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Professor Honored as Top Civic Education Researcher

September 23, 2013
Contacts: 

Halima Cherif 301-405-0476

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has named Judith Torney-Purta, a professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland, as the 2013 Jean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career in Research Award recipient. COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has named Judith Torney-Purta, a professor of human development and quantitative methodology at the University of Maryland, as the 2013 Jean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career in Research Award recipient. The annual award recognizes professionals who have made extensive contributions to knowledge concerning significant areas of social studies education through meritorious research.

Torney-Purta has been a research leader of domestic and international civic education initiatives for more than 50 years. Her impressive academic expertise in developmental and educational psychology and her research contributions span a wide range within the United States and internationally. Among the topics of her research are processes of social/political cognition, civic engagement, citizenship education, cross-cultural and inter-cultural studies, and research related to social policy.

In the 1970s and again in the 1990s Torney-Purta led international studies of adolescents' civics knowledge and attitudes that shaped a new conception of youth civic engagement and innovative assessment approaches. The resulting instruments and data sets are still being analyzed in dissertations and publications internationally.  Early career and senior researchers from more than 30 countries collaborated in the design of the studies.

A pragmatic and dynamic contributor to the field of civics education, Torney-Purta has thoughtfully worked with groups and institutions, such as the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which influence school level practice in civics and citizenship education. She has also played an important role in developing the NAEP civics tests, in the civic education work of the Education Commission of the States, and in strengthening the research foundations of the Civic Mission of Schools and the Guardians of Democracy reports. Recently she has focused on strengthening processes of international collaboration in social science and educational research.

Recognizing the paucity of support for civic education research, Torney-Purta has been involved in efforts such as the Spencer Foundation's New Civics Initiative.  Her many scholarly presentations, publications, and honors as well as her service to the profession attest to her extraordinary lifelong contributions and support to the field.

Torney-Purta received a B.A. in Psychology with great distinction from Stanford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago.

Torney-Purta will be honored at the 93rd NCSS Annual Conference Nov. 22-24, in St. Louis, Mo. For more information visit: http://www.socialstudies.org/awards/research/grambs.