Psychological principles for effective teaching-learning processes – Psychology Notes

Psychology Notes for UPSC, State Civil Services, NET, Masters in Psychology, IGNOU and other exams.

Q: What are the various psychological principles underlying effective teaching-learning processes?

The aim of the teaching-learning process is to bring major cognitive and behavioural change in the leanrer. There are many psychological tbeories from which a teacher can borrow to make the teaching more effective. Some of the principles and theories are discusses below:

Piaget’s theory and learning:

According to piaget, a human infant develops cognitive skills in four stages. The first stage is called a sensorimotor stage in which the infant forms a schemata by assimilating information from the surroundings and accommodation (modifying already obtained information in the light of new evidence). These two processes together are called as equilibration. The most important lesson from Piaget’s theory is that the child actively interacts with the environment to form mental representation of the outside world. Hence, Piaget’s argument was that children need to construct their own understanding of the world rather than accepting it from others. Both assimilation and accommodation are active processes and cannot be achieved in a traditional classroom situation where information was delivered didactically.  He makes a strong case for replacing the didactic learning with discovery learning. The teacher should act as a facilitator for learning situations where children can find things for themselves and can construct their understanding of the world. By facilitating learning situations, the teacher creates a disequilibrium in the cognition. this dis equilibrium should motivate the children to discover and learn

Vygotsky’s theory and learning process:

Like, Piaget, Vyogtsky also saw child as an active agent of her own learning, but he focused on the extent to which learning is mediated by child’s context. Mediation is a key concept in Vygotsky’s social construction theory which refers collectively to the ways in which culture interacts with the cognitive development. Children absorb knowledge about how to behave in a situation by observing other people. Through process called as internalization, they imagine themselves doing the same and when a similar situation arises they can emit the same behavior. 

Vygotsky had argued that competence of a child is the maximum limit that it could perform with the help from the context. The difference between the competence and the actual present performance is called as zone of proximal development. Zone of proximal development (ZPD) represents the potential that can be achieved in a child by providing appropriate environmental stimulation. Therefore, Vygotsky’s conceptualization of the teaching learning process is that of interaction between the learner and an adult instructor. The difference between what a child can understand on its own and what it can potentially understand through interaction with others is the zone of proximal development. Vygotsky’s theory is influential in the sense that it puts teacher at the centre of teaching learning process.

Intelligence and Learning:

Neural development in human child is somewhat plastic. The neural connections in which electrical activity is frequent becomes stronger and larger. These neurons begin to expand, allowing an increasing specialization of function of these areas. Hence, cognitive skills that are practiced a lot become sharp.

Regarding intelligence, it has been found that intelligrnce in modular i.e. there is no single general factor of intelligence. There are multiple centres of intelligence in the brain and there are muktipe  abilities that together are called as intelligence. Alos, intelligence includes creativity and pragmatism. As per the claims of imformation processing theories of intelligence, the incrrasing ecperience of outside world leads to efficient information processing and thus allowing greater development of intelligence. Hence, intelligenc eisn’t just inherent but canbe debelped in every child to an optimal level.

Intelligence theories lend to the field of educstion psychology the concept of individual differences in students. The teacher needs to understand that some students can be good in a subject ghan others. The teacher needs to take care of these individual dffrences in needs of students whle teaching.


A major goal of the teaching-learnig process is to motivate the students towards  the academic achievement. Hence, the teacher has to adopt various techniques to to keep the students motivated. For example Goal setting or feedback.Students also need motivation to listen to a lecture. The teacher needs to adopt ways to make the lecture interesting. The teacher may crack jokes, give periodic breaks or teach through various mediums in order to catch the attention of student;s multiple senses. The disadvantaged and deprived students need special measures to be motivated towards education.


The rich research cionducted by various psychologist has resukted in greater insight into how information can be encoded and stored.Many techniques have been forwarded by psychologists for the benefit of teachers. For instance, it has been found that information that is encoded in multiples modalities (visual, audio etc.) arw better rememebered.


The early days of Education psychology was dominated by Behaviourists. Though greater stress is given on the cognitive school of psychology today, some principles of behavioural school are no doubt valuable. Conditioning principles are very useful in teaching students with learning disabilities. Chaining  and shaping are very useful for such students.

Regular feedback and reinforcement of good performance by rewards are some lessons from the behaviourist school of psychology. But these must be used cautiously. It has been found that extrinsic rewards tend to decrease the motivation of intrinsically motivated students as the rewards act as justifications for their effort. Also, Punishment to change behaviour is discouraged by the behaviourists as punishment tells us what not to do. It does not tell us what is the right behaviour.

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