The Info List - Lee Cronbach

Lee Joseph Cronbach (April 22, 1916 – October 1, 2001) was an American educational psychologist who made contributions to psychological testing and measurement. At the University of Illinois, Urbana, Cronbach produced many of his works: the "Alpha" paper (Cronbach, 1951), as well as an essay titled The Two Disciplines of Scientific Psychology, in the American Psychologist magazine in 1957, where he discussed his thoughts on the increasing divergence between the fields of experimental psychology and correlational psychology (to which he himself belonged). Cronbach was the president of the American Psychological Association, president of the American Educational Research Association, Vida Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University
Stanford University
and a member of the United States
United States
National Academy of Sciences. Cronbach is considered to be "one of the most prominent and influential educational psychologists of all time." [1] A Review of General Psychology
survey, published in 2002, ranked Cronbach as the 48th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.[2]


1 Education and career 2 Contributions to educational psychology 3 Cronbach's alpha 4 The generalizability theory (the "G" theory) 5 References 6 External links

Education and career[edit] Born in Fresno, California, Cronbach was selected as a child to participate in Lewis Terman's long-term study of talented children.[3] He received a bachelor's degree from Fresno State College and a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Cronbach had an interest in educational and psychological measurement due to Thurstone’s work on the measurement of attitudes. This work of Thurstone intrigued Cronbach, motivating him to complete and receive his doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Chicago in 1940.[1] After teaching mathematics and chemistry at Fresno High School, Cronbach took faculty positions at the State College of Washington, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois, finally settling at Stanford University
Stanford University
in 1964. In 1956 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[4] Contributions to educational psychology[edit] Cronbach's research can be clustered into three main areas: measurement theory, program evaluation, and instruction.[5] This includes several issues, such as the nature of the teaching-learning process, the measurement of variables describing instructional interactions, the evaluation of educational programs, and educational psychology’s aspiration as an emerging social science discipline. His contributions to measurement issues were of great importance to all educational psychologists. These contributions included improvements to the technology of psychometric modeling, as well as reformulations, which went beyond the mathematics of understanding the psychology of test performances.[1] Educational psychologists have benefited from Cronbach's quest for a better explanation of learning in response to instruction; making countless contributions to educational psychology. Cronbach was able to sharpen the sensitivity of educational research, such as how different learners cope with the demands within different learning environments. He advocated the use of extensive local studies and field methods, producing useful narratives of teaching and learning. Cronbach's contributions include refining research questions which seek to understand the person-situation interactions in educational settings, recognizing the abandonment of strict scientism is in favour of a more pluralistic philosophical and empirical agenda, and emphasizing that the role of context is just as essential as improved interpretations of educational processes. Cronbach developed a framework for evaluation design, implementation and analysis.[1] He believed that the purpose of evaluation to provide constructive feedback for program implementers and clients was incorrect. On the contrary, he believed that it was the design, implementation and analysis which should reflect the feedback goal. Cronbach has proven that research is valuable[dubious – discuss] - to the extent where research serves the purpose of improving some aspect of social reality. This allowed Cronbach to lay out guidelines - much like a road-map - for researchers and practitioners of educational psychology spreading awareness of the challenges and prospects of conducting program evaluations.