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Thorndike, Edward L.

  • By: Jennifer L. Jolly & Daniel Winkler
  • In: Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies
  • Edited by: Craig Kridel
  • Subject:Cultural Studies (general), Curriculum & Content (general), Curriculum Studies

Edward L. Thorndike (18741949), perhaps educational psychology's most significant formative force, helped transition the emerging field from a primarily conjectural, philosophical endeavor to an experimental, scientific enterprise. This resulting paradigm helped focus curriculum studies on rigorous research methodology often directed toward the empirical investigation of outcomes. This reorientation has had a significant impact on classroom practices as well. Thorndike's role in this evolution was largely inspired by his great confidence that sound experimentation would produce reliable and valid quantified data that could then help solve educational problems. Thorndike's methods and objectives are the crux of much contemporary educational research, and in his own time, Thorndike was guided by his pragmatic empiricism to develop principles of learning, societal roles and instructional practices for schools, and a ...

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