It's a concern for many psychology researchers: They seldom communicate with their counterparts in education departments, yet they study many of the same cognitive and learning topics.
APA's Science Directorate has taken steps to bridge that gap with help from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Even before its recent push for multidisciplinary science learning centers, in 2000 the agency awarded the Science Directorate a $24,000 grant for two symposia--one at APA's Annual Convention and the other at the Western Psychological Association's--that brought together researchers from education and psychology.
After the symposia, past APA senior scientist, Nancy Dess, PhD, worked with NSF's Kenneth Whang, PhD, and Nora Sabelli, PhD, to award the remaining funds to psychology departments seeking to collaborate with education departments. Psychology departments sent in proposals for joint projects, and eight of them won $1,500 seed grants. Awardees aimed to build stronger ties with their education peers through such means as reading groups, seminars and poster sessions.
The point of the grants, says Dess, now psychology department chair at Occidental College, "was just to get the ball rolling, to bring them together to talk, schmooze and brainstorm and see what would come of it. Real research collaborations are organic--you can't just say, 'Go find a research partner, and then you'll get the dollars.' Frankly, if this gets just a couple of faculty with a couple of graduate students at each institution interested in doing a project, that serves the purpose."
Time will tell if that happens. "It's remarkable what these schools have done with a very modest sum," says Dess.