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History of the Developmental and Psychological Sciences Program at Stanford University


Psychology in education at Stanford can be traced back to the creation of the university in the 1890s. However, the first formal program in psychology and education was organized in the early 1960’s under the title of Psychological Studies in Education (PSE). PSE continued until the spring of 2010 when the faculty decided to rename its program – Developmental and Psychological Sciences (DAPS). This change was made to align the program with contemporary perspectives in developmental studies and with advances in the psychology of learning and teaching that reflect cognitive, social, and neuroscience research methodologies and findings.

Leland and Jane Stanford had specified a Department of History and Art of Education in their founding grant. David Starr Jordan, who had been President at Indiana University, became the first Stanford President; the Indiana connection would prove to be especially productive for both psychology and education at Stanford in the coming decades.

President Jordan appointed Earl Barnes from Indiana as one of his first faculty members, and a one-man Department of Education, in 1891. Barnes taught the history of education, but he also began courses and research projects to pursue his interest in child study, following the style of G. Stanley Hall, one of the pioneers of American developmental psychology. However, Barnes abruptly resigned for personal reasons in 1897 and the Chair went to E.H. Griggs, a professor of ethics. The ethics and education departments were then combined and Griggs hired another of Jordan’s former associates from Indiana, Ellwood P. Cubberley, as an assistant professor to cover the education side.

When Griggs suddenly left Stanford in 1898, Cubberley was given a probationary period by Jordan to prove that education could be made a scientifically respectable field of scholarship. Cubberley did so using his background in physics, but also his growing knowledge of psychology gained from study leaves to Columbia’s Teachers College, where he worked with the famous psychologists J. McKeen Cattell and E.L. Thorndike, among others.

The Department of Education prospered, especially after Cubberley was made Professor of Education in 1905. In 1908, he hired John A. Bergstrom, also from Indiana, as the first Stanford Professor of Educational Psychology. Bergstrom died within a year, so the position was next offered to Lewis M. Terman, Bergstrom’s former Indiana student, starting in 1910. Also arriving on the faculty in 1911 was Jesse B. Sears, who had been an undergraduate at Stanford and then a graduate student at Chicago and Columbia as well as Wisconsin.

Sears and Terman became close friends and colleagues. Although Sears went on to teach in educational administration and research on school surveys, it is noteworthy that his diverse graduate work included studies with three of the founding fathers of educational psychology: John Dewey, Charles Judd, and E.L. Thorndike.

It is also noteworthy that Sear’s son Robert conferred with Terman while a Stanford undergraduate, and chose his career in psychology as a result; Robert Sears ultimately returned to Stanford in the 1950’s to become Professor of Psychology, Department Chair, and then Dean of Humanities and Sciences. Terman’s son Frederick, meanwhile, became a radio engineer, then Dean of Engineering at Stanford, and finally an illustrious Provost; Fred Terman was the academic advisor of Hewlett and Packard, and is regarded as the “Father of Silicon Valley.”

Psychology in education owes its lasting place at Stanford to Lewis Terman. With Cubberley and Sears as strong supporters, Terman pursued programs of research that placed Stanford on the psychological map. He pioneered the longitudinal approach to research on child development with his study of gifted children, and he mounted other major studies on the health and welfare of children and their development both in and out of schools. Both Fred Terman and Robert Sears, incidentally, were subjects in Terman’s study for gifted children. So was Lee J. Cronbach, whose career in educational psychology and measurement would also bring him to the Stanford education faculty. Robert Sears and Cronbach eventually became co-directors of the Terman Gifted Children Project at Stanford.

As Terman built the psychology emphasis in education, Cubberley continued to strengthen the GSE faculty in other directions. The GSE was founded in 1917 with Cubberley as its first Dean. It has progressed ever since, from strength in history, to the development of professional dimensions of education in curriculum, teacher training, educational administration, and international development, and then into social sciences, statistics, and philosophy related to education and educational research.

