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The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice

Explore learning theories and how these ideas apply to classroom practice in this video course for K-12 teachers.

A video course for K-12 teachers; 13 half-hour video programs, print guide, and website.

This video-based course is an exploration of learning theory — appropriate for grades K-12 and all subject areas — for the training of preservice teachers and the professional development of inservice teachers. Hosted by Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond, the 13 half-hour programs illustrate a variety of learning theories with applications to classroom practice. A website and print guide supplement the videos, with background readings, questions for discussion, and ongoing assignments that bring theory into practice.

Series Overview

students at globe The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice is a college course developed for students preparing to be teachers, as well as inservice K-12 classroom teachers and other educators. The course focuses on four essential questions:
  1. How do people learn and develop?
  2. How can my teaching and classroom environment support learning for understanding?
  3. How can learning theory inform my teaching practice?
  4. How can interactions among the learner, the classroom environment, and the teaching/learning process produce motivation to learn and build strong learning communities?

Participants in the course will explore learning theories, examine their own teaching, and discuss applications for classroom practice. The first sessions (one through four) look at students as learners:  how they develop, process information, and use their multiple intelligences. The second group of sessions (five through seven) looks at how teachers construct a positive, productive environment for learning. The third group of sessions (eight through eleven) focuses on how to help students master content and develop the skills they will need in life. The final two sessions (twelve and thirteen) focus on motivating students and creating a school culture that supports learning in everything the school does.

The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice includes two other primary components besides this Web site – 13 video programs and an accompanying print guide. Support materials are located in each session.

To begin exploring the content of the individual sessions, follow the Session Overviews link in the right-side navigation bar to find an index of the session titles and topics.

students working “The most neglected part of teacher education is learning theory. And to develop a real profession of teaching you have to have knowledge of how people learn. It’s at the core, because it allows you, then, to be inventive in a professionally responsible way, it allows you to think about what’s working and what’s not working, and what you need to do to help students learn. So I think this is the core of what professional teachers need.”

– Linda Darling-Hammond

About the Course

A teacher who has experienced this course ought to come away with the notion that there are some fundamental principles that we understand about how people learn, and how they develop, and that a good teacher can, by watching, looking, and listening for those clues about what the learner is experiencing, can develop a curriculum and a set of lessons that are more responsive and more effective.”  – Linda Darling-Hammond

Components of the course

Print guide

The print guide is a complete handbook for learners participating in the course and faculty or group leaders conducting it. The guide contains the objectives for each session along with an overview essay, discussion questions, other activities that may be completed within a group meeting or outside it as homework assignments, and references and other recommended readings.

Video programs

The 30-minute video programs present teachers actively using learning theory in their own practice. Each program generally includes one vignette taped in a K-5 class and one taped in a middle or high school classroom that help illustrate the main ideas of the session. Experts put perspective on the segments with additional comments. The programs contain “video pauses” identified with an icon on the screen. These are places keyed to discussion questions in the print guide that highlight main ideas and teaching practices portrayed in the video. You may watch the videos via Video on Demand.


This website contains overview descriptions of each of the sessions in the course, transcripts of the videos, copies of the print guide in PDF format and other support materials, and learning activities in the Learning Challenges section.

For faculty members or inservice course facilitators

If you are a faculty member or professional development facilitator who is conducting this course, you will find it is designed to be flexible for teaching in different contexts.

For faculty who meet in a group with their students, the components are designed to help you –

  • prepare learners for each of 13 sessions by giving them reading assignments and questions to think about
  • begin the session with “getting started” activities that relate to the session
  • watch and discuss the video program
  • continue with other activities and assessments that can be incorporated into the session time, or discussed in class and completed as homework
  • finish in approximately two to two-and-one-half hours

The course can also be easily adapted for teaching at a distance, where students may view the programs via cassette, or Video on Demand.

To prepare for conducting the course, go to the print guide (PDF) and find detailed suggestions for using the print, video, and Web components.

For students in schools of education and inservice teachers

If you are a student or inservice teacher who will be taking this course, see the Individual Session Descriptions tab in the accordion below to find an index of the sessions and links to each session in the right-side navigation.