[1] "The special task of the social scientist in each generation is to pin down the contemporary facts. Beyond that, [Cronbach] shares with the humanistic scholar and the artist in the effort to gain insight into contemporary relationships, and to align the culture’s view of man with present realities. To know man as he is is no mean aspiration." [6] Cronbach's alpha[edit] Cronbach worked on the concept of reliability which had a huge impact on the field of educational measurement. His earliest work was the publication of Cronbach's alpha[7] a method for determining the reliability of educational and psychological tests. This allowed new interpretations of the index of reliability. Cronbach had created this formula which could be applied throughout a variety of tests and other measurement instruments - gaining an enormous amount of popularity among practitioners.[1] Cronbach's Alpha provided a measure of reliability from a single test administration thus showing that on repeated occasions, or even other parallel forms of testing, were not needed to estimate a test's consistency (this followed closely from the works of Kuder and Richardson). The Alpha is useful because not only is it easily calculated, but it is also quite general and can be applied universally - for example: dichotomously scored multiple-choice items or polytimous attitude scales.[5] The generalizability theory (the "G" theory)[edit] As Cronbach’s work on reliability progressed, during the 1950s and 1960s it led to his work on the generalizability theory. He began his work with the aim to produce a handbook on measurement - allowing people to apply mathematical concepts to transform one’s behaviours and events into quantitative results. Cronbach believed that there were two flaws in the concept of taking observed test scores into true score and error components: he believed that true scores were "ill-defined" and errors were "all-inclusive". The Generalizability theory addresses the question of the relative influence on test performance based on different aspects of how tests are being administered to people. A question that would be addressed, for example, would be: "will students perform consistently on different occasions?" [1] The Generalizability theory expanded when Cronbach became concerned that an undifferentiated error term covered up information about systematic variations which could be important in terms of test performance. With this in mind, he teamed up with two other members and developed a "random model" (introduced by the British statistician R.A. Fisher) where he was determined to figure out the complexities of error variance.[1] This "G" theory thus provided a combination of the psychological with the mathematical producing a comprehensive framework and statistical model which identified sources of measurement error.[5] Cronbach's theory goes beyond examining consistency in a student’s relative standing in distribution – it recognizes and acknowledges that the particular item used in any given test is only a small indicator from a wider domain of knowledge. Only such extensions to reliability investigations were made possible by the Generalizability theory - which allowed researchers to address more realistic educational problems, and encouraged researchers to place substantial considerations when they made inquires to demonstrate that validity is important especially when evaluating information extracted from test scores.[1] With the help from Paul Meehl, Cronbach placed the concept of validity theory in the centre of educational and psychological testing.[5] Cronbach & Meehl believed that "...it [is]imperative that psychologists make a place for [advocating construct validity] in their methodological thinking, so that its rationale, its scientific legitimacy, and its dangers may become explicit and familiar. This would be preferable to the widespread current tendency to engage in what actually amounts to construct validation research and use of constructs in practical testing, while talking an "operational" methodology which, if adopted, would force research into a mold it does not fit." [8] Cronbach acknowledged reliability as an important characteristic of a test, but believed that reliability and validity went hand-in-hand,and at times, 'trade-offs' were necessary in order to improve reliability. The paper, Construct Validity in Psychological Tests, compiled by both Cronbach and Meehl, represents their research efforts for over 50 years on validity.[5] References[edit]

^ a b c d e f g h i Kupermintz, H. (2003). Lee J. Cronbach's contributions to educational psychology. In B. J. Zimmerman and D. H. Schunk (Eds.). Educational Psychology: A Century of Contributions, pp. 289-302 ^ Haggbloom, Steven J.; Warnick, Jason E.; Jones, Vinessa K.; Yarbrough, Gary L.; Russell, Tenea M.; Borecky, Chris M.; McGahhey, Reagan; et al. (2002). "The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century". Review of General Psychology. 6 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.139. CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link) ^ Friedman, Howard (2011). The Longevity Project. New York: Hudson Street Press. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-1-59463-075-0.  ^ View/Search Fellows of the ASA, accessed 2016-07-23. ^ a b c d e Shavelson, R. J. (2003). Lee J. Cronbach. The American Philosophical Society, 147(4), 380-385. ^ Cronbach, L. J. 1975. Beyond the two disciplines of scientific psychology. American Psychologist 30:671–84. ^ Cronbach, L. J. (1951) (originally developed by Louis Guttman in 1945),. Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16,297-334. ^ Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P.E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52, 281-302.

Cronbach, L. J., & Shavelson, R. J. (2004). My current thoughts on coefficient alpha and successor procedures. Educational and Psychological Measurement 64, no. 3, pp. 391–418 Sternberg, Robert J. (Ed); Pretz, Jean E. (Ed). (2005). Cognition and Intelligence: Identifying the Mechanisms of the Mind; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 345 pp External links[edit]

Construct Validity in Psychological Tests, classic text by Cronbach and Paul E. Meehl 1955 Two Disciplines of Scientific Psychology
essay by Cronbach, 1957 Stanford Memorial Resolution about Lee Cronbach National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir Guide to the Lee J. Cronbach Papers, Stanford University
Stanford University

Educational offices

Preceded by Theodore Newcomb 66th President of the American Psychological Association 1957-58 Succeeded by Harry Harlow

Preceded by Nathaniel Gage President of the American Educational Research Association 1964-1965

Succeeded by Benjamin Bloom

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Presidents of the American Psychological Association


G. Stanley Hall
G. Stanley Hall
(1892) George Trumbull Ladd
George Trumbull Ladd
(1893) William James
William James
(1894) James McKeen Cattell
James McKeen Cattell
(1895) George Stuart Fullerton (1896) James Mark Baldwin
James Mark Baldwin
(1897) Hugo Münsterberg
Hugo Münsterberg
(1898) John Dewey
John Dewey
(1899) Joseph Jastrow
Joseph Jastrow


Josiah Royce
Josiah Royce
(1901) Edmund Sanford (1902) William Lowe Bryan
William Lowe Bryan
(1903) William James
William James
(1904) Mary Whiton Calkins
Mary Whiton Calkins
(1905) James Rowland Angell
James Rowland Angell
(1906) Henry Rutgers Marshall (1907) George M. Stratton
George M. Stratton
(1908) Charles Hubbard Judd
Charles Hubbard Judd
(1909) Walter Bowers Pillsbury
Walter Bowers Pillsbury
(1910) Carl Seashore
Carl Seashore
(1911) Edward Thorndike
Edward Thorndike
(1912) Howard C. Warren
Howard C. Warren
(1913) Robert S. Woodworth
Robert S. Woodworth
(1914) John B. Watson
John B. Watson
(1915) Raymond Dodge (1916) Robert Yerkes
Robert Yerkes
(1917) John Wallace Baird (1918) Walter Dill Scott (1919) Shepherd Ivory Franz
Shepherd Ivory Franz
(1920) Margaret Floy Washburn
Margaret Floy Washburn
(1921) Knight Dunlap (1922) Lewis Terman
Lewis Terman
(1923) G. Stanley Hall
G. Stanley Hall
(1924) I. Madison Bentley (1925)


Harvey A. Carr (1926) Harry Levi Hollingworth
Harry Levi Hollingworth
(1927) Edwin Boring
Edwin Boring
(1928) Karl Lashley (1929) Herbert Langfeld (1930) Walter Samuel Hunter (1931) Walter Richard Miles (1932) Louis Leon Thurstone (1933) Joseph Peterson (1934) Albert Poffenberger (1935) Clark L. Hull
Clark L. Hull
(1936) Edward C. Tolman
Edward C. Tolman
(1937) John Dashiell (1938) Gordon Allport (1939) Leonard Carmichael
Leonard Carmichael
(1940) Herbert Woodrow (1941) Calvin Perry Stone (1942) John Edward Anderson (1943) Gardner Murphy
Gardner Murphy
(1944) Edwin Ray Guthrie
Edwin Ray Guthrie
(1945) Henry Garrett (1946) Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers
(1947) Donald Marquis (1948) Ernest Hilgard (1949) J. P. Guilford (1950)


