THE RELATION PSYCHOLOGY EDUCATION: AN IMPERATIVE NEED OF RECONFIGURATION IN THE 21 ST CENTURY

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1 THE RELATION PSYCHOLOGY EDUCATION: AN IMPERATIVE NEED OF RECONFIGURATION IN THE 21 ST CENTURY VALERIA NEGOVAN University of Bucharest, Department of Psychology Abstract This article focuses on the complex relationship between psychology, instruction and education in the contemporary context which re/configures most of the relations between the dimensions of the present-day society. The article aims to transmit the message that in all the changes of the School of the 21st Century, the psychological component/dimension is stated as essential, therefore education/school needs psychological knowledge and services and psychologists may extend and diversify their contribution to the understanding, explaining and optimizing education and school (as an existential space and as an institution). Cuvinte cheie: psihologia şcolară. psihologie educaţională, psihologie şcolară, servicii şi practici în Keywords: educational psychology, school psychology, school psychology services and practices. The complex relation between psychology, instruction and education, especially in the institutional/school context, has been, in time, the object of an immense effort of understanding, description, explanation and prediction. The psychology education relation (embodied even in the existence of academic disciplines such as Psychology of education and/or School psychology ), not only that it has not been disputed, but, many times, it has been asserted as some sort of universal remedy to improve education and schooling * Autor corespondent: Valeria Negovan 2

2 (Oakland, & Saigh, 1989). Then, the question arises: why is so many times stated that the field of educational psychology was going through challenging times? (Preiss, & Sternberg, 2010, p. xiv). Preiss and Sternberg (2010), attentive and competent interpreters of the opinions expressed on this topic, deem as still valid a statement made in 1996, by another important specialist in the field of psychology, respectively R. Sternberg, that fewer certification programs required courses in educational psychology, relatively few psychologists were involved in initiatives of educational reform, and educational psychology tended to be a marginalized field both in education schools and psychology departments) (Sternberg, 1996) (p. xiv). We recognize, in what Sternberg stated in 1996, a state of fact that we are also encountering in the Romania of 2014, both as regards psychology undertaking education/school as specific object of research and application, as well as concerning education/school as absorption field (or outlet?) of psychology services: a) In the Psychology departments of Psychology Faculties, very few master s degree study programs are offered in the educational psychology, and they are not very popular. Compared to other master s degree study programs, those that qualify psychologists for the educational field have very few requests. Naturally, it is very difficult to mention, without a rigorous study, whether they are less attractive because they are fewer and less clearly defined, or they are fewer because they are less requested; b) The bachelors of psychology choose the alternative to work in schools (or in other institutions with a predominant educational profile) only as a last resort in accepting a...transitory job until another opportunity arises. The fact that schools do not provide professional positions/vocations called without any doubt «a school psychologist» (as is the case for the positions of doctor or social worker), but only the general position of «teacher psychologist» or «teacher-counselor» may be a circumstance that favors the situation expressed by T. Oakland (2007) in the terms School psychologists often are guests within education (p.25). In a pessimistic view of the relation between psychology and education/school (even at the international level, not only at the national level, as we have already underlined), questions may be formed, such as: does psychology still need education/school as study object (research, theoretical reflection, empirical testing and practical application)?; does education/school still need the psychological knowledge and services? The mere drafting of such questions would be unproductive unless it would enhance the effort to identify the causes of this situation and to propose solutions to limit the negative effects of the decline of the natural relation between psychology and education. Could the socio-economic context explain this situation? Could it explain the paradoxical situation in which such a generous field to apply everything that psychology means (as is education) does not attract psychologists? Could it explain 3

3 the paradoxical situation when a field that urgently needs a change does not attract psychologists, who are actually expected to be the most competent and skilled agents of the most subtle changes both at the level of the human being, and at the institutional level? Does the professionalization system of specialists in the field of education and schooling fully manage to prepare them as agents of psychological and social changes? Is the professionalization system of specialists in the field of education psychology open to the considerable progresses of psychological knowledge that may enrich the understanding of the psychological consequences of education and training in school? Is it configured so as to provide role models with a certain impact on the manner in which psychologists in schools will take the social and professional roles that the schools need? Are the same principles applied in the training of psychologists (expected to be oriented towards the education field) as psychologists are expected to apply in the school/educational field? In the specialized literature there are several competent opinions concerning any possible causes of such a situation, therefore there are several answers to questions as those previously drafted. Such an opinion is the one summarized by a specialist dedicated to the discipline and profession called «School Psychology», namely Tom Oakland, in an article published in a book edited in Romania (Anitei, Cretu, Mitrofan, & Negovan, 2007) based on the analysis of the information collected through a wide international investigation among school psychologists in 54 countries in an effort to acquire information on their demographic characteristics, academic and professional preparation, and roles and functions (Oakland, & Cunningham, 1992). Tom Oakland (2007) mentions four external, and five internal qualities that will impact the futures of school psychology internationally (p. 23). As external conditions, the following are mentioned the degree services are institutionalize through legislation, economic, language, and cultural conditions and as internal condition the following professionalism, the scope and functions of service, expansion of professional services, improved interface with education, and promotion of test development and use (p.23). The author specifies The future of school psychology is bright in countries that institutionalize school psychology services through legislation. Lacking such legislation school psychology services are likely to be non-existent or at best marginal (p.23). In Romania, there is a corresponding legislation, ever since 2004, when they passed the law no. 213/2004 for exercising the psychologist profession in Romania. Of the other three conditions I have mentioned, the language (knowledge of foreign languages, especially of English) and the intercultural perspective are also functioning very well. The economic conditions may of course be incriminated as regards the poor attractiveness of the profession of school psychologist, but can they explain the not so high interest that school and educative institutions have in psychology? 4

