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Two Researchers Elected to the National Academy of Education

Melanie Killen and Allan Wigfield Are Among 14 Scholars Recognized in 2024

By Emily Schuster

Benjamin Building

Professors Melanie Killen and Allan Wigfield, newly elected to the National Academy of Education, are longtime colleagues. Her research focuses on children’s social and moral development and theory of mind, while his centers on how school-age students' motivation develops over the years.

Photo by John T. Consoli

Two University of Maryland faculty have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education, one of the highest honors that an education researcher can achieve.

College of Education Professor Melanie Killen and Professor Emeritus Allan Wigfield are among the 14 leaders and scholars recognized in 2024. They join UMD Distinguished University Professor Patricia Alexander, who was elected to the academy in 2020.

“Drs. Killen and Wigfield’s bodies of work serve as markers of scholarly excellence in their fields. We are proud that their important findings on student success and equity come from the University of Maryland," said university President Darryll J. Pines.

The National Academy of Education advances high-quality education research and its use in policy and practice. It consists of U.S. members and international associates who serve on expert study panels that address vital issues in education and who are engaged in the academy’s professional development fellowship programs.

“Dr. Killen and Dr. Wigfield are both truly deserving of this recognition,” said Kimberly Griffin, dean of the College of Education. “Their research on how young people grow and develop—socially, morally and academically—has a vital impact on our understanding of human development and how educators and communities can better support all children’s growth and learning.”

Melanie Killen headshot

Since joining the University of Maryland as an associate professor in 1994, Killen has earned the titles of professor of human development and quantitative methodology, affiliate professor of psychology and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher. Her research focuses on children’s social and moral development and theory of mind, including how children’s interpretations of others often reflect bias and prejudicial attitudes even when they also care about equality and fairness. She designed a school-based intervention program that has been shown to help reduce bias, change group norms and increase positive expectations of friendships with diverse peers.

“I am very honored to be elected to the National Academy of Education,” said Killen. “It is a wonderful opportunity to engage with other scholars in the field of education and to help launch research studies that address pressing educational issues in society today. I also look forward to being a mentor for scholars who will advance the next generation of research. It is a special pleasure to receive this award the same year with Allan Wigfield, a close friend and colleague.”

The University of Maryland has honored Killen with multiple awards, including the Graduate School’s Graduate Mentor of the Year Award and Undergraduate Mentor of the Year Award, as well as the Board of Regents’ Faculty Award in Mentoring. Killen is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association and Society for the Study of Psychological Issues. She has written two books and co-edited five, including “Handbook on Moral Development” (1st, 2nd and 3rd editions) and “Morality in Everyday Life: Developmental Perspectives,” which won the Outstanding Book Award from the Moral Development and Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association in 1997. In addition, Killen is the former associate editor of the journals Child Development, Human Development and Early Education and Development. She holds an international professorship at the University of Kent at Canterbury, United Kingdom.

Allan Wigfield headshot

Wigfield, who joined the College of Education faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor, is now professor emeritus in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, Distinguished Scholar-Teacher and University Honors faculty fellow. His research centers on how children’s motivation develops across the school years in different areas. He has designed interventions to help improve children’s reading motivation and comprehension, as well as to improve students’ STEM motivation and participation.

“I have a great deal of respect for the important work the academy does, and I have always been so impressed by the group of scholars and policymakers who are members. I am so excited and honored to be joining them. I am particularly pleased to be elected in the same year as my longtime colleague and friend Melanie Killen,” said Wigfield. “My own research, particularly my intervention work, is at the intersection of research and education policy, and so I look forward to contributing to the ongoing discussions about research-policy links that occur at the academy.”

Among his numerous awards for his research, teaching and mentorship, Wigfield has received the the Sylvia Scribner Award from Division C of the American Educational Research Association and the University of Maryland Graduate School’s Graduate Mentor of the Year Award. He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. He is the former associate editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology and Child Development and the former editor of the teaching, learning and human development section of the American Educational Research Journal. In addition, he holds honorary international guest professorships at the Universities of Heidelberg and Tübingen in Germany, and Korea University.



Schools & Departments:

College of Education

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