Theresa A. Thorkildsen, PhD
Theresa (Terri) Thorkildsen is a professor of Education and Psychology. Focusing on human development, Thorkildsen’s current research highlights how individuals incorporate their understanding of the fairness of institutional practices into their motivation to achieve academic goals. Findings from these studies illustrate how individuals formulate and enact intentions. Thorkildsen seeks to understand how youth come to understand the structure of civil engagement, and how this type of engagement differs from personal and civic engagement. This programmatic attempt to understand why some individuals become highly committed to school while others avoid such commitments is disseminated in a wide range of outlets. Thorkildsen has authored or edited five books as well as a range of journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews. As a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the American Educational Research Association, Thorkildsen is also an active citizen in a number of professional organizations as well as in the UIC community.
1988 - PhD, Purdue University, Humanities, Social Science, & Education
(Specialization: social development, educational psychology, & research methods)
1985 - Master's of Science, Purdue University, Humanities, Social Science, & Education
(Specialization: educational psychology)
1982 - Bachelor of Science, University of Washington, Department of Psychology
Research & Teaching Interests
Thorkildsen's research focuses on how children and adolescents coordinate personal and societal expectations in a force known as civil engagement. This involves developing conceptions of fairness, epistemology, motivation, and self-regulation as each pertains to critical issues within school settings. Thorkildsen teaches courses in human development, motivation, educational psychology, and research design and methods.
Course syllabi and additional details can be found at: http://thork.people.uic.edu/fair/
Thorkildsen, T. A. (in press). Adolescents' self-discovery in groups. New York, NY: Routledge.
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2005). Fundamentals of measurement in applied research. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Thorkildsen, T. A., & Walberg, H. J. (Eds,). (2004). Nurturing morality. New York, NY: Klewer.
Thorkildsen, T. A., & Nicholls, J. G. (with Bates, A., Brankis, N., & DeBolt, T.) (2002). Motivation and the struggle to learn: Responding to fractured experience. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Nicholls, J. G., & Thorkildsen, T. A. (Eds.). (1995). Reasons for learning: Expanding the conversation on student-teacher collaboration. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Sample Book Chapters
Thorkildsen, T. A. & Xing, K. (in press). Facebook as a tool for enhancing communication and self-expression. To appear in Emotions, Technology, and Social Media. Elsevier.
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2013). Motivation as the readiness to act on moral commitments. In K. Heinrichs, F. Oser, & T. Lovat (Eds.), Handbook on moral motivation: Theories, models, applications (pp. 85-99). Boston, MA: Sense Publishers. doi: 10.1007/978-94-6209-275-4_6
Thorkildsen, T. A., Golant, C. J., & Cambray-Engstrom, E. (2008). Essential solidarities for understanding Latino adolescents’ moral and academic engagement. In C. Hudley, & A. E. Gottfried (Eds.), Academic motivation and the culture of schooling in childhood and adolescence (pp. 73-98). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1016/b978-012372541-7/50012-7
Thorkildsen, T. A., Golant, C. J., & Richesin, L.D. (2007). Reaping what we sow: Cheating as a mechanism of moral engagement. In E.M. Anderman, & T. B. Murdock (Eds.), The psychology of academic cheating (pp. 171-202). San Diego, CA: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/b978-012372541-7/50012-7
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2007). The role of personal standards in second graders’ moral and academic engagement. In D. Thiessen, & A. Cook-Sather (Eds.), International handbook of student experience in elementary and secondary school (pp. 193-231). New York: Springer.
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2004). Moral functioning in school. In T. A. Thorkildsen, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Nurturing morality (pp. 137-155). New York, NY: Kluwer.
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2000). Children's coordination of procedural and commutative justice in school. In W. van Haaften, T. Wren, & A. Tellings (Eds.), Moral sensibilities and education II: The schoolchild (pp. 61-88). Bemmel, Netherlands: Concorde Publishing House. (Reprinted in Spanish.)
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2000). The way tests teach: Children’s theories of how much testing is fair in school. In M. Leicester, C. Modgil, & S. Modgil (Eds.), Education, culture, and values, Vol. III: Classroom issues: practice, pedagogy, and curriculum (pp. 61-79). London: Falmer Press.
