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E. Michael Nussbaum's 2018 Presidential Theme

"Evidence-Based Change through Psychology, Policy, Professional Learning, and
Participatory Practice."

From Newsletter for Educational Psychologists, Summer 2017:

As scholars of an applied science, educational psychologists seek both to understand the teaching-learning process and to have that research make a difference in classrooms and school systems. Given these aims, the theme of my presidency will be “Evidence-Based Change through Psychology, Policy, Professional Learning, and Participatory Practice.”

The inclusion of “psychology” should be self-evident, but let me explain the motivation for the other three “P”s. First, in respect to policy, this is an area where research in educational psychology (and educational research generally) can and should make a difference. Towards that end, I will be convening an ad hoc advisory committee on educational policy to make recommendations about how Division 15 should interface with the policy community. How we can best leverage APA’s existing government relations structures at the federal level is a related issue.

Policy is shaped not only at the federal level, however, but also at the state and local levels, and not only by legislatures and school boards, but also by those who implement policy. This includes teachers and principals. They are ultimately the ones we must affect for our research to make a difference. This is why I have included “professional learning” as part of my theme. As educational psychologists, we are well versed in principles of learning, and—although frequently ignored—these principles are applicable to professional development programs. We need to position our organization and membership to better reach out to teachers, administrators, publishers, professional development providers, and other stakeholders. Towards this end, I will therefore also be convening an ad hoc committee on professional learning under the leadership of former president Nancy Perry.

The last part of my theme is “Participatory Practice.” The intent here is to clarify that policy and professional learning initiatives should not be top-down affairs where researchers, policy makers and professional development providers tell teachers “what to do.” Teachers and principals are attuned to many constraints and affordances that others “above them” are not, and we have much to learn from these practitioners. Communication and learning should be a two-way street. Teachers and principals should therefore participate in shaping policies and practices at all levels.

Finally, I note that there is much excellent research being conducted by our membership, and we need to make sure this research makes a difference in the lives of teachers and students. We need to celebrate our successes, but also build on them strategically and move forward on the key areas I have outlined above.

Dr. E. Michael Nussbaum

Dr. Nussbaum received his Ph.D. (1997) from Stanford University and also holds a Master’s in Public Policy (1982) from UC Berkeley. He worked for eight years for the California Legislature as a K-12 program analyst before pursuing his doctorate in educational psychology. Currently he is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he directs the Learning Sciences program. 

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