Speaking of Education

It is hard to believe that five years have passed since my arrival at APA. Where has the time gone? There is much to do to advance education in psychology and psychology in education. My passion for our mission has not diminished. In fact, I must repeatedly remind myself of the Zeigarnik Effect--that unsolved problems and unfinished tasks are more readily remembered than resolved ones. On reflection I note that in reality we have accomplished much, including new services and opportunities for APA members and the discipline:

  • To provide a forum for psychology education and training organizations and groups to address issues of mutual concern, we initiated an annual Education Leadership Conference (ELC). To facilitate increased communication, we began a biannual newsletter, The Educator, and built a Web site that includes multimedia access to selected ELC presentations.

  • To improve funding for psychology education and training, we proposed the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program, now established in the Bureau of Health Professions. Currently funded at $4.5 million, this program has supported 52 doctoral, internship and residency programs in 26 states.

  • To promote psychology in public policy, we advocated successfully for statutory recognition of psychologists as "primary-care providers," eligibility of psychology graduates for National Health Service Corps scholarships, and authority for Community Health Centers to hire psychologists nationwide. Most recently, the APA-crafted Campus Care and Counseling Act to support mental and behavioral health services on campus was signed into law as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.

  • To promote excellence in graduate education and training, the APA Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) initiated a small grants program for education conferences and a significant award for innovations in graduate education and training. We have also supported numerous efforts to promote diversity in graduate education--most recently a recruitment fair hosted by the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology.

  • To promote the application of psychology to education, we helped develop a Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education. Under way is a K-12 teachers' needs assessment that will inform the design of relevant professional development courses.

  • To enhance psychology's capacity to contribute to education research, we obtained a $2 million grant from the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences (IES) for the APA/IES Postdoctoral Education Research Training Program. Thirteen fellows are now working with mentors in school-based research.

  • To promote easy access to quality online continuing education, we launched the APA Online Academy. Working with APA's Division of Health Psychology, we established the Clinical Health Psychology Institutes to promote the translation of research to practice and the acquisition of new clinical skills for practitioners wishing to expand areas of practice.

  • To enhance quality assurance in postdoctoral training, we worked with the APA Committee on Accreditation in their initiation of accreditation for postdoctoral residencies.

  • To maintain APA's own "accreditation," we prepared self-studies and successfully obtained continued recognition by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

  • To provide resources for self-study by psychology undergraduate programs, we worked with BEA task forces developing the Learning Goals and Outcomes of the Undergraduate Psychology Major and its companion Assessment Cyberguide. We also began a national database to provide benchmarking data for undergraduate education in psychology.

  • To facilitate career advisement and outreach to academic departments, we initiated the Psychology Department Program, a subscription program that also provides resources to enhance teaching and learning. In other efforts to facilitate teaching, we are--with support from the National Science Foundation--creating psychology's first entry in the National Science Digital Library, namely Web-based psychology experiments that will be accessible to psychology departments nationwide.

  • To promote quality in the teaching of psychology, we also facilitated the work of APA's newest affiliate membership group, Psychology Teachers at Community Colleges, and have helped APA's high school teachers of psychology to create unit lesson plans and resources for psychology's participation in high school science fairs.

Who do I mean when I say "we"? Obviously I mean Education Directorate staff, a group of dedicated professionals led by outstanding senior staff with whom it is a pleasure to work. But "we" also includes the governance groups that are integral to defining our mission, other APA staff who are essential to our work, and the APA members with whom we collaborate to accomplish our objectives. Since our achievements are dependent upon all, on this, my fifth anniversary, I'm taking this opportunity to salute all who have contributed to the advancement of education for science and practice in the public interest.

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