M.Ed. Psychology of Education

As part of the M.Ed. Psychology of Education course, we are constructing a list of useful readings that we have found to be beneficial in our work.


Note:  the citations are in bold on this page  –  just to make them more visible when scrolling.  When using the citations in a reference list, make sure that you remove the bold formatting.


Useful Books



Barnett, R., & Jackson, N. (Eds.). (2020). Ecologies for learning and practice: Emerging ideas, sightings, and possibilities. Routledge.

This relatively recent book was one of the recommended readings for the lecture in Module 2 by Dr Ann Marie Halpenny (Lecture title: Learning ecologies within and beyond educational settings).

The book is highly interesting because it provides a systematic account of the ideas of learning ecologies and ecologies of practice (using examples from higher education and adult learning).



Berk, L. E. (2017). Exploring lifespan development (4th Edition). Hobokon, NJPearson.

There are many core / introductory textbooks in “developmental” and “lifespan” psychology.  Whilst many developmental books cover “birth to adolescence”, lifespan books have a focus on all parts of the lifespan.  This book by Berk is a very popular one.  Remember  –  all authors are different in their focus, their interests, and their writing style.  If you do not like the approach or writing style in this book, have a look at the very many other books that are available in this area (e.g., Stassen Berger).



Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.



Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human being human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.



Brooker, L. (2008). Supporting transitions in the early years. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.



Brooker, L. (2015). Cultural capital in the preschool years. In L. Alanen, L. Brooker, & B. Mayall (Eds), Childhood with Bourdieu (pp. 13–33). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Butler-Bowdon, T. (2017). 50 psychology classics: Your shortcut to the most important ideas on the mind, personality, and human nature. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.


Furnham, A. (1988). Lay theories: Everyday understanding of problems in the social sciences. New York: Pergamon.

So, what are “lay theories”?  Hopefully this explanation will help.

In our professional work we tend to use the same words to describe and label things that are used by everyone else in society.  However, we generally have a much more precise definition of the issue or word than everyone else has.

For example, when we talk about things like depression, anxiety, self-esteem, happiness  –  we probably define these human experiences slightly differently and with more precision than the “average person on the street”.  The definition that most people would use is termed the “lay perspective”.

Quite often we find that there is a “gap” between what we use as a definition . . . and what everyone else uses.  The problem is that this “drift” can lead to major misunderstandings!  It would not be very useful if I were to think that I was talking with an educator about “anxiety” when they might be working from a different  –  lay perspective  –  of anxiety than me.  So, it is always best to ensure that everyone in the conversation agrees at the start that we are talking about the exact same thing.

A sample of the book is available from Google Books.



Garvey, D. (2017). Nurturing personal, social and emotional development in early childhood: A practical guide to understanding brain development and young children’s behaviour. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Gross, R. (2020). Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour (8th Edition). Hodder Education. Available here.

Richard Gross is famous for this book  –  now in its 8th Edition!  It is a great guide to the basic information that anyone new to psychology needs.  It is very easy to understand and has helped some people on the course to clarify the basic concepts that are explored in Module 1.



Jackson, N. J. (2016). Exploring learning ecologies. Lifewide Education. Chalk Mountain Publishers.

This book was one of the recommended readings for the lecture in Module 2 by Dr Ann Marie Halpenny (Lecture title: Learning ecologies within and beyond educational settings).

Available here.



Minton, S. J. (2012). Using psychology in the classroom. London: Sage.

Stephen Minton was central to the design and validation of the M.Ed. Psychology of Education programme in TCD.  Stephen is now based in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth.  If you are interested in Stephen’s research, you can see links to his interests, projects, and publications here.  Whilst Stephen has had a long history of involvement in bully / victim research, he has been a critical scholar in advancing this area  –  e.g., see his more recent work that explores the processes of exclusion and marginalisation in education and society, especially regarding the experiences of Indigenous peoples, members of alternative sub-cultures, and LGBTQ+ people.
This book is highly useful to anyone new to the area of “psychology of Education” or embarking on a career in teaching. The book is very accessible and shows the various uses of psychology in the classroom.  The book also offers some interesting views on how we can define “psychology of education”.  Each chapter in the book explores an “area of contemporary concern” in the classroom and how psychology can be applied by teachers to address these issues.



Mooney, C. G. (2013). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, & Vygotsky (2nd Edition). St. Paul, MN: Readleaf Press. Available here.

This is a nice introduction to these key thinkers.  The chapter on Erikson is particularly clear, interesting, and relevant.


Hayes, N., O’Toole, L., & Halpenny, A. M. (2017). Introducing Bronfenbrenner: A guide for practitioners and students in early years education. London: Routledge.

