Educational psychology cannot claim priority in the systematic analysis of educational processes. Philosophers of education such as Democritus, Quintilian, Vives and Comenius, had examined, classified and judged the methods of education centuries before the beginnings of psychology in the late 1800s. Instead, aspirations of the new discipline rested on the application of the scientific methods of observation and experimentation to educational problems. Even in the earliest years of the discipline, educational psychologists recognized the limitations of this new approach. In his famous series of lectures Talks to Teachers on Psychology, published in 1899 and now regarded as the first educational psychology textbook, the pioneering American psychologist William James commented that:

Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediate inventive mind must make that application, by using its originality.

* Charles Hubbard Judd

In 1912, Thorndike, who developed the theory of instrumental conditioning, presaged later work on programmed instruction, mastery learning and computer-based learning:

If, by a miracle of mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, and so on, much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print.


Influential Educational Psychologists and Theorists

The following persons were selected and featured in a recent biographical history of educational psychology[39] as having made significant contributions to the field:

* Albert Bandura 1925-
* Alfred Binet 1857-1911
* Benjamin Bloom 1913-1999
* Ann Brown 1943-1999
* Jerome Bruner 1915-
* Lee Cronbach 1916-2001
* John Dewey 1859-1952
* Nathaniel Gage 1917-
* Robert Gagné 1916-2002
* William James 1842-1910
* Maria Montessori 1870-1952
* Jean Piaget 1896-1980
* Herbert Simon 1916–2001
* Burrhus Frederic Skinner 1904-1990
* Charles Spearman 1863-1945
* Lewis Terman 1877-1956
* Edward L. Thorndike 1874-1949
* Lev Semenovich Vygotsky 1896-1934

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