Meanwhile, the Stanford Psychology Department had been established in 1892 with Frank Angell, a psychophysicist and student of Wilhelm Wundt, as chair. In 1899, Lillian Martin, also a psychophysicist, was added. The two were excellent teachers, but unproductive researchers, and the department remained undistinguished. Only one Ph.D. was produced in the Angell years, and this came from “psychical” research funded by bequests from Leland Stanford’s youngest brother, T.W. Stanford. The recipient, J.F. Coover, became a psychology faculty member. However, the term “psychological science” later appeared in T.W. Stanford’s will (apparently due to the influence of Jordan) and then-President Ray Lyman Wilbur took advantage of this wording to start, finally, a successful psychology department.

Unfortunately, Cubberley, Angell, Coover, Terman, and Wilbur were unable to cooperate. They failed to agree on what was “basic” and what was “applied,” but they also had radically different views of the future for psychology at Stanford. For the next faculty appointment, Angell and Coover wanted a clinical neurologist and abnormal psychologist named S.I. Franz. Cubberley and Terman wanted the young Karl Lashley whom Terman saw as the future of basic neuropsychology. Ultimately, it was E.L. Thorndike who advised Cubberley and Wilbur that Terman should head psychology at Stanford, not the others; in Thorndike’s words, he was one of the “most promising younger men in psychology.” Terman became head of the Stanford Department of psychology in 1922.

Terman’s psychology group consisted of: W.R. Miles in experimental psychology; Coover: C.P. Stone, who was a Lashley student; Maud Merrill, who was Terman’s student and coworker; and Gertrude Trace, appointed by Angell. Soon, however, Terman expanded. E.K. Strong was added in 1923; he became famous for his research on vocational interests.

Truman Kelley, a joint appointment in educational and psychological statistics, also came in 1923. When Kelley moved to Harvard, his student Quinn McNemar joined the faculty in 1933. Terman also appointed Paul Farnsworth in 1925 and Ernest Hilgard in 1933. Along with Terman and Merrill, McNemar and Hilgard also held appointments in the GSE, beginning in 1935 and 1937, respectively. Hilgard remained a Professor Emeritus of Education and of Psychological Studies in Education, until his death in 2001.

The table below sketches the history of the initial faculty in education and psychology after the 1930s. Terman’s view of psychology within the progressive education movement had three aspects or dimensions that have been represented within psychological studies in education, in one way or another, ever since. In the table, three columns identify these dimensions: Counseling and Health Psychology (CHP), Child and Adolescent Development (CAD), and Educational Psychology. Faculty members are listed in whichever column represents their principal emphasis, but it should be understood that all contributed to psychological studies in education as a whole, beyond their particular specializations. The fourth column shows other Stanford faculty members who have held courtesy appointments in the GSE and who have made significant contributions to education and psychology over the years.

In the 1940s, H. Bonner McDaniel began a formal program in guidance counseling. John Krumboltz, who introduced doctoral research in modern counseling psychology, joined him in 1961. Lois Meek Stolz, from the Department of Psychology, promoted the child development emphasis, until Pauline Sears joined the GSE in 1953. Pauline was the daughter of David Snedden, a Stanford education faculty member, who along with Robert Sears was inspired by Terman while an undergraduate at Stanford. Robert and Pauline married, forming a life-long partnership for research in the psychology of child development.

Lloyd Humphreys, a Psychology Department graduate, taught educational psychology. Arthur Coladarci and his student Frederick McDonald built this field further. A major further addition was Nathaniel L. Gage, who had pioneered psychological research on teaching. When Gage and Lee J. Cronbach arrived in the early 1960’s, along with John Krumboltz in counseling, they joined with Coladarci, McDonald, and Pauline Sears to formally organize the program as Psychological Studies in Education (PSE).

