ASU professor wins national psychology award

March 18, 2015

Michelene “Micki” Chi, the Dorothy Bray Endowed Professor of Science and Teaching in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, has been named the winner of the 2015 E.L. Thorndike Award for Lifetime Contribution in Research from the American Psychological Association.

Considered the association's most prestigious award for Division 15, it is given to living recipients for substantial career achievements in educational psychology. Chi will receive the award and deliver the award address at the association’s annual convention in August 2016 in Denver, Colorado. woman speaking to students Download Full Image

“I am still totally in shock and it’s awe-inspiring to be included among icons such as Jean Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Benjamin Bloom, John Bransford and David Berliner,” Chi said. “I am especially proud that two of us (Berliner) at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College are recipients of the Thorndike Award.”

The award is named for Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949), an American psychologist and educator at Teachers College, Columbia University. Thorndike’s groundbreaking work on comparative psychology helped lay the scientific foundation for modern educational psychology, and was a pioneer of employee exams and testing. Thorndike was also a former American Psychological Association president.

Tim Urdan, who is the current chair for the association’s selection committee, said the Thorndike Award is based on three major criteria: contributions to educational psychology; sustained level of contribution to the field; and original, scientific, empirically-based research that contributes to knowledge, theory or practice in educational psychology.

“It’s recognition for [Chi's] entire career as a senior scholar,” Urdan said. “The selection committee felt her contributions to the field are substantial as well as influential.”

Mari Koerner, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, praised Chi as an innovative academic leader.

“In a college where teaching and learning are of paramount importance, Dr. Chi’s work is especially significant and valued,” Koerner said. “Her research focuses on active learning as a model fits so well with the philosophy of what good educators have discussed for years. She is a modest person whose hard work and intelligence has constantly led the way for the learning sciences.”

Chi is the author of more than 120 academic publications. Her collective work has now been cited over 30,000 times. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Education and has five pending grants under review by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences. She has also won several awards and recognition for her work, most recently the Sylvia Scribner Award for work that has influenced the thinking and research in the field of learning and instruction, and the Wickenden Award for highest standards of scholarly research in engineering education. In 2001, Chi was cited in Carnegie-Mellon University’s Centennial Magazine as one of its most successful undergraduates.

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU students get 'Early Start' on their degrees

March 18, 2015

Gailyn Monroe was intrigued by the idea of attending a large university – even if that meant leaving her friends who were staying back in Colorado.

She decided to attend ASU because of its size and its well-known physics department. students in a classroom Download Full Image

Her mother told her about the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Early Start Program and asked if she wanted to sign up. Monroe said she figured it was worth a shot.

Now almost halfway into her second semester, Monroe said she is glad she took advantage of the opportunity.

“I think it helped immensely,” Monroe said. “It [helped me understand] what I could do with my major and just meeting people earlier, it helped because I feel like if I didn’t, I might have not met people or gotten out.”

Monroe was one of 64 students invited to be part of the college’s pilot CLAS Early Start two-week program. The college wanted to offer students an experience that demonstrates what their major offers and connects them with resources within their focus, said Paul LePore, associate dean for student and academic programs.

The School of Politics and Global Studies and School of Life Sciences each had its own program. The School of Earth and Space Exploration partnered with the Department of Physics to offer one program.

Faculty within the schools and department came up with curriculum and activities for the students to do each day. Upperclassmen students were mentors to the freshmen during the fall and shared their experiences.

“We didn’t want a cookie-cutter program that said, ‘These two weeks are going to be like this regardless of what your major is,’” LePore said. “We wanted something to be authentic to what the students would be doing in those degrees.”

Monroe said she enjoyed having something to do each day, whether it was making a telescope or meeting her professors. Because she was in the combined program, she also saw what earth and space exploration students experience in the major.

Ildefonso Celis, a political science freshman, said he enjoyed learning about what he could do in political science. He had planned on transferring to the W. P. Carey School of Business, but now he is going to add business as a second major.

His group heard from Arizona Rep. T.J. Shope and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.

“We were opened up to all these new things in just our first two weeks, without even starting school,” Celis said. “It was really cool what we’re expected to learn and what we learn. So professors, mentors, friends; basically you get the whole package from Early Start.”

LePore said he hopes the program expands to all of their schools and departments in the future. He assumed some could offer a combined program, like the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Department of Physics.

“I want to make sure our investment in students in the Early Start program or whatever we’re doing gets them to where they want to go,” LePore said.

Written by Alicia Canales

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