Research & Projects

Educational Psychology

Center for Research on Classrooms

The Center for Research on Classrooms (CRC) focuses on research in K-12 classrooms. The CRC originated as a call for informative research in the context of the polemics and politics of school reform. The past 50 years have included a series of national reform efforts, including A Nation at Risk (1983), The National Education Summit (1996), No Child Left Behind (2002), Race to the Top (2009), and the current Every Student Succeeds Act (2015); original CRC co-directors conducted research within each context.  One insight of these efforts: new policy directives suggest that the current administration and key personnel in the Department of Education view previous reforms as inadequate.  In hindsight, scholars in each era agree that school reform efforts have been recycled, partial if not complete failures, and typically set the stage for the next new “problem” of the public school. Adding to the national policy and school evaluation perspectives, popular media and even professional journals are replete with opinions about the quality of teachers, principals, and students and the "problem" of the public school.  While we are aware of the influence of each of these perspectives, particularly on "what counts" in which reform, the primary focus of the CRC remains on the more basic and practicable unit of schooling: the classroom. 

The U.S. tolerates a considerable economic bandwidth among its citizens and one result is marked variation in the resources available to families and the schools that serve them.  Thus, classrooms can differ in important ways, and one goal of CRC is to understand how classroom opportunities, practices, and processes do and can support the learning, motivation, and well being of teachers and students.  CRC is not driven by politics or any ideological orientation. Problematic and politically driven reform initiatives have emerged from both major political parties in the U.S. and at local, state, and federal levels. The primary goal of CRC is to pursue research activities that are problem-focused and policy papers that are driven by research evidence rather than assertion.

 

Comprehensive school reform programs in Arizona

Professors Tom Good and Mary McCaslin played a big part in the November 2008 issue of Teachers College Record, which covered their study of comprehensive school reform programs in Arizona and included information about educating youth who live in urban or rural poverty. All articles that appear in the issue are written by McCaslin, Good, five current EDP students, and one former EDP student. TCR is a distinguished journal that has been published for more than 100 years.

 

Research article written by our Educational Psychology faculty wins national award

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education presented the award for “exemplary scholarship” to faculty in the educational psychology department during its annual meeting.

Three UA faculty members and four doctoral degree students wrote the winning article, titled “How Well Do First-Year Teachers Teach: Does Type of Teacher Preparation Make a Difference?”

The Outstanding Journal of Teacher Education Article award is sponsored by the association’s Committee on Research and Dissemination and Sage Publications, a company that publishes journals, books and electronic media.

“The award selection committee deemed this article to be a well-structured, clearly reasoned paper that effectively employs a longitudinal design to examine an important research question for the teacher education field,” the association noted in a news release.

The faculty authors were: Department Head Thomas L. Good, Professor Mary McCaslin, and Assistant Research Scientist Henry Tsang.

Ronald W. Marx, dean of the College of Education, said: “It is essential that teacher education programs show empirical evidence of their effectiveness. The research program that Good and McCaslin are directing shows how solid research can demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs.”

The authors, whose article was published the Journal of Teacher Education, took a look at the teaching practices among first-year teachers over a 3-year period and studied how they managed their classrooms, how they taught and how student assessments affected them.

“This research was conducted in a social and political context in which the quality of teaching in K-12 school is questioned,” they wrote.

The authors also explored the teachers’ educational backgrounds and tried to determine ways traditional preparation compared with “alternative paths” to certification could affect classroom instruction.

Though traditionally trained teachers were found to have higher scores in classroom management, the authors found that regardless to whether a teacher received traditional or alternative preparation, they could “teach at desired normative levels as defined with participating school districts.”

 

Research Group on Child Development, Education and Policy

The Research Group on Child Development, Education, and Policy (CDEP) is a multi-disciplinary collaborative to conduct high-quality research to study early childhood and family characteristics that impact learning, development, school readiness and health outcomes. Research shows educational investments made during early childhood, especially for disadvantaged youth, improves the wellbeing, resilience, and productivity of children. Furthermore, these benefits carry into adulthood and have a positive impact on society (Heckman & Masterov, 2007).

Our work is focused on understanding learning, cognition, socio-emotional functioning, the physical well-being of children, as well as the resources, opportunities, relationships, and social policies that impact children’s development.  Faculty and students with varied interests (education, school psychology, public health, family studies) meet regularly with the goal to support each other’s research and develop collaborations.