Educational Psychology: Art or Science?

A basic human characteristic is the need to understand our world. Both art and science are attempts to understand and describe that world. Depending on whether we approach a subject as an art or science will impact the methods of study, expression, and application of our understanding.

Art is defined as the “skill acquired by experience, study, or observation…an occupation requiring knowledge or skill”  (Merriam-Webster, 2020a). It is an expression of thoughts and ideas; a manifestation of experience and understanding. Art is the practice of what we know and involves creativity in how we approach the world. However, to be creative, to make something new, requires a level of knowledge and expertise.

Science is “the state of knowing…something that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge…knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method…a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws” (Merriam-Webster, 2020b). Science is the process of acquiring understanding and discovering truths. The systematic study helps us acquire knowledge about our world.

Video 1.3.1. The Art of Science explains how scientists integrate art and science in their field.

Educational psychology is both an art and a science. Researchers in educational psychology uses the scientific method and research designs to study phenomena that influence learning and education, which can be applied to the art of teaching. Education practitioners use this research to hone their craft and become effective teachers. With expertise comes innovation. And with innovation comes more questions for systematic study.
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