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UNC Professor Contributes to National Report to Improve Teaching, Learning

Header of the report

January 16, 2020

University of Northern Colorado Professor Robyn Hess contributed to a recently published national report that provides educators with the top research-backed psychological principles to use for enhancing classroom teaching and learning, particularly in the early grades.

Robyn Hess portrait

Hess was part of the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education that contributed to the earlier edition of this report for the American Psychological Association. The project, titled Top 20 Principles for Early Childhood Teaching and Learning, updates an effort in 1997 to identify such principles. 

“It was such an amazing opportunity to be a part of this group,” Hess said. “Leading scholars from different disciplines in psychology came together to share their knowledge and expertise to develop this working document and to present it in such a way that it would be useful to early childhood educators.”

The principles are categorized into five areas, with specific ways for teachers to apply them in their classrooms:

  1. Thinking and learning: How do children think and learn?  
  2. Motivation: What motivated children?
  3. Social-emotional learning: Why are social context, interpersonal relationships, an emotional well-being important to children’s learning?  
  4. Classroom management: How can the classroom best be managed?
  5. Assessment: How can educators assess children’s progress?

“We encourage consideration and practice of the Top 20 principles throughout all teacher preparation programs and the workforce development of early childhood professionals to ensure a solid foundation of psychological knowledge be incorporated in the teaching of young children,” authors state in the introduction of the report.

Hess is professor and chair of School Psychology in UNC’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. A former school psychologist in District 6 (Greeley) and Thompson (Loveland) school districts, she researches school completion, stress and coping in adolescents, family involvement in schools, and refugee and immigrant populations.

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