The Necessity and Importance of the Educational Psychology Report

Every child is born with different strengths and abilities which may affect them in their learning and academic acquisition. A child may receive the same kind of educational start as his/her peers only for parents to realise later that he/she is unable to be on par with the other children as they progress in the school years. In this respect, it will benefit parents and the child’s educators if a clearer understanding of his/her abilities and strengths are ascertained. This is where an educational psychology report will come in handy.


Educational psychology is the branch of psychology that specialises in applying psychological research and principles in educational activities, such as teaching and intervention. An educational psychology report is obtained after a psycho-educational assessment is conducted with a child. This assessment can only be conducted by a trained psychologist using suitable cognitive test tools. 


Before the assessment is conducted, parents and/or caregivers will be interviewed by the psychologist to gain insights on the child. The school teachers may be part of this interview as information provided by multiple informants can give a good picture of the child in various settings. During the assessment, the psychologist will note any observable behaviours of the child to ascertain his/her areas of strengths and weaknesses. Results obtained from the assessment will be informed to the parents, alongside relevant recommendations that can benefit the child.


Advantages of understanding a psycho-educational report

Understanding a psycho-educational report may not be straight forward and requires the psychologist to explain the details to parents and/or caregivers, but it will provide useful information on how a child can be supported in his/her learning:

  1. Identifies a diagnosis –  the result from an assessment can identify if a child has any learning difficulty
  2. Identifies a child’s cognitive profile – it can guide parents and teachers on the child’s strengths and weaknesses so that he/she can be taught to develop his/her full potential where teaching methods and activities can be adapted to the child’s needs.
  3. Identifies a child’s behavioural functions for learning – it informs parents and teachers on whether the child is ready for school placement, the type of instructions and accommodations that will be suitable to endorse the remediation


Typically, an assessment for a child with dyslexia will take into account these aspects:

  • Cognitive skills which examine different areas of intelligence in the verbal, non-verbal and spatial domains
  • Literacy skills which include reading accuracy and fluency, comprehension, spelling, and phonological awareness
  • Achievements on these tests should be viewed with the knowledge of the child’s environment and the interventions he/she has received
  • Child faces similar challenges in another language other than English

Although a child’s cognitive profile is largely innate, it can be enhanced through parenting and teaching styles that are suitable to the child. As the child grows older, adults working with him/her should also observe the learning styles that the child is more inclined to adopt. With an assessment, if a child is found to have a specific learning disorder, considerations for teaching will be accounted for.

Theories of Learning, Teaching and Parenting Styles

Every child learns differently and every parent has a different view on parenting. So how do these aspects impact a child?



Theories of Learning


Behaviour is explained by observable experiences and not a mental process. Learning takes place when two events are connected. Skinner’s experiment, termed operant conditioning,  recommends the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behaviour. This theory suggests that reinforcements and punishments are consequences that cause a behaviour to occur with greater and lesser frequency respectively. Reinforcements, aimed to increase behaviour, can be positive or negative. A positive reinforcement occurs when the child is rewarded for displaying a desirable behaviour in order to encourage more of that behaviour, such as giving him/her praise for keeping the toys. Whereas a negative reinforcement happens when something unfavourable is removed to encourage the child to demonstrate more of the desired behaviour. For instance, the parent stopped nagging when the child kept his/her toys. Punishment on the other hand, is a consequence that causes undesirable behaviours to reduce. 

Social Learning 

This theory emphasises that learning involves social, behavioural and cognitive factors (Bandura, 1969).

Students learn desirable or undesirable behaviours from imitating their environment through attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. For example, a child observes (attention) his/her older sibling getting rewarded for cleaning the living room. The child then remembers (retention) this event and tries to chip in or do the same the next time (reproduction). If the child is also rewarded for exhibiting this behaviour, he/she will be driven (motivation) to repeat it. Corporal punishment is an example that employs the social learning theory. In this case, the society pays attention to the crime committed and retains the condemnation received by those who have broken the law for commiting serious crimes, thus deterring them from reproducing the same crimes. Thus modelling such as the illustrations above is the hallmark of social learning theory. 


