Skip to content Skip to navigation

Photo of GSE Doctoral students

Developmental and Psychological Sciences (DAPS)

The Committee on Developmental and Psychological Sciences, one of three Area Committees within the GSE, is responsible for graduate training and research leading to the Ph.D. degree.

The program in Developmental and Psychological Sciences (DAPS) emphasizes disciplined inquiry aimed at understanding psychological functioning and/or human development in relation to all forms of formal and informal learning and teaching contexts. The goal of the program is to develop theory and research for the improvement of educational practice in education. Consequently, faculty and student research is centrally concerned with the psychology of learning, teaching, socialization, and developmental processes as well as with research on the design of learning environments and technologies for learning. The program prepares students for professional careers in scholarly research and in teaching. Students in the program acquire knowledge and expertise in several substantive domains of scientific psychology, as well as, research methodology, and embrace the highest scientific, professional and ethical standards.

Historically, psychological research in education has often been divided into several categories with labels such as Educational Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Educational Measurement, and the like. In some graduate training programs there are further subdivisions; within Educational Psychology, for example, research on Learning and Instruction has often been distinguished from research on Teaching and Teacher Education. These subcategories persist because they identify well-known professional associations, societies, and scientific journals, and DAPS graduates may choose to affiliate with one or another of them. However, DAPS faculty believe that imposing divisional boundaries can also stifle new initiatives, syntheses, and other evolutionary changes in the field. For example, new research on the design of developmentally appropriate, technology-supported learning environments cuts across several categories. There are also new initiatives that combine psychology with other disciplines such as neuroscience. Importantly, in DAPS as a doctoral research training program, faculty treat all such divisions as identifying individual specializations within the general program, not as formally separate subprograms or sub-areas.

Faculty expect all DAPS students to develop an understanding and appreciation of psychological and developmental research in education in the broadest sense, as well as to develop their own specialty within it. This means working with faculty advisors to develop one’s own specialization statement. It also means building a graduate study plan that ranges across the major domains of psychology relevant to education as it is broadly defined.

Back to the Top