An interview on past division – part II

What has been the relationship of the discipline of Educational Psychology to APA, and how has APA shaped Educational Psychology as a discipline?

BA:  Well, I think APA has not looked to Division 15 as much as they could have by APA and their Education Directorate. I am sure it is more than that, but over the last 25 to 30 years APA has gone from primarily researchers and professors to a majority of clinicians of some kind.  On most of the state licensing tests when they think about research they think statistics. Statistics is important but there is also measurement and research design. Whether APA knows it or not, as a major basis of making decisions meta-analysis is important. We suddenly have realized that statistical testing really is not a very good system for making decisions in psychology and has actually, to an extent, diminished the development of the science of psychology. There are too many Type II errors because the effect sizes and samples are too small and the measurement systems are not that precise.  So you have a large number of Type II errors except when you have very large samples, and then most everything is statistically significant. Meta-analysis has helped overcome these problems. We now use effect sizes much more in reporting research results. I admire Glass enormously.

Division 15 has been the historical home of Educational Psychology, but APA is becoming more and more clinically focused. What do members of the Division and the Division as a whole get from their relationship with APA? 

BA:  As I said, not a whole lot. Division Five keeps getting squeezed as well.  Division Five people can go to the Psychometric Society and if they really want to, AERA. We keep getting smaller, and we have less convention time. Although one of the things we did to try to alleviate this was, in addition to having Fellows and Members, is to have Associates. I think that is one of the things we were getting started when I was still on the Executive Committee. Those Associates have become an important part of Division 15.

If you are pressed for income, you can become an Associate of Division 15. You can do everything as an associate except become President, Vice-president, Treasurer, and Secretary. You can be everything else. Also, I would suspect sooner or later the Association for Psychological Sciences will accept Educational Psychology more.

Further, as a Past-president after my protest, I was asked to be on the committee to select the new editor of theJournal of Educational Psychology. When we got the list of people to be considered they mostly were Developmental Psychologists and Experimental Psychologists and no Educational Psychologists as such. I objected to that. I think that is kind of the way things have been in APA for quite a while.

What do you recommend for people going into the field now?

BA:  Well obviously Cognitive Psychology is now very important and Social Psychology constructs are now used much more. The field of Educational Psychology has expanded. The social psychology of education with the emotional and social aspects are far more considered now than they used to be. Also take as much measurement as you can. Item response theory is important in educational testing and the No Child Left Behind law, with its emphasis on testing in education, has created many opportunities in educational measurement.

Is there a question I have not asked you that you think is important? I really appreciate your thoughtful answers. You’ve given me some directions to go with as far as following my own interests. You have piqued my interest in some things, so I really do appreciate the time that you spent. You have also given me a good bit of history, and I do appreciate that.

BA:  Well, that is one of the things that I can do.  I have been in Division 15 since 1954, which is now 51 years, so I can give you a lot of the history of the Division.