The constructivism learning theory postulates that learning is an active process and the learners are active participants in their learning. Proponents of this theory believe that children have innate intelligence and creative strengths. They can build upon their existing knowledge:

  • linking new concepts with prior knowledge (Piaget’s theory of learning through ‘assimilation’ and ‘accommodation’)
  • when they actively pursue learning opportunities through hands-on experiences (Dewey’s theory of experiential learning)
  • with adult guidance such as teachers facilitating learning and taking a student-centred approach, learners can accomplish a task that cannot be done by themselves (Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding)


Thus, shifting from the traditional classroom practice, children are encouraged to show more agency to create their own learning while teachers and parents are to recognize that they must provide appropriate experiences and chances for this to happen.


The Experiential Learning theory developed by Kolb proposed that children learn from concrete or abstract experiences which provide information that serves as a basis for reflection and experimentation –“the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience; knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming the experience” . Experience, gained through concrete experience or abstract conceptualization, is then transformed to a learnt concept via reflective observation or active experimentation. This theory is best understood as a cycle:



To illustrate this: 

  • Child tries to in-line skate (concrete experience)
  • Before child tries it again, child might watch a video or a live action of others doing in-line skates (reflective observation)
  • The child then thinks how his/her body should move and what he/she needs to do to execute the action (abstract conceptualisation)
  • Child thinks about what he/she should do while trying in-line skating to make it work (active experimentation)

The learning theories above can be well supported by the 4 types of learning styles: visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic (VARK). While everyone engages in these 4 learning styles at any time, a predominant one exists for each person. It is important for parents and educators to recognize what a child’s predominant learning style is but at the same time, introduce other styles so as to enhance learning. Employing a multi-sensory learning approach can benefit the child more when all the senses are engaged. 


Learning styles and information processing: Learning styles are linked to information processing (refer to diagram and table below). It is an aspect of cognitive style where individuals develop learning theories to cope with both the task and the situation. Cognitive styles consist of thinking, remembering, and problem-solving that vary between individuals and develop around personality differences. When teaching children, it is necessary to understand their learning preferences in relation to the components of the learning process. For parents and educators, it is good to cultivate in children their most comfortable way to express how they best absorb information in order to build confidence. It is also important to note that learning and cognitive styles can change over time as the child grows. 



Preference for the use of maps, diagrams, charts, flow charts, graphs, symbolic arrows, circles, hierarchies etc.

Preference for information that is “heard or spoken” through lecturers, group discussions, podcasts, radio, talking to someone or even oneself.



Preference for text-based input and output, such as lists, reports, essays, manuals, PowerPoints, and assignments. 

Preference to learn from the experience of doing something e.g. practice, demonstrations, simulations, case studies, and applications.


Teaching & Parenting Styles

Teaching and parenting styles contribute to a child’s learning as a mismatch might mean the child’s fullest potential is not harnessed and the child could lose interest in learning and achieving improved learning experiences. 


Teaching styles: Difference in style varies between the degree of student to teacher centeredness. Grasha (1996) identified 5 common teaching styles namely:

  • Authority or lecture style
  • Demonstrator or coach style
  • Facilitator or activity style
  • Delegate of group style
  • Hybrid or blended style


Every style is different but can be appropriately employed in a classroom setting based on the tasks the teacher plans for the students. For example, the Authority or lecture style can be employed when a new topic is taught and students are instructed to take notes and absorb information; this style is more teacher-centred. On the other hand, the Facilitator or activity style can be used when the students are required to demonstrate their grasp of the topic via a group project where it enables students to develop critical thinking skills to retain knowledge that promotes self learning. The style which is best for a teacher to adopt depends on the goal and method of teaching. However, the instructions for the students would best be a learner-centred one where teachers have to consider different ways to represent the content so as to tap on students’ current understanding and the learning environment.


Ultimately, for a child to learn well, the teacher needs to recognize his/her own learning and teaching styles to effectively teach different types of learners, and be able to implement multi-sensory teaching strategies. In contrast, students are encouraged to use a range of modalities (hearing, seeing, touching, and doing) in their learning besides the one they are most comfortable with.


Parenting styles:

How parents nurture their children has an impact on how children form their worldview. Baumrind (1966) coined the terms: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive/indulgent parenting styles. Maccoby and Martin (1983) then added a fourth: uninvolved/neglectful style. Each parenting style has its own unique characteristics, methods, and philosophy. These parenting styles can influence child development and how children learn, face challenges, adapt to new environments, and approach new experiences.