Download and review the print About This Course (PDF).

Before your first session download the print guide for How People Learn: Introduction to Learning Theory (PDF), review and reflect on Getting Started activities (Section IV-A), and read the Session Overview and other session reading listed in the guide.

Individual Session Descriptions

Session 1. How People Learn: Introduction to Learning Theory
This program introduces the main themes of the course. Teacher interviews and classroom footage illustrate why learning theory is at the core of good classroom instruction and demonstrate the broad spectrum of theoretical knowledge available for use in classroom practice.

Session 2. Learning As We Grow: Development and Learning
This program examines the concept of readiness for learning and illustrates how developmental pathways — including physical, cognitive, and linguistic — all play a part in students’ learning. Featured are a first-grade teacher, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher, and a senior physics teacher, with expert commentary from University of California at Santa Cruz professor Roland Tharp and Yale University professor James P. Comer.

Session 3. Building on What We Know: Cognitive Processing
This program covers how prior knowledge, expectations, context, and practice affect processing and using information and making connections. Featured are a first-grade teacher, a ninth- and 10th-grade mathematics teacher, and a special education teacher, with expert commentary from Stanford University professor Roy Pea.

Session 4. Different Kinds of Smart: Multiple Intelligences
This program delves into Harvard University professor Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, describing how people have learning skills that differ in significant ways. Featured are teachers who share a class of five- through eight-year-olds, including several mainstreamed special needs students, and a ninth- and 10th-grade social studies teacher, with expert commentary from Howard Gardner.

Session 5. Feelings Count: Emotions and Learning
This program introduces ways to create an emotionally safe classroom to foster learning and to deal effectively with emotions and conflicts that can be obstacles. Featured are a fifth-grade teacher and an eighth-grade band teacher, with expert commentary from Daniel B. Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, and Yale University Professor James P. Comer.

Session 6. The Classroom Mosaic: Culture and Learning
This program discusses how culturally responsive teaching enables students to create connections, access prior knowledge and experience, and develop competence. Featured are a sixth-grade teacher and two ninth-grade teachers, with expert commentary from University of Wisconsin professor Gloria Ladson-Billings and University of Arizona professor Luis Moll.

Session 7. Learning From Others: Learning in a Social Context
Based on Lev Vygotsky’s work, this program explores how learning relies on communication and interaction with others as communities of learners. The program features a fifth-grade teacher and a ninth- through 12-grade teacher, with expert commentary from Tufts University professor David Elkind, Yale University professor James P. Comer, and University of California at Santa Cruz professor Roland Tharp.

Session 8. Watch It, Do It, Know It: Cognitive Apprenticeship
This program demonstrates how teachers help their students develop expertise and accomplish complex tasks by modeling, assisted performance, scaffolding, coaching, and feedback. It features a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and an 11th- and 12th-grade English and social studies teacher, with expert commentary from University of Michigan professor Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar.

Session 9. Thinking About Thinking: Metacognition
This program explores how thinking about thinking helps students better manage their own learning and learn difficult concepts deeply. The program features a senior English teacher and a sixth-grade teacher, with expert commentary from University of Michigan professor Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar and Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Session 10. How We Organize Knowledge: The Structure of the Disciplines
This program covers the ways in which the organization of knowledge and understanding can influence learning. It also introduces Bruner’s and Schwab’s ideas about the structure of the disciplines. Featured are a fourth-grade teacher, a 10th-grade biology teacher, and a ninth- through 12th-grade teacher, with expert commentary from Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Session 11. Lessons for Life: Learning and Transfer
This program describes what conditions are needed for knowledge and skills learned in one context to be retrieved and applied to a novel situation, and how different teaching strategies can increase the possibilities for transfer. The program features a fourth-grade teacher and a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher, with expert commentary from Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Session 12. Expectations for Success: Motivation and Learning
Teachers can enhance their students’ motivation by encouraging them to be thoughtfully and critically engaged in the learning process, by supporting their drive for mastery and understanding, and by helping them become self-confident. This program takes a second look at classrooms seen previously to show how motivational techniques work in concert with other learning theories. Stanford University School of Education Dean Deborah Stipek adds her insight to this program.