Robert Richardson Sears
Robert Richardson Sears
(1951) J. McVicker Hunt (1952) Laurance F. Shaffer (1953) Orval Hobart Mowrer (1954) E. Lowell Kelly (1955) Theodore Newcomb (1956) Lee Cronbach (1957) Harry Harlow
Harry Harlow
(1958) Wolfgang Köhler (1959) Donald O. Hebb (1960) Neal E. Miller
Neal E. Miller
(1961) Paul E. Meehl (1962) Charles E. Osgood (1963) Quinn McNemar (1964) Jerome Bruner
Jerome Bruner
(1965) Nicholas Hobbs (1966) Gardner Lindzey (1967) Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow
(1968) George Armitage Miller
George Armitage Miller
(1969) George Albee (1970) Kenneth B. Clark (1971) Anne Anastasi (1972) Leona E. Tyler (1973) Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura
(1974) Donald T. Campbell
Donald T. Campbell


Wilbert J. McKeachie (1976) Theodore H. Blau (1977) M. Brewster Smith (1978) Nicholas Cummings (1979) Florence Denmark
Florence Denmark
(1980) John J. Conger (1981) William Bevan (1982) Max Siegel (1983) Janet Taylor Spence (1984) Robert Perloff (1985) Logan Wright (1986) Bonnie Strickland (1987) Raymond D. Fowler (1988) Joseph Matarazzo (1989) Stanley Graham (1990) Charles Spielberger (1991) Jack Wiggins Jr. (1992) Frank Farley (1993) Ronald E. Fox (1994) Robert J. Resnick (1995) Dorothy Cantor (1996) Norman Abeles (1997) Martin Seligman
Martin Seligman
(1998) Richard Suinn (1999) Patrick H. DeLeon (2000)


Norine G. Johnson (2001) Philip Zimbardo
Philip Zimbardo
(2002) Robert Sternberg (2003) Diane F. Halpern (2004) Ronald F. Levant (2005) Gerald Koocher (2006) Sharon Brehm (2007) Alan E. Kazdin (2008) James H. Bray (2009) Carol D. Goodheart (2010) Melba J. T. Vasquez (2011) Suzanne Bennett Johnson (2012) Donald N. Bersoff (2013) Nadine Kaslow
Nadine Kaslow
(2014) Barry S. Anton (2015) Susan H. McDaniel (2016) Antonio Puente (2017) Jessica Henderson Daniel (2018)

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E. L. Thorndike Award

Recipients of the E. L. Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology


1964: Sidney L. Pressey 1965: William Brownell 1966: B. F. Skinner 1967: Lee Cronbach 1968: Cyril Burt 1969: Robert J. Havighurst


1970: John Bissell Carroll 1971: Robert L. Thorndike 1972: John C. Flanagan 1973: Benjamin Bloom 1974: Robert M. Gagné 1975: J. P. Guilford 1976: Jean Piaget 1977: David Ausubel 1978: Julian Stanley 1979: Patrick Suppes


1980: Richard C. Atkinson 1981: Jerome Bruner 1982: Robert Glaser 1983: Jeanne Chall 1984: Anne Anastasi 1985: Ernst Rothkopf 1986: Nathaniel Gage 1987: Merlin Wittrock 1988: Wilbert J. McKeachie 1989: Frank Farley


1990: Richard E. Snow 1991: Herbert Klausmeier 1992: Robert L. Linn 1993: Samuel Messick 1994: James Greeno 1995: Lee Shulman 1996: David Berliner 1997: Richard C. Anderson 1998: Lauren Resnick 1999: Albert Bandura


2000: Richard E. Mayer 2001: John D. Bransford 2002: Joel Levin 2003: Robert Sternberg 2004: G. Michael Pressley 2005: Jacquelynne Eccles 2006: Patricia Alexander 2007: Jere Brophy 2008: Bernard Weiner 2009: Carol Dweck


2010: Richard Shavelson 2011: Barry Zimmerman 2012: Keith Stanovich 2013: Sandra Graham 2014: Stephen J. Ceci 2015: Michelene Chi 2016: Edward Haertel 2017: R