Considering that this course is largely based around the thinking of Urie Bronfenbrenner, this is a great start to understanding Bronfenbrenner and how his theory can be applied to education.  Whilst Nóirín leads on our Module 2 (The Individual in the Family Context), Leah and Ann Marie also contribute to the module.  This is a lovely book to get started with when thinking about how we can “put the individual into context”  –  i.e., exploring a bio-ecological perspective of human development.

In Trinity College Dublin, this book can be located at: Lecky Lower (372.21 R7;1).

We are also fortunate to have access to an electronic copy of the book  –  is is available here for TCD students.



Peterson, A. (2016). Compassion and education: Cultivating compassionate children, schools and communities. London: Palgrave McMillan.



Pound, L. (2005). How children learn: from Montessori to Vygotsky – educational theories and approaches made easy. Lemington Spa: Step Forward Publishing Ltd.



Stassen Berger, K. (2021). The developing person through the life span (11th Edition). New York: Worth Publishers.

Stassen Berger has been producing very popular text books in this area for a long time.  As noted for the entry above for Berk, some of Stassen Berger’s books have focused only on development until adolescence.  This book is a useful one as it refers to the lifespan.  In general, Stassen Berger has a nice structure for her books  –  with separate sections for critical periods across the lifespan  –  e.g., “the play years”, “the school years”, “adolescence”, “early adulthood”, “middle adulthood”, and “late adulthood”.  Within each of these sections, Stassen Berger generally presents 3 separate chapters  –  focusing on what we might expect in relation to (i) biosocial development, (ii) cognitive development, and (iii) psychosocial development.  Whilst Stassen Berger’s books have a largely US readership and referencing to key studies, it is easy to see how we can “edit” what we read for cultural differences, etc.



Trawick-Smith, J. (2014). Early childhood development: A multicultural perspective (6th ed.). London: Pearson Education.
This book addresses both typical and atypical child development from birth through age eight.  The text highlights the diversity of child development and seeks to support professionals in their work to meet the unique needs of children from a wide variety of backgrounds.  The book contains clinical and classroom-based methods for assessing learning and development of young children.


Woolfolk Hoy, A., Hughes, M., & Walkup, V. (2013). Psychology in education. Harlow: Pearson Education.

This reference is to the European adaptation of Anita Woolfolk’s very popular textbook (Educational Psychology).  Many people really like this book and its view on education and learning from a psychological perspective.  This version includes some new content related to AfL, Attachment, and SEN.
This textbook is useful too for defining “psychology of / with / in education”.




Useful Book Chapters

Boyle, J., & King, E. N. (2021). Resilience, reflection and reflexivity. In J. Monsen, L. Marks Woolfson, & J. Boyle (Eds), Why do teachers need to know about psychology? Strengthening professional identity and well-being (pp. 107-128). Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bronfenbrenner, U., and Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In R. M. Lerner & W. E. Damon (Eds), Handbook of child psychology: Vol 1, theoretical models of human development (6th Edn), (pp. 793–828). Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

Gregory, I., & Davis, I. (2002). The aims of education. In I. Gregory, I. Davis, & N. McGuinn, Key debates in education (pp. 1–28). London and NY: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.

Fitzpatrick, A. (2020). Towards a pedagogy of intergenerational learning. In M. Kernan & G. Cortellesi (Eds), Intergenerational learning in practice: Together old and young (pp. 40-59). Routledge.

Intergenerational Learning (IGL) is a very interesting concept! This book chapter was recommended in Module 2 by Dr Ann Marie Halpenny (Lecture title: Learning ecologies within and beyond educational settings). In the lecture, Ann Marie discussed the idea of IGL and highlighted that IGL seeks to bring together individuals from different generations to share knowledge, skills, and values . . . and, importantly, to have fun together!


O’Toole, L., Hayes, N., & Halpenny, A. (2020). Animating systems: The ecological value of considering Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model of development. In Barnett, R.  and Jackson, N. (Eds.), Learning ecologies: Sightings, possibilities, and emerging practices (pp. 19-31). London: Routledge.

Ryan A., & Webster R. S. (2019). Teacher reflexivity: An important dimension of a teacher’s growth. In R. Webster & J. Whelen (Eds), Rethinking reflection and ethics for teachers (pp. 65-79). Springer, Singapore. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-32-9401-1_5

This chapter was useful for (i) understanding the issue of “reflexivity”, and (ii) the aims of education.



