Judith Torney-Purta (1937 - )

Torney-Purta Judith

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Judith Torney-Purta has been Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA since 1981. Born in California in 1937, her education in the field of psychology took place at Stanford University and the University of Chicago. Before coming to Maryland she was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Professor Torney-Purta is best known for her psychological studies of the development of children's and adolescents' political and social attitudes as well as educational factors that influence them. She began her first cross-disciplinary multi-method research in this field in 1962 in the United States. She began studies of civic education internationally in 1967, when she started her work with IEA (the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). Torney-Purta was the senior author of a book reporting the results of the first IEA Civic Education Study in 1975 and the author or editor of five books (as well as many chapters and articles) on the second IEA Civic Education Study (which collected data from 140,000 adolescents in 29 countries in 1999-2000). In this second study she chaired the International Steering Committee for 10 years, taking steps to make it a model for international research collaboration. She was made an Honorary Member of the IEA General Assembly in 2001 (the first woman to be so honored). At the National Academy of Sciences she has served on the Board on International Comparative Studies in Education and on the U.S. National Committee on Psychological Sciences (of the International Union of Psychological Sciences). She assisted in preparing a report on international collaboration in the social and behavior sciences, published in 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences.

During the 1980s Torney-Purta did extensive research applying cognitive psychological approaches to understanding the development of young people's cognitions about global problems such as human rights and poverty. This was associated with the ICONS Computer Assisted International Simulation at the University of Maryland's Department of Political Science. She was invited to deliver the Claude Eggertsen Lecture at the 1984 CIES meetings (titled "Raising the Alarm: The Only Role for Comparative Achievement Studies in the Debate on Excellence?"). During this period she served on the Comparative Education Review's Editorial Board and was elected to Council. When planning for the second IEA Study began, she reduced her organizational activities.

Since the IEA Study concluded, Torney-Purta has worked with colleagues in psychology and political science at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in developing a measure of political engagement suitable for university students. At the Education Commission of the States she developed a data base of items to measure civic knowledge, skills (in thinking and in participation), and dispositions suitable for young people aged 10 through 18. In 2007 as a member of the Editorial Board forCitizenship Teaching and Learning she developed a special issue as a retrospective on the IEA Civic Education Study.

Torney-Purta teaches courses in socialization and in cross-cultural and cultural psychology. She has co-authored several articles reporting analysis of the IEA Civic Education data with her doctoral student advisees. Her students have won several prizes, including for the best dissertation using IEA data. She has been a member of the Board of CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) and has published several working papers with this organization on topics such as the role of teacher preparation in civic achievement and how textbooks contribute to civic knowledge and engagement.

In 1974 Torney-Purta was an official delegate representing the United States at the Intergovernmental Conference to draft the UNESCO Recommendation on Education for International Understanding, Cooperation, and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In 2001 she received the Nevitt Sanford Award from the International Society for Political Psychology; in 2005 she received the Decade of Behavior Research Award in Democracy and also the University of Maryland's Landmark International Research Award. In 2007 the CIES SIG on Civic Education named their prize for the best graduate student paper for her.

Torney-Purta spent significant periods of time in Finland (as an exchange student, during which she learned Finnish folk songs), and in Sweden and Germany (during the IEA Civic Education Studies).

Over four decades Torney-Purta has influenced the conceptualization and measurement of civic knowledge and attitudes across more than forty nations and has developed models for collaborative international research in the fields of psychology, education and political science.

Faculty Website
Professional Website
Email: jtpurta@umd.edu

Educational Background

A.B., Psychology (with great distinction), Stanford University (1959)

M.A., Human Development, University of Chicago, Division of Social Sciences (1962)

Ph.D., Human Development, University of Chicago, Division of Social Sciences, Principal fields: developmental psychology, political attitudes in young people (1965)

Professional Background

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology (1967-69)

Assistant Professor of Education, University of Illinois-Chicago (1969-70)

Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois-Chicago (1970-77)

Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois-Chicago. Academic and administrative responsibilities: division head in developmental psychology; developer of the applied psychology undergraduate major, doctoral research supervision. (1977-1981)

Professor of Human Development, College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park. Academic and administrative responsibilities: teaching developmental, educational and cross-cultural psychology; doctoral research supervision. (1981-present)

