Critical Educational Psychology

Critical Educational Psychology

by Stephen Vassallo


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Critical Educational Psychology by Stephen Vassallo

The field of critical studies recognizes that all knowledge is deeply embedded in ideological, cultural, political, and historical contexts. Although this approach is commonly applied in other subfields of psychology, educational psychology—which is the study of human learning, thinking, and behavior in formal and informal educational contexts—has resisted a comprehensive critical appraisal. In Critical Educational Psychology, Stephen Vassallo seeks to correct this deficit by demonstrating how the psychology of learning is neither neutral nor value-free but rather bound by a host of contextual issues and assumptions.

Vassallo invites teachers and teacher educators, educational researchers, and educational psychologists to think broadly about the implications that their use of psychology has on the teaching and learning process. He applies a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches to examine the psychology of learning, cognitive development, motivation, creativity, discipline, and attention. Drawing on multiple perspectives within psychology and critical theory, he reveals that contemporary educational psychology is entangled in and underpinned by specific political, ideological, historical, and cultural contexts.

A valuable resource for anyone who relies on psychology to interact with, assess, and deliberate over others, especially school-aged children, Critical Educational Psychology resists neatly packaged theories, models, and perspectives that are intended to bring some basis and certainty to pedagogical decision-making. This book will enhance teachers’ ethical decision-making and start important new conversations about power and opportunity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421422633
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 03/15/2017
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stephen Vassallo is an associate professor of education at American University. He is the author of Self-Regulated Learning: An Application of Critical Educational Psychology.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Educational Psychology's Value for Teaching 2

A Critical Pause 4

Analyses in Educational Psychology 5

Engaging with the Analyses 13

1 Knowing Your Students 15

The Composition of Students 16

Ways of Knowing Students 17

Know Thyself 34

Conclusion 35

2 Principles of Motivation 37

Background 39

Approaches to Motivating Students 43

Critical Analysis 51

Conclusion 61

3 Higher Order Thinking 64

Creativity 68

Self-Regulated Learning 75

Critical Thinking 84

Problem Solving 89

Critically Engaging with Higher Order Thinking 94

4 Theories of Development 96

Background 97

Dominant Theories 99

Contemporary Theory 102

Critical Analysis 104

A New Starting Point 120

5 Teaching as Management 122

Two Orientations to Management 124

Ethical Management: A Paradox? 135

Conclusion 141

6 Attention 144

Conceptualization 145

The Crisis of Attention 157

Critical Analysis 160

Conclusion 168

7 Assessment and Measurement 171

Background 172

Conceptualization 176

Types of Assessments and Measurements 178

The Ethics of Assessment and Measurement 181

Conclusion 194

Conclusion 196

References 201

Index 227

What People are Saying About This

Jeff Sugarman

"As the nascent discipline of critical educational psychology takes shape, Stephen Vassallo’s book is sure to be an important moment in its intellectual history. Written in an engaging and accessible style, the author casts a critical eye over a standard fare of topics in contemporary educational psychology—self-regulated learning, motivation, attention, higher order thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, developmentally appropriate practice, classroom management, and assessment. But make no mistake. Vassallo’s critical approach comprises neither pedestrian appraisals of validity and reliability of empirical studies that typify mainstream psychological critique, nor the kind of facile inadequately informed drive-by criticism of psychology one often hears in educational circles. Vassallo’s examination is au courant, penetrating philosophically and conceptually, and goes to the heart of problematic ontological, epistemological, and ideological assumptions on which educational psychology is flourishing. The book will be a fascinating read and of great value to those seeking a more sophisticated critical understanding of the discipline of educational psychology, the ideas it is popularizing, their effects and consequences, and the aspirations of its practitioners."

Tim Corcoran

"Stephen Vassallo's book is written for reflexive classroom teachers wanting to change the way they educate. It adeptly shows how psychology can be reconsidered to advance teaching and learning. A vital contribution to the field of educational psychology."

Lise Bird Claiborne

"Stephen Vassallo brings together several important critical directions in contemporary thought and weaves these into a coherent framework for analyzing educational practice beyond the narrow confines of what a successful, achieving student can be in our neoliberal era of performance management. The book asks new questions about the ways teachers support students in learning, thinking, being motivated, developing and paying attention. It also asks new questions about ways educators can engage critically with the relentless effort of measuring, assessing and managing students. Critical Educational Psychology exhibits an impressive grasp of the field of educational psychology while at the same time putting it into a larger context of changing views and goals of education across time. This gives educators, administrators, and policy-makers the tools needed to use psychological approaches with discernment, beyond a cookbook approach towards creative, collaborative, and ethically engaged teaching practice. Seeing the way larger discourses in the economy and social life affect education provides much-needed inspiration about the possibilities of transformation in a time of global social upheaval."

Erica Burman

"Vassallo has written a comprehensive critical engagement with educational psychology formulated from within, that reviews its key concerns and frameworks to show their limitations without rejecting either the theories or the practices they inspire. It offers students and practitioners not only a scholarly and clear analysis but also ways of applying those critical arguments as tools to change practice. This book is a rare and important contribution."

Jack Martin

"If you believe that what psychologists know about education is equivalent to what physicists know about gravity, Critical Educational Psychology is not for you. However, if, like many of us, you are uncertain, even confused, about what we know about student learning and motivation, the teaching of creativity and critical thinking, educational assessment, and classroom management, Vassallo’s book will reward your attention."

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