Educational Psychologists are experts in the science behind how people learn. They are expertly trained to administer assessments and tests and interpret the results. They are often best placed to assist children experiencing school difficulties.
All psychologists must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (PBA), meeting high standards in education, training, supervised practice, ethical and professional standards, and ongoing professional development. In addition, Educational Psychologists have received an 'endorsement' from the PBA, indicating that they have qualifications and experience in a particular area of practice.
Usually an Educational Psychologist has a minimum of eight years of university training and supervised experience. Many work with school-aged children and young people. Their specific knowledge and skills may include:
Just like a medical doctor uses tests to understand what's causing physical symptoms, Educational Psychologists can use tests to help identify the underlying cause of a child's learning problems and to assist them in reaching a diagnosis. For children, these tests are presented as games such as puzzle and block games. Tests and other assessment tools can help a psychologist understand which aspects of a child's development may be contributing to the problem and can be used to inform a child's individual learning plan or identify their support needs.
Educational Psychologists administer tests and assessments for a wide variety of reasons. For example, if a child is having trouble in school, does he or she have a reading problem such as dyslexia? An attention problem such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Tests for skills such as memory, visual and auditory processing, problem-solving and reasoning, verbal skills, as well as general thinking and learning, can help a psychologist diagnose conditions impacting on a child's school achievement. Psychologists will also often administer tests of academic skills such as reading, maths, and spelling. Together, these assessments allow a psychologist to understand the nature of the child's problem, and help them to figure out the best way to go about addressing it.
Testing and assessment allows a psychologist to see the full picture of a child's strengths and challenges.