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Column One: Research

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Significant improvements in education will occur only when the education system is redesigned to place the primary focus on the learner, a draft document from the American Psychological Association states.

The document outlines 12 principles, gleaned from psychological research, that are intended to serve as guidelines for reform. These include the cognitive, affective, developmental, and social factors of learning. The two final principles focus on differences among individuals.

The draft document also outlines the implications of the principles for educational practice, including changes in instruction, curriculum, assessment, and teacher education.

"We recognize that many of the principles contained in our document are currently practiced in exemplary learning environments across the country,'' Charles D. Spielberger, the past president of the A.P.A., writes in a letter soliciting comments on the draft.

"It is our hope, however,'' Mr. Spielberger adds, "that the wide dissemination of the 'Principles' document will stimulate a national dialogue on the importance of basing educational reform on sound theories of learning and motivation, and the needs of the individual learner.''

Seeking to bridge the gap between the academy and the public, the American Educational Research Association is planning to produce a series of monographs on key policy issues.

The 30-to-40-page pamphlets would summarize the research base on such issues as tracking, multiculturalism, national testing, and school organization, Elliott Eisner, the president of the A.E.R.A., said last week at the association's annual meeting in San Francisco.

Mr. Eisner, a professor of education at Stanford University, added that the monographs may also help ensure that public policy is informed by research.

"This is an acknowledgement that there is a world out there other than the academy,'' he said.

Adding an extra period during the school day may be an effective way of providing remedial help to middle-school students, a Johns Hopkins University researcher has found.

Douglas J. MacIver, a principal investigator at the university's center for research on effective schooling for disadvantaged students, said that, with the additional class periods, students do not miss regular work by being pulled out of class, and they are not stigmatized as remedial students.--R.R.

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