University of Wisconsin–Madison

Our mission is to advance education-related theory and methodology; to improve knowledge about the biological, psychological, technological, and social processes of learning, development, and mental health in diverse populations; and to enhance learning and mental health in educational and community contexts through innovative educational interventions and effective prevention/ intervention programs.


UW-Madison’s Dept. of Educational Psychology has again been named as the top program in its field in U.S. News & World Report‘s 2019 Best Graduate Schools ranking.

“Our reputation is built on the faculty’s skill in conducting sophisticated and meaningful research — that is, research that has strong theoretical foundations, advanced research designs, and practical implications for educational practice,” says Ed Psych Department Chair Brad Brown. “Our faculty members are involved in studies of bullying, the fundamentals of math learning, use of technology to assist in learning and instruction, programs to inspire early reading, elements of successful family-school partnerships in rural areas, instruction for youths with autism, the adjustment of ethnic minority students to predominantly white college environments — a remarkable diversity of critical issues in education.”

Including this latest report, UW Ed Psych has now been ranked Number 1 for seven of the last eight years.


Our minor program will expand your understanding of how individuals learn, processes of human development, research methods and statistics, and/or how to enhance learning and adjustment in school settings.

Find more info here.


Ed Psych PhD candidate Jordan T. Thevenow-Harrison will defend his dissertation “The Incidental Learning of Feature Distributions in Supervised Classification.”

This dissertation presents series of experiments about how the statistical properties of stimuli incidental to a supervised classification task influence later learning. After exposure to task-irrelevant but statistically varying features, do people “transfer in” such knowledge to new problems where that information is suddenly applicable, or do they learn nothing at all in the first place such that they have nothing to transfer out of the first learning situation. What information about irrelevant features bias people when they attempt another task where those features become relevant?

Event details:

When: Friday, April 20 from 3–5 p.m.

Where: Educational Sciences building (1025 W. Johnson St.), Room 852B

The dissertation committee includes Profs. Charles Kalish, Martha Alibali, Timothy Rogers, Haley Vlach, and Martina Rau.

Jordan T. Thevenow-Harrison is a graduate student in the Learning Sciences area. His interests dance around inductive inference and category/concept learning. He designs and produces educational technology that empowers people to learn on their own. He earned a BS in cognitive science from Indiana University Bloomington and an MS in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Spotlight News


The department is pleased to announce that Dr. Sarah Short has joined the Human Development area as an assistant professor and the inaugural King Endowed Chair in Educational Psychology and the Center for Health Minds.

Dr. Short has a long-standing interest in the prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders and psychiatric illness and has conducted multidisciplinary research that unites the fields of psychology, biology, human development and neuroscience. Her work focuses on the identification of early risk factors and the characterization of brain and behavioral development starting at birth. In a second line of research, she has begun to investigate contemplative interventions with parents and children to facilitate learning. She aims to create neurodevelopmentally informed behavioral interventions that leverage the inherent plasticity of the developing brain to promote resilience in children.

Before joining the department, Dr. Short was an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and most recently served as the scientific co-director and an associate scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds here on campus.

Short will teach her first course  Brain & Behavioral Development from Prenatal to Pre-K: Setting the Stage for Learning in Fall 2018.


Chelsea Olson, a third-year graduate student in the department’s Human Development area, has won a research grant to fund a study exploring how university students use a range of media to stay in touch with old friends from high school and make new friends at college. The UW-Madison Global Health Institute will fund the research.

“Our study will survey freshmen students at UW-Madison during next September and December to find out how they use texting and phone calls as well as social media – like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat – to interact with old friends and make new social connections,” she says. “One potential impact of this study would be recommendations about what media platforms college freshmen could use to maintain friendships in order to reduce stress and benefit mental health.”



Assistant Prof. Andy Garbacz recently received an award from the National Association of School Psychologist’s Family, School and Community Partnership Interest Group.

The award recognizes his work examining approaches to strengthen connections and build partnerships across homes, schools, and communities to promote positive outcomes for children, families and schools. He specifically aims to develop home-school-community systems that support evidence-based interventions within multi-tiered systems of support.

“I am grateful for this acknowledgement of our work,” says Garbacz, who joined the department’s School Psychology Program in 2016. “This recognition highlights the dedication of our team, the strength of our collaborators across universities, organizations, and communities; and esteemed scholars who, through their important advancements, have made our work possible.”

Garbacz received the award at the 2018 National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois.