School teachers are thirsty for information from the psychology literature, finds a recent APA survey. They particularly want advice on classroom management, dealing with bullies and motivating students, said Mary Brabeck, PhD, at APA's Annual Convention. But, unfortunately, that information often does not make it from journals to classrooms, noted Brabeck, dean of the New York University Steinhardt School of Education. So she, along with eight colleagues, formed the APA Task Force on the Application of Psychological Science to Teaching and Learning, which is sponsored by the APA Board of Educational Affairs, to address the issue.
"Teachers don't always know how to use the evidence that psychology produces, and we were trying to fill that gap," Brabeck explained.
Brabeck and her colleagues are creating a Web page-aiming for a March 2008 launch-that would give teachers the latest findings in psychology as well as tips for applying them in class. The site's section on bullying, for example, explains why it's important for teachers to actively prevent bullying, noting that harassed students later do poorly in school. The section also exhorts teachers to immediately respond to any bullying behavior they witness, and it suggests they use the incident as a "teachable moment," talking to the class about why bullying occurs.
The site will also feature new findings in the area of brain function and learning-a section developed by Margaret Semrud-Clikeman, PhD, a psychology and psychiatry professor at Michigan State University.
The Web site isn't meant to be a last-stop for teachers, says task force member Sandra Graham, PhD, who authored the bullying section. However, it gives them a good reference point, she notes.
"It's important that teachers also consult with their colleagues and school psychologists so they don't feel like the lone rangers, doing this kind of work in their classrooms," said Graham, an educational psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In the course of developing the site, the task force also will identify areas in education where further research is needed. For instance, task force member Thomas Kratochwill, PhD, found few studies on specific tools for classroom management, even though teachers often seek information on the topic.
"We are hoping that this will launch some positive research agendas," says Kratochwill, a school psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In the coming months, task force members will ask teachers to evaluate the Web site.
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