Useful Ph.D. Thesis

McDonnell, D. (2017). An exploration into the psychology of education: The use of an ecological framework to address macro and microsystemic factors that influence individuals working within Irish education (Unpublished doctoral thesis).  The University of Dublin, Trinity College. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22114.22723

This is the doctoral research of Dr Dean McDonnell.  Dr McDonnell teaches on the M.Ed. Psychology of Education programme.  It is a particularly relevant thesis as it explores definitions of psychology, education, and psychology of education.  The thesis is also constructed around the central principles of Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model of human development.  The research explored the role of psychology in Irish education.  For example, Chapter 3 describes the “psychology of education” and provides an overview of some useful learning theories  –  e.g., Behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism.  The thesis is publicly available via TCD’s institutional repository (TARA) here.


Journal Articles


Arakelyan, S., & Ager. A. (2021). Annual research review: A multilevel bioecological analysis of factors influencing the mental health and psychosocial well-being of refugee children. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 62, 484-509. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13355

One of our M.Ed. Psychology of Education lecturers and supervisors, Dr Sadhbh Byrne (ORCID), alerted us to this useful article.  This review of the literature provides an example of the application of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model of human development.  It helps to conceptualise the factors that can shape the mental health and psychosocial well-being of refugee children.  The paper outlines risk and protective factors at different levels of influence, and links these to life course principles of socio-historical time, developmental age, proximal processes, and child agency.

Dr Byrne works on a fascinating and important project called “REFUGE-ED: Effective practices in education, mental health and psychosocial support for the integration of refugee children”.


DeRobertis, E. M., & Bland, A. M. (2020). Lifespan human development and “the humanistic perspective”: A contribution toward inclusion. The Humanistic Psychologist, 48(1), 3–27. https://doi.org/10.1037/hum0000141

Holmes, A. G. D. (2020). Researcher positionality – A consideration of its influence and place in qualitative research – A new researcher guide. International Journal Of Education8(4), 1-10. DOI: 10.34293/education.v8i4.3232 Available here.


Hong, J. S., Hunter, S. C. Kim, J., Piquero, A. R., & Narvey, C. (2021). Racial differences in the applicability of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model for adolescent bullying involvement. Deviant Behavior, 42(3), 404-424. DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2019.1680086 Available here.

Jun Sung Hong and Simon C. Hunter are great researchers  –  with a long involvement in exploring issues related to bully / victim problems.  As the authors correctly identify in their abstract, whilst there has been a long history of exploring various personal (e.g., gender) and situational (e.g., school) variables in relation to bully / victim problems, there has really not been much attention to the importance of studying racial differences  –  especially when designing prevention and intervention programs.  Hong et al. used data from the important “Health Behavior in School Aged Children (HBSC)” study and applied Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model to help develop an understanding of how various interrelated systems are associated with involvement in bully / victim problems (i.e., perpetration, victimization) in this nationally (US) representative sample of adolescents.  For me, this is a great addition to the literature in 2 separate ways: (i) exploring racial issues, and (ii) using Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory to better understand the central issues.


Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Neuberg, S. L., & Schaller, M. (2010). Renovating the pyramid of needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(3), 292-314. DOI: 10.1177/1745691610369469

When we think about Maslow and the “hierarchy of needs”, we often think about the famous pyramid!  However, Maslow did not actually present the theory in the form of a visual pyramid (see here).  This paper by Kenrick et al. (2010) presents a possible “renovation” of the pyramid.


Lätsch, A. (2018). The interplay of emotional instability and socio-environmental aspects of schools during adolescence. European Journal of Educational Research, 7(2), 281-293. DOI: 10.12973/eu-jer.7.2.281

This article is useful if you have an interest in post-primary school education.  It was an interesting read about Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model in the context of adolescent development.  When considering the many changes that accompany adolescence, this article highlighted factors that could hinder learning and development, with a focus on the relationship between socio-environmental aspects and emotional instability.  Supporting the social and emotional well-being of learners is essential for productive learning experiences, and fostering healthy relationships and inclusion plays a big role in this.  This was also useful in terms of thinking about how educators can work towards eliminating barriers to learning by nurturing confidence and resilience with a growth mindset (e.g., Dweck).


Lohse-Bossenz, H., Kunina-Habenicht, O., & Kunter, M. (2013). The role of educational psychology in teacher education: Expert opinions on what teachers should know about learning, development, and assessment. European Journal of Psychology of Education28(4), 1543–1565. DOI: 10.1007/s10212-013-0181-6

This journal article explores some areas of education that can be well informed from a psychological perspective (learning, development, and assessment).  The authors highlight how these topics are especially important for teachers and should be included in Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

I was able to locate a full-text version of the paper here on ResearchGate.


