. Assessment, measurement, and evaluation are important terms associated with this task.  Define each term, describe why each is of value in the learning process, and give an example of how you would use each in the classroom.

As you collect data you must be concerned about timing (formative vs. summative) and standards for judging quality (criterion- vs. norm-referenced). You must also make decisions about the type of questions you use on examinations (selection vs. supply).  Additionally, whenever you collect data and make decisions about learning, you must be concerned with the issues of reliability and validity. Describe how each of these can be used in the process of evaluating learning and assigning grades? (492-539; 549-550) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation]

2. Compare and contrast evaluation of ability or aptitude versus achievement. Define and differentiate the following terms, stating the advantages and disadvantages of each:

a. mean, median, mode, and standard deviation;
b. raw scores, percentile rank scores, grade-equivalent scores, and standard scores.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of standardized evaluations? (540-568) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation]

3. Discuss how the Georgia Teacher Observation Instrument GTOI would measure the teacher behaviors of planning, instruction and managment. [PPT Presentation]

UNIT #7Return to top

1. Name and discuss the principles and objectives of the humanistic approach to learning and describe how it might influence teaching. [DeCarvalho, 1991] [PPT Presentation]

2. Name and describe Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. Note behaviors associated with each stage and the implications of the theory for classroom practice. Evaluate the theory--that is, what evidence exists for its validation or what evidence would lead you to reject it? (89-93) (Study Guide) [PPT Presentation]

3. Define the terms self-concept and self-esteem and discuss how these might influence learning.  (93-100) (Study Guide)[PPT Presentation]

4. Describe the observational learning and social cognitive theories of learning. How do these reflect operant conditioning and information processing theories? (Study Guide) (214-233) [Hoy, 1998] [PPT Presentation]

5. Define conation, describe how it works and how it might develop. How does goal-setting impact conation and learning? How does conation relate to self-regulation and self-control? What can educators do to help students develop conation? (221-223; 390-393) [PPT Presentation]


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1. Define character and describe why it may be an important issue for today's educators. Describe three different approaches to impacting character development and relate these to theories and issues discussed in the course. Include a discussion of Kohlberg's stages of moral development and compare Kohlberg's theory to Gilligan's theory of female moral development.  (101-112) [Huitt & Vessels, 2003] (Study Guide)[PPT Presentation]

2. Define service learning and describe some of its major components. Describe some of the major benefits stated by its proponents. Evaluate the approach in terms of recent research. [PPT Presentation]

3. Name and discuss at least 5 principles of learning that most learning theorists agree on, regardless of their theoretical orientation. Give specific examples of how these principles could be used in the classroom. [PPT Presentation]

Required reading:

  • Cruickshank, D. (1985, Winter). Profile of an effective teacher. Educational Horizons, 90-92.
  • DeCarvalho, R. (1991). The humanistic paradigm in education. The Humanistic Psychologist, 19(1), 88-104. 
  • Hoy, W. (1998). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control (Book Review). Educational Administration Quarterly, 34(1), 153-158.
  • Huitt, W., & Vessels, G. (2002). Character education. In J. Guthrie (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of education (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.
  • McCarthy, B. (1985, April). What 4MAT training teaches us about staff development. Educational Leadership, 42(7), 61-68.
  • Randolph, C., & Evertson, C. (1994, Spring). Images of management for learner-centered classrooms. Action in Teacher Education, 55-64.
  • Rosenshine, B. (1995). Advances in research on instruction. The Journal of Educational Research, 88(5), 262-268.
  • Trotter, R. (1986). The mystery of mastery. Psychology Today, 20(7), 32-38.

In general, when you write an answer to an essay question you should follow the format you learned in Freshman English:

  • General
    1. Use complete sentences
    2. Use proper punctuation
    3. Use proper spelling
  • Organization
    1. Introduction
      1. What is the issue to be addressed?
      2. Why is this issue important?
      3. What will be included in your answer; how will your answer be organized?
    2. Body -- Present information in clear, concise, and logical manner
    3. Summary/Conclusions
      1. Summarize your main points
      2. Relate information in body to original proposition (why is this issue important?)

Some examples of good essay writing are provided by the Educational Testing Service, developer of the GRE-Writing Test.

common errors in student writing that you should avoid. If you are not comfortable with writing, you might want to write some sample essays have have them checked by someone in the student writing center located in West Hall, Room 204.

