[xmca] Obituary: Harold Stevenson (fwd)

From: David Daniel Preiss Contreras (davidpreiss@puc.cl)
Date: Mon Jul 25 2005 - 12:44:00 PDT

 From the New York Times, Saturday, July 16, 2005. See
Harold Stevenson, Education Psychologist, Dies at 80

By Wolfgang Saxon

Harold W. Stevenson, a psychologist specializing in child development who
produced the first comprehensive study highlighting the difference between
the academic achievement of American children and children overseas,
particularly in Japan and Taiwan, died on July 8 at a hospital in Palo
Alto, Calif. He was 80 and until recently had made his home in Ann Arbor,
where he was an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of

His death followed a long illness, his family said.

Dr. Stevenson's work gained attention in the 1980's with surveys he
directed for the Center for Human Growth and Development at the university.
The first, released in 1984, found that American schoolchildren lagged in
reading, and even more so in mathematics, virtually from the day they
entered school; the second, in 1987, sounded the same note for those in the
upper grades.

The 1984 report involved the first large cross-cultural survey of school
achievement in the early grades. It was also the first at any grade level
to elaborate on standardized tests by interviewing teachers and parents who
were observing what went on in classrooms.

The survey, conducted with grants from the National Institute of Mental
Health, compared American pupils with their peers in Japan and Taiwan after
1,440 first and fifth graders in the three countries had been tested and
observed. The report found that American pupils scored low for reasons like
doing less homework, spending fewer hours in school studying and, when in
class, tending to engage in "academically irrelevant" behavior - whispering
with classmates or wandering around the room.

Despite the lower scores, their mothers were found to be more satisfied
with the schools than were the parents in Japan and Taiwan, who were keener
on making their children do homework and excel in learning.

The principal conclusion of the second report, in 1987, was that the
mathematical ability found in American primary and high school students was
"among the lowest of any industrialized country." That report was done for
the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the National Research Council,
the principal research arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Harold William Stevenson was born in Dines, Wyo., a coal-mining town with a
one-room schoolhouse. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of
Colorado in 1947 after wartime service in the Navy, which taught him

He received a master's degree in psychology at Stanford and his Ph. D.
there in 1951 while teaching psychology at Pomona College. Early in his
career, he started writing articles about children's cognitive development
and academic achievement, and founded several nursery schools as training
grounds for graduate students of psychology and education.

He directed the Institute of Child Development at the University of
Minnesota from 1959 until he joined the University of Michigan in 1971 as a
professor of psychology. He headed the child development and social policy
program at Michigan from 1978 to 1993 and retired as professor emeritus in

Dr. Stevenson was an author, with James W. Stigler, of "The Learning Gap:
Why Our Schools Are Failing and What We Can Learn From Japanese and Chinese
Education" (Summit Books, 1992), which remains in print in a 1994 edition
from Simon & Schuster.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nancy; three daughters, Margaret
Stevenson of Palo Alto, Janet B. Zimmerman of Plymouth, Mich., and Patricia
A. Stevenson of Chicago; a son, Andrew, of Charlottesville, Va.; a brother,
Robert E., of Post Falls, Idaho; and seven grandchildren.
Photo of Harold W. Stevenson -- Bill Wood/University of Michigan -- see
 -- Jerry P. Becker
Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
         (618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu


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Edward A. Silver
William A. Brownell Collegiate Professor in Education
Professor of Education and Mathematics
Chair, Educational Studies Program
University of Michigan
610 East University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1290
734-763-7500 (office) 734-615-1290 (fax)


 ---------- End Forwarded Message ----------


Janie C. Knieper, Administrative Associate I
University of Michigan
Combined Program in Education and Psychology
1406 School of Education
610 East University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259
e-mail: jknieper@umich.edu phone: (734) 763-0680 fax: (734) 615-2164

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