McInerney, D. M. (2005). Educational psychology – Theory, research, and teaching: A 25‐year retrospective. Educational Psychology, 25(6), 585–599. https://doi.org/10.1080/01443410500344670

This paper reviews the development and changes that have occurred to educational psychology over the 25 years (to 2005).  The paper has a predominant emphasis on four of the “big” areas of psychology as related to the field of education: (i) educational psychology, (ii) cognitive psychology, (iii) behavioural psychology, and (iv) social cognitive theory and humanism.  It examines the development of approaches to learning and teaching throughout the years.  The article also extends this review to explore more recent influences from the cognitive and information processing perspectives (e.g., Piaget, Vygotsky), the development of constructivist approaches to learning and teaching, and the growth in cognitive theories of motivation.  The review is also understood in terms of developments in, for example, methodological advances in psychological research and the increasing importance of a cross‐cultural perspective.

The article concludes with five paradoxes that are designed by the author to stimulate reflection on behalf of the reader: (i) constructivism, (ii) impact on policy and practice, (iii) cross-cultural dimensions, (iv) teaching time, and (v) research training.

I was able to locate a full-text version of the paper here on ResearchGate.

Stîngu, M. M. (2012). Reflexive practice in teacher education: facts and trends. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 33, 617-621. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.01.195
A useful paper on the issue of being a “reflexive practitioner”  –  the full-text of the article can be found here.



Project Areas for Masters and PhD Projects

Research proposals should be aligned to a topic area that I have a research interest in.  This is to ensure that you have access to appropriate supervision by someone who is an active researcher in that particular field of study.

Presented below are indicative project areas and topics that I would be happy to supervise.  Please note that this is just an indicative list and is not exhaustive.  It should provide for some further understanding of my research interests.

Bully/victim problems:

 Nature, incidence, correlates, intervention, prevention, policy, practice, experience, and outcomes (children and adults, schools and workplaces);

 Bronfenbrenner / Bildung Psychology: ecological perspectives on bully/victim problems;

 Whole School Approaches to bully/victim problems;

 Types of bully/victim problems (e.g., Cyberbullying, Disablist Bullying) -enhancing knowledge and prevention capacity in these areas;

 Should involvement in bully/victim problems be considered as having a special educational need (SEN)?;

 Psychology of aggressive behaviour;

 ‘By-standing’ or ‘Standing-by’: the role of the bystander in preventing and countering bully/victim problems;

 SPHE and the curriculum: fit for purpose?

 Behaviour and discipline: links to attainment and health.


Educational Guidance and Counselling:

 Bronfenbrenner / Bildung Psychology: ecological perspectives on Educational Guidance and Counselling;

 Psychometrics and testing: professional and ethical issues in psycho-educational and occupational assessment;

 Psychometrics: application of psychometric principles, measurement, development, and evaluation;

 Whole School Approaches to Guidance and Counselling;

 Creating and fostering psychologically healthy school and classroom environments.


Special Educational Needs / Inclusion:

 Bronfenbrenner / Bildung Psychology: ecological perspectives on the provision made for SEN / inclusion;

Transition” issues: (i) making the transition from primary school to post-primary level, (ii) from post-primary to FE/HE, (iii) from FE/HE to the “World of [meaningful] Work” and/or Life-Long Learning/Life-Wide Learning, (iv) the “scenic route”, and (v) identification of the barriers and facilitators to successful transition from primary to post-primary, post-primary to FE/HE etc.;

 Do students with SEN take a “scenic route” through their education?  If so, how does this look and how does this differ from the de facto/de jure route?

 Psycho-educational issues regarding students with SEN;

 Psychometric issues regarding assessment for SEN, HEAR, DARE etc.;

 Bully/victim experiences of children with SEN: inter- and intra-group explorations;

 Bully/victim problems: the notion of “Disablist Bullying” – knowledge and management of such issues;

 Knowledge and attitudes of teachers, educational psychologists etc. regarding SEN (policy, practice, outcomes, etc.);

 Children and Young People (CYP) with SEN: is it a case of fitting the system to the child or fitting the child to the system (e.g., ergonomics, Universal Design principles)?

Labels are for jam jars”: exploring categories/labels/taxonomies regarding the “labels” applied to CYP with SEN/disabilities in education.  From a medical model to a social model to a psycho-educational model (%iles etc.);

 ADHD: is there an attention deficit disorder among educational professionals regarding ADHD?


Projects Interfacing the 3 Research Areas Above:

 Any project that explores a combination of the 3 defined research areas above;

 The role and application of psychology to education and educators.