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| Courses | Home Page |
Dr. William G. (Bill) Huitt
Dept. of Psychology, Counseling & Guidance
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA 31698-0001

Office: (912) 333-5930
FAX: (912) 259-5576

whuitt AT valdosta DOT edu

Copyright (c) 2004 -- Bill Huitt

Common Questions (Click on Date to see exam.)
Click here for specialization questions below

August 2006  [Aroutis Foster, Lindsey Mohan, Yonghan Park, Stephen Vassalo, Amy Wells]
   A-1: Design Based Research: Describe key tenets, discuss theory building-innovation dual emphasis.
   A-2: Nature vs Nurture: What is this debate about, why is it important, and how would you address it?
   B-1: Validity: What is validity? What are the different meanings of validity?
   B-2: Methodology: Evaluate two articles in terms of research design; propose additional designs.

January 2006[Nick Sheltrown, Leigh Wolf, Steve Wojcikiewicz]
   A-1: Research informs tools and interventions? Discuss one.
   A-2: Debates in educational inquiry: Discuss two important debates.
   B-1: The shadow of your theoretical perspective: Choose your favorite theory and discuss.
   B-2: Development and education: How does learning differ for learners of different ages?
   B-3: Technology and education: Do today's youth differ due to technology; which technologies for schools?

August 2005 [Buchanan, Green, Hilden, Moses, Phillips, Wells, Zhang]
  A-1: The work of a conceptual framework.
  A-2: The location of the mind.
  B-1: Research informing practice.
  B-2: How does sample size matter?

January 2005 [Collins, Edwards, Lai, Perry, Yan]
  A-1: Role of the environment in learning. 
  A-2: Interaction and learning.
  B-1: Communicating with practitioners about learning.
  B-2: The nature of educational research.

August 2004
  A-1: Critique article by Mayer critical of discovery learning.
  B-1: Learning and development or learning versus development?
  B-2: Educational psychology, educational technology, or both?

January 2004 [Burdell, Ignatova-Collings]
  A-1: Is learning social?
  A-2: A national clearinghouse? What is evidence-based, replicable, rigorous research?
  B-1: Propose two research designs and discuss.
  B-2: Choose three scholars you consider most important and discuss.

August 2003 [Chan]
  A-1: Discuss what you consider the most viable current paradigms in educational psychology.
  A-2: Learner as individual or learner as individual in context.
  B-1: Does educational technology facilitate or transform learning?
  B-2: Critique two examples of practice claiming to be inspired by a particular theory of earning.

January 2003. [Buckleitner, Lei, Pizzolato, Shi, Tower]
  A-1: Discuss shift from cognition in the heads of individuals to role of context and culture.
  B-1: Discuss roles of conceptual frameworks in educational research.
  B-2: Discuss two research designs and consequences of choosing a design.

August 2002
    No EdPsych/LTC students took the exam in this session.

January 2002
    A-1: compare, contrast, and apply: "cognitive" vs "situative" perspectives on learning
    B-1: multimedia representation of constructs and learning
    B-2: discuss learning in your domain of choice as enculturation or socialization (Resnick)

August 2001
   A-1: constraints of apprenticeship
    A-2: separability of teaching and learning (or development)
    B-1: assessment of learning in school settings
    B-2: select theory of learning and develop plan for using technology to support learning

August 2000
    A-1: role of context
    A-2: relationship between theory and empirical research
    B-1: relationship of theories of learning/development to the concept of identity
    B-2: multimedia environments and theories of learning
    B-3: tutoring critiqued through two theoretical lenses

January 2000

August 1999: Banghart, Lycke, Roberts, Saito
    A-1: discuss learning situated in heads of individual learners vs. situated in material, social and cultural contexts
    A-2: critique Cobb's argument that claims of constructivist curricula, etc confuse theory with practice
    A-3: continuity over time vs discontinuity as a theme in study of human development
    B-1: talk to K-12 audience about computer technology and learning subject matter and problem solving
    B-2: discuss replicability as defined in studies situated in naturalistic settings

January 1999
August 1998
January 1998

August 1997
    A-1: ethical and moral issues in classroom research
    A-2: research as a social/moral activity versus a technical activity
    B-1: role of culture in learning and development
    B-2: relationship of theories of learning (constructivist, for example) to instructional practice

January 1997

February 1996
    A-1: compare and contrast Vygotskian and Piagetian conceptualizations of development
    A-2: contrast and critique behaviorist, information processing, Piagetian, and sociohistorical perspectives
    B-3: effects of theory on understanding of learning and development
    B-4: how three factors (individual, contextual, and cultural) affect learning and development

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