BSc Education

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Social Psychology of Schooling

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC21742
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit is designed to introduce students to key concepts that describe students’ socio-emotional relationships with learning and how these are affected by and affect social processes in compulsory schooling. Students will consider the strengths and weaknesses of such concepts and their influence on pedagogic practices. They will also become familiar with research approaches that test out school based interventions based on the aforementioned socio-emotional concepts – this includes a critical focus on the ‘what works’ approach to educational research. Students are therefore, encouraged to adopt a critical approach in examining how research evidence is used to promote specific pedagogical practices.

The unit has been designed to develop critical analysis skills with students as they examine these ideas, and to equip learners with the skills needed to question and evaluate research and policy in education. This will be beneficial to them throughout their degree programme, and in employment in a variety of educational careers.

The unit uses a flipped approach to learning with videod lecture content and pre-reading offered online in advance and taught sessions focused on discussing key ideas and debates. 


The unit aims to:

Introduce the key concepts and theories related to social psychology and reflect on their relevance and significance to understanding social processes (e.g. peer group dynamics) and learning processes (e.g. metacognition) in schooling. It builds on the foundations set within the Year 1 unit – Introduction to Psychology of Education.

Explore how socio-emotional concepts that describe individual relationships with learning are influenced by and influence the social processes operating within schooling. Examine the related pedagogic practices and strategies that are identified by researchers and policymakers as effective ‘tools’ to promote learning outcomes.

Reflect on and critique the theoretical underpinnings of the above mentioned socio-emotional concepts and explore the implications of their strengths and limitations for teaching and learning practices in schools. Consider how these constructs are used in ‘what works’ research to design interventions that promote effective learning in schools.  

Support students to evaluate the research literature on the social psychology of schooling  in order to critically assess the evidence base.

Encourage students to reflect on their own learning experiences in a critical manner. 


The unit will introduce students to a range of concepts that describe an individual’s socio-emotional relationship with learning in the schooling phase.

The introductory session will provide an overview of the theoretical foundations of such concepts – building on the theoretical content from the EDUCxxxx Year 1 introductory unit. It will also cover the ‘what works’ approach to conducting educational research in order to explore strengths and weaknesses of the evidence base.

Subsequent sessions will focus on one (or more) of the following concepts considering their strengths and weaknesses:
Self efficacy
Self regulated learning
Growth mindset
Academic resilience
Learner identity

Further sessions will then consider how these concepts are affected by and affect common pedagogic practices used at various stages of the school career, including:
Ability grouping
Dialogic teaching
Play & Playworlds

Students will be encouraged to consider the way that socio-emotional concepts linked to learning are used in research and policy, and their role in producing and/or challenging dominant discourses about learning and social processes in schools.  

The ‘what works’ approach to educational research will be revisited throughout the unit in session so that students can discuss strengths, challenges, overlaps and commonalities between studies in response to their learning on the unit. 

Teaching and learning methods

This unit adopts a flipped approach to learning with the majority of content available to students online prior to taught sessions via Adobe sparks (embedded in the VLN). Students are expected to engage with both short videos and textual content in advance of attending class – they are instructed to bring points that need further explanation to class for small group and whole class discussion. Taught sessions will be conducted in a sequence of eleven two-hour workshops with additional tutorial sessions reviewing the learning and preparing students for the assessment activities. Each workshop will focus on discussing the online content and will consist predominantly of interactive activities, such as task focused problem solving and contributions via online platforms (e.g. Powerpoint online). There will also be some case-studies for students to work with both in session and asynchronously. One workshop will be explicitly focused on conducting a thematic literature review for Assignment 1. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Judge and critique selected psychological concepts and their theoretical underpinnings and their impact on pedagogic practices.
  • Evaluate the quality of evidence in psychological research and the validity of its use in supporting educational policies and practices 

Intellectual skills

  • Use a wide range of sources to identify, select and synthesise evidence on psychological concepts and identify specific gaps in the evidence base
  • Adopt a questioning attitude in the discussion of psychological/educational theory
  • Reflect on the implicit values underpinning particular educational approaches

Practical skills

  • Use a wide range of resources to identify, select and organise psychological concepts and evidence to respond to problems posed within the course
  • Present and interpret numerical and verbal data

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Conduct independent study on a specific topic within the psychology of education
  • Demonstrate the academic skills of structuring a written argument, evaluating counter arguments and identifying appropriate references 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Set exercise 50%

Summative assessment 1: 2000 words
A literature review of evidence focusing on a key concept in social psychology and its impact on social processes in schooling. 

Summative assessment 2: 2000 words
Individual essay: students select one of the four questions on pedagogic practices linked to the social psychology of schooling. 


Feedback methods

Via written feedback on the VLE within 15 working days of submission

Recommended reading

Biesta, G., 2007. Why “what works” won’t work: Evidence‐based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational theory, 57(1), pp.1-22.

Carr, M. and Lee, W., 2012. Learning stories: Constructing learner identities in early education. Sage.

Dweck, C.S., 2006. Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random house.

Schunk, D.H. and Zimmerman, B.J. eds., 2012. Motivation and self-regulated learning: Theory, research, and applications. Routledge.

Usher, E.L. and Pajares, F., 2008. Sources of self-efficacy in school: Critical review of the literature and future directions. Review of educational research, 78(4), pp.751-796.

Wigfield, A. and Eccles, J.S. eds., 2002. Development of achievement motivation. Elsevier.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Laura Black Unit coordinator

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