Critically Explore Why Psychologists Are Interested In Doing Research on Students

Critically Explore Why Psychologists Are Interested In Doing Research on Students


Psychologists are normally interested in understanding the human behavior and mental processes. They observe, record, and interpret the relationships between people and the environment. In order to do their work effectively, psychologists use scientific procedures and methods in order to predict the behavior and actions of human beings. These processes constitute psychological research. Through this research, psychologists study individuals, groups of people, cultures and nations. These studies help them to understand the attitudes, feelings and beliefs that influence human mental processes and behavior.

This paper critically explores why psychologists are interested in doing research on students.

Why Psychologists are Interested in Doing Research on Students

Psychology is an important discipline which is concerned with the study of the mind and the behavior of human beings. Psychological research tries to determine how humans think, feel and act (Nicholas 2008). The field of psychology evolved from biology and philosophy. This happened during the 19th century when the discipline became an independent area of study. Today, psychology is an important subject which can be applied in various settings in an effort to understand the nature of the human behavior in its widest manifestations.

One of the main areas of knowledge that psychologists are concerned with is studying students. Psychological research employs objective scientific method in order to understand how students learn. There are several reasons as to why psychologists are interested in doing research on students. To begin with, psychologists study students in order to understand how their behaviors influence their learning (Vargios 2007). Students with good behaviors tend to perform well in their academics. In contrast, students with disruptive behaviors perform poorly in their studies.

The function of education is to help students to develop important skills and acquire knowledge. This objective is important for their problem-solving abilities. Understanding the level of development is important for psychologists. It helps them to generate information on the kind of knowledge and skills that school children of different ages are capable of assimilating and making use of (Shwalb, Nakazawa & Shwalb 2005). It is the psychologists who help teachers and education policy makers to determine the subject matters that have to be taught at various grades.

Psychologists find it necessary to apply various theories of development on the study of students. The theories help them to fully understand learners’ characteristics during childhood, teenage, adolescence, and adulthood. With the help of the developmental theories, psychologists are able to understand the learning needs of students who are in various stages of development (Carter & Seifert 2013). It is known that the learning needs of a learner at the childhood stage of development can never be the same as those of people in the adulthood stage.

Psychologists make an effort to understand cognitive processes. They try to examine how various cognitive changes occur among students. This helps them to understand the development these students’ cognitive competence. Cognitive competence is important for students’ learning (Byrnes 2008). It is what students need in order for them to move from one level of learning to the next. Cognitive mechanisms tend to facilitate learning. For instance, they make it possible for a learner to recall a given concept learned or manipulate a certain problem in order to solve it.

The cognitive perspective forms an integral part in the understanding of human behavior. This is due to the fact that it is associated with various mental constructs, including memories, emotions, motivations, traits, and beliefs (Richardson, Eysenck & Piper 2000). Psychologists seek to understand how the cognitive ability of students influences their learning. For example, they study how memory structures help to determine how individual students process, perceive, store, and retrieve the information of what they are taught by their teachers or what they learn on their own.

Students are required to solve various problems as part of their learning. These may include math and reading problems. These tasks require learners to possess good problem solving skills are important for students.  Problem solving skills enable learners to interpret and understand problems well before solving them (Shohov 2003). Psychologists try to understand how students apply problem solving skills in their learning. It is believe that a learner interprets a problem by basing it on a specific schema which derives from his or her long-term memory.

Students exhibit various learning disabilities. These may include dyslexia, aphasia, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). These problems tend to interfere with the intellectual development of students. There is need for the disabilities to be understood well and addressed in an effective manner. Psychological research helps to provide important insights into the causes, symptoms, and effects of the learning disabilities (Vaughn & Bos 2002). It also gives important information on what needs to be done in order for the challenges to be effectively dealt with.