4 As regards the internal conditions of development of school psychology, identified by the aforementioned author (under the same investigations carried out along the years), the training of psychologists in Romania for the activity carried out in the school (through the bachelor s degree and master s degree study programs) is not very far of what has been identified at the international level The preparation of school psychologists typically focused on two main arenas: academic preparation and professional practice. Students commonly take core academic courses in psychology, including developmental, learning and cognition, educational, personality, social, experimental, and biological psychology. School psychology programs also emphasize legal and ethical issues and the development of interpersonal and decision-making skills important for effective and efficient service (Oakland, 2007, p.22). We must make a remark at this point: the master s degree study programs offering training to practice psychology at school (very few and not very attractive, as we have already stated) seem to either highlight the field of psychology, or the field of education sciences, a deed which is capable of dissipating the complete image of the psychologist at school (either we call them educational psychologists, or school psychologists), who must be a specialist in both fields: education and psychology. Given the previous concise specifications, we may appraise that the answer to the previously drafted questions is affirmative: Yes, psychology as science and as profession, in so far as it does not neglect the human being in the social context specific to the school and to the educational institutions needs the specialty of school psychology to fulfil is commitment to serve this important, large, and growing population (Oakland, 2007, p.19). In this sense, it takes an effort of synthesis and of harmonization of the theoretical conceptions and perspectives on the specific field, departing from the «recovery» of the definitions of educational/school psychology as branch of psychology, as distinct psychological discipline, because it has theories, research methods, problems and techniques of its own. The psychology of education is different from other branches of psychology by its purpose. The purpose is to understand education and to contribute in its improvement (Berliner, 1992) (Manolache, 2007, p. 212), a position supported in Romania by a sound tradition of the school of psychology (for a more documented argument: Manolache, 2007, p ; Cristea, 2007, pp ). Also, these definitions must be harmonized with those that have been drafted at the international level (Oakland, & Cunningham, 1997). The main responsibility in this direction belongs to the psychologists who are interested in education and schooling: School psychology must advance scholarship by engaging in research, publishing, creating and supporting one or more quality professional journals, writing books, and in other ways contributing to its literature (Oakland, 2007, p.25). 5

5 Yes, education/school needs psychological knowledge and services, and this need may be satisfied in the conditions mentioned by the author that has been very much quoted in this brief speech for his representativeness for the field of school psychology: School psychology services emerge when specialists in public policy and education see value in funding these services. These specialists, not school psychologists, typically determine whether school psychology services are provided and the nature of these services. Thus, school psychologists must demonstrate to them the value school psychology services add to education (Oakland, 2007, p.24). Out of this perspective, we may deduce that the main responsibility also lies with the psychologists who are oriented towards school/education as fields of applicative interest: The future acceptance of the discipline and practices of psychology depends, in part, on the extent to which psychology expands to embrace conditions that are important to child growth and development (Oakland, 2007, p.23). The issues of education and mainly of education in school institutions have been diversified, and their degree of complexity has grown so much that the area in which psychologists may extend and diversify their contribution to their settlement is almost limitless. For instance: In the specialized literature, the expression The School of the 21st Century defines a realm that may become a new frontier in the human being s endeavor to know itself and to develop itself through the community. In this restricted sense, strictly professional, The School of the 21st Century is often referred to as a program, but it is actually made up of several programs and services provided in the school from conception to age 12. ( ) School-age child care in 21C is not limited to academic enrichment and homework. (Zigler, & Finn-Stevenson, 2010, p.363). The School of the 21st Century needs several changes that are recognized and stated. In all these changes, the psychological component/dimension is stated as essential (Oakland, 1992). Will the academic training in the field of psychology be able to outline their importance and to underline the attractiveness for the current (and future) young psychologists? Paradigm shift from retrospective education (education oriented toward the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation) to prospective education (preparation of students for a vague, uncertain, and dynamic future) (Kozulin, 2010, p.381) may be one of the most challenging research topics and ground for undertaking new roles and responsibilities for school psychologists. The traditional schools train students to reproduce cultural models and solutions (confirmed as valid) to well drafted problems. The psychologist s intervention in the optimization of a process preparing the student to follow the model presented by the teacher, recall and perform standard operations, and remember a large amount of factual information (Kozulin, 2010, p.383) has already become a routine and thus it is less attractive? In exchange, the psychologist s intervention in consolidating and configuring a process which places greater emphasis on 6

6 students ability to orient themselves in unfamiliar knowledge fields, formulate problems, search for nonstandard solutions, and engage in self-directed learning (Kozulin, 2010, p.382) is expected to be much more challenging. Another necessary (and much claimed!) paradigm shift in education, which could involve major deep knowledge of psychology is that of passing from the traditional class room to what it is defined by the concept of thinking laboratory (Kozulin, 2010, p.381), a shift associated to the change in the assessment system of the student s progress, from standard psychometric testing to assessment of students learning potential (Kozulin, 2010; Haywood, & Lidz, 2007; Sternberg, & Grigorenko, 2002). Typical school exams that are measuring students current performance become less and less gratifying for students and less and less relevant for teachers and for those who will use the student s knowledge. Formative assessment, being future-oriented and involving active interaction between students and teachers becomes more and more appreciated. Teachers need psychologists expertise to implement new techniques to correctly identify strong and weak points of the student s knowledge (Kozulin, 2010). The necessary paradigm shift at school in the sense of considering learning as social negotiation, where teaching is approached in the broader context of social change, as process of critical analysis and deliberation in concrete social contexts (Jonassen, 1994 ; Mayer, 1996), may be another expansion field of the psychological research. Out of this perspective, education must consider the learner s goals, values, and interests, and psychologists may assist the persons directly in charge with the training on identifying these purposes with students and mostly on getting them oriented towards higher goals, such as focusing on a deeper learning (Xiaodong Lin, Siegler, & Sullivan, 2010; Renninger, 2010). Another direction of intervention in the field of education which may benefit from the psychologist s expertise is the element, essential for a school reform, underlined by the specialists promoting the theory of self-determination : SDT maintains that the design of a school-reform approach must begin with the realization that teachers and students alike have inherent psychological needs to feel competent in relation to their environment, autonomous in regulating their behavior, and related meaningfully to others (Deci, 2009, p.246). How does one identify and satisfy teachers and students basic psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness so that they can commit themselves with devotion and responsibility, as agents of the change specific to reform? Because, if these needs are satisfied administrators and teachers come to view the reform simply as the way they run the school, do their teaching, and support their students learning (Deci, 2009, p.246). The teachers that feel pressure and control over their professional behavior are more prone to use controlling, rather than autonomysupportive strategies in the classroom, to be less enthusiastic and creative in teaching, more passive and submissive in the relation with the authorities (Niemiec, & Ryan, 2009, pp ). 7

7 We admit that Emphasis on primary prevention, interventions, consultation, organizational and program development, and supervision is needed in many countries to expand the nature of school psychology practices and demonstrate the profession s ability to meet national priorities through these services (Oakland, 2007, p.25). This direction of diversification of the services provided by school psychologists, together with their contribution to the reconfiguration of educational practices, so that schools may provide the best support to fully and positively develop students (Baker, Dilly, Aupperlee, & Patil, 2003, p.216), must be more clearly understood by the psychologists working in the Romanian schools (and supported more firmly by the training and professional improvement programs). Another expected (and necessary) direction of involvement of psychologists in education and school is the commitment in the delicate endeavor of keeping the schools as (if they already are), or of transforming them (if they are not yet), into positive institutions that provide students, in the context of positive experiences, with an excellent training, both as regards the academic field, and as regards the living habits, and in addition they provide a supportive climate, based on the culture of mutual respect, on positive relations between students and teachers (Hefferon, & Boniwell, 2011; Sawka-Miller, & Miller, 2007; Snyder, & Lopez, 2005). The contemporary education and school make efforts to adapt to the new world and to the new human being, as they are configured in the beginning of the second decade of the 21 st century, and The role of psychology is critical to these efforts. Psychology s commitment to promote the well-being of all people, including children, requires it to assume leadership in these efforts ( ) School psychology can be one of these portals (Oakland, 2007, p.25). The expansion directions of psychologists roles and contributions in understanding, explaining and optimizing education and schooling (as existential space and as institution), synthetically specified above, in addition to those that have already been specified by legal norms, render rather useless such questions as is education/school at risk of remaining without psychology?, is psychology, as science and profession, at risk of renouncing the field of education/school as object of study? and, moreover, it underlines the truth expressed by the quote of T. Oakland (2007): The futures of school psychology in Romania rest largely in the hands of Romanians. Thus, they are in the best position to establish its goals and the processes needed to achieve its goals (p.24). 8

