Report on the Educational Leadership Conference

Cognitive science and learning science are so important to the future of education that SEPCS should play a significant role in future conferences.

By Frank Farley, PhD

The Educational Leadership Conference, conducted each year by APA as a function of the Board of Educational Affairs, was held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 17-20, 2015. Then Society for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science (SEPCS) President David Washburn asked for a volunteer to attend and represent Div. 3: SEPCS. As a SEPCS board member, I volunteered and went. This brief note is my report on this conference.

The theme was “Translating Psychological Science to Educational Practice, Policy, and the Public.” There was a wide range of attendees, including divisions, APA boards and committees and others. APA Divisions represented were
1 (Society for General Psychology), 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology), 3 (SEPCS), 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues), 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), 18 (Psychologists in Public Service), 29 (Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy), 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality), 37 (Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice), 38 (Society for Health Psychology), 39 (Psychoanalysis), 40 (Society for Clinical Neuropsychology), 41 (American Psychology-Law Society), 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice), 50 (Society of Addiction Psychology), and 50. The theme was clearly compatible with our division. Indeed, I felt much of the discussion and formal presentations were somewhat redundant, or at least rather ordinary, for jobbing cognitive scientists. But it was gratifying to see cognitive science front stage center in much of the conference.

The format had a strong focus on presentations with Q&A. The main topics and presentations were the following:

  • "The Impact of Psychological Science:  Lost in Translation?"
  • "What It Means to Apply  Psychological  Science to Education"
  • "What Policy Makers Need, But Rarely Get, from Psychologists and Psychological Research" "Applying the Science of Psychology to Teaching and Learning in Schools"
  • "A Culturally-Informed Method of Using Psychological and Clinical Evidence to Inform Journalism"
  • "Overview of Legislative  Issues:  Restoring Federal Support  for Graduate  Students"
  • "Advocacy for Novices--Making Your Voices Heard--Introduction to Federal Advocacy"
  • "The Challenge of Translating Learning Research into Effective Pedagogical Practice" "Developing Your Message in Congress:  Starting With a Compelling Story”

My own favorite among the speakers was former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, PhD, D-Wash., a witty, smart, informed psychologist/legislator who we would do well to see back in Congress.

Of the 13 main speakers, it is interesting that only one was a member of Div. 3, according to APA's website.

The final day of the conference involved educational advocacy visits of attendees to the Hill to meet with legislators, followed by debriefing.

Cognitive science and learning science are so important to the future of education that we, in SEPCS, should work toward a significant role in future such conferences.