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Educational Research: A Tradition of Excellence

The Ohio State University has stood at the forefront of educational research and doctoral study for many years. In the 1930's, Education PhD programs in the United States began to educate more researchers and leaders. At that time, a small group of nine elite institutions were ranked by their peers as the best Schools of Education for research and advanced study: The Ohio State University, The University of Chicago, Harvard University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of California (Berkeley), Stanford University, and Teachers College. Rankings conducted by U.S. News and World Report in recent years demonstrate the continuity of Excellence at The Ohio State University. Repeatedly, the doctoral programs in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University are ranked among the best in the nation.


Table of Contents

Boyd H. Bode  |  Edgar Dale  |  H. Gordon Hullfish  |  Martha L. King  |  Ralph W. Tyler  | 
Laura Zirbes  |  Reading Recovery at Ohio State

Boyd H. Bode

Professor Boyd H. Bode served on the faculty at The Ohio State University from 1921 to 1944. A philosopher of education, Bode was a leading spokesperson of Progressive education and one of the founding figures of American pragmatism. He was close ally of fellow progressives John Dewey and George S. Counts. In his classic works such as Conflicting Psychologies of Learning (1929) and Democracy as a Way of Life (1937). Bode articulated an American vision of education and democracy. Time magazine once declared Bode to be "Progressive education's No. 1 present-day philosopher." At Ohio State, he was considered to be the cornerstone of what was known as the "Ohio School of Democracy" in education. He was a teacher and scholar who was at once mild-mannered and rebellious, kind and unsettling. His lectures were so popular that only the campus chapel was large enough to hold them. Known for both his absent-mindedness and his fiery enthusiasm, he often walked off the lecture stage and across the top of a grand piano in order to move closer to his students.


Edgar Dale

Edgar Dale (1900-1985) served on The Ohio State University faculty from 1929 until 1970. He was an internationally renowned pioneer in the utilization of audio-visual materials in instruction. He also made major research contributions in the teaching of vocabulary and testing readability of texts. Jeanne S. Chall, an Ohio State PhD graduate who went on to become a leading innovator in reading research, once quoted her mentor as advising her, "You cannot wait for ideas to come. You must work for them." Perhaps Professor Dale's most famous concept was called the "cone of experience," a graphic depiction of the relationship between how information is presented in instruction and the outcomes for learners.


H. Gordon Hullfish

Professor H. Gordon Hullfish was a faculty member at The Ohio State University from 1924 to 1962. With his colleague Boyd H. Bode, he was a center member of the well-known "Ohio School of Democracy", a group of renowned scholars who articulated and stood up for democratic principles in relation to education. He was a leading figure in the progressive education movement. His major works include highly influential volumes such as Educational Freedom in an Age of Anxiety(1953) and Reflective Thinking: The Method of Education (1961) His work on teachers' reflective thinking was vital to the development of the current understanding of the relationship between thought and action in professional practice.


Martha L. King

Professor Martha L. King was an education faculty member at The Ohio State University from 1959 to 1982. King was a leading figure in writing instruction and literacy research. She was also a renowned leader in the development and study of informal classrooms. In the 1970's, Dr. King and Dr. Charlotte Huck were responsible for initiation of Educational Programs in Informal Classrooms (EPIC), an innovative approach to teacher preparation that was recognized as a model for excellence in teacher education. She received the highest award of the National Council for Research in the Teaching of English and the Hall of Fame award from the International Reading Association. The Martha L. King Center for Language and Literacies, located in Ramseyer Hall on the Columbus campus, was named in honor of Professor King and her tremendous contribution to literacy and teacher education.


Ralph W. Tyler

Ralph W. Tyler served on the faculty of The Ohio State University from 1929 to 1938. Tyler was a groundbreaking curriculum theorist who is often viewed as the father of instructional (or behavioral) objectives. In The Elusive Science, Ellen Condliffe Lageman states: "During his time at Ohio State, Tyler…conclude(d) that formulating objectives was instrumental to instructional success." He was also renowned for his work on educational evaluation. He was a highly influential educational researcher who forwarded and popularized the concept that learning objectives should be clearly stated and that results should be measurable. His landmark work on the Eight Year Study (1933-1941) examined the relationship between secondary school curriculum requirements and student success in college. His book Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction (1949) is viewed as one of the classic works of curriculum development. He articulated a series of four questions that became the basic framework for virtually all curricular development since. After his work at Ohio State, Tyler served on the faculty at the University of Chicago.


Laura Zirbes

Laura Zirbes was a member of the elementary education faculty at The Ohio State University from 1928 to 1954. A former teacher at the noted Lincoln School at Teachers College, Zirbes was one of the most influential developers of progressive instructional practices. She one of the founders of The University School, the renowned laboratory school at Ohio State. Throughout her extensive career, she was noted as one of the foremost experts on reading instruction, an honor that she didn't fully accept due to her belief that subject matter should be taught in an integrated manner. She was a pioneer in the development of what we now call "child-centered teaching," building units of instruction around the interests of children in order to heighten their involvement and learning. Her book Spurs to Creative Teaching (1959) is considered a classic work in the field of education.


Reading Recovery at Ohio State

Reading Recovery® is a short-term literacy intervention intended to serve the lowest achieving first-grade students who are struggling with reading and writing. It was developed by Dame Marie Clay, then a professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. In 1982 Ohio State University Professors Martha L. King, Charlotte Huck and Gay Su Pinnell spent several weeks observing and talking with teachers and researchers in Auckland, New Zealand. They came back determined to replicate Reading Recovery with integrity. From that day on, Ohio State has been the home of Reading Recovery in the United States.

Early research and development at Ohio State were supported by grants from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, the Columbus Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Council of Teachers of English. Martha King recruited Marie Clay to accept a Distinguished Professor position in Columbus. She was accompanied by Dr. Barbara Watson from the Auckland College of Education. Professors Carol Lyons and Diane DeFord joined the Reading Recovery team at Ohio State in 1985.

The Reading Recovery faculty, along with Drs. Clay and Watson collaborated with the Columbus Public Schools to start the first implementation of Reading Recovery in the United States in Columbus. Evelyn Luckey, Assistant Superintendent of the Columbus Public Schools, and John Hilliard, Columbus' director of federal programs were instrumental in this early work.

The Ohio Legislature and the Ohio Department of Education soon became involved as well when $2.1 million was appropriated in the state budget to support the implementation of Reading Recovery across the state. The first Reading Recovery class started at Ohio State in 1985-86 with 24 teacher leaders in training.

Since 1984, The Ohio State University has trained more than 200 teacher leaders and university faculty. More than a million and a half children in the United States have been taught by Reading Recovery teachers. Reading Recovery is now implemented in 21 other universities across the country. There are presently over 12,000 Reading Recovery teachers working in 7500 schools in the United States.

Ohio State University professors Diane DeFord, Gay Su Pinnell, and Carol Lyons, along with the College of Education, were honored in 1989 with the Governor's Award for outstanding contributions to the education of children through their leadership of the Reading Recovery program. In 1996, Governor George V. Voinovich named Reading Recovery one of "Ohio's Best Practices in Education."

In 2007, Reading Recovery was given top marks by the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse. In their review of scientific evidence, Reading Recovery was the only program found to have positive effects across all four domains of literacy achievement including alphabetics, fluency, comprehension, and general reading achievement.