Sample Refereed Journal Articles
Ata, D., Nguyen, H., Driver, P., & Thorkildsen, T. A. (2015). Preserving autonomy and interest mediates adolescents’ academic performance. Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Journal, 1(1), 14–21.
Reed, N., Bailey, A., Laws, S., Driver, P., Xing, K., & Thorkildsen, T. A. (2015). Autonomy and competence drive high school seniors’ academic intentions. Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Journal, 1(1), 33–42.
Basu, S., Salisbury, C., & Thorkildsen, T. A. (2010). Measuring collaborative consultation practices in natural environments. Journal of Early Intervention, 32, 127-150. doi: 10.1177/1053815110362991
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2007). Adolescents’ moral engagement in urban settings. Theory into Practice, 46, 113-120. doi: 10.1080/00405840701232976
Thorkildsen, T. A., Sodonis, A., & White-McNulty, L. (2004). Epistemology and adolescents’ conceptions of procedural justice in school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 347-359. doi: 10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.1247
Thorkildsen, T. A., & White-McNulty, L. (2002). Developing conceptions of fair contest procedures and the differentiation of skill and luck. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 316-326. doi: 10.1037/0022-06126.96.36.1996
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2002). Literacy as a lifestyle: Learning to respect the voices of urban students. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 18, 321-341. doi: 10.1080/07487630290061863
Thorkildsen, T. A., Reese, D., & Corsino, A. (2002). School ecologies and attitudes about exclusionary behavior among adolescents and young adults. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 48, 25-51. doi: 10.1353/mpq.2002.0004
Lau, S., Nicholls, J. G., Thorkildsen, T. A., & Patashnick, M. (2000). Chinese and American adolescents’ perceptions of the purposes of education and beliefs about the world of work. Social Behavior and Personality, 28, 73-90. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2000.28.1.73
Thorkildsen, T. A., & Nicholls, J. G. (1998). Fifth graders’ achievement orientations and beliefs: Individual and classroom difference. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 179-201. doi: 10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.52
Thorkildsen, T. A. & Schmahl, C. (1997). Conceptions of fair learning practices among low-income African American and Latin American Children: Acknowledging diversity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 719-727. doi: 10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.2069
Thorkildsen, T. A., Nolen, S. B., & Fournier, J. (1994). What's fair? Children's critiques of practices that influence motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 475-486. doi: 10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.115
Thorkildsen, T. A. (1993). Those who can, tutor: High ability students' conceptions of fair ways to organize learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 182-190. doi: 10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.168
Thorkildsen, T. A., & Nicholls, J. G. (1991). Students' critiques as motivation. Educational Psychologist, 26, 347-368. doi: 10.1207/s15326985ep2603&4_7
Thorkildsen, T. A. (1991). Defining social goods and distributing them fairly: The development of conceptions of fair testing practices. Child Development, 62, 852-862. doi: 10.2307/1131182
Nicholls, J. G., & Thorkildsen, T. A. (1989). Intellectual conventions verses matters of substance: Elementary school students as curriculum theorists. American Educational Research Journal, 26, 533-544. doi: 10.2307/1162863
Thorkildsen, T. A. (1989). Pluralism in children's reasoning about social justice. Child Development, 60, 965-972. doi: 10.2307/1131036
Thorkildsen, T. A. (1989). Justice in the classroom: The student's view. Child Development, 60, 323-334. doi: 10.2307/1130979
Thorkildsen, T. A. (1988). Theories of education among academically able adolescents. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 13, 323-330. doi: 10.1016/0361-476X(88)90031-8
Sample Book and Film Reviews
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2014, January 27). Happiness as a basic human right. [Review of the book The Oxford handbook of happiness]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 59 (no. 4) Article 2. doi: 10.1037/a0035398
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2013, August 14). When personal and civic engagement are not enough. [Review of the motion picture Won’t back down]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books.58 (no. 33) Article 10. doi: 10.1037/a0033173
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2013, April 17). Creature watching during an epic voyage. [Review of the motion picture The hobbit: An unexpected journey]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 58 (no. 16) Article 10. doi: 10.1037/a0031936