Session 13. Pulling It All Together: Creating Classrooms and Schools That Support Learning
This program discusses how schools can organize for powerful learning through a coherent, connected approach to teaching and learning that is reinforced and supported by structural features. This session features the staff and students of two schools: a public school in Michigan serving grades three through eight and a first-year charter school in California. Host Linda Darling-Hammond provides expert commentary.

Advisory Team

Linda Darling-Hammond
Charles E. Ducommon Professor of Education, Stanford University

Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Teaching and Teacher Education at Stanford University. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school restructuring, teacher education, and educational equity. She is also executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a blue-ribbon panel whose 1996 report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, has been widely acclaimed as a major blueprint for transforming education so that all children are guaranteed access to high quality teaching. The Commission’s work has already led to sweeping policy changes affecting teaching and schooling at all levels of government and to ongoing reforms in the preparation of teachers.

Dr. Darling-Hammond is author or editor of eight books, including The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools that Work, which was awarded the Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association in 1998, and more than 200 journal articles, book chapters, and monographs on issues of policy and practice. Among her other recent books are Teaching as the Learning Profession, Professional Development Schools: Schools for Developing a Profession, A License to Teach: Building a Profession for 21st Century Schools, and Authentic Assessment in Action.

Prior to her appointment at Stanford, Darling-Hammond was William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she was also Co-Director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST). Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association, a two-term member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and a member of the National Academy of Education. She has served on many national advisory boards, including the National Academy’s Panel on the Future of Educational Research, the White House Advisory Panel’s Resource Group for the National Education Goals, and on the boards of directors for Recruiting New Teachers, the Spencer Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education.

Darling-Hammond has been deeply engaged in efforts to redesign schools so that they focus more effectively on learning and to develop standards for teaching. As Chair of New York State’s Council on Curriculum and Assessment, she helped to fashion a comprehensive school reform plan for the state that supports curriculum and assessment for more challenging learning goals linked to professional development for teachers and greater equity for students. As Chair of the Model Standards Committee of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), she has helped to develop licensing standards for beginning teachers that reflect current knowledge about what teachers need to know to teach diverse learners to these higher standards.

Darling-Hammond began her career as a public school teacher and was co-founder of a preschool and day care center. She also served as Senior Social Scientist and Director of the RAND Corporation’s Education and Human Resources Program and as director of the National Urban Coalition’s Excellence in Education Program.

Darling-Hammond received her B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University in 1973, and her doctorate in urban education, with highest distinction, from Temple University in 1978. She received the Phi Delta Kappa George E. Walk Award for the most outstanding dissertation in the field of education in 1978, the American Educational Research Association’s Research Review Award in 1985, the American Federation of Teachers’ Quest Award for Outstanding Scholarship in 1987, the Association of Teacher Educators’ Leadership in Teacher Education Award in 1990, Educational Equity Concepts’ Woman of Valor Award in 1995, the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Educator Award in 1997, and the Council for Chief State School Officers’ Distinguished Leadership Award in 1998. She has received honorary degrees from Cleveland State University, the University of Toronto, the Claremont Graduate School, and Temple University.

John Bransford
Co-Director of Learning Technology Center, Vanderbilt University

John D. Bransford is Centennial Professor of Psychology and Education and Co-Director of the Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University. Early works by Bransford and his colleagues in the 1970s included research in the areas of human learning, memory and problem solving, and helped shape the “cognitive revolution” in psychology. Author of seven books and hundreds of articles and presentations, Bransford is an internationally renowned scholar in cognition and technology.

In 1984 Bransford was asked by the Dean of Peabody College at Vanderbilt to help begin a Learning Technology Center that would focus on education. The Center has grown from 7 people in 1984 to approximately 70. During that time, Bransford and his colleagues have developed and tested a number of innovative computer, videodisc, CD ROM and Internet programs for mathematics, science and literacy. Examples include the Jasper Woodbury Problem Solving Series in mathematics, The Scientists in Action Series, and the Little Planet Literacy Series. Many of these programs are being used in schools throughout the world.

Bransford and his colleagues are partners in a Technology Challenge Grant awarded to the Nashville School System. This project uses the technology programs that Bransford and his colleagues have developed, plus programs developed elsewhere, to restructure K-12 education according to research-based principles of human learning. The Young Children Literacy Series plays an especially important role in the Challenge Grant.

Bransford served as Co-Chair of a National Academy of Science committee on New Development in the Science of Learning, (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 1999). The goal was to synthesize new findings from research to create a “user friendly” theory of human learning. Issues of using technology to create learning communities are prominent in this work.

Bransford and his colleagues have won numerous awards. His Ph.D. dissertation won honorable mention in the national Creative Talent Awards Contest; several of his published articles (co-authored with colleagues) have won “article of the year” awards in the areas of science education and technology. The Little Planet Literacy Series, which Bransford helped develop, has won major awards including the 1996 Technology and Learning Award and the 1997 Cody award for Best Elementary Curriculum from the Software Publishers Association. Bransford received the Sutherland Prize for Research at Vanderbilt, has been elected to the National Academy of Education, and was awarded the Thorndike Award for 2001.

Helen Featherstone
Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Helen Featherstone is an associate professor of teacher education at Michigan State University. Her current research focuses on the teaching of elementary school mathematics and on teachers’ efforts to change their practices. She has worked for the past seven years with a group of elementary and middle school teachers who have supported and assisted one another’s efforts to craft a new mathematics pedagogy. In collaboration with the members of this group she has studied many aspects of the group’s work. She has written about families with disabled children and about a range of issues in preschool, elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. She is particularly interested in encouraging teachers’ efforts to study and write about their practice and professional learning and was the founding editor of two publications which aimed to make educational research useful to a wide audience inside and outside of schools and universities.

Areas of Expertise: Collaborative research, mathematics reform

Sharon Feiman-Nemser
Mandel Professor of Jewish Education, Brandeis University

Sharon Feiman-Nemser is the Mandel Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis University. For 15 years before accepting her position in 2001, Feiman-Nemser was a Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. There she also was the faculty leader for a five-year, field-based teacher education program. She was principal investigator for the National Study of New Teacher Induction (funded by the U.S. Department of Education, 1998-2000.)

Prior to her current position at Michigan State Feiman-Nemser was Senior Researcher at the National Center for Research on Teacher Learning in a cross-cultural study of mentoring and was Associate Director of the National Center for Research on teacher education 1985-1988. Prior to coming to MSU in 1980, Feiman-Nemser was Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Chicago 1972-1978; and she was an instructor in the School of Education at State University of New York at Stonybrook, South Bronx, New York City, 1970-1972.

Feiman-Nemser began her career as an English teacher for the University of Chicago Laboratory High School in 1965.

Feiman-Nemser is the editor or co-editor of three books, Mentoring For Reform-minded Teaching: Comparative Perspectives on Practice; Exploring Teaching: Re-inventing an Introductory Course, (with H. Featherstone, Teachers College Press. 1992); Teacher Centers: What Place in Education, (University of Chicago, Center for Policy Study. 1978).

Feiman-Nemser received her B.A. with high honors from University of Michigan, and her masters in English from University of Chicago in 1966, and her Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1972.

Elizabeth Kirsch
Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education, University of Louisville

Elizabeth Kirsch is an assistant professor of interdisciplinary early childhood education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. Her current research interests focus on teachers‚ knowledge of their own racial identity, and their knowledge of child development and how these factors influence the classroom environment and children’s learning. Her other research interest is early childhood teacher training in developing countries, particularly Jamaica.

Kay Lovelace-Taylor
Kay Lovelace Taylor & Associates

Kay Lovelace Taylor is a distinguished educational specialist. She currently is involved with Kay Lovelace Tayor & Associates, a company devoted to promoting student academic success and staff enrichment.

As Senior Associate of KLT&A, Dr. Lovelace Taylor has provided multiple services for the National Staff Development Council, The Chicago Public Schools, The School District of Stamford, Connecticut, The Bureau of Educational Research, Phi Delta Kappa, and The Association of Secondary Curriculum Directors. She also provided services for the State Department of Texas, Ameritech, National Head Start Agency, School District of Louisville, Kentucky, the South Alliance of Educators and she addressed a televised educational summit with Secretary Richard Riley.

Lovelace Taylor is a trained management consultant specializing in organization development and the transformation of organizations through high performance teams. Lovelace Taylor has held management positions in both the Detroit and Philadelphia public school systems, and has been an associate professor at Temple University. She completed her bachelor’s degree in child development from Michigan State University; a master’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Detroit; and a doctorate from Wayne State University in educational administration and curriculum development.

Richard Navarro
Dean, College of Education and Integrative Studies, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Richard A. Navarro is Dean of the College of Education and Integrative Studies, (CEIS), California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, appointed September 1, 1997. Since joining Cal Poly Pomona, he has been engaged in strengthening and expanding collaborative partnerships with local school districts; developing alternative pathways into teaching; incorporating service learning into the undergraduate curriculum; promoting teacher education as an all-university responsibility; and expanding the College’s capacity for delivering professional education services, including greater utilization of technology and distance education.

In addition to his position at Cal Poly Pomona, Dr. Navarro is also actively involved in various organizations relating to the educational arena. Currently, he serves as Chair of the California Commission on Technology in Learning, (appointed by California Governor, Gray Davis, in March 2000); Executive Committee and Board Member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS); Member, CSU Deans of Education, Executive Committee; Vice Chair, Pomona Valley Educational Foundation; Co-Chair, East San Gabriel Valley Education Consortium; Member, Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project, DELTA Governing Board; Founding Member and Secretary-Treasurer, Institute @ Indian Hill for Education Reform; Member, Ace Council of Fellows Executive Committee; and Member, Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), Higher Education Advisory Group.

Over the past two years, Navarro has received a $1.5 million grant to establish and maintain CSU-High School faculty-to-faculty alliances and learning assistance programs, and a $40,000 grant to establish a CSU campus network to provide support and encourage teachers to seek NBPTS certification through the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

Prior to Cal Poly Pomona, Navarro was founding director and senior faculty associate of the Julian Samora Research Institute, as well as associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education, College of Education, Michigan State University (MSU). While a member of the teaching faculty at MSU, Dr. Navarro was selected for the prestigious American Council on Education Fellows program and served as special assistant to the Provost at Stanford University (1993-1994). Dr. Navarro has also served as chairperson and executive director of the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research, 1990-1993; co-director of the Mexico-United States Consortium for Academic Cooperation, 1992-1995; and research associate, National Center for Research on Teacher Education, MSU, 1986-1991.

He received his master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. and his doctorate in International Development Education and Anthropology, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

John Porter
CEO, Urban Education Alliance, Inc.

commitment to teaching and education. Dr. Porter earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Albion College in 1953, a Master of Arts degree in Counseling and Guidance from Michigan State University in 1957, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, also from Michigan State University in 1962. Porter taught in the Albion and Lansing school systems for five years before joining the Michigan Department of Public Instruction as a Research Consultant in 1958. At the age of 26, he was the youngest person and the first black professional employed in the Michigan Department of Education. In 1960, Porter was appointed Director of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program for college students, a program he designed following on-site visits to similar programs in New York and Massachusetts. Once the Guaranteed Student Loan Program was operational, Dr. Porter led the establishment of the Michigan State Scholarship and Tuition Grant Programs, which began in 1964. Today, the scholarship and tuition grant programs award approximately $89.3 million annually to deserving college students.

In 1964, Porter was appointed Director of the Division of Special Services in the Michigan Department of Education, and from 1966 to 1969 he served as the Associate Superintendent of the Bureau of Education in the Michigan Department of Education. Porter was unanimously elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction by the Michigan State Board of Education in October 1969. At the age of 38, he was the youngest Chief State School Officer in the nation and the first Black State School Superintendent in the United States. Dr. Porter also served as the President of the Chief State School Officers. During Dr. Porter’s 10-year term as head of Michigan’s Department of Education, he assisted in implementation of numerous educational programs and was recognized for his outstanding contributions to higher education. His numerous accomplishments include the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), the Six-Step Accountability Model, and the concept of the Educational Health Check Up. He is recognized as a leading supporter of vocational rehabilitation and disability determination and has served as a national spokesman for retraining school staffs.

In 1976, Porter was selected as one of America’s most distinguished citizens and asked to present a “Bicentennial Minute” on national television in honor of the nation’s two-hundredth birthday. In 1979, Porter went to Eastern Michigan University as the seventeenth president of the institution. He introduced the Decade of Advancement, which was designed to revitalize the troubled university. His plan – and much work – produced unbelievable success. One of the most rewarding was establishment of the first doctoral level program. In January 1989, Porter joined the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as Vice President and, at that time, also became the Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Education Alliance, Inc. In addition, he made a commitment to assist in raising $1 million to endow a distinguished chair in urban education at Eastern Michigan University.

In May 1989, Porter agreed to serve as the General Superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools. His term began July 1, 1989, and ended July 1, 1991. Upon assuming the superintendency of Detroit, the district had a $160 million deficit and a $50 million unbalanced budget. At the end of the two years, the district had a $35 million surplus and a balanced budget. In addition, a Quality Education Plan had been adopted.

On July 1, 1991, Porter resumed his position as Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Education Alliance, Inc., a non-profit foundation whose purpose is to assist urban school districts to increase student achievement and increase school effectiveness. During the following six years, Porter created the Sixteen-Step Strategic Planning Process, designed to assist urban school districts to succeed rather than just survive; completed the Five-Star Project; completed the preparation for the In Search of Success staff development concept; completed the Modules for Success demonstration; refined the PAS System; authored a textbook entitled Teachers Can, and was instrumental in completing funding of the Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at Michigan State University. In 1997, Porter helped create the Institute for Education Reform at Eastern Michigan University.

Porter has held national posts by appointment from four United States Presidents. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including induction into the Michigan Education hall of Fame in 1992, and in September 1997, the new College of Education building at Eastern Michigan University was named in his honor. Porter has published many books and articles relating to education and has served on numerous state and national commissions and advisory boards, including the National Commission on Manpower Policy and the National Advisory Council on Social Security. Porter is a member of several boards of directors, including Comerica Bank, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Detroit Educational Television Foundation, and the Council of Michigan Foundations.

Lee Shulman
President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Lee S. Shulman is the eighth President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a policy center created by Andrew Carnegie in 1905. The foundation’s mission is “to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of teaching.” He was the first Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education and Professor (by courtesy) of Psychology at Stanford University. The Ducommun Chair was endowed in early 1989 to support a senior member of Stanford’s education faculty “whose research and teaching activities focus on improving teaching and the education of teachers both in precollegiate schools and in colleges and universities.” He was previously Professor of Educational Psychology and Medical Education at Michigan State University, serving as a member of that faculty from 1963 to 1982. He was the founding co-Director of the Institute for Research on Teaching (IRT) at Michigan State University from 1976.

Shulman is past president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and received its highest honor, the career award for distinguished contributions to educational research. He is a member of the National Academy of Education, having served as both vice-president and president. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s 1995 E. L. Thorndike Award for Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education.

Shulman’s research and writings have dealt with the study of teaching and teacher education; the growth of knowledge among those learning to teach; the assessment of teaching; medical education; the psychology of instruction in science, mathematics, and medicine; and the logic of educational research; and the quality of teaching in higher education. His most recent studies emphasize the importance of “teaching as community property” and the central role of a “scholarship of teaching” in supporting needed changes in the cultures of higher education.

Dennis Sparks
Executive Director, National Staff Development Council

Dennis Sparks is Executive Director of the 8,600-member National Staff Development Council. Prior to this position he served as an independent educational consultant and as the Director of the Northwest Staff Development Center, a state and federally-funded teacher center located in Livonia, Michigan. Dr. Sparks has also been a teacher, counselor, and co-director of an alternative high school.

He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1976, and has taught at several universities.

Dennis Sparks has given speeches and conducted workshops throughout North America on topics such as powerful staff development and effective teaching. He is Executive Editor of The Journal of Staff Development and has written articles that have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, The American School Board Journal, The Principal, and The School Administrator.

Dr. Sparks is co-author with Stephanie Hirsh of A New Vision for Staff Development, co-published by ASCD and NSDC. In addition, he has participated in numerous radio and television programs, and was a guest on the Public Broadcasting System’s MacNeil/Lehrer Report.