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The Value of Psychology to Higher Education

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Psychology is such a diverse subject that its value to higher education is indeed crucial. However, given the nature of psychology, it could be argued that the whole education system could benefit. There are many reasons that resonate with this viewpoint. For example, we deal with emotions and behaviour on a regular basis. Dealing with our own emotions and that of others lends further support to the value of psychology. The value of dealing with emotions and behaviour is indeed important and perhaps lends itself to the construct of emotional intelligence and the practice of reflection. 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to regulate own and others emotions. To this degree, as practitioners or students, we constantly engage in emotional behaviour. Furthermore, directly or indirectly, we reflect on these emotions. Thus, one could argue that both emotional intelligence and reflective practice are important components in attempting to better understand emotions.

To take this point further one needs to explain the relationship between emotional intelligence and reflective practice. The effectiveness of emotional intelligence has been evidenced in a number of domains (for example in business, education, health and sport). Those high in emotional intelligence are considered to be able to regulate their own emotions and that of others. In addition, emotional intelligence espouses to the ability to monitor and become self-aware of one’s own and that of others actions. Reflective practice is based on a cyclical model. This model dictates the way in which individuals behave following an action. It is the ability on how individuals evaluate situations and what actions are put in place for future plans. Arguably, both emotional intelligence and reflective practice are relative to emotions and behaviour. 

Within the realm of higher education, there is a diverse range of courses that can evidence how emotional intelligence and reflective practice can co-exist. Examples include those who are trainees in nursing, education and social work. Further, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes always contain elements whereby students can reflect on module output.

Through an established and structured framework, the higher education system is an indispensable provider of opportunities to achieve qualifications. To reinforce such a framework, educators are employed to deliver and support learners with curriculum and assessments. In addition to curriculum and assessment design, the educator should also be mindful of personal and well-being issues that could potentially impact learners. Arguably, pressures brought by modern lifestyle can impact on emotions for learners. Within the education system, it is not surprising that learners seek guidance and support both involving academic, emotional, and social issues. 

Higher education can play an important role in developing practices on emotional intelligence and reflective practice. Examples of these practices are diverse in nature. For instance, in teacher training practitioners could examine emotional intelligence among trainees before, during and after the completion of their training. In health, emotional intelligence could be utilised with reflective practice to assess developmental progress. Within the field of sport, coaches could introduce emotional intelligence with their participants and regulate emotions periodically. 

This is a rather brief account of the reasons why psychology is important in higher education. The merits of studying psychology and departments introducing aspects, such as emotional intelligence and reflective practice should be the norm in the curriculum. In sum, psychology is an ongoing emotive behaviour that we consistently engage in and therefore it is crucial that this is studied within education. 

Gobinder Gill teaches psychology and research methods.


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