Putting the “Is for” Back into the Study of Cognition and Behavior: Commentary on “Unifying Themes for Educational Psychology”

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Understanding human behavior situated in a classroom context has traditionally been the domain of educational psychology. This rich tradition continues today, but in a fragmented manner. This fragmentation is undoubtedly the result of a number of factors, but two contributing factors that come readily to mind are (a) the demise of grand theories and (b) the increase in multidisciplinary research efforts. In some respects, the former may be a function of the latter. Regardless, multidisciplinary efforts will continue to increase simply due to the complexity of the problems we are addressing. However, the major significance of the Dempster and Corkill paper is the call for unifying themes couched within a biological system that focuses on personal knowledge construction through the process of learning. In many respects this is a clarion call for a reconsideration of the theoretical roots of functionalism from which educational psychology sprang.

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