In Memoriam: Claire Ellen Weinstein

Claire Ellen exemplifies the spirit of this award. Her intellectual leadership of both the Division and Educational Psychology is evident by her election to President of the Division (1997-1998) and her editorship of Educational Psychology from 1987-1991. The list of her work with the Division is long and impressive. From serving as the division’s co-program chair in 1984 to serving as the Division’s representative to the APA council in 2005, she has been a consistent and dedicated member of the Division’s leadership.

As President of the Division in 1997, she initiated the Graduate Student Seminar. The Graduate Student Seminar has become a highlight of APA meetings for students and mentors alike. It would have never been possible if not for Claire Ellen’s leadership. As President, she initiated the program, provided intellectual guidance, mentored students, and provided the program with the financial resources to support the program at a time when these resources were slim. She even provided thousands of dollars of her own money to ensure the program was a success. Since 1998 this program has served as the primary introduction to the Division for many of our current members and most of the Division’s leadership.

Claire Ellen has been, without question, one of the primary intellectual leaders in Educational Psychology for more than 30 years. Her early work created the empirical foundation for all future research on Strategic Learning. She demonstrated that many students, especially first generation students, do not come to post-secondary education with the skills and strategies they need to be successful. Her basic research provided evidence that explicit instruction in learning strategies can change students’ aptitudes for learning. This work served as a direct challenge to the idea that by the time students enter university their aptitudes for learning are “set”. Although her empirical work was ground breaking, she was most proud of her work applying basic research in psychology to post-secondary education.

She dedicated her life to ensuring that students who came into post-secondary education without the strategies and skills they needed to succeed would have access to the instruction they needed to be successful. The Learning and Study Strategies Inventory she developed is the premier normed assessment of study strategies in the world. Most importantly, this tool provides students with a path to improve their learning. The tools and curricula she developed to teach students how to improve their learning opened up the world of higher education to tens of thousands of undergraduates. Her mentorship, sponsorship, leadership, and impact are second to none.

Says Barry J. Zimmerman:

Claire Ellen was a very special person who I will greatly miss. She was kind, funny, and a master story teller. When I visited her strategic learning lab at the UT, I could see all of these elements in action. Greeting each of her graduate student tutors with a hug, she patiently gave corrective feedback to assist struggling students. For a student with a time management problem, Claire Ellen recommended setting more realistic time goals. With a twinkle in her eye, she turned to her favorite New York City philosopher Yogi Berra for advice. He warned about the shadows in left field at Yankee Stadium in the late afternoon: “It gets late early out there!” Without a strategy, time can run out early for struggling students as it did for left fielders. Claire Ellen just embraced life with such enthusiasm and good will that it infected anyone around her. I treasure these memories of Claire Ellen.

Says Karen Johnston-Ashton:

I met Claire Ellen through Dr. Taylor Acee and Dr. Russ Hodges. Claire Ellen instantly welcomed me and asked about my research interests. She warmly carried on a delightful conversation and gave me one of her patented hugs when leaving. At her funeral service Sunday, I listened to stories of her generosity and love, her kindness and love of ice cream and bluebonnets. She will be greatly missed and I am honored to have met her.

Says Barbara L. McCombs:

Claire Ellen was a dear friend an colleague since the early 70’s when we were still grad students — she at University of Texas at Austin and me at Florida State University in Tallahassee. e became instant sister friends and shared our life stories to that point as young ambitious professional women We each had hopes and dreams and we were among the only females researching learning strategies for DARPA. Over the years of our friendship, I met her parents, visited in her home in Austin, met her young adopted daughter, Leona, and shared our families ups and downs as my young children and her daughter grew into adulthood. Her sudden passing has saddened me deeply. We have lost not only a leading figure in the field of educational psychology, but one of the most positive person throughout her lifelong struggle with many medical issues. I will miss her greatly and know her daughter and students all over the world will grieve at this loss of a truly great woman and friend not afraid to go that extra mile to help others who might need her help with things from food to eat, a place to stay, or a shoulder to cry on. May you rest in peace my dear friend Claire Ellen.

Says Eric Anderman:

Claire Ellen was one of the kindest, most supportive scholars in our field. I remember her visiting the University of Michigan when I was a graduate student, and being extremely supportive of grad students who weren’t even her own; she continued to follow many of our careers and support us throughout the years. Her impact on college student success has been and continues to be profound.

Says Karen R. Harris:

Claire Ellen Weinstein had a profound effect on me as a doctoral student in the late 1970s. Her leading work on learning strategies and her Model of Strategic Learning were significant contributors to development of the Self-Regulated Strategy Development model for instruction in the 1980s. I have followed her work my entire career, and will continue sharing her insights and work with students for many years to come.