Visiting Professor, School of Education (SIDEC), Stanford University (1987-1988, 1991, 1999)

Visiting Scholar, Center on Political Psychology, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2005-2006)

Consultant, Political Engagement Project, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, (2002-2007)

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

American Psychological Association. Fellow in five Divisions (on teaching, educational psychology, international psychology, social issues in psychology, and child/family policy); Decade of Behavior Research Award in Democracy, International Mentor Award (1965-present)

International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Chair of two projects on civic education and planning committee member for a third, Honorary Member of the General Assembly of IEA (1967-present)

Comparative and International Education Society. Claude Eggertson Lecturer on the use of cross-national data in policy making, member of Editorial Board for the Comparative Education Review, member of Council (1979-present)

International Society for Political Psychology. Nevitt Sanford Award for application of scholarly work in political psychology, member of Governing Council (1984-2006)

U.S. National Committee on Psychological Sciences (National Academy of Sciences). Committee member and consultant for report on international collaboration (2005-present)

Selected Publications

Torney, J.V., Oppenheim, A. N. & Farnen, R. F. (1975). Civic education in ten countries: An empirical study. New York: Halsted Press of John Wiley and Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell.

Torney-Purta, J. & Schwille, J. (1986). Civic values learned in school: Policy and practice in industrialized countries. Comparative Education Review, 30, 30-49.

Torney-Purta, J. (1992). Cognitive representations of the international political and economic systems in adolescents. In H. Haste & J. Torney-Purta (Eds.), The development of political understanding. San Francisco: Jossey Bass (New Directions in Child Development). (pp. 11-25).

Torney-Purta, J. (1994). Dimensions of adolescents' reasoning about political and historical issues: Ontological switches, developmental processes, and situated learning. In J. Voss and M. Carretera (Eds.), Cognitive and instructional processes in history and social sciences. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (pp. 103-121).

Torney-Purta, J., Schwille, J. & Amadeo, J. (Eds.). (1999). Civic education across countries: Twenty-four case studies from the IEA Civic Education Project. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Torney-Purta, J., Lehmann, R., Oswald, H. & Schulz, W. (2001). Citizenship and education in twenty-eight countries: Civic knowledge and engagement at age fourteen. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Steiner-Khamsi, G., Torney-Purta, J. & Schwille, J. (Eds.) (2002). New paradigms and recurring paradoxes in education for citizenship. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science (JAI Press).

Torney-Purta, J. (2002). The school's role in developing civic engagement: A study of adolescents in twenty-eight countries. Applied Developmental Science, 6, 202-211.

Torney-Purta, J. (2002). Patterns in the civic knowledge, engagement, and attitudes of European adolescents: The IEA Civic Education Study. European Journal of Education, 37 (2), 129-141.

Torney-Purta, J. & Amadeo, J. (2004). Strengthening democracy in the Americas through civic education: An empirical analysis of the views of students and teachers. Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States (also in Spanish)

Torney-Purta, J. & Richardson, W. K. (2004). Anticipated political engagement among adolescents in Australia, England, Norway, and the United States. In J. Demaine (Ed.), Citizenship and political education today. London: Palgrave/Macmillan (pp. 41-58)

Torney-Purta, J., Barber, C. & Richardson, W. K. (2004). Trust in government related institutions and political engagement among adolescents in six countries. Acta Politica, 380-406.

Torney-Purta, J., Barber, C. & Wilkenfeld, B. (2007). Latino adolescents' civic development in the United States: Research results from the IEA Civic Education Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 111-125.

Torney-Purta, J, Amadeo, J. & Richardson, W. (2007). Civic service among youth in Chile, Denmark, England and the United States: A psychological perspective. In M. Sherraden & A. McBride (Eds.). Civic service worldwide: Impacts and inquiries. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe. (pp. 95-132).

Torney-Purta, J. (2007). Democracy is not only for politicians; citizenship education is not only for schools. In E. Stevick & B. A. E. Levinson (Eds.), Reimaging civic education: How diverse societies form democratic citizens. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. (pp. 317-331).


Created: 3/15/2008

Updated: 3/17/2008

Contributed By: Gary Homana, University of Maryland