However, parenting style is no one size fits all; every child is different. Different children need different parenting practices, not different parenting styles. Parenting practices are methods that involve specific actions and behaviours that parents use to raise their children. For example, parents who believe in setting boundaries nurture independence may adopt an authoritative parenting style by using practices such as allowing their child to make age-appropriate choices under certain limitations. Conversely, parents who emphasise warmth may embrace a permissive style, employing techniques like offering comfort without enforcing strict rules. To synthesise these concepts, parenting styles provide a broad framework for understanding the parent-child relationship, whereas parenting practices are the distinct strategies used to implement that framework; the combination of which shapes the overall environment the parents create.


Communicative Functions of Behaviour

Behaviour is a form of communication. Children’s behaviour, for example complying with or avoiding instructions, is an indication of how they feel about something – compliance is achieved when the child feels confident about the task to undertake, while avoidance is displayed when the task is deemed unattainable. The situation can be challenging for parents and educators when children exhibit undesirable behaviours such as anger, frustration, boredom, or anticipation. How can learning take place when negative behaviours receive the spotlight? 


Assessing and understanding behaviour: It is important to assess and understand behaviours as they have strong implications to learning on everyone involved – the child and others in the learning environment. Thus, understanding behaviours can determine ways to address the needs of children and ways to modify them. For example, when a child rarely sits still or is unable to complete his/her task, it could mean the task is too easy or too difficult. When a task is either of these, the child may have no motivation to complete it hence, behaving in ways which are deemed as inappropriate. Therefore, it is important for parents and educators to be aware of positive behavioural support techniques.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Positive Behavioural Support Techniques

Children can be encouraged to display positive behaviours when the proper techniques are in place such as:

  • Use of behavioural management techniques e.g. modelling, physical prompts, visual cues, and reinforcements to promote attention, interaction, communication (e.g. rewards, negative reinforcement, punishment)
  • Use of age-appropriate reinforcers that are meaningful to children e.g. praises and encouragement; points system; rewards (free choice of an activity
  • Use of extrinsic rewards (e.g. stickers, extra break time) which should gradually be replaced with intrinsic naturally occurring reinforcements attributed by positive experiences (e.g. enjoying the subject; gaining friendship through group learning) 
  • Avoid reinforcing consequences for misbehaviours (e.g. time-out when students display off-task behaviour)
  • Adjust the level of expectations or modify task to help students achieve success
  • Frequent monitoring of behaviour to remind students what they are capable of achieving (e.g. seated and on-task for the expected length of time)
  •  Encourage positive self-talk to help students think positively about himself/herself.

The role of the Stakeholders 

When working with children, involving the stakeholders – parents, other family members/caregivers, teachers, Special Educational Needs (SEN) educational professionals – are imperative. These people are in contact with the child all the time and hence, are seen as the pillars to support a child’s learning. So what can they do?

  • Parents – review daily schedule (e.g. proper meals, sleep routine, school work), reinforce what is learnt in school, maintain communication with school teachers and other educational professionals
  • Other family members – help to maintain consistent routines at home in the absence of the parents, provide care to the child if he/she is not receiving proper care from the parents, provide support if the child needs help
  • Teachers – teach appropriate behavioural skills, implement incentives to motivate the child, engage the child in learning activities that addresses his/her needs, establish routines to help the child know what is expected of him/her during lessons time
  • SEN educational professionals (e.g. counsellor, therapist, SEN officer) – teach appropriate behavioural skills, provide positive behavioural support or any support to the child outside the classroom that addresses his/her learning needs

Having these groups of people involved in the child’s learning means:

  • doing regular check-ins with them to maintain the constant communication between parents, teachers and SEN educational professionals
  • to evaluate their progress on the planned actions and routines that have been implemented and practised at home or in school (e.g. schedule for homework, meals and sleep)

In conclusion, having an educational psychological report can benefit parents, caregivers and teachers in appreciating the child’s learning profiles and abilities, such that his/her learning needs can be addressed correctly. In addition, with the knowledge of various learning theories, learning styles, teaching and parenting styles, one can maximise the learning potential of a child in order for him/her to attain academic success as well as other areas (e.g. music, the arts, sports) which the child wishes to venture in.

Article written by:
Hani Zohra Muhamad
Educational Advisor and Lead Educational Therapist
RETA Fellow



The content of this article is based on the SkillsFuture Credit-Eligible course “Educational Psychology for Special Education” delivered by DAS Academy in collaboration with the Social Service Institute. Click here to apply for the course.