(Historian: Revathy Kumar)

Dr. Nathaniel Gage was a professor at Stanford University, where he moved in 1962 after 14 years at the University of Illinois. He co-founded the Stanford Center for Research and Development of Teaching and was the 1963-64 president of American Educational Research Association. Gage edited and published the first Handbook of Research on Teaching which included his seminal chapter, “Paradigms for research on teaching” (1963, 94-141). During his tenure at the University of Illinois, Gage was elected president of the APA’s Division of Educational Psychology in 1960.

Nathaniel Gage was born Nathaniel Gewirtz in Union City, NJ as the second of two sons of Polish-Jewish immigrants in the year 1917 and graduated from high school in 1934. He went on to study at the University of Minneapolis where he worked in B.F. Skinner’s laboratory and graduated magna cum laude in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Despite this, he was rejected by 10 universities before being admitted to Purdue University. According to David Berliner, the many rejections were due to anti-Semitism. During World War II. Gage spent two years in the Army, where he developed aptitude tests for choosing navigators and radar observers. He returned to the University of Purdue to earn his Ph.D. in 1947.

He has many honors to his credit including the Guggenheim fellowship (1976-1977), election to the National Academy of Education (1979), the E.L. Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology (1986), and an honorary doctorate from the Université de Liège in Belgium (2001). Nathaniel Gage will be remembered for his leadership in the field of educational psychology and his research in the field of teacher effectiveness. His legacy are his many students, including, David Berliner, Christopher Clark, Richard Clark, Theodore Coladarci, Lyn Corno, John Cawford, Ronald Marx, Penelope Peterson, Barak Rosenshine, Gavriel Salomon, Richard Shavelson, Dale Schunk, Richard Snow, Nicholas Stayrook, and Philip Winne , who have all gone onto prominence and have made significant contributions to the field of education psychology. Indeed Nathaniel Gage is, as Deborah Stipek, dean of the Stanford School of Education, so aptly called him “giant among educational researchers.”


Berliner, David C. (2003). Toiling in Pasteur’s quadrant: The contributions of N.L. Gage to educational psychology”. In B.J. Zimmerman and D.H. Schuck (Eds.) Educational Psychology: A Century of Contributions (pp. 391-407) Mahwah, N.J. USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Sullivan, K. (2008). “Nathaniel Gage, ‘giant among educational researchers,’ dead at 91”. Stanford News Service. Archived from the original on 2008-09-06. http://www.webcitation.org/5aeHW1LTE. Retrieved 2008-09-05.