(Historian: Revathy Kumar)
Jere Brophy was a distinguished professor of teacher education and educational psychology at Michigan State University and former director of the Institute for Research on Teaching at Michigan State University, East Lansing. An internationally renowned leader in the field of educational psychology, he was deeply committed to help students “appreciate the value of what they were learning” (Brophy, 2008, p. 312).
Dr. Brophy earned a Ph.D. in human development and clinical psychology from the University of Chicago in 1967. He is the recipient of several awards, including the American Psychological Association Division 15’s Thorndike Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Council on Social Studies Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award, and an honorary doctorate from the University Liege, Belgium. Brophy’s international reach is evidenced by his board membership in the International Educational Academy of Education and his involvement in the Education Policy Series published by UNESCO.
Jere Brophy has authored over 300 articles, chapters, and technical reports and has several books to his credit. The book Looking in Classrooms, co-authored with Dr. Thomas, L. Good and in its tenth edition, is a review of the major literature regarding effective classroom instructional practice. Other books, authored and co-authored, that have received accolades from researchers and practitioners include Teaching Problem Students (1996, 2003) Social Studies Excursions K-3 (2003), Inside the Social Studies Classroom (2008) and Motivating Students to Learn (2nd Ed., 2004). In Teaching Problem Students, Brophy outlines twelve common problems teachers deal with in their day-to-day work as educators. Leigh Chiarelott, one of the book’s reviewers states, “the problems Brophy selects as his focal points for improving classroom teaching are real, compelling problems faced by all teachers in all environments.” This book is a classic example of how he integrated research, theory, and practice in education through his inquires into the role that motivation, teacher expectations, and teacher efficacy play in student learning.
In Motivating Students to Learn, Brophy bemoans the overemphasis on motivating students by trying to make education fun. He makes case that “students must take seriously the intended goals and outcomes of learning activities, and therefore must be taught to undertake the tasks these activities entail with serious engagement (New Educator, 1998).”
Shortly before his death in October 2009, his aptly titled article “Connecting with the Big Picture” appeared in the Educational Psychologist, the flagship journal of Division 15 of the American Psychological Association. “Connecting with the Big Picture” is a masterful critique of the five articles that draw on the current major social cognitive theoretical perspectives on motivation, in the special issue on identity and motivation. He helps the reader recognize the unique contributions of each theoretical perspective and articulates ways in which we can integrate research and constructs from the different perspectives to understand the links between identity and motivation in multicultural contexts.
Jere Brophy’s extensive work has enriched the field of educational psychology. A colleague recalled him as someone to be saluted for “his good will and good cheer,” expressing the sentiment of many colleagues, that he “will be cherished in our memories” (Waring 2009).