Study of student’s behavior in educational situations is the prime objective of educational psychology. They are various methods suitable for different situations. The selection of a particular method depends up on the following:

    1. Nature of the problem.
    2. Orientation and skills of the investigator (teacher, counsellor)
    3. Availability of resources, materials, budget and time.

Important psychological methods to study student’s behavior:

    1. Introspection
    2. Observation
    3. Interview
    4. Case study or clinical method
    5. Experimental or scientific method
    6. Survey or statistical method

 1)  Introspection

“Intro” means within or inward and “aspection” means looking or observe. So the meaning of introspection means looking within. Individuals or the student looks within, observe, analyse and report his or her own mental state.

–      It is the cheapest and most economical method.

–      It can apply at any time, any where

–      It depends on the subjective experience.

–      Since the investigator can’t observe it, there will be possibility of lying and also hiding of information.

–      Children and abnormal persons can’t be introspected.

 2)   Observation

Observation is to inspect the overt behavior of the student /child which means the perception of one’s behavior by another. It is the interpretation of one’s behavior by the investigator. Observation can be classified into the following:

a)   Participant observation

b)  Controlled observation

c)   Uncontrolled observation

d)  Participant controlled observation

 a)Participant observation

             In this method the observer (investigator) will participate in the activities of the observed (child) as a group or  individual and note the behaviours.

 b)Non Participant observation

              In this method the observer will not participate in the activities of observes but stay away and observe.     Alternatively the observer can utilize electronics tools and equipments such as CCTV to record behaviors.

 c)Controlled observation

                    In controlled observation the situations or the environment is controlled by the observer. The investigator  manipulates the situations. This type of observation usually conducts in a laboratory.

 d)  Uncontrolled observation

      In this method the observees are being observed in a natural environment and record the observations.

 e)  Participant controlled observation

In this method the investigator being part of the activities of the observer control the situations and record the behaviors in different and varying situations.

 Merits of observation method:
  • Observation method is useful for children of all ages.
  • No need of any special tools other than electronic equipments to record indirectly.
  • It is useful for studying individual as well as group.
  • There are possibilities of personal prejudices of the investigator that may be reflected in the result.
  • In this method only overt behaviours can be observed.

 3.  Interview

Interview is the encounter between two or more people face to face or from a long distance through electronic mediums. It will have a planned procedure with a specific objective. Both overt and covert behavior can be observed in interview. The subjective experiences and emotions will reflect through non-verbal languages such as facial expressions, gestures, tone etc. In an interview what said and how said is important.

 Types of interview:

1.  Structured interview:

It is based on a predetermined plan, well prepared questions, systematic and scientific approach.

 2.  Unstructured interview:

It is just a free talk however probe very deeply. In this method hands on information can be collected and hence it is more authentic. The unstructured interview is flexible than the structured one.

 Lmitations of interview:
  • Shy person may hide certain facts in the interview.
  • Tension and nervousness may hinder the responses.
  • There are possibilities of personal bias and prejudices about the interviewee.

 4.  Case study or clinical study

When an individual child or student to be studied specifically and deeply case study is the best option. Case study is used to scientifically assess the behavioural problems or maladjusted or deviant behavior of an individual. Basically maladjusted or emotionally wrecked behaviours, difficulty in subjects, stress, anxiety etc are clinical cases. Observation, interview, medical exam, psychological test etc are the tools to perform case study.

 Merits of case study:
  • Case study is an in depth study.
  • In it studying everything about something.
  • It consider all aspects of an individual
  •  It is useful to understand the root censes of a problem
Limitations of case study:
  • It is time consuming
  • It can be used only for individual cases.
  • The investigator requires technical proficiency and experience.

 5.  Experimental method

Experimental method or scientific method is the most systematic and objective method for studying overt and covert behavior. In this method cause and effect relationship is studied using objective observation under rigidly controlled conditions. The key factor in this method is the controlling of conditions or variables.


A variable is any factor, trait or condition that can exist in differing amounts or types. The two main variables in an experiment are dependent variable and independent variables.

 Independent variables:

It is the variable which will be changed or controlled in a scientific experiment to test its effects on the dependent variable.

Dependent variable:

It is the variable being tested and measured in a scientific experiment. Say for example to verify whether the duration of study affect the marks of a student, we have to take the duration as independent variable and mark as dependant variable. Independent variable stands for the cause and dependent variable for the effect.

 In addition to the above two variables there are other types of variables and in that the important one is the controlled variable or intervening variable which will be kept under control throughout the experiment. However a change in an experiment would invalidate the correlation of dependant variable to the independent variables.

 In the above example time is independent and mark is dependant variable but if the environment change it will affect the result. Hence experiment shall proceed in a stable environment. Here climate maintain controlled and hence it is a controlled variable.

  • Experimental method is the most objective and systematic method.
  • It is open to critical examination and verification hence the result is more reliable.
  • It is time consuming
  • The fluctuation of moods or mental processes affects the result.
  • Since all causative factors cannot be controlled result may affected by them.

 6.  Survey or statistical method

It is a kind of quantitative assessment which seeks to quantify data and do statistical analysis. This method is used to study individual differences. Survey method is concern with the following:

Conditions or relationships exists
  • Practices that prevails
  •  Point of view or attitude hold
  • Trends that are developing

This method is useful to solve current problems and to determine the present trends.

  • It can be used to predict future developments.
  • It is useful to purpose remedial actions.
  • Sampling error may occur.
  • It gives very little attention to the past.
  • There are possibilities of manipulation of data by the surveyor.