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2013, March 13).How the mitigation of personal distress overpowers good intentions. [Review of the book Pathological altruism]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 58 (no. 11) Article 6. doi: 10.1037/a0030795
Thorkildsen, T. A., & Becker, D. P. (2012, June 6). Time to break out of disciplinary silos. [Review of the book Visual research methods in the social sciences: Awakening visions]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 57 (no. 22) Article 8. doi:10.1037/a0027816
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2011, December 28). Social understanding as theory of mind. [Review of the book Social understanding and social lives: From toddlerhood through to the transition to school]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 56 (no. 52) Article 5. doi: 10.1037/a0025710
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2011, July 27) Education as a person-centered process. [Review of the book International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 56 (no. 30) Article 4. doi: 10.1037/a0024227
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2010, October 13). Giving as a virtue and a vice. [Review of the motion picture Please Give]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 55 (no. 41) Article 9. doi: 10.1037/a0021382
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2010, May 19). American gullibility [Review of the motion picture Capitalism: A Love Story]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 55, (no. 20) Article 9. doi: 10.1037/a0019690
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2010, May 5).Folk wisdom in the internet era. [Review of the book Consequential strangers]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 55 (no. 18), Article 7. doi: 10.1037/a0018980
Thorkildsen, T. A. (2010, March 24). Making and acting on life choices [Review of the motion picture Adoration]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 55 (no.12), Article 9. doi: 10.1037/a0019335
Honors & Awards
2015-2016 UIC's Award for Excellence in Teaching (Career achievement award, nominated by the College)
2012-2015 President of the American Psychological Association's Division 15, Educational Psychology
2012 UIC's Silver Circle Award for Excellence in Teaching (Nominated and elected by graduating seniors)
2008-pres. Fellow of the American Educational Research Association
2005 UIC's Teacher Recognition Award (Individual achievement award, nominated by the Department)
2003-pres. Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division 15, Educational Psychology
Professional Affiliations & Activities
American Educational Research Association
American Psychological Association
Association for Psychological Science
Social Psychology Network
Society for Research in Child Development
Society for Research on Adolescence
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Sociey for the Study of Motivation
500 Proseminar in Educational Psychology I: Socialization into The Field
Admission to the Ph.D. in Educational Psychology or Education programs; or consent of the instructor.
Socializes students into Educational Psychology, and covers professional development (e.g., importance of CV, presenting at a conference, IRB, grant proposals), and areas of emphasis (e.g., learning, assessment, statistics, measurement). Same as PSCH 550. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only.
500 Philosophical Foundations of Educational Inquiry
Admission to the Ph.D. in Education program or consent of the instructor.
Philosophical foundations of various forms of educational inquiry. Epistemological and ethical dimensions of different research approaches.
501 Theories of Educational Psychology
- EPSY 500
- Admission to the Ph.D. in Education program or the Ph.D. in Psychology program; or consent of the instructor.
Covers critical theories that drive the research and practice of educational psychology, including theories and research that pertain to student achievement, motivation, beliefs, assessments, teaching, and learning across the life span. Same as PSCH 551.
501 Data and Interpretation in Educational Inquiry
Admission to the Ph.D. in Education program or consent of the instructor.
Data, interpretation, reliability, validity, accuracy, stability, and generalizability from different methodological perspectives; how research design, data collection, and interpretation vary with different philosophical approaches.
502 Social Psychology of Education
Admission to the Ph.D. in Education program or the Ph.D. in Psychology program; or consent of the instructor.
Social psychological factors influencing academic and social outcomes in schools. Achievement motivation, peer relations, social values in relation to student characteristics and school practice. Same as PSCH 517.
505 Introduction to Educational Research: Paradigms and Processes
Admission to one of the PhD programs in the College of Education or consent of the instructor.
Offers a survey introduction to the history, contexts, paradigms and orientations, ethics, and processes of educational research. Extensive computer use required.
