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Madeline C. Hunter, 78, a nationally known educator and psychologist, died recently at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She had suffered a series of strokes.

Ms. Hunter was an adjunct professor at the graduate school of education at the University of California at Los Angeles. From 1963 to 1982, she served as the principal of the Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School, a laboratory school at U.C.L.A.

Ms. Hunter's model for what she called "effective teaching'' won her a loyal following among teachers and other educators. Arguing against an intuitive approach to teaching, she urged teachers to view their profession as an "applied science'' based on proven research.

Ms. Hunter also had many critics, however, who accused her of mechanically applying an unproven system. Moreover, they said, her call for a teaching method imposed from the outside undermined teachers' demands for professional autonomy.

Ms. Hunter began her career as a clinical psychologist before becoming a principal. She wrote several books and articles on teaching and offered a popular summer workshop attended by teachers from around the nation.

In one of her books, Mastery Teaching, Ms. Hunter made this promise to those who follow her methods: "From now on, you will know what you are doing when you teach, [and] why you are doing what you do.''

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