Education Leadership Conference

Leaders in psychology education and training convened at this year's Education Leadership Conference (ELC), Sept. 10-13, in Washington, D.C., to highlight ways faculty and supervisors can translate psychological research on teaching and learning into cutting-edge educational practices in psychology.

The three-day conference offered participants forums, lectures, advocacy training, Capitol Hill visits with members of Congress and media training given by Rhea Farberman, APA's executive director for public and member communications.

In another conference highlight, John Bransford, PhD, chaired a keynote panel addressing the relevance of psychological science to educational practice. Bransford had previously co-chaired the National Academy of Science committee producing the book "How People Learn" (National Academies Press, 1999), a cornerstone of national and international conversations on educational policy. Also, panelists Joshua Aronson, PhD, Richard Gonzalez, PhD, Diane F. Halpern, PhD, Christian Schunn, PhD, and Robert J. Sternberg, PhD, presented findings from research in social psychology, judgment and decision-making, critical thinking, cognitive psychology and patterning of abilities--challenging ELC participants to conduct a disciplinary self-study of educational practices across all levels in psychology.

Conference workshops and sessions covered myriad aspects of teaching psychology, from weaving in cultural sensitivity (see page 63, "Culture-centered teaching begins with classroom inclusiveness") to using hypotheticals in clinical decision-making classes (see page 64, "Practice makes perfect in clinical judgment") to drawing on enrollees' professional experiences in continuing-education courses (also see page 64, "Active learning crucial in continuing education").

Sponsored by APA's Board of Educational Affairs and the Education Directorate, this year's meeting included representatives from 17 psychology education and training organizations, plus representation from other organizations with commitments to education and training, 28 APA divisions and a number of APA governance groups.

Specifically, Cynthia Belar, PhD, executive director of APA's Education Directorate, said the purpose of the third annual conference was to:

  • Provide a forum for multiple psychology education and training organizations to address progress in applying the discipline's knowledge to its own educational practices, including classroom teaching, research training, clinical supervision, teacher preparation, curriculum design and all aspects of program management from K-12 through postgraduate levels.

  • Promote a shared identity for leaders in education and training in psychology across all levels.

  • Affect public policy regarding education in psychology and psychology in education, such as by advocating for increased congressional funding for Graduate Psychology Education grants, which help build training and education programs that encourage health-service psychologists to work with underserved populations.

"The ELC is our premiere event for education advocacy," Belar said. "These kinds of endeavors are really critical to our efforts to influence public policy and, in fact, have brought results."

As evidence, she noted that visits to Capitol Hill by 2003 ELC participants garnered co-sponsorship for the introduction of the Campus Care and Counseling Act in Congress. The act, drafted by APA to improve mental health services to college students, gained bipartisan support, and elements were passed by both the U.S. Senate and House. At Monitor press time, advocates expected the bill to be signed into law.