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.


New Training Program in Prevention, Intervention, and Enhancement for Incoming Grad Students Offers Four Years of Funding

The Ed Psych department is launching an exciting, new program to train incoming graduate students in an interdisciplinary approach to education. The Prevention, Intervention, and Enhancement (PIE) training program creates synergy across disciplines to help students develop a holistic orientation to educational systems to maximize positive outcomes for all children. 

Each applicant to the Ed Psych department can apply to be a PIE Scholar. Those selected will enhance their program of study by participating in a four-year curriculum with advisors from two program areas. PIE Scholars will receive guaranteed funding for four years. The funding covers a stipend, tuition, health insurance, and student fees. 

The PIE Scholar curriculum includes targeted study across all areas of the Ed Psych department, including an emphasis on development, learning, prevention and intervention, as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods. PIE Scholars will receive exposure to the range of populations and issues in education. Scholars will receive training in a diverse set of research methods that are suited to examining pressing issues and identifying evidence-based approaches to support all children. 

This innovative approach to graduate training will position PIE Scholar graduates as uniquely suited to apply an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective to education and have a population-level impact on children’s learning, development, and well-being. 

Pie scholars will be selected from among students admitted to one of Ed Psych’s four program areas. To apply for the PIE Scholar training program, Ed Psych applicants should check the “PIE Scholar” box on the supplemental application to indicate their interest, then submit a statement not to exceed 300 words (in addition to the statement of purpose for admission to one of the four program areas) that describes (a) the types of topics you are interested in pursuing through the PIE Scholar program, (b) professional goals that the PIE Scholar program will help you address, and (c) two department faculty from different program areas to serve as advisors. Faculty in each program area can be viewed here.

The PIE Scholar statement of purpose can be included with your statement of purpose for admission to the Dept. of Educational Psychology or you can submit it separately via email to our graduate admissions coordinator, Barb Lienau.

For more information, read an FAQ on the PIE Scholars program here


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.

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Spotlight News

New Research on Reading with Robots Shows Promise

A new study from a lab in the Ed Psych department has found that a ‘learning companion robot’ can successfully encourage children to read through subtle social interaction.

And this new research is earning plenty of attention.

In the study, the research describes how Learning Sciences graduate student Joseph Michaelis built a robot – which he named Minnie – to serve as a reading buddy for middle school kids. His research, published in the journal Science Robotics earlier this month, found that Minnie’s new middle school friends grew more excited about books and more attached to the robot over the time the children spent reading to it.

“After one interaction, the kids were generally telling us that, sure, it was nice to have someone to read with,” explains Michaelis. “But by the end of two weeks, they’re talking about how the robot was funny and silly and afraid, and how they’d come home looking forward to seeing it again.”

As the child reads to the robot, it reacts to what’s happening in the book. “The goal is to try to make it as genuinely conversational as possible. If you were reading a book to me, and I was surprised, I’d say something like, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” explains Michaelis, a PhD candidate. “So, when a scary part of the book happens, the robot says ‘Oh, wow, I’m really scared.’ It reacts like it would if it had a real personality.”

A number of media outlets have picked up on this new notable research.

To read the story on CNN’s website, click here. Also check out the story in Popular Science here. And if you would like to read the Science Robotics journal article, click here.



QM Professor Selected as Visiting Researcher

Ed Psych professor David Kaplan, who teaches in the department’s Quantitative Methods program area, has been selected to be the visiting researcher at the Luxembourg Institute for Social and Economic Research (LISER) next January.

During his time at LISER, Kaplan will be present his recent work on Bayesian approaches to estimating country-level trajectories in educational outcomes and collaborating on multiple LISER-based projects.

For more information, click here.


School Psych Professor Named Journal Editor

Congratulations to School Psychology Program Director Dr. Craig Albers!

Prof. Albers was recently named by the Society for the Study of School Psychology as the 11th editor of the Journal of School Psychology. He will begin his term as editor-elect in January of 2019 and will serve as editor from January 2020 through the end of 2024.

Albers has served as associate editor for the journal for more than eight years, where he has made decisions on over 210 manuscripts. He has a distinguished record of service to the Society of the Study of School Psychology as Chair for multiple committees. His editorship will follow current editor, Dr. Michelle Demaray, a graduate of the UW-Madison School Psychology Program.

First published in 1963, JSP publishes original empirical articles and critical reviews of the literature on research and practices relevant to psychological and behavioral processes in school settings. JSP presents research on intervention mechanisms and approaches; schooling effects on the development of social, cognitive, mental-health, and achievement-related outcomes; assessment; and consultation. Read more about JSP and its high-impact articles here.

Please join us in congratulating Prof. Albers!

New Professor Joins Human Development Program

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.

School Psych Adds Two New Professors

The department’s School Psychology program will gain two new new professors this fall.

Prof. Katie Eklund

Dr. Katie Eklund will bring her expertise and research on school mental health and the intersection between evidence-based assessment and intervention for children and youth to the department.

As mental health concerns are a major barrier to learning for many youth, her work includes a three-pronged approach: universal screening and early intervention for students with mental health risks; advocacy and policy promotion of school psychologists as mental health providers; and how to improve school climate and student safety.

Dr. Eklund was most recently an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology Program at the University of Missouri. She received her doctorate in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This fall, Dr. Eklund will teach the Introduction to School Psychology course.

Prof. Stephen Kilgus

Dr. Stephen Kilgus’ primary research interest is in the area of school mental health with a focus on social-emotional and behavioral intervention and assessment.

His work has established evidence-based assessment procedures as well as the development and validation of tools for universal screening, problem analysis and progress monitoring.

Previously, Dr. Kilgus was an Associate Professor in the School Psychology Program at the University of Missouri. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of School Psychology.

Dr. Kilgus will teach the Social, Emotional and Behavioral Assessment course this fall.