Educational Psychology Overview


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237 Dickey Hall
Lexington, KY 40506-0017
(859) 257-7404
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Welcome to the Educational Psychology Program!

The Educational Psychology program of the department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology (EDP) at the University of Kentucky focuses on preparing future researchers and academicians.  In 2003 our program was ranked in the top 20 in terms of research productivity in the field of Educational Psychology. 

Our graduate degree programs reflect a collaborative apprenticeship model that encourages students to go beyond taking courses and checking off requirements.

Our aim is to help educational psychology students to become advocates of social justice through the development of knowledge, skills, and tools needed to be effective consumers and creators of educational research.  We believe that the best way to learn how to do research, analyze data, communicate results, and teach others is to get directly involved with faculty mentors and advanced students as early as possible.

We offer degree programs at the Master's, Specialist, and Doctoral levels. Graduate students entering the program will select a program of study focusing on one of four areas of specialization, which are well aligned with faculty expertise:

                           1.   academic motivation,
                           2.   multicultural education,
                           3.   quantitative methods, and
                           4.   human development.

A Social Justice Approach to Educational Psychology

Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.  Social justice activism involves persons who have a sense of their own power as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole.  Social justice in educational psychology includes an awareness by faculty and students of the multiple and systemic factors (e.g., demographic—age, race, socioeconomic status; interpersonal—teacher-student relationships; contextual—family, cultural hegemony, racism, sexism) that influence individuals' cognition, affect, and behavior and the environmental contexts in which people live.  Social justice in educational psychology also embraces research and teaching that emphasize just and unbiased treatment of all human beings.

Working toward a socially just educational psychology involves careful examination of the interplay between environmental (e.g., social, historical, cultural, political), personal (e.g., belief, perception, cognition, affect), and behavioral (e.g., social, academic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, self-regulatory, career-related, health) factors as they pertain to the functioning of all education stakeholders, students and teachers in particular.  Therefore, a commitment to social justice in educational psychology requires sensitivity to and respect for diversity of thought and action throughout the content of educational psychology coursework and research and among members of the local and global community.

There are many ways in which we believe an educational psychologist can be an advocate for social justice.  Educational psychologists who promote social justice will

  • Promote equity and justice for all human beings
  • Identify who they are as beings in this world and how their unique experiences have shaped their current worldviews about people different from themselves
  • Inform multiple communities of learners about educational practices that facilitate and undermine the opportunities of all students to achieve academic, physical, and psychological well-being
  • Question whether existing theoretical models are appropriate for all groups of learners
  • Increase their own and others' awareness of the micro-, meso-, and macro-level contextual factors affecting the lives of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members
  • Explore alternative explanations of student performance (and relevant factors)
  • Conduct research that directly or indirectly informs socially-just educational practices
  • Provide education practitioners and stakeholders with resources to address social justice issues
  • Promote difficult dialogues within educational settings that advance critical thinking about a variety of social justice issues.

Why Educational Psychology?

A degree in Educational Psychology affords a student a number of career options dependent upon the focus of the student's coursework and the level of degree earned. At the Master's level an individual might attain expertise in areas that would be readily marketable in a school system: The individual might work in curriculum development, training programs, setting up testing programs, research, and other areas. Additional job opportunities might be found in training departments of various industries, and in training divisions of state and federal agencies.

At the doctoral level an individual's expertise and marketability may be much broader. For example, program graduates might opt to teach and/or do research and development in colleges and universities, become administrators in higher education, work in medical education or research, develop and manage training departments in industry, work in various areas of publishing, conduct product design and research and/or program development, consult for or head state and federal agencies, conduct measurement and evaluation in school districts, or establish a private consulting firm.

Program Area Chair

Professor Kenneth TylerFor additional information on the Educational Psychology area, please contact our Area Chair, Professor Ellen Usher.