After nearly six decades the program in Counseling Psychology was discontinued in 2003. Students in the program were allowed to continue until they completed all requirements for the Ph.D. including their mandated APA internship. By every measure the program was a success.

Beginning in the fall of 2010 the program changed its name to Developmental and Psychological Sciences (DAPS) and the lines between educational psychology and child and adolescent development were relaxed so that students with their advisors could determine how they want to specialize within DAPS.

The table on the next page shows the continuing flow of faculty along the three dimensions of DAPS (formerly PSE) to the present day. The deanships of I. James Quillen (1953-1966), H. Thomas James (1966-1970), Arthur Coladarci (1970-1979), Marshall Smith (1986-1992), Richard Shavelson (1995-2000), Deborah Stipek (2000-2011; 2014-15), Claude Steele (2011-2014), and Dan Schwartz (2015- ) have marked particular growth periods, but there has never been a period of significant retrenchment. The alumni of PSE/DAPS now number close to a thousand and include many leading researchers in colleges and universities and public and private education and research agencies.

Developmental and Psychological Sciences - Historical Outline

Lewis Terman, 1910-1942
Maud Merrill, 1920-1953
Quinn McNemar, 1935-1965
Ernest Hilgard, 1937-1969


  • H.B. McDaniel 1947-1968
  • John Krumboltz 1961-2015
  • Carl Thoresen 1967-2000
  • Steven Zifferblatt 1970-1976
  • Susan Krantz 1980-1983
  • Teresa LaFromboise 1985-

Child & Adolescent

  • Lois Meek Stolz 1946-1957
  • Pauline Sears 1953-1972
  • Edith Dowley 1967-1975
  • Joan Sieber 1967-1970
  • Robert Hess 1968-1987
  • Sueann Ambron 1973-1979
  • Alfredo Castaneda 1973-1979
  • Martin Ford 1980-1993
  • Amado Padilla 1988-
  • Robbie Case 1989-1999
  • Rafael Diaz 1989-1995
  • Kenji Hakuta 1989-2003: 2006-2017
  • Brigid Barron 1995-
  • Robert Roeser 1996-2004
  • William Damon 1997-
  • Deanne Perez-Granados 2000-2007
  • Na'ilah Nasir 2000-2009
  • Deborah Stipek 2000-
  • Jelena Obradovic 2009-
  • Bruce McCandliss 2014

Educational Psychology

  • Lloyd Humphreys 1949-1952
  • Arthur Coladarci 1952-1970
  • Frederick McDonald 1956-1968
  • Nathaniel Gage 1962-1987
  • Lee Cronbach 1964-1980
  • Richard Snow 1967-1997
  • Robert Calfee 1969-1998
  • Richard Shavelson 1970-72
  • Lyn Corno 1978-1980
  • Edward Haertel 1980-2015
  • Lee Shulman 1982-1997
  • James Greeno 1987- 2003
  • David Rogosa 1991-
  • Clea Fernandez 1995-1996
  • Richard Shavelson 1995-2010
  • Michael Kamil 1998-2004
  • Daniel Schwartz 2000-
  • Roy Pea 2001-
  • Sam Wineburg 2002-
  • Paulo Blikstein 2008-
  • Geoff Cohen 2009-
  • Claude Steele 2011-2014
  • Candace Thille 2013-
  • Ben Domingue 2015-
  • Willy Solano-Flores 2016-
  • Ayita Ruiz-Primo 2016-

Other Contributors

  • Robert Sears 1953-1962
  • Alberta Siegel 1957, 1963-1996
  • Richard Atkinson 1961-1965
  • Nevitt Sanford 1961-1967
  • Patrick Suppes 1967-201
  • Frank Hawkinshire 1968-1971
  • Denis Phillips 1974-1995
  • Mark Lepper 1975-2002
  • David Rogosa 1980-1991
  • Marshall Smith 1986-1992
  • Carol S. Dweck 2006-

Note: Charter members of PSE appear in Bold. Years indicate period of service.

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