Applications of Psychological Science to Teaching and Learning: Gaps in the Literature

Members of the APSTL task force identified gaps in the literature in the course of preparing 10 evidence-based modules for teachers on topics related to cognitive, behavioral and affective dimensions of the teaching and learning process. This document provides a summary of those gaps and suggests potential topics for RFPs, dissertations, or collaborative projects to close the gaps in our knowledge in areas classroom teachers say are important to their practice.

Purpose and Process

The task force examined factors that affect learning and found that courses provided to teaching candidates rarely emphasize the interactions between child development, learning theory, motivation, cultural and other individual differences. Members of the task force were selected based on their expertise in several subdisciplines of psychology including: motivation, development, assessment, behavior management, social psychology, and learning and instruction. Separately and together, members of the task force translated literature from psychological science on 10 topics useful for teachers in schools. The focus of the work was to integrate developmental and contextual concerns with research on instruction. Based on the task force’s expertise, the available psychological literature and recent findings from the APA Teacher Needs Survey, the 10 teaching strategies were identified and developed into modules.

In the course of preparing each module the authors were able to explore whether there were serious gaps in the literature that, if they were filled, would enhance the effectiveness of these strategies for wider audiences, whether by virtue of age, ethnicity or disability. This document provides a summary of some of the gaps in the literature that Task Force members discovered in the course of module preparation.

Task Force Members

  • Chair: Mary Brabeck, New York University

  • Carol Dwyer, Educational Testing Service

  • Sandra Graham, University of California — Los Angeles

  • Thomas Kratochwill, University of Wisconsin — Madison

  • Joan Lucariello, City University of New York

  • Barbara McCombs, University of Denver

  • Sara Rimm-Kaufman, University of Virginia

  • Margaret Semrud-Clikeman, Michigan State University