Education | Theory and Method in Educational Psychology
P526 | 5996 | Dr. Donald Cunningham

Welcome to the course Education P526, Theory and Method in Educational
Psychology. Let me introduce myself. I am Dr. Donald J. Cunningham
(Ph.D., University of Illinois), Professor of Education, Semiotic
Studies, Cognitive Science and Informatics at Indiana University. I am
the Barbara Jacobs Chair in Education and Technology and Director of
the Center for Research on Learning and Technology and the Center for
Applied Semiotics. All that said, I prefer to be called Don and try
not to take my professional titles and credentials too seriously. I
have worked in the field of Educational Psychology for over 35 years
and still find the topic challenging and rewarding. This is my first
time teaching this class, however, so I am still in the process of
figuring out good ways to organize it to increase its usefulness to
students. I shall endeavor to be sensitive to your needs and I hope
you will offer constructive suggestions for making the course more
valuable to you and to those students who will study it in the future.
The course is described in the Bulletin of the School of Education as
covering the "major conceptual systems and methodologies that shape
educational, school and counseling psychology". We will trace these
theories and methods historically and in terms of their current
influence in the field. Given the applied nature of the fields of
counseling, educational and school psychology, we will pay special
attention to the ways in which educators, trainers, counselors,
parents, policy makers and many others can use these theories and
methods to make their endeavors more productive and useful. This
course will introduce and illustrate the proper use of these tools in
providing insights into defining and solving problems. The emphasis
will always be on the use of these theories to solve realistic and
relevant problems drawn either from your own personal experience or
from cases we will study. It is only when you have experienced
applying these theories to actual problems that you can readily see
their strengths and weaknesses.
I have used the word "tool" several times already and it is an
important one to understand in the context of this course. I claim
that theories and methods are tools much like hammers and screwdrivers
are tools. A hammer is a useful and effective tool if your task is to
drive a nail into a board. You can try to use a screwdriver to drive a
nail, but I suspect you will fail and wind up with cuts and bruises.
Likewise, if you try to drive a screw with a hammer, the wood will
split and the bond is unlikely to hold - but a screwdriver will
accomplish the task very well. And despite the best efforts of our
most clever tool makers, there is no such thing as a tool that meets
all of our needs.
As you probably already know, there is no single theory of psychology,
no dominant methodology. Theories and methods carry with them a world
view, a conception of what it means to be human: what it means to
learn something, to teach something, to know something, to be a
person. It is important that we examine these world views so that we
can better judge the appropriateness of using a particular theory
and/or method. To extend the analogy, to a two year old child with a
hammer in her hands, everything in the world needs a good pounding. If
we limit ourselves to one or a few theories, or if we fail to see the
kinds of assumptions that theory makes about the world, we will commit
a similar error. If we limit ourselves to a behaviorist approach to
learning, for example, we run the risk of regarding all of our
behavior (from simple forms like disliking broccoli to complex forms
like understanding quantum mechanics) as a function of reinforced
practice. One of my major aims for the course is that you carry away
with you an understanding of the variety of tools in your chosen field
and a sense of when they are and are not best applied.
There are three major sections of the course. First we will examine
some of the grounding assumptions of psychology: What counts as data?
What claims can we make? What methodologies are acceptable? What does
it mean reason like a psychologist? Second, we will dig into the
origins of psychology, tracing it from its roots in philosophy and
physiology to the modern day. We will also pay some attention to the
methods of history and their strengths and limitations in portraying
an accurate picture of psychology. Third, we will be visited by the
various program areas in the Department of Counseling and Educational
Psychology to get an overview of the current theories and
methodologies. By the time we are done, I hope you will have a good
sense of what it means to be a psychologist and your role in the
Class procedures and assessment.
Class sessions will consist mainly of lecture and class discussion of
basic issues and distinctions necessary to understand the field of
psychology and what it means to be a psychologist. Class sessions and
reading assignments are listed below. You are expected to attend class
sessions and to contribute to the discussion of the issues raised in
the readings and in class. If you have questions about the readings,
please raise them in class.

Your grade in this course will be determined in the following ways:

1.Meta-theoretical analysis and class presentation (30%) (Counseling
Psychology Students are not required to do this assignment) - I will
provide more details on this assignment in class. Basically, I will
form you into groups, one for each of the major schools/periods in
psychology. The group will be responsible for one of the two class
sessions we will devote to that topic and will prepare a
meta-theoretical analysis according to a template I will distribute.

2.Intellectual history (30%) - I will distribute guidelines later.
Basically I will be asking you to trace your own intellectual history,
in which you lay out your beliefs about psychology and trace their
origins through things you have read, people who have influenced you.
The goals of this project (which I have borrowed from Myrtle Scott who
used to teach P526) are to provide you with a better understanding of
you current beliefs and to have some direct experience with historical
data and historical methodology.

3.Two short (5 double spaced pages maximum) reflexive papers due at
various points throughout the semester (30%) - Reflexive papers are
unlike the typical course paper. The word reflexive means "directed or
turned back upon itself". In these papers I want you to turn the
approaches we are studying back upon themselves and examine their
assumptions about the nature of learning, the mind, what it means to
know something, the nature of learners, the character of knowledge,
what it means to teach, and so forth. In these papers I don't want you
to simply tell me what the authors we read have said. I want you to
evaluate their ideas from some particular perspective that you feel
strongly about (the scientific method, humanism, a school
psychologist, a teacher educator, etc.) and determine how well the
assumptions underlying that approach match those of your perspective.
For example, how well can these models handle some practical or
theoretical problems in your field? On what basis do you make your
judgment? I will provide some examples of reflexive papers to help you
get the idea. In grading these papers, I look for your ability to see
multiple perspectives, skepticism grounded in theory and data,
juxtaposition of ideas in unique ways, etc. We will talk more about
this in class. Papers are listed as due three times during the
semester. You may select the two dates you will use, to accommodate to
the class presentation requirement.

4.Class Participation (10%)--My subjective estimate of your
contribution to class discussions, attendance, etc. I will, from time
to time, ask you to complete some tasks outside of class and bring the
results back to share. I will not formally grade these tasks but will
assess your work as we talk about the tasks in class.

I detest assigning grades but it is the Policy of the School of
Education that every student be assigned a grade for the course. I
will follow the grading policy adopted for graduate courses in the
School of Education found on lucky page 13 of the Bulletin of the
School of Education Graduate Program:

A = Outstanding achievement, exceptionally high level
A- = Excellent achievement, very high level
B+ = Very good achievement, thorough command
B = Good achievement, solid, acceptable performance
B- = Fair achievement, acceptable

These words are very subjective and therefore grades will be
determined based on my best judgment. Grades of A and A- will usually
be less common than grades of B+, B or B-.
NOTE: I do not give incompletes except under extraordinary
circumstances. Keep up with the reading and attend classes and you
will have no trouble succeeding.

Sep 3  Getting organized/Skim all
Sep 5  Thinking like a psychologist/Stanovich, Ch 1-2
Sep 10 What counts as evidence?	/Stanovich, Ch 3-4
Sep 12 Reasoning about results/Stanovich, Ch 5-6
Sep 17 Being realistic/Stanovich, Ch 7-9
Sep 19 Avoiding pitfalls/Stanovich, Ch 10-11
Sep 24 Where do we go from here?/Stanovich, Ch 12
Sep 26 History of psychology overview/S&S, Ch 1-3
Oct 1  The founding of psychology/S&S Ch 4
Oct 3  Structuralism/S&S Ch 5
Oct 8  Functionalism 1/S&S Ch 6&7
Oct 10 Functionalism 2/S&S Ch 8
Oct 15 Behaviorism 1/S&S Ch 9&10
Oct 17 Behaviorism 2/S&S Ch 11
Oct 22 Gestalt/S&S Ch 12
Oct 24 Early cognitive psychology/S&S pg. 465-485
Oct 29 Psychoanalysis 1/S & S Ch 13&14
Oct 31 Psychoanalysis 2 and Humanistic/S&S Ch 15, pg 456-466
Nov 5	 		 	
Nov 7				
Nov 12 Learning, Cognition & Instruction/TBA
Nov 14 Learning, Cognition & Instruction/TBA
Nov 19	 		 	
Nov 21				
Nov 26	 	Work session on histories	 	 None
Dec 3	 	Development -David Estell	 	TBA
Dec 5		Development -Anne Stright, etc.		TBA
Dec 10	 		 	
Dec 12				
Dec 19 (10:15)  Final examination?/?

Reflexive papers due 9/26, 10/31, and 12/3. Intellectual history is
due 12/13 at 5:00 pm. Meta-theoretical analysis is due the day of your
class presentation.

* This all looks very organized and structured. I reserve the right to
change this at a whim. And I encourage you to individually and
collectively to structure the course to best suit your own self chosen
goals. ALL IS NEGOTIABLE. If you are not prepared to assume major
responsibility for your own learning, I strongly encourage you not to
take this class.

Ordered for class:
Schultz, D. P. & Schultz. S. E. (2000). A history of modern psychology
(7th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the
American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.
Stanovich, K. E. (2001). How to think straight about psychology (6th
ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon