The brochure will help parents identify the program that’s
best for their individual child by listing five questions parents
should ask program administrators, including what three skills
the program believes are most important for children to have
and how the program manages difficult behavior. There are also
five questions to ask teachers and five qualities parents should
look for as they observe classrooms. “Decisions should be made
based on the best science available,” said Flores. “And parents
should understand what’s developmentally appropriate.”
The coalition has also surveyed kindergarten teachers to assess
such early childhood education changes as the growing pressure
to make pre-kindergarten and kindergarten more academic and
the increase in the numbers of children who attend pre-K.
Despite those trends, “there are vast numbers of children
teachers view as not ready,” said Timothy Curby, PhD, an
associate professor of applied developmental psychology at
George Mason University. And while teachers ranked children’s
socioemotional skills — such as getting along with others and
knowing how to calm themselves — as most important, these
are the very skills that many children have difficulty with, the
Teachers felt unprepared for the challenges they faced, the
survey found. Almost half reported that a majority of their
students were living in or near poverty and 21 percent said
more than half their students were English-language learners.
Yet most reported that their teacher certification programs
hadn’t prepared them for such challenges.
“We have an enormous and disgraceful gap in outcomes
among kids in our schools,” said the Education Directorate’s
Rena Subotnik, PhD, who directs APA’s Center for Psychology
in Schools and Education.
To help improve teacher preparation, an APA task force
Explaining psychology for journalists
produced a report called “Assessing and Evaluating Teacher
Preparation Programs.” The task force brought together
education experts to review the science behind teacher
Aimed at Congress, the federal government and accreditors,
the resulting report recommends using three sources of data to
evaluate teacher preparation programs: direct observation of
teaching, students’ scores on standardized tests and surveys of
program graduates, their employers and their students.
That’s in direct contrast to federal proposals, which focus
almost exclusively on standardized test scores, said Subotnik.
Accrediting bodies and state agencies are already using the
report, Subotnik said. The task force is also hoping the report
will inform federal regulations due out this month.
Journalists are another audience that needs to have
psychological science translated so they can use that science
effectively, said Elana Newman, PhD, a psychology professor
and research director of the Dart Center for Journalism and
Trauma at the University of Tulsa.
“Journalists don’t learn science,” Newman said. And they
need information fast, thanks to ongoing deadline pressure.
To help journalists get the story right, Newman suggested
cultivating relationships with journalists — relationships based
on more than expectations that journalists will provide free
PR for researchers’ labs. She also suggested that psychologists
admit what they don’t know, suggest alternative sources, speak
in jargon-free language and define their terms when talking to
reporters. “I assume that reporters will know what PTSD is, but
was once quoted as talking about post-dramatic stress disorder,”
‘The Cognitive Principles of Effective Teaching’
Stephen L. Chew, PhD, a psychology professor at Samford University, practices what
he preached at APA’s 2015 Education Leadership Conference: He has translated
psychological science about teaching and learning into You Tube videos. His series
on “The Cognitive Principles of Effective Teaching” consists of five short videos:
• Beliefs about teaching.
• Mindset, metacognition and trust.
• Prior knowledge, misconceptions, ineffective learning strategies and transfer.
• Constraints of selective attention, mental effort and working memory.
• Teachable moments, formative assessment and conceptual change.
Chew also has a video series for students. Based on cognitive research, the “How
to Get the Most Out of Studying” series has received more than a million views.
Dr. Stephen L. Chew