506 Introduction to Educational Research: Designs and Analyses
ED 505 and admission to one of the PhD programs in the College of Education or consent of the instructor.
Offers researchers an introduction to research in the field of education. It is the second of a two-course sequence and will introduce students to different types of research designs and analyses in the field of education. Extensive computer use required.
509 Research Design in Education
Admission to a graduate program.
Emphasis is placed on discriminating theoretical and program evaluation research, distinguishing the parts of the study, and designing a research proposal.
530 Achievement Motivation
Graduate standing in education or psychology or consent of the instructor.
The psychology of achievement motivation will be explored from the perspectives of personality, social, and educational psychology. Same as PSCH 525.
535 Human Development for School Leaders
Consent of the instructor.
Deepens school leaders' understanding of human development across the lifespan, from birth to adult learning in schools; includes attention to differentiated instruction, SpEd inclusion, and ELL learners in all age groups. Same as EDPS 535.
546 Educational Measurement
- ED 503 or EPSY 503 or the equivalent or consent of the instructor.
Contemporary models for the analysis of data arising from multiple-choice tests, rating-scale questionnaires, or experts' judgments of examinee performance. Test equating is also covered.
593 Ph.D. Research Project
Admission to the Ph.D. in Education program.
Students design, implement, and analyze results of a research problem in this area of specialization. Completed study is reviewed by faculty. May be repeated to a maximum of 8 hours.
594 Special Topics in Educational Psychology
ED 421 and ED 422, or consent of the instructor.
Seminar on a preannounced topic focusing on methodology, research, and educational implications of recent models of learning, problem solving, and thinking. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 hours.
596 Independent Study
- ED 490 or the equivalent
- Consent of the advisor and instructor.
Students carry out independent study in educational psychology under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 hours. Students may register in more than one section per term.
599 Thesis Research
Consent of the dissertation adviser
Research on the topic of the student's dissertation. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. May be repeated. Students may register in more than one section per term.
420 Social Development of Urban Children
Admission to a graduate program in education or psychology, or consent of the instructor.
General principles of social development and socialization during childhood and the factors common to urban children that illustrate and modify these principles. Same as PSCH 420. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
421 Advanced Educational Psychology
Examines current theory and research on the teaching-learning process with particular attention to general learning and curriculum-relevant problem solving skills. Prerequisite(s): ED 210 or graduate standing.
422 Advanced Developmental Psychology and Educational Processes
PSCH 100 and any one from ED 210, PSCH 259, PSCH 320; or graduate standing and consent of the instructor.
Focuses on cognitive and social development from birth to adolescence. Examines relations between development, learning, and educational processes. Same as PSCH 422.
446 Characteristics of Early Adolescence
- ED 210 or ED 421 or ED 422 or PSCH 422 or the equivalent
- Approval of the College of Education; or admission to the Ph.D. in Psychology program; or consent of the instructor.
Physiological, social, emotional and cognitive development of early adolescence. The relationship between these developmental characteristics and success in the middle grades. Same as PSCH 423.
360 Assessment in the Urban Elementary Classroom I
- EPSY 255
- Junior standing or above
- Admission to the Bachelor of Arts in Urban Education, Concentration in Elementary Education.
Beginning concepts in the design, administration, and scoring of assessments useful in urban elementary classrooms for measuring different types of learning outcomes, from simple to complex. The focus will be on achievement assessments. 2 hours. Extensive computer use required. Field work required. Thirty hours of fieldwork required.
396 Independent Study
A written proposal for faculty approval and junior standing.
For students who wish to do independent study on specific educational processes or independently to carry on projects related to education or extensive reading assignments. May be repeated to a maximum of 8 hours.
210 Learning and Instruction Across the Lifespan
Psychological factors in learning and instruction. Applications of behavioral psychology, information processing, humanism, and cognitive developmental theory. Special attention to diverse populations. ED 210 is limited to secondary teacher education students.
255 Child Development in Contemporary Society
ED 100 or PSCH 100; or consent of the instructor.
Examination of theories on child development that explain age-related differences in cognition, affect, and behavior, and how this relates to 0-14 year old children?s learning and educational needs.