My Academic Heros (in no particular order)

 “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.”

  • Kurt Lewin

    • Summary:
      • Father of modern social psychology. “Freud the clinician and Lewin the experimentalist–these are the two men whose names will stand out before all others in the history of our psychological era. For it is their contrasting but complementary insights which first made psychology a science applicable to real human beings and to real human society.” (Edward Tolman, APA Address, 1947) His influence, however covert and implicit it may now be, has never been stronger on the scientific study of human behavior in real life settings.
    • Selected Works/Publication:
      • Marrow, A. J. (1969). The practical theorist: The life and work of Kurt Lewin. Basic Books, Inc, New York.
      • Lewin, K. (1946) Action research and minority problems. J Soc. Issues 2(4): 34-46.
      • Lewin K. (1943). Defining the “Field at a Given Time.” Psychological Review. 50: 292-310.
  • Elliot Aronson

    • Summary:
      • Another in the pantheon of great social psychologists. Cognitive dissonance theory is one we would do well to revisit. The jigsaw classroom is perhaps the most generalizable and efficacious cooperative learning pedagogy I know of. To the chagrin of IRBs everywhere, he gave thousands of researchers the inspiration to trick and manipulate participants in myriad creative ways.
    • Selected Works/Publication:
      • Aronson, E. (2008). The Social Animal (10th ed.). New York: Worth/Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-5715-X
      • Aronson, E. (2010). Not by chance alone: My life as a social psychologist. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-01833-8
      • Aronson, E., & Patnoe, S. (1997). The jigsaw classroom: Building cooperation in the classroom (2nd ed.). New York: Longman.
  • Richard Mayer

    • Summary:
      • Few educational technology researchers are systematic, experimental, and theoretical in their approach while also being practically relevent. Mayer does it all with aplomb while appearing to be a really good guy in the process. He is THE leading expert on multimedia learning.
    • Selected Works/Publications:
  • Urie Bronfenbrenner

    • Summary:
      • I don’t think anyone complicated the social sciences more than Bronfenbrenner.  What I mean is that his ecological system theory broadened our horizon to the myriad proximal and distal organism-environment processes going on in the lives of humans.  He has provided a fantastic lens through which to see development, but in bringing systems theory to human behavior, he has introduced endless confounding variables and interactions. If only he had provided better ways to operationalize his framework.
    • Selected Works/Publications:
      • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1981). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Harvard University Press.
      • Bronfenbrenner, D. U. (2004). Making Human Beings Human: Bioecological Perspectives on Human Development (1st ed.). Sage Publications, Inc.
      • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental psychology, 22(6), 723–742.
      • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American psychologist, 32(7), 513–531.
      • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1989). Ecological systems theory. Annals of child development, 6(1), 87–249.
  • Erik Erikson

    • Summary:
      • Nearly every developmental psychologist names Erikson as a founding father of the discipline.  His reconceptualizing of Frued’s psychosexual theories into the stage theory of psychosocial development is nothing short of brilliant.  If not the initial catalyst, Erikson certainly led the charge into research on the self and identity.
    • Selected Works/Publications:
      • Erikson, E. H. (1994). Identity and the Life Cycle. W. W. Norton & Company.
      • Erikson, E. H. (1994). Identity: Youth and Crisis. W.W. Norton & Co.
      • Erikson, E. H. (1996). Way of Looking at Things: Selected Papers (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Jean Piaget

    • Summary:
      • As a developmentalist and educational psychologist, I will always reserve a place for Piaget.  Although he attempted to avoid education, his contributions to educational psychology cannot be underestimated.  Despite Piaget’s somewhat opaque articulations of his theories, constructivist thinking would not be the same without him.
    • Selected Works/Publications:
      • Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (2000). The Psychology Of The Child (2nd ed.). Basic Books.
      • Piaget, J. (2008). The Language And Thought Of The Child. Goldberg Press.
      • Ginsburg, H. P. & Opper, S. (1988). Piaget theory of intellectual development (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Sherry Turkle

    • Summary:
      • One of Turkle’s main theses is that the development of the computer and, subsequently the Internet, reflects larger sociological (i.e. postmodernism) movements and has helped to shape them. Turkle’s work on the interaction between identity development and technology is fascinating although not supported by strong empirical work.  I look to her as an enlightening voice, one that always expands and challenges my thinking.
    • Selected Works/Publications:
      • Turkle, S. (2004). Whither Psychoanalysis in Computer Culture? Psychoanalytic Psychology. Vol. 21(1), 21(1), 16-30.
      • Turkle, S. (1980). Computer as roschach. Society, 17(2), 15-24. doi:10.1007/BF02700055
      • Turkle, S. (1999). Cyberspace and Identity. Contemporary Sociology, 28(6), 643-648.
      • Turkle, S. (2009). Simulation and Its Discontents (1st ed.). The MIT Press.
      • Turkle, S. (1997). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Simon & Schuster.
  • James Marcia

    • Summary:
      • Although I may not cite his work much, I still fall back on Marcia’s articulation of the four identity statuses and find it readily applicable to my thinking.  I still “embrace the moratorium” :).
    • Selected Works/Publications:
      • Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego-identity status. Journal ol Personality and Social Psychology, 3(5), 551–558.
      • Marcia, J. E. (1980). Identity in adolescence. Handbook of adolescent psychology, 5, 145–160.
  • Tom Luster (in memoriam)

    • Summary:
      • Tom’s influence on my work will not soon recede.  The care and dedication with which he approached his work and those he worked with is something I aspire to emulate.  His work on resiliency will forever  influence my thinking.  As one of Urie’s students, Tom brought to life Bronfenbrenner’s theory and approach.  As well, his ability to just “get stuff done” was unmatched.
    • Selected Works/Publications
      • Luster, T., & McAdoo, H. (1996). Family and child influences on educational attainment: a secondary analysis of the High/Scope Perry preschool data. Developmental Psychology, 32(1), 26–38.
      • Luster, T., Bates, L., Fitzgerald, H., Vandenbelt, M., & Key, J. P. (2000). Factors related to successful outcomes among preschool children born to low-income adolescent mothers. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 133–146.
      • Luster, T., Bates, L., & Johnson, D. J. (2006). Risk and resilience. The Crisis in Youth Mental Health: Critical Issues and Effective Programs, 27.
      • Luster, T., & Okagaki, L. (1993). Parenting: An ecological perspective. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Scott McLeod


  1. I only count 8 above. Can I be #9? 😉

  2. Done :)… hope you don’t mind my lifting a few sentences from your site to do so.

    By the way, I love the idea of using autoethnographies to develop meaning and purpose for educators. I think we short-change our students if our ultimate goal is not to help them find meaning and a transcendent purpose for what they’re doing. On a related note, I see you were recently referenced by Daniel Pink. The business world clearly is awakening to the idea of purpose while higher ed (at least the research community studying higher ed) still seems somewhat indifferent (or distracted by other more easily measurable constructs) to these affective aspects.

  3. Thanks, Andy. FYI, you spelled my last name wrong. No biggie. Happens all the time!

    That autoethnography project was my colleague’s, not mine. Dr. Tyson Marsh. He’s a cool cat. I featured our student’s video but it was his project. I agree that it’s a great idea.

    I concur with your statements on higher ed!

  4. My apologies! It is fixed. Having a funky last name myself, I should have been more careful.

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