Exploring educational psychologists' views of social justice

  • Joanne Schulze

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


The social justice agenda is currently at the foreground of political consciousness and the idea of 'social justice' has penetrated the discipline of psychology, specifically counselling and community psychology. However, there is a wealth of literature which has debated the role of social justice in psychology, and what it can and should look like. A systematic literature review was undertaken to find and synthesise empirical research relevant to the question: 'what is the significance of social justice in educational psychology practice?' It was structured using the PRISMA framework and studies were examined and screened to ensure that they met the inclusion criteria. A Weight of Evidence framework was used to enhance the judgement of the quality and relevance of the identified studies, with regards to the review's research question. Qualitative research studies were assessed for quality using a pre-existing investigative framework, whilst quantitative investigation studies were evaluated using a tailor-made framework, which referenced quantitative research guidelines. The research base was found to give positive support to the significance of the concept of social justice in US school psychology practice. An exploratory piece of qualitative research using semi-structured interviews with qualified UK educational psychologists was conducted to explore their views of social justice. The interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis applied. Results of the research gave definition to the concept of social justice under an educational psychology lens, reasons for its importance to educational psychology practice, examples of what it looked like within educational psychology practice, and thoughts around the role of educational psychology in promoting social justice. The concepts of evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence, and the effective dissemination of research in relation to outcomes and impact were discussed. Policy, practice and research development implications were considered, before a strategy for promoting and evaluating the dissemination and impact of the research findings, was considered. A multi-strand strategy of journal publication, presentations, and workshops will be utilised to encourage further discussion around the topic. The creation of a UK educational psychology special interest group around social justice may be of value, in order to advance interest in social justice, into action.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Laura Winter (Supervisor)


  • young people
  • children
  • school psychology
  • social justice
  • educational psychology

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