Educational theory is not a single theory, but rather an umbrella term that covers many theories and assumptions of learning and retaining information. The term “educational theory” refers to theories that explain the application, interpretation and purpose of learning and education. Education theory is also referred to as pedagogical, instructional and learning theory. These theoretical constructs explore how we best learn so that those who teach can apply corresponding research findings to applied practice.
Foundation of Educational Theory
According to Education.com, modern studies in education can be traced back to theoreticians such as Ivan Pavlov, Hermann Ebbinghaus and Edward L. Thorndike. Pavlov’s contribution to modern learning theory is his concept of “classical conditioning,” based on his famous experiments with the salivating dog subject. Ebbinghaus published his seminal study of memory in 1885, which is considered to be one of the foundations for modern educational theory. Thorndike followed up by publishing his dissertation on problem solving in 1899, considered to be another seminal work.
Evolving Educational Theory
Most of the theoretical writings of early education theory were based solely on stimulus and response observations. These theories are considered to be entirely behavioral based. As the field grew, theories attempted to explain the inner workings of the individual that contribute to successful learning. Moving into the 20th century, learning theories began to splinter off into intelligence measurement (Alfred Binet), discovery learning (Jean Piaget), and the study of self-efficacy and social cognition theory (Albert Bandera). Today, those who study education theory may focus more on paradigms such as constructivism, transformative learning or even educational neuroscience.
Careers in Education
Generally, if you major in education for your primary four-year degree, you are preparing to teach at the primary or secondary level. However, your career choices are not limited to classroom teaching. Explore the possibilities of becoming a full-time tutor or non-traditional educator, perhaps teaching for an online K-12 school. The demand for these positions will continue to rise over the several years.
Most school districts hire a handful of teachers to teach home-bound and hospitalized children. Check with your local school board to see if any of these positions are available. Additionally, prisons and juvenile detention facilities need non-traditional educators to teach at these institutions. Many teachers who transition into these positions report that they find them rewarding and fulfilling. You may find that you have much more autonomy teaching in a non-traditional setting.
With a degree in education, you can also pursue a career as a writer, editor or publisher. The demand for translators and interpreters is on the rise across the globe, and demand will likely continue to rise in the coming years. Continue your education to pursue a Masters degree or PhD if you would like to work in government policy design, academic research or teaching at the university level. Another option is to consider becoming an entrepreneur and opening a business that caters exclusively to teachers.
Related Resource: Curriculum Development Jobs
Educational theory provides an excellent foundation for many different occupations. Use your organization skills, writing prowess and ability to convey ideas to create a tailor-made career just for you.