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Principles and Mechanisms of Change


This discussion-based, inaugural conference concerned the overall goal of charting future directions for the field of educational psychology. There were 4 strands, each concerning a specific theme (Research into Practice, Technology in the Classroom, Principles and Mechanisms of Change, and Culture and Social Influences in the Classroom). Leaders of each strand were charged with the task of developing initial focus questions and themes to guide the discussion, facilitating and moderating the discussion during the conference, organizing the report of the strand to the final Plenary Session of the Conference, and coordinating the follow-up activities subsequent to the conference.

Our initial conversations about the conference concerned the inherent diversity of issues within principles and mechanisms of change. For example, change can be examined through developmental processes, changes due to learning, conceptual change, change of schools, changes of contextual influences, and the like. Therefore, rather than restrict the conversations to pre-determined categories, we chose to ask broad based questions which would allow for participants to naturally form subgroups at the conference. Additionally, the participants of the strand ranged from senior scholars to students, and given this composition, we expected that would be lively and excellent discussions, which indeed there were.


Focus of the Strand

Consistent with this goal, we developed 4 focus questions which revolved about the overall issue regarding the relevance of educational psychology and educational psychologists to informing and promoting policy and practice. Specifically, how do principles and mechanisms of change inform this discussion? Discussion was to be related to the conference issues (provided by the planning committee) that will be discussed in the final plenary session: pressing issues, core insights, policy implications, and new directions.


  1. Where is it as educational psychologists that we want to be manifest and situated, for example with regard to school policy and programs (e.g. schools, universities, societal levels, different ecological levels). Why do these matter? This question will be discussed at the first strand meeting to set the goals for the remaining sessions.
  2. What is it that we want to emphasize as important with regard to promoting these issues (e.g., learning, development, policies, curriculum, assessment, teacher evaluation)?
  3. How do we make this happen? We also mean by what processes and practices will we make this happen. How do we get our messages heard and by whom?.
  4. If you were to choose one aspect of change to convey regarding policy and programs, what would it be (think of your own research/practice/work). How would you develop policy/programs to facilitate change?


Based on initial discussion at the first session, the strand participants formed 3 subgroups guided by their common interests:

  1. Policy change and teaching (Notes)
  2. Educational psychologists speak to the public (Notes)
  3. Collective Community Group (Notes)

Each subgroup has prepared a summary of their discussions. Notes recorded by student volunteers, Alex Cartenson, Sierra Ryan, and Jordan Thibodeau, are included as the database for the subgroup summaries.


Integration & Follow-Up Activities

The most common theme across subgroups was how to actually implement what we know about educational psychology and change so that it affects education directly. Each group dealt with this in a different way, and has put forth follow-up activities. These are included in the attached reports.

Acknowledgment: We thankfully acknowledge the input of Patricia Alexander and Terri Thorkildsen in initial discussions regarding the strand.


Strand Leaders


Adele Eskeles Gottfried

Steven Graham





Benjamin Forsythe

Avi Kaplan

Denise Kay

Stephan Munz

Hadley Solomon

Jordan Thibodeaux

Donggun An

Timothy Cleary

Angela O’Donnell

Sierra Ryan

Sue Riemer Sacks

Julie Turner

Helen Patrick

Marty Carr

Sarah Kiefer

Alex Cartensen

Jane Vogler