8 REFERENCES Anitei, M., Cretu, T., Mitrofan, N., & Negovan, V. (Eds.) (2007). Contemporary trends and orientations in educational psychology, papers presented at the International Symposium Theory and Practice in the Professionalization of the School/Educational Psychologist a Challenge for the 3rd Millennium (pp ). Bucureşti: Editura Universitară. Baker, J.A., Dilly, L.J., Aupperlee, J.L., & Patil, S.A. (2003). The Developmental Context of School Satisfaction: Schools as Psychologically Healthy Environments. School Psychology Quarterly, 18 (2), Berliner, D.C. (1992). Tellingg the stories of educational psychology. Educational psychologist, 7, Cristea, G. (2007). Statutul psihologiei educaţiei. Evoluţii şi perspective. In M. Anitei, T. Cretu, N. Mitrofan, & V. Negovan (Eds.). Contemporary trends and orientations in educational psychology, papers presented at the International Symposium Theory and Practice in the Professionalization of the School/Educational Psychologist a Challenge for the 3rd Millennium (pp ). Bucureşti: Editura Universitară. Deci, E.L. (2009). Large-scale school reform as viewed from the self-determination theory perspective.theory and Research in Education. 7(2) DOI: / Haywood, C., & Lidz, C. (2007). Dynamic assessment in practice. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hefferon, K., & Boniwell, I. (2011). Positive Psychology. Theory, Research and Applications. McGraw-Hill: Open University Press. Jonassen, D. (1994). Thinking technology. Educational Technology, 34(4), Kozulin, A. (2010) A Thinking Laboratory: Perspectives of Prospective Education. In D.D. Preiss, & R.J. Sternberg (Eds). Innovations in Educational Psychology. Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Human Development (pp ). New York: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. Lin, Xiaodong, Siegler, R.S., & Sullivan, F.R. (2010). Students Goals Influence Their Learning. In D.D. Preiss, & R.J. Sternberg (Eds). Innovations in Educational Psychology. Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Human Development. (pp ). New York: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. Manolache, I. (2007). Incursiune în domeniul psihologiei educaţiei. In M. Anitei, T. Cretu, N. Mitrofan, & V. Negovan (Eds.). Contemporary trends and orientations in educational psychology, papers presented at the International Symposium Theory and Practice in the Professionalization of the School/Educational Psychologist a Challenge for the 3rd Millennium (pp ). Bucureşti: Editura Universitară. Mayer, R. (1996). Learners as information processors: Legacies and limitations of educational psychology's second metaphor. Educational Psychologist, 31(3/4), Niemiec, C.P., & Ryan, R.M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7(2)

9 Oakland, T. (2007). International status of school psychology: Implications for school psychology in Romania, In M. Anitei, T. Cretu, N. Mitrofan, & V. Negovan (Eds.). Contemporary trends and orientations in educational psychology, papers presented at the International Symposium Theory and Practice in the Professionalization of the School/Educational Psychologist a Challenge for the 3rd Millennium (pp ). Bucureşti: Editura Universitară. Oakland, T., & Cunningham, J. (1997). International School Psychology Association definition of school psychology. School Psychology International, 18, Oakland, T. (1992). Formulating priorities for international school psychology toward the turn of the Twentieth Century. School Psychology International, 13, Oakland, T., & Cunningham, J. (1992). A survey of school psychology in developed and developing countries. School Psychology International, 13, Oakland, T., & Saigh, P. (1989). Psychology in the schools: An introduction to international perspectives. In P. Saigh & T. Oakland (Eds.) International perspectives on psychology in the schools (pp. 1-22). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Preiss, D.D., & Sternberg, R.J. (Eds). (2010). Innovations in Educational Psychology. Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Human Development. New York: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. Renninger, K.A. (2010). Working With and Cultivating the Development of Interest, Self- Efficacy, and Self-Regulation. In D.D. Preiss, & R.J. Sternberg (Eds). Innovations in Educational Psychology. Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Human Development. New York: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. Sawka-Miller, K.D., & Miller, D.N. (2007). The Third Pillar: Linking Positive Psychology and School-Wide Positive Behavior Support. School Psychology Forum: research in practice. 2(1), Snyder, C.R., & Lopez, S.J. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford: University Press. Sternberg, R. (1996). Educational psychology has fallen, but it can get up. Educational Psychology Review, 8 (2), Sternberg, R., & Grigorenko, E. (2002). Dynamic testing. New York: Cambridge University Press. Zigler, E., & Finn-Stevenson, M. (2010). A New Role for Schools: Providing Child Care and Family Support Service. In D.D. Preiss, & R.J. Sternberg (Eds). Innovations in Educational Psychology. Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Human Development (pp ). New York: Springer Publishing Company, LLC. 10

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