Thorndike, Edward L. (1874–1949)
B. Lara Lee
Edward Lee Thorndike is best known as America's quintessential scientific educational theorist. His theories and empirical and quantitative research conducted in understanding animal intelligence would ultimately become foundational to the development of human educational psychology, philosophy, and policy. Of special significance in terms of reforming the way in which educators thought about human behavior was Thorndike's work on operant conditioning. His research interests varied from adult learning to intelligence tests for the U.S. military. Born August 31, 1874, in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, Thorndike received his master's degree from Harvard University in 1897 and his doctorate of philosophy from Columbia University in 1898. Thorndike's 40-year career in the professorship was spent at Columbia University Teachers College. During that time his comprehensive contributions in understanding, measuring, and quantifying human learning and intellectual potentials helped solidify Teachers College as one of the most prestigious training institutions for educational leaders in the United States. It ...