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Nancy Perry's 2016 Presidential Theme

“Bridging Theory and Practice Through Productive Partnerships”

From Newsletter for Educational Psychologists, Summer 2015:

“For me, the appeal of educational psychology is its application to teaching and learning. As a general and then special education teacher, its relevance always seemed clear to me, if not to others. For example, what could be more obvious than the implications of growth versus fixed mindsets for explaining why some learners engage deeply with challenging work while others avoid any activity that runs the risk of revealing what they ‘can’t’ do? And who can dispute the benefits of becoming a self-regulating learner? Now, as a researcher and teacher educator, I try to imbue both early career and experienced teachers with my enthusiasm for educational psychology. But it’s not always easy!

In his Division 15 Presidential Address, Eric Anderman (2009) queried why our ‘bountiful body of knowledge’ is largely ignored (or misrepresented) in policy and practice, and why topics in educational psychology are so often peripheral in programs for preservice teachers (also see Helen Patrick and colleagues, 2011, and Anita Woolfolk Hoy, 2000, in Educational Psychologist). Summarizing Patrick et al. (2011), we need to meet three challenges if we really want to ‘impact education pre-k to gray‘ (my predecessor’s, Karen Harris’, theme). First, we need to do a better job of communicating the relevance of our theories and research findings to the broader educational community. This requires skill at knowledge translation, commitment to presenting and publishing in places that reach policy makers and practitioners, and, likely, speaking to the dreaded media. Second, we need to develop collaborative relationships with practitioners and policy makers. Together, we can develop a common discourse and shared vision about what constitutes effective teaching and learning. Finally, we need to document how practices associated with our theories and research are impacting teachers and learners positively.

In my own program of research, I have been using “teacher learning teams” to both meet my research goals and engage with teachers in generating knowledge and plans they can use to enhance teaching and learning in their classrooms. Teacher learning teams are representative of participatory approaches to educational research and professional learning that place teachers at the center of change efforts. They assume meaningful and sustained changes in teaching and learning occur when teachers and researchers engage jointly in locally situated, inquiry-based, longitudinal and critical examinations of practice. Of course, adopting participatory approaches to research requires rethinking how we offer instructional interventions and, perhaps, how we accumulate an ‘evidence base.’ However, others—including Judy Randy and Lyn Corno—have found that teachers’ uptake of research-based instructional practices increased when they engaged in inquiry-oriented collaborations with researchers, and they developed higher capacity to adapt, be flexible, and tailor instruction to the unique needs of students.”

Dr. Nancy Perry

Dr. Nancy Perry is Professor of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education at UBC. She teaches courses on motivation and self-regulation, language and literacy development, and learning disabilities. She is UBC’s Dorothy Lam Chair in Special Education Faculty.

Those interested may find Dr. Perry’s complete biography and selected publications here. She may be reached at [email protected].

The Blogs

Intermediary Inventive Minds

By Helenrose Fives & Michelle M. Buehl

Spreading the Word

By Paul A. Schutz

Education Research and the Media

By Sharon L. Nichols

Bridging the Research to Practice Gap

By Joseph M. Lucyshyn

Teachers as Self- and Co-Regulating Learners

By Leyton Schnellert & Deborah L Butler