Education Leadership Conference

Psychological research and theory have a key place in the preparation of new teachers, but that role is diminishing, said 2005 ELC presenter Mary Brabeck, PhD, dean of the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. She called on psychologists to become more involved in teacher-education curricula to reverse that trend.

"We have a problem in [many of] our psychology faculties," she explained. "We have not held ourselves responsible for what is happening in the preparation of teachers and those teachers' success in teaching every child."

Teachers, she said, need conceptual frameworks and a multitude of evidence-based strategies to be effective in their jobs — tools that psychology needs to make more readily available by increasing the presence of psychological findings in teacher-education curricula.

"Educators don't deeply understand the research or the theory behind the research and [often] misapply the ideas," she explained. "Psychology, I think, needs to pay attention to how these theories are translated into practice, and psychologists need to engage in the very practical act of making the translation."

Otherwise, she said, psychology courses will continue to be eroded from the teacher-education curriculum. To avoid that, she urged education researchers to further examine effective teaching strategies — and to look at those strategies from different theoretical perspectives.

"When we jump out of our epistemological perspective," she noted, "we can oftentimes learn something that has hugely important practical implications."

-D. Smith Bailey and J. Chamberlin