Apart from learning disabilities, students also suffer from various mental health problems. Examples of mental problems that are common among students include depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia (Mayer 2011). These problems usually affect the process of learning. For instance, it is difficult for a depressed student to concentrate in class. Psychologists try to understand the causes of the mental health problems that affect students. Their findings help teachers and parents to understand what needs to be done in order for the problems to be resolved.

Motivation is one of the most important tools that help to activate and sustain human behavior. For students, motivation tends to have an impact on their learning and attitude towards what they are taught (Feist & Gorman 2013). It helps to enhance their cognitive abilities and levels of performance. Psychologists try to understand how motivation can be used to direct the behavior of learners towards the achievement of educational goals. This helps to provide important information on how to improve the academic performance of students.

Psychologists examine various factors that influence the processes of teaching and learning. They evaluate the methods of learning and teaching that work best for various groups of students (Detweiler-Bedell & Detweiler-Bedell 2013). It is certain that methods that work for university students may not work for elementary school students. Psychologists also make an effort to find out the kind of decisions that teachers can make in order to be successful in their work. They help teachers to understand how they can align their teaching programs with the learning needs of students.

Learning is a process which is influenced by the learner’s experience and prior knowledge and cultural and factors. Psychologists try to understand how these factors determine how learning occurs. For instance, the psychologists have helped to ascertain that socio-cultural learning is determined by an individual learner’s culture and his or her interaction with peers and adults (Nicholas 2008).  These factors lead to the formation of important mental constructs. It is these contracts that help to make the process of learning meaningful to students.

Psychologists normally test various theories of learning. They try to understand how these theories influence the process of leaning. Some of the common theories of learning include cognitive theories, behaviorism theories, social theories, and humanistic theories. Cognitive theories postulate that learning is a mental process. Behaviorism theories are based on the understanding that people learn by observing behavior (Mercer, Ryan & Williams 2012). Social theories emphasize on the importance of group activities in influencing learning. Humanistic theories examine the role that emotions play in the process of learning.

Psychological researches tend to have important implications to the processes of teaching and learning. The findings of these researches help teachers, parents and other stakeholders to create favourable learning environments for students to learn and succeed (Detweiler-Bedell & Detweiler-Bedell 2013). Psychological research makes it possible for the behavioural, mental, and learning problems of students to be understood. This understanding enables education policy makers to suggest important parenting strategies and classroom management techniques that are necessary for the improvement of the academic performance of the students.


The scope of the field of psychology is wide. One of the most significant areas of investigation in psychology is the study of students. Psychologists are usually concerned with the study of the behavior of students and how they influence the process of learning. Psychologists also try to understand the mental processes of students and the role they play in learning. It is important to note that the findings of psychological research play an important role in creating a good environment for students to learn and succeed.



Byrnes, JP 2008, Cognitive development and learning in instructional contexts, Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers, Boston.

Carter, K & Seifert, CM 2013, Learn psychology, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA.

Detweiler-Bedell, JB & Detweiler-Bedell, BT 2013, Doing collaborative research in psychology: A team-based guide, Sage, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Feist, GJ & Gorman, ME 2013, Handbook of the psychology of science, Springer Publishing Company, New York.

Mayer, RE, 2011, Applying the science of learning, Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA.

Mercer, S, Ryan, S & Williams, M 2012, Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice, Palgrave Macmillian, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Nicholas, LJ 2008, Introduction to psychology, UCT Press, Cape Town.

Richardson, J, Eysenck, M & Piper, D 2000, Student learning: Research in education and cognitive psychology, Open University/SRHE.

Shohov, SP 2003, Advances in psychology research: Volume 21, Nova Science Publishers, New York.

Shwalb, DW, Nakazawa, J & Shwalb, BJ 2005, Applied developmental psychology: Theory, practice, and research from Japan, Information Age Publishing, Greenwich, Conn.

Vargios, EM 2007, Educational psychology research focus, Nova Science Publishers, New York.

Vaughn, S & Bos, CS 2002, Research Issues in Learning Disabilities: Theory, Methodology, Assessment, and Ethics, Springer New York, New York, NY.

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