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Dr. A. Wade Boykin

Dr. A. Wade Boykin
May 2007

“EVERY CHILD has the capacity to succeed in school and in life.” That is the motto of the Capstone Institute, where Dr. A. Wade Boykin, Professor of Psychology, conducts research on "educating the whole child."  The Capstone Institute grew out of the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR), which Dr. Boykin co-directed for ten years.   According to Dr. Boykin, CRESPAR was "the largest federally funded educational research and development center in the history of American education."  Now at the Capstone Institute, Dr. Boykin, continues to pursue CRESPAR's mission, especially on behalf of African American students.  In the words of one of his former students, Dr. Boykin is “an inspirational, highly devoted professor who has made significant contributions to the teaching-learning community for African American students from grade school to graduate school across the United States.”

Across the United States, Dr. Boykin has promoted his Talent Development Model, an educational model based on the philosophy that “students are not inherently at risk but rather are placed at risk of educational failure by many adverse practices and situations.” To develop and test this model, he has published research about African American child development, African American academic achievement, and the relationships among cognition, motivation, and culture. Because of his expertise, in 1995, the American Psychological Association (APA) asked him to serve on the APA task force that published “Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns,” a response to Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray’s controversial book The Bell Curve. More recently, the White House invited him to serve on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

Dr. A. Wade BoykinMeanwhile, at Howard, Dr. Boykin has been directing the graduate program in the Department of Psychology, where he teaches courses such as “Seminar in Developmental Psychology,” “Cognitive Development,” and “The Psychology of the Black Experience.” In anonymous course evaluations, Dr. Boykin’s students praise his disciplinary expertise, his communication and time-management skills, his meaningful instruction, and his caring and respectful attitude. Consequently, “The Psychology of the Black Experience” is the most popular course in the Department of Psychology. However, it is not an “easy A.” According to the chair of the department, “Some [students] complain, others boast, that to pass the exam they had to think.” Dr. Boykin has mentored numerous graduate students who have qualified for jobs at the most prestigious universities in the country. Says one graduate student, “Dr. Boykin has shown me what it means to critically examine research with thought-provoking questions and examine and implement cutting-edge research, while simultaneously maintaining a high level of professionalism….” Dr. Boykin has also mentored numerous undergraduates, motivating many to pursue graduate studies in psychology. One former student recalls “the excitement for the subject matter” that she felt in his undergraduate classes, an excitement that led her to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. Moreover, she observes, “he provided numerous examples of contributions and ground-breaking research conducted by Black psychologists, which helped me to see my own potential as an important contributor to the field of psychology as a young Black woman.” With such a legacy, it is only fitting that Dr. Boykin won the Faculty Senate’s 2007 